ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Moving Minds to Market

Management Perspectives: Essays on Managerial Priorities and Management Education (in commemoration of the silver jubilee of the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore) edited by N Balasubramanian; Macmillan India, New Delhi, 1999; pp 579, Rs 695.

Management education in India has      come a long way and the All India Council for Technical Education has licensed 500 management institutes of all types good, bad and those who just provide a certificate with a word management in it. The Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIMB), came into being when public sector management ethos was gaining currency and was set up in the so-called Silicon Valley of India where private software enterprises were rapidly emerging thus providing a challenge for management educators and students in terms of private vs public sector options. In analysing the growth of this premier management institute one has to divide the whole discussion in four broad areas: (a) role of the board of governors in providing direction and leadership to the institute and the role of the director of the institute in the overall interface, (b) faculty selection and the whole area of consulting, research and teaching capabilities, (c) the students (the minds) who really learn the skills and strategies of management education through intellectual drilling that they undergo and their subsequent placement, (d) finally, the links with industry and the outside world through management development programmes (MDPs) which the institute keeps floating from time to time. The story of IIMB has been told by many stalwarts who were with the institute in the early days but we never get to know from the voluminous pages why the institute started off with the ‘public sector’ brand image. IIMA never tried to brand itself either with the private sector or the public sector.

Ravi Mathai, the founder director of IIMA, was trying to sell their ‘best brains’ to those who paid them well and used them well. But the founder director of IIMB, Ramaswamy says in his contribution to IIMB in the first 10 years that “MBAs are not allowed entry into public administration, railways, road transport, irrigation and power”. The issue is not whether they are allowed or not allowed but whether the IIMB products were willing to join the public sector. The IIMB suffered in the early years because of this fixation that it should cater to the needs of the public sector only. The market would determine whether their products are good and if so for whom. The IIMB’s obsession with public sector in the 1970s was so intense that all their MDPs designed for irrigation projects, transport and health ended unfortunately with very poor nominations and many MDPs had to be cancelled thus making a mess of the MDPs. The IIMB also had labour problems and it had one time the look of a factory gate with red flags flying and slogan-shouting employees making their presence felt. J Philip who succeeded Ramaswamy makes his confession when he says, “we had to seek court intervention to prevent the employees union from agitating within 100 metres of the boundary of the institute”. In the growth of such institutions the role of the board of governors and the director, particularly in the early stages, assumes importance. The ministry of human resources development (HRD) which constitutes and nominates the members of the board and gives functional autonomy to the director has always played the ‘policing’ role.

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