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The Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode
Business Case, our fortnightly column on management education, is also among our most provocative columns because it often asks tough questions, not just on policy (Have the vision to grant IIMs autonomy, 7 May) and practice (Harassment by AICTE, the saga continues, 13 August), but also on the business of education (B-School ads: half truths and white lies, 16 July).
Last Monday’s column on IIM Kozhikode, (you can read it at www.livemint.com/iim.htm), generated a lot of vigorous feedback and discussion, mostly from IIM-K’s students and some alumni. Some were personal barbs aimed at Premchand Palety, the columnist, and a lot of it was a defence of IIM-K. But what matters more is the debate it generated. We have tried to capture that debate, which was primarily online, in these pages along with a new Business Case that is intended to keep the debate going because of broader issues at stake.
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It seems the writer has a grudge against the lower IIMs and a hand of friendship was not enough to satisfy him. An invitation to the campus, and he still finds fault in the entire programme at Kozhikode. Please provide facts for this statement: “Corporate visitors, management development programmes, industry projects and case studies developed are much worse than some of the second-rung business schools”. The MDP programme at IIM-K is highly rated and, this year, has more participants than scores of other B-Schools.
Replies to Revant’s comments:
IIM-K’s growth story has been phenomenal, in spite of the location handicap, although the author wanted to portray a contrary picture. IIMs generally prefer not to take part in B-School rankings owing to the simple reason that the methodology adopted by the numerous rankings (surveys) is highly questionable.
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I think everyone knows that the lower three IIMs (Indore, Kozhikode and Lucknow) do not fall in the list of Top 10 Indian B-schools. Lucknow may just about make it, though. The fact that they refuse to participate in surveys is further proof of their own acknowledgement of their lower status.
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A business school is defined by the quality of students it admits. The batch profile at Kozhikode includes people with mostly work experience in top-notch companies and graduates from top institutes of the country. The kind of interaction you have with your batchmates is a learning experience on its own. Coming to the point of (putting up a) resort rather than an IIM, the campus is the perfect mix of serene surroundings, high quality infrastructure and a very highly valued academic curriculum. Had accessibility been such a big issue as the article mentions, it would have surely affected the placements at IIM-K. After all, why would any company take any pains to visit such an inaccessible place? But then, how do you explain the constant improvement in placements year after year, both in terms of job profiles offered as well as packages?
What do you want? An IIM helping the city grow or the city helping an IIM grow? The Kerala government is pursuing an IT park project and six of our students, along with the faculty, are involved in it. Then, each student needs to work on one social development project, working closely with the state government/NGO. True, there are difficulties, but that does not mean it’s a mistake. Your theory is very much placements/corporate-oriented. IIM-K has proved everyone wrong on this account as well. Just because parents have difficulty raising a child, it does not make the child a mistake.
I fully agree with the writer. We have to put an end to the quota system in all spheres of our activity. We have paid enough for such trivialities in governance. One should see the merit in the author’s logical conclusions (rather) than reacting merely on the basis of emotional appeals.
Replies to Gurumurthy’s comments:
Quota system? I don’t think this is the point that the writer is trying to make. Moreover, the issue he is pointing out here is with all Indian institutions, not only the three new IIMs. This article is more perception-based rather than supported by facts and figures and I am finding it very hard to believe. (Sahil)
What quota system? Is Mr Gurumurthy in favour of concentrating institutes of national importance in a few states, like the previous government did by converting University of Roorkee into an IIT? Why shouldn’t all states have the benefits of institutes of the stature of an IIT, IIM and AIIMS? (Vishnu)
Well, the writer has some points here but looking at the problem broadly would have given him better insights. His first point regarding connectivity is more where government and private airlines have to do something. If everything is established in the metros, how will India develop as a country? And, was Bangalore as developed when IIM-B was set up? That would mean the government should have set up everything in New Delhi or Mumbai in the 1960s or 1970s because all other cities were not developed (then). Attrition would be a problem for reasons mentioned but then, that would be a problem in every such small city. That doesn’t mean you establish everything in major cities. The whole idea of establishing IIMs in such cities was to develop these areas along with the development of these new IIMs. Did you notice that the pristine environs and the quality conditions in Kozhikode and IIM-K are actually a huge benefit to students? It is a wonderful place to concentrate on studies and management research.
Being someone who, even after three years of struggle, was not able to make it to an IIM and had to opt for a so-called second-rung B-school, it pains me to read such biased opinion against an institute which millions strive every year to be a part of (as an integral part of the IIM family). If we take the example of Stanford University, we can blast the accomplishments of any IIM, even IIM-A, in areas of diversity, industry interaction, foreign students and international exposure. Sure, the writer can argue that the millions of brightest Indian minds who are ready to do anything to get into an IIM, including IIM-K, may be foolish. But I speak from personal experience. My family has had a string of IIM graduates. And I feel ashamed when I compare the faculty, facilities and overall learning I am getting compared to what they have got. IIMs are amongst the few good things India has got.
The author talks about building IIMs in metropolitan cities, where it will be easy to find infrastructure to attract good faculty. But then, there is an example of Stanford where the university was instrumental in (the) development of an erstwhile backward area into Silicon Valley. In the comparison of IIM-K with XISS, regarding initiatives towards the upliftment of Dalits, it has been pointed out that the latter can do it more efficiently. Can the author kindly produce data to base this opinion on? In fact, if we consider that like IIM-K, if every institute took up an initiative towards social development and upliftment, won’t the process be supremely efficient, in its reach and effectiveness? Regarding the point that setting up IIM-K has not helped the students/people of Calicut, on the contrary, a prestigious institute such as IIM-K can actually put Calicut on the industrial/commercial map of India. In fact, a group of IIM-K students are currently working on a project in conjunction with the government of Kerala to project Calicut as the next IT destination.
This article manages to find only one good thing about the entire visit to IIM-K, the airport and the surroundings. I have serious doubts about the “lack of quality in MDP, faculty” issues mentioned because, after all, isn’t this what makes an IIM special? There is a community in IIM-K—Industry Interaction Cell—whose sole job is to ensure that the interaction is apt with the targeted industries of the institute. How will the students learn without faculty? And the placements here are nice (so) draw your own inference. Number of permanent teachers is very less (so) report the data about IIM-A, IIM-B and IIM-C (when they were 10 years old.) Connectivity is bad—if you want, Kozhikode is a drivable distance from Bangalore (so) why can’t people/companies just drive from there as flights are available from Bangalore to any part in India? Location is important, but the most important thing is that it is an IIM. Period.
It is perhaps not necessary to criticize when a concept (IIM-K) is indeed good. The non-metro and non-industrial location of the institute does not render the teachings and student capabilities redundant, and certainly do not render the institute incapable of attracting and marketing talent. Whether you want ind ustry to come to you or the other way round, which is much easier, and perhaps would cause all IIMs to be in Gujarat and Maharashtra. Meaning, every best thing will be a part of the already best. Use such platforms to allow and lead the government resources to an equitable distribution.
The writer is correct in pointing out the case, but it’s the government that is not getting common sense in its head. I hope that the education ministry works in tandem with many industries to create clusters, such as SEZs, near the IIMs, if it wants (them) to be sustainable.
There’s one thing I can’t resist to agree: “Had the government set up a resort there instead of an IIM, it would have been an instant success.” Thanks to the Indian government for setting up an IIM at such (a) place and then thanks to IIM-K for giving me an opportunity to sit here and write this comment from the comfort of my room while the view of natural beauty is accessible from the window and the door opens up plenty of opportunities. The average CAT score of IIM-K students is above (the) 99 percentile, which is more than any non-IIM business school. The average work experience of the 190-strong student community is more than two years. Some 90% students have worked for various industrial sectors, again more than any non-IIM B-school. The student-faculty ratio is less than 14. And that’s good for a management institute. Visiting faculty takes this ratio southward to an extent that IIM-K stands proudly with its peers, leaving non-IIMs far behind again. Lets talk about moolah. IIM-K was fourth in terms of average salary, which is below only its three peers—IIM-A, IIM-B & IIM-C.
If the author had looked around the IIM-K campus, he would have seen the hundreds of locals working there. Kunnamangalam town has benefited because of retail and service opportunities. ICICI Bank Ltd opened up a branch just outside the campus and Canara Bank will be doing so shortly. If this is not employment generation, then what is?
We cannot have all the good things in metros and tier-I cities. Why does the author think that important and prestigious institutes like IIMs should not be located in cities other than metros? As far as IIM-K is concerned, its academic calendar is full of activities that aim towards moulding budding aspiring managers into successful, self-sustained individuals.
If location is the criterion for any IIM to do well, then the first IIM should have been setup in Mumbai or Delhi, and not Ahmedabad. Yes, connectivity is an issue, but is an IIM responsible for it? And as the writer himself said, the international airport of Kozhikode is better than the one at Delhi. Kozhikode city with IIM-K, NIT-C, a medical college and a university of its own, has all the ingredients to become the next big thing. IIM-K hosts seven major seminars in a year with speakers from all the major companies and cities coming down to the campus. Something which no other B-school can talk about.
The quality of the students’ intake also forms an important criterion to judge a B-school and all IIMs, including IIM-K, get the best brains of the country. Talking about faculty, the author only delved into the quantity of faculty and didn’t hesitate to compare it with second-rung B-schools but forgot to discuss the quality of faculty available in IIM-K, which is comparable to the best in India.
Today, our country needs more well-trained managers and not resorts. Please do not be upset by the fact that an educational institute came up at a place where you would have liked to spend your vacation. This environment helps the students concentrate better on their studies and helps them relax under tremendous stress which accompanies such management programmes. If you are aware of the companies mentioned in our recruiters list which visit IIM-K year after year, then you might have not compared our industry interface to second-rung B-schools. I believe it is impractical to have all the educational institutes to be concentrated at one spot. In the end, I would like to thank you as you have been able to generate some kind of interest and enthusiasm in our highly stressful management programme.
There are some points in this article that I can agree with, and some so inane and irrelevant that I do not find any reason to even think about them. Yes, there is room for improvement at IIM-K, and as a student, I will be the first person to admit this. There is no point in having IIMs in only the metros and tier-I cities, as they are too crowded already. What is shocking is the biased nature of the article, right from the word go.
Can the author justify his points with relevant data when he comments about “data of corporate visitors, management development programmes, industry projects and case studies developed is much worse than some of the second-rung business schools”? I don’t know what led the author to say that “setting up a B-school in a remote place helps nobody except the contractors of that area” unless and until the author himself comes and joins this institute and has a taste of the system. Rather, a remote place helps the students concentrate in their studies better in (a) situation of pressure and stress.
“Last year and also this year, I used the Right to Information Act for extracting information from them, although IIM Ahmedabad (IIM-A) and IIM Bangalore (IIM-B) voluntarily participated.” The IIMs have nothing to hide. Even top actresses have flaws in their looks, which are covered using make up. Why don’t magazines print close-up shots of such people without make-up?
Though the author has stated many correct points, the conclusions he has drawn are largely wrong. An IIM located in an industrial city like, say, Rourkela, would have the same problems that the IIMs at Lucknow, Indore and Kozhikode have. There are some common reasons why the three new IIMs are not doing as well as the older ones. There is an acute shortage of high-quality management faculty in India. The only reason being that they are, for some reason, poorly paid. This is why I strongly feel that instead of setting up new IIMs, they should expand the existing ones, taking in 10 times the number of students if necessary. This is simply economies of scale, something which the policy makers seem least concerned about.
All great institutions were built over time. What it needs is visionaries at the helm in the initial years. IIM-A had one such leader in Ravi J. Matthai. IIM-K also made great strides in the first few years under A.H. Karlo. The newer IIMs require time to develop. I don’t see any reason why given the right kind of support, in time, the IIMs at Lucknow, Kozhikode and Indore can’t be right there along with IIM-A, IIM-B & IIM-C.
Reputations of institutions are also built by their alumni. Whenever IIM-A or IIM-C is mentioned somewhere, the names of Raghuram Rajan and Indra Nooyi always seem to figure. The newer IIMs, very naturally, have fewer people at the top. XLRI, which is one of the oldest B-schools in India, has many ex-students in high places and hence its reputation in the media is quite good.
I think the author has an extremely biased opinion about the next generation IIMs. The IIMs were set up in these growing cities so that there would be a symbiotic relationship between them. It can be clearly seen from the fact that a new IT hub is being started in Kozhikode with the help of the IIM.
IIM-K is still a nascent B-school, which requires a lot of time and energy to grow up. It is heartening to note that the directors of the institute are trying their best to live up to standards set up by the IIMs, XLRI, FMS etc. However, the faculty strength of 27 is an eye-opener and it is a clear indicator to students not to go by salary figures when choosing an IIM. This is a clear brand dilutor to the IIM brand. The government should not allow such schools with below-grade infrastructure to use the IIM tag and spoil its reputation.
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