With ISB grads in the news for crossing the one crore salary mark a whole bunch of you are gonna be asking: ISB jaaoon ya IIM?
My one line answer:
If you want an MBA within 2-3 years of graduating, IIMs remain your best bet.
If on the other hand, you wake at age 28 and then decide to do an MBA you should definitely consider ISB. Or an MBA abroad.
From April 1, IIM Ahmedabad has also introduced a 1 year MBA - the PGP X program targetted at executives with 7-15 years experience. As it is the first ever batch it's difficult to say how well that program will fare. Guess we will know by this time next year. However, I think in the 1 year space ISB will have the advantage for some time to come.
But given the surge in demand for MBAs from those with substantial experience, all the top tier b schools will have to introduce 1 year programs. And B school rankings will have to reflect that by slotting MBA programs into separate categories eg 2 year programs, 1 year programs, Family Business programs - and so on.
A couple of other thoughts re: ISB
a) The official press release has not given out enough details. It's fine to not quote names of specific companies or withhold names of students who have become 'crorepatis'. But broad profiles of those who bagged top jobs should be released so prospective students can make more informed choices.
b) From the ISB placement factsheet it appears that the bschool (as of now) is becoming a favoured hunting ground for Indian companies looking for middle and senior level talent. The number of foreign offers is 42, compared to 383 domestic offers. The Dean in fact commented that the 'one crore' salary was offered for a global position in an Indian company. Which I think is quite cool!
c) 19% women in a batch of 345 is a very impressive statistic. What's more 2 women have actually bagged salaries in excess of $200,000. But I am a little intrigued by the fact that the average domestic salary for women is 9.89 lakhs vs the overall average of 11.77 lakhs. There might be a story there.
Lastly, the ISB course costs Rs 15 lakhs (tuition + boarding/ lodging). Plus all participants would have foregone 1 year of income - let's assume Rs 5 lakhs.
I would be curious to know how the bottom half of the class (in terms of salaries bagged) feels. If you leave a Rs 5 lakh job, spend 15 lakhs and then bag a job with a salary of Rs 10 lakhs - is it still 'worth it'?
Vijay K Mulbagal of ISB's class of 2006 has worked out an 'NPV' formula and concludes that yes - the investment is worth it. Although he rightly observes at the end of it, "The benefits of an MBA are far greater than financial..."
The bigger picture
I think the more institutions of excellence we have in India, the better. We are a country of a billion people which means that millions are thirsting for quality education.
So it's not about ISB vs IIMs. Competition always brings out the best and the consumer - in this case student - will benefit. But can the IIMs compete effectively if the government keeps throwing in some new clause or spanner in their functioning?
Like the 27% additional reservation now being mooted for OBCs, applicable from the year 2007.
In his take on the ISB vs IIM story Govind observes: The ISB grads.. even look at the ISBs shortcomings as temporary glitches rather than as a sign of decline or decay.
The reason why ISB students can use a word like 'glitch' is that they are in complete control of their own destiny. For the IIMs, 27% OBC reservation - if implemented - will not a temporary setback. It will mark a permanent alteration in the character, the texture and the very foundation of an institution.
I certainly don't think reservation at PG level is an answer to uplifting backward castes. Access to quality education at the primary level is far more important. As are other factors such as personal drive and ambition, role models and family support.
An article in Frontline The IIT Story: Issues and Concerns provides one such shining example:
Patwatoli ... (is) a weavers' village of 10,000 families, belonging predominantly to Other Backward Classes (OBC), in Bihar's Gaya district. Since 1990, the village has produced 25 IITians. Many of those who enter the IIT system from this village are first generation learners.
While families in the village can hardly afford tutorial courses, many Patwatoli IITians have benefited from a strong village support network where those who make it to the IITs often return to counsel and coach younger aspirants.
Wish these IITians would come forward and speak up about what they feel on the reservation issue...
Of quality and standards
The affirmative action policy in the US is often cited as a parallel to reservation. I think this kind of effort by IITs falls under the American definition more than the Indian one. And is a laudable one.
"SC/ST candidates failing to qualify with relaxed admission norms but satisfying certain minimum requirements may be offered admission to a preparatory course of one year duration. Candidates successfully completing the preparatory ourse may be offered admission to the first year in the next academic year without going through JEE again".
There is no point in relaxing norms for entry to the extent that you create a new kind of caste system within an IIT or IIM! Because if 50% of the class is taken through what we call "merit" and the remaining 50% has to be filled in by quotas - no matter what their merit - that is what is likely to happen.
So far it's not been that bad because at an unofficial level, IITs and IIMs do not actually fill up the entire 22.5% quota. Unless they get enough candidates who meet with their (to an extent relaxed) eligibility criteria.
Who is an OBC anyways?
A professor at an IIM recently told me that he is classified as "OBC" in 7 states of India. Incidentally, he is strongly opposed to any such reservation himself.
OBCs, in any case, do not deserve reservations, he says. They are the dominant castes in Bihar and UP - the landowners. Mulayam Singh Yadav, Laloo Yadav, Uma Bharti - almost the entire political class comprises OBCs.
No doubt they feel upset at not getting their 'share' of seats in higher education despite being the ruling class. It's not about lack of opportunity but getting the easy way out. What they cannot get through legitimate means (slog and struggle like everyone else) they wish to acquire through this kind of zor-zabardasti.
I think the time has come to do away with caste based reservations and look purely at economic criteria.
Yes, caste based discrimination prevails in villages till today but these reservations do nothing for such unfortunates. Today, the SC/ STs who make it to elite institutes are generally children of privilege (I had one such classmate whose dad was the police commissioner of Bangalore). If her kids can once again avail of reservation - that will be the real travesty.
So before implementing any further reservations the government must clarify how far it has reached in implementing the Supreme Court order barring reservations for the 'creamy layer'.
In fact, I say, the creamy layer should stand up and say - "We don't want reservation anymore. Give it to our less deserving bretheren - whatever their caste or creed".
When that day comes I do not know... but it is certainly a day to hold out hope for!