New Delhi: Vivek Bhandari was appointed director of the Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA), Gujarat, in May last year. In the three months that it took IRMA to find a director, almost half the faculty members had resigned.
Vivek Bhandari, Director, Institute of Rural Management Anand.
Bhandari—who moved to Anand from the US, where he was an associate professor of modern history and South Asian studies at the School of Social Science at Hampshire College in Amherst—in an interview spoke about possible changes in the placement policy and the involvement of alumni at IRMA, an institute that was set up to “provide management education, training, research and consultancy support to co-operatives and rural development organizations in India”, according to its website. Edited excerpts:
Is IRMA fulfilling its role today? Does it now allow companies to come for placements?
I think what one finds in a place such as IRMA is a deep level of introspection on how the solutions that it has sought to evolve over a long period of time can now be addressed to the current scenario. Corporates, in that regard, are a key player—it is a well-established fact now.
Click here to watch video story: Irma’s director takes questions on placement policy
And, I think, within IRMA there is a lot of discussion of the ways by which (through) changing economic scenario, we can develop solutions that serve a developmental objective with recognition that corporates are a key player.
Of the 1,200-plus alumni that IRMA has, about 40% are not in the non-profit field any more. Also, about 15% students who graduate go to a non-core field. Are you looking at changing the placement policy at all?
First, the numbers you are citing, I am sure they are correct, but I am not familiar with these numbers. I think IRMA’s own goal of servicing developmental objectives is really what will determine our core placement policy, and much of this is under review.
I became the director just a year ago and I think within IRMA there has been a lot of churning of the issue that remains a work in progress. So, we will find out. Discussions are on, and we will see where they take us.
So, this is the first time in 30 years that the placement policy is under review?
No, I didn’t say that. I think discussions have gone on before, and I think at various stages there have been subtle shifts in the placement policy.
Are we looking at a curriculum change as well?
We actually have regular curriculum reviews. We now have a PhD programme that started in 2002 and this year graduates its first PhD. This essentially, to my mind, means that you have got recognition that you need to keep revisiting what you believe to be your understanding of the field of rural management— which, I would contend, is a field IRMA created on its own.
Since the alumni base is so wide across different fields, are you looking at increasing the number of people on the board or revamping the board in terms of getting more alumni support?
That’s already been operationalized. It was done before I came in May last year. IRMA now has representatives from the alumni on the board, and the issue of the board’s expansion and where it is going is really a decision that is taken by the IRMA society that is a larger governing body.
But the fact is that alumni are now members of the board and that is a big step.