How Indian B-schools are training students to be socially conscious
New Delhi: Earlier this year, some 300 students from a B-school near New Delhi travelled to Mewat in Haryana to learn about rural life and the problems villagers confront in everything—from gaining an education to getting an electricity connection.
It was not a fun trip, but part of their course curriculum at the Birla Institute of Management and Technology (BIMTECH) in Greater Noida, which is teaching students about doing “responsible business.”
“As a B-school we must try to inculcate a sense of social awareness among budding managers,” said Vineeta Dutta Roy, an associate professor at BIMTECH. “Learning about profit or balance sheet is fine, but what about responsible business practices? Here we come in through a structured course called responsible business comprising issues like sustainability, governance, society and ethics.”
Conscious capitalism will become a way of business life in the future, said Roy, adding that the B-school is trying to inculcate the concept in its students. According to an Harvard Business Review essay, conscious capitalism is a way of thinking about business that reflects where we are in the human journey, the state of the world today, and the innate potential of business to make a positive impact on the world.
“While it is okay to be competitive, it is equally important to have people who are more self-aware, and can empathize with others… students should have a clear idea of how they are perceived by the world around them, and not just how they perceive the world,” said S.K. Munjal, chairman of Hero Enterprises.
Conscious capitalism or social awareness is not just about ethics, it is also becoming a business requirement, says Runa Sarkar, professor at the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta (IIMC). The attempt is to broad-base the understanding of students.
The introduction of corporate social responsibility rules in April 2014, mandating companies with a net worth of Rs500 crore or revenue of Rs1,000 crore or net profit of Rs5 crore to spend 2% of their average profit in the last three years on social development has contributed to a greater awareness of the need for B-school students to gain an understanding of society that goes beyond business textbooks. If a company is allocating money to CSR activities, it would like its employees to understand what the subject is about, said Sarkar. The bottom of the pyramid also offers a potentially lucrative market for businesses.
At IIMC, some students even consult non-profit organizations to learn how they can reach out to society, for example to solve problems that people in the villages confront.
Other top B-schools including S. P. Jain Institute of Management and Research in Mumbai, Great Lakes Institute of Management in Chennai, Indian School of Business in Hyderabad and the IIMs in Lucknow, Indore, Bengaluru and Rohtak teach social immersion courses and organize tours for students to gain exposure to the real world.
At IIM Indore, as part of the institute’s social initiative, both students and faculty reach out to dozens of villages. The aim is to make women financially literate and teach underprivileged students. “From teaching the elderly to underprivileged, from working for women’s empowerment to having a shelter for stray dogs on the campus, we at IIM Indore do a variety of socially-relevant projects to make students socially conscious,” said an IIM Indore spokesperson.
And industries are welcoming such initiatives. “It is necessary to incorporate courses on community citizenship that educate students on their social responsibility towards the upliftment of the society,” said Harshil Mehta, chief executive officer Dewan Housing Finance Corp. Ltd, a listed housing finance company. “Today, as the world evolves, companies are increasingly looking at multi-faceted individuals who are not only subject matter experts but are also wanting to explore other functional abilities that could enable the organization to grow beyond its boundaries.”
How the B-schools were ranked
The Mint-MBAUniverse.com B-School Rankings 2017-18 comprehensively evaluated management institutes on input, processes and output parameters.
This ranking used only hard facts and data for analysis. No perception surveys or qualitative assessments were used as it could have allowed subjectivity in the ranking process and may have raised questions on transparency.
We took the help of K.R.S. Murthy, a former director of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Bangalore, in framing the ranking approach and parameters.
The process started in September 2017. It involved the preparation of a questionnaire and invitation for participation; data collection and verification; statistical analysis and weightage allocation and finalization of rankings.
Data collection and verification was conducted from 15 October till 14 November.
While compiling the rankings, we considered B-schools that are offering two-year full-time MBA/PGDM (post graduate diploma in management) and are recognized by government regulators such as the University Grants Commission (UGC) or All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). A key criterion was that a minimum of five batches must have graduated from the two-year MBA/PGDM programme; we made it compulsory for every director or head of institution to endorse and accept responsibility for all data submitted for this rankings. The survey was well received and saw participation by almost all top B-schools. Among the top B-schools, the following were not ranked:
•IIM Bangalore was not ranked as it didn’t respond to the survey
•Indian School of Business Hyderabad offers a one-year programme, not a two-year programme, and was hence not ranked
•Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, IIM Rohtak, departments of management studies/B-schools at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay, IIT Kharagpur and IIT Kanpur were not ranked as they didn’t respond to the survey
• Great Lakes Institute of Management Chennai graduated the first batch of its two-year PGDM program in 2014. The eligibility criteria required a B-school to have graduated at least five batches.
During statistical analysis, while input and output parameters were given 30% weight each, the process criteria was accorded 40% weight. The process criteria which got maximum weight took into account the faculty size and profile, research publications, accreditation, and physical infrastructure.
In the input criteria, common admission test or other qualifying entrance exam score was given the highest weightage. Student selectivity or total number of applications per seat and past academic performance of the students was taken into consideration for awarding scores. For awarding score under the output parameter, placement of students and entrepreneurship initiatives were factored.
Amit AgniHotri, the author is founder of MBAUniverse.Com