Sunday, May 3, 2009

Relevance of placement departments at IIMs

IIMs are supposedly elitist of management institutions in India but there seems to be a big problem somewhere. It somehow fails to give the confidence level among the students about their own abilities. I have been a student there not so long ago. Students blame the faculties and faculties blame the students. Indians seem to be quite good blaming each other. Same thing happens at different places be it elections or after Mumbai bomb blasts. I came to realize that most of the cases students are to blame as they fail to bank on the opportunities given to them. We fail to appreciate what has been given to us. Thankfully my realization started coming after my euro trip. The thought process became quite focused after the meeting with Prof. Abraham Koshy at ESSEC. Many a cases we don’t appreciate our elders & the knowledge. It is not particular to just Indian subcontinent though. The Indian culture, which appreciates & respects so much its elders, is slowly going out of ‘fad’. What we now discuss is IPL, babes and spam mails sending ‘juice’ messages to the groups. I remember one interesting incident at French language course at ESSEC where the teacher was asking about what students discuss in the normal course of conversation. When I said politics, cricket and other stuffs she said discussing politics in France is ‘taboo’. I was quite surprised. I asked what do you discuss then and the reply was what you ate last night, where are you having party next weekend etc. and I was struck. We have made politics taboo ourselves. The meaning of politics has been much misquoted. It relates to the daily life of the people and when the older generation also refrains from it I can’t imagine what it will convey to the younger generation! Are we also moving in the same direction? Younger generation will have to ask itself.

So as I was discussing the situation at the best management institutions in India. With the recession lot of people became so tensed that once a friend at the breakfast table went at length to give me lecture about how IIM A should care for its students and it is not able to do so at this stage. I told him the job of IIM A is to give you education which could enable you to stand on your own feet and give confidence to face the challenges of life relatively easily. He told me that I don’t know anything and when I told him I have worked for three years he couldn’t counter further. I don’t say that work experience brings relevant maturity to everybody but it gave me an opportunity to access my market value, how to make myself marketable and get maximum out of my investment. The much debated economic recession is also a time of recession in the perceived capabilities acquired by students at the supposedly best B-schools in India. People taking fraud courses and passing time as there is already a ‘placement department’ to take care. Managed by few students and not so transparent it has always been in controversy. Be it mail exchanges of Srijan & Luthara or fines it never went out of limelight during placements. Interestingly though only at the time of summer placements and final placements!! In my view the whole concept of placement department has made us so complacent that rather than becoming independent we are becoming more and more dependent. Whatever education we get less than 10-15% is utilized and rest goes god knows where. With such return on investment there are lots of NPKAs (non performing knowledge assets). We boast of having one of the strongest alumni network in India or among Indians anywhere in the world but when it comes to connecting with them we are in a pretty sad state. I remember interacting with a fuccha, one club cord at IIM A, and he told me that none of the seniors from recent past batches come for help. I assured him that at least I will be there but after few interactions the person went out of radar. Similar situation with another club cord. Even after I was forthcoming in helping and may be more active than some of the existing members, even after leaving the club, I found him so disappointing that it left me thinking has IIM A become nesting place for such students who just want to get CV points? ‘Nasal Kharab ho rahi hai’. Interestingly similar is the story with another person 2 batches senior to me. When I gave him a proposal on how to help the student body by forming a trust he mentioned that the alumni are quite busy with their own work and the student bodies don’t take proactive action. Indirectly ‘nothing can be done’. Thereafter I never heard from him and he was supposedly a guy with max enthu in alumni activities. May be for his own benefit. I don’t know. He forgot that he was also a student at IIM A not so long ago! Call it apathy, unprofessionalism, uncaring nature or whatever. I don’t know. Another instance of our remarkable skill - Blaming others! I remember once asking the whole class, during LVMR lecture, about not attending the alumni reunion [except few placecomm members & me no body attended it], I was an alumni cell member, and the response came with a certain student that they don’t feel the need to connect with the alumni. The students will spend time sitting in their rooms watching movies on DC and chatting but don’t have time to interact with alumni who are extended family members. We are becoming much and much nuclear in our minds and taking people around us, including family members, for granted. I can only dare to imagine what people from such generation will do to the organizations where they will go.

In my view the placement departments should be scrapped altogether at the best B-schools and the institutes should act as facilitators. It will give students an opportunity to explore their interests and utilize the knowledge which has been given to them rather than making their minds storage places for NPKAs [I seem to have developed a liking for it – my creationJ]. It will make them feel how worthy they are. It will bring them out of the sense of complacency which has the potential to destroy them if not now then may be later in the career. It will naturally bring the need to know more and more people. It will enable them to learn ‘real’ management skills which is about managing people. Hopefully the ‘foreign education bill’ will bring out our best institutions as well from the sense of complacency. In 1990s India became an open economy and there was tremendous positive change. This might bring another such change. I remember telling a kid at a cyber cafĂ© at Hazarat Nizamuddin railway station, during my recent visit to Delhi, when he was charging high price for just taking one page printout that ‘jish desh ke log aise honge us desh ki sarkar kaisi hogi’ [what will the people in the government be when the people in this country are like this]. May be he was guided more by ‘Payback period method’ rather than ‘NPV method’. Probably cause of the present financial crisis. A cartoon which needs mention, published recently on the cover page of a news daily, had a pig labeled corruption, bureaucracy etc. near a sea beach. There was another person at the same beach at a distance and labeled ‘citizen’. The citizen was thinking ‘I won’t vote until and unless the pig goes away’ and the pig was thinking ‘I won’t go until and unless citizen votes’. Don’t have such apathy and wait for the right moment. The right moment is NOW and also as Srijan writes at his Gmail status “Change happens NOW!” Be it life, voting or contributing to something which you like and want to do.

“Be the change you want to see in this word”

No comments:

Post a Comment