The cabinet has just approved the setting up of 7 new IIMs over the next 2 years. Locations range from Tamil Nadu and Haryana to Chhatisgarh to J & K. A sum of Rs 1057crores has been alloted for this purpose, reports Business Standard.
My question is why - why set up SEVEN new IIMs in a single go?
There are 1000 + bschools providing management education in this country. No shortage of seats there. Yes, 'quality' education is offered only at a few but what guarantee do we have that these new institutes will live up to extraordinary standards in any case?
What does one expect from an IIM? Well:
a) Quality of students: Intake being through CAT, toughly contested etc
b) Quality of faculty: A committed set of high quality people
c) Infrastructure: Land, buildings, ek acchha campus
d) X factor: That special something in terms of academic orientation, student life and overall culture that sets it apart.
So far so good, but is all this likely to happen, all of a sudden, at seven new locations? I think not!
First of all, the idea of situating a management institute in remote areas cut off from civilisation needs to be examined. Take IIM Shillong, which I visited a few months ago. Beautiful, relaxing - but the nearest industrial town - and airport - is Guwahati, which is 3 hours away by road. How much industry exposure, CEO visits on campus or guest lectures can they hope to attract?
Not to mention placement. I *really* don't see companies taking the trouble to visit IIM Chhatisgarh when there are so many management institutes in Mumbai, Pune and Gurgaon offering eager-to-work, decent quality graduates.
Coming back to our original four points:
a) Students: New IIMs are not hot destinations for the brightest of
students. Many will opt for an SP Jain, XLRI, MDI or FMS over IIM Uttaranchal. IIM Shillong has had that experience.
b) Faculty: It's tough for IIM A, B & C to get great faculty - given current payscales. Wonder what extra incentive, if any, there is for an academic to join an IIM in the middle of nowhere. That too with only teaching, no research orientation in initial years.
c) Infrastructure: Sure, the new IIMs will have great campuses
within 5 years. But today there are plenty of private bschools with very nice campuses as well - SIBM for example. It's not that big a deal.
d) X factor: This is the toughest bit. Culture is a collective energy, a vibe which is part intent, part accident. It is the asking of questions, the seeking of answers: "Who am I" and "What do I stand for".
The DNA of an institution cannot be to be an "IIM". Because by today's definition that would boil down to "best students, best placements."
We don't need more government sponsored management institutes with no particular focus. Have some USP, some reason to BE and not just exist!
In short, I think we are simply wasting Rs 1000 crores. If we need to set up new IIMs - let's figure out why, where and who is going to benefit.
If the intention is regional social development, well then let's accept that an IIM in Srinagar is not really going to do anything for the youth of J & K. Just as IIM Shillong makes no difference to the youth of the Northeast.
If you want to make a regional impact then go ahead and reserve 50% of the seats for locals. But that will dilute brand IIM, you say? Yes - so choose another name. ike we have IITs and we have NITs. And now IIITs.
Let the new institutes start with a clean slate. Let the old ones not be asked to carry new burdens.
And let it be an entire package deal: IIM + SEZ + airport. A stimulus package to grow the local economy by attracting industry, jobs and students. With the bschool being integrated - in a deep and meaningful way - with its immediate environment, and constituents.
Kapil Sibalji - are you listening??!