Wednesday, February 22, 2006

IIM Calcutta - what happened?

Life is full of what ifs. What if I had attended IIM Calcutta instead of IIM Ahmedabad? The earth would not have moved of course, but it was one of the reasons I paid a visit to IIM C a couple of days ago. That, and professional curiosity.

IIM Calcutta is the 'original' IIM. The first one that came into existence. And yet, despite its MIT lineage, the glorious headstart and impressive enough alumni network, it is now considered to be behind not just IIM A but IIM B. What happened?

Well, I can't provide a conclusive answer but here are a few quick impressions. I know my IIM A background may be held against me but in my defence I would like to point out I write about bschools and hence make it my business to gather first hand information about as many as possible.

So this is about more than mera bschool tere b school se accha kaise. For the most part!

Joka, here I come
The postal address of IIM C mentions 'Diamond harbour'. In the course of a 200 buck taxi ride from Howrah station, you get the full 'experience' of Calcutta. Past the amazing British zamaane ka buildings including the Governor's mansion and the India Government Mint.

Past trams, markets and streets and streets of grimy looking structures which look like they haven't been painted since 1947. The scenery does not improve until you reach the IIM C gate.

Inside, is the most beautiful holiday resort you can check into for two years. Yes, I heard of the 'lakes' but imagined they would be ponds. This is breathtaking.

So are the flowers. I'm told they bloom, all year round.

The whole atmosphere is friendly, not intimidating. And here, yes, I will have to compare with IIM A. I remember the first time I walked into that campus, climbed up the Harvard steps and viewed the Louis Kahn plaza. I felt awe. I felt humble, insignificant.

In time, the maze of red brick buildings became more familiar and well loved than home. But a sense of this being a larger than life institution remained. That sense is missing at IIM C.

It may sound superficial to say that architecture can make so much of a difference in making or breaking a brand but it's true. When a newspaper has to choose a stock photo to go with any article on MBA, what does he or she do? 98 times out of 100 the photogenic IIM A makes it to print.

And with many other b schools from MDI to MICA also choosing the red brick look, it's more subliminal brownie points for Brand IIM A.

Looking deeper
IIM C grads themselves admit (and proudly so!) that the institute is extremely laidback. Not just in terms of atmosphere but academics. Even in term 1 only 75% attendance is mandatory.

In contrast no one would dream of bunking in the early weeks at IIMA. Weeks which feel like 'Survivor' episodes although it's rare for anyone to actually get 'eliminated'. But everyone has a few of those nightmares....

In 1991 - when I got my call letters - IIM B was also laidback and less competitive. Except it was considered to be far far behind IIM C. It was, in fact, known as the 'public sector IIM' because that's where its grads generally got jobs.

Then, several things happened. A director who was earlier a faculty member at IIM A fiddled around and made the B program more 'tough'. More importantly, Bangalore's rise as an 'IT capital' saw its stock as a city zoom while Calcutta was stagnating. Placements at IIM B caught up with A and C to a large extent.

Then, circa 2000, a Business Today survey made IIM B the 'no 1' b school in the country. A ranking no one believed but had its shock value.

The next year, A regained its no 1 position but B was now ranked ahead of C in almost every survey. Yet, IIM C and its alumni remained complacent. 'Who believes these surveys anyways?' was their defence.

Which is true but a combination of all the above factors led to a 'tipping point'. Students who had the choice started opting for IIM B to C. Guided by buzz from seniors and advice from coaching institutes.

Having recently visited IIM B I would say there is a sense of forward movement, new ideas, new initiatives on that campus. The PGPSEM program - a 3 year part time course for software professionals is a big hit and will soon be extended to Hyderabad and Chennai. IIM C too has several executive programs but none is a brand name as such.

IIM B has set up an Incubation centre funded by Infosys' N S Raghavan, IIM C has a centre for entrepreneurship and innovation but it seems to be a far more armchair variety than hands-on.

Bangalore being a far more happening city also has an impact in terms of attracting faculty. The faculty list at IIM C is over 90% Bong. Now you can argue that is because Bengalis are one of the few communities naturally inclined towards academics. But the faculty at both IIM A and B is far more mixed.

So it does appear as if sentimental attachment towards Calcutta might be a deciding factor for an academic choosing to work at IIM C. And that very factor may put off others. A friend who taught at IIM C for some time found the city rather dead and oppressive.

That's changing, with Calcutta - and Bengal in general - now playing 'catch up' with the rest of India. But the Joka campus also needs to join that game.

Er, world class?
Whatever the intellectual prowess of IIMC may be, some of the infra structure sucks big time. The hostels are shocking - ancient, lower middle class looking structures.The rooms are tiny- you can barely fit in one bed, and study table. The corridors are full of wooden racks where junta's underwears and banians hang to dry.

Yeah, one of the hostels is 'co ed' (but there's a separate wing for girls - they don' actually have rooms next to each other). That one seems to have rooms with modest balconies. But the overall impression is 1960s, Marxist style living quarters. Peeling paint, rust, lack of maintenance.

IIM A dorms were, in contrast, far better. Even there, much needs to be done to upgrade the old campus housing upto the standards of the new campus. But at IIM C I think entire hostel blocks need to be demolished and rebuilt.

Meanwhile, adding a few modern amenities like a washing machine and mini fridge wouldn't hurt. To attract international students - as IIM C hopes to - these changes will be absolutely necessary!

I am sure had I joined IIM C I too would have fallen in love with the place, mosquitoes et al. I too would have fine memories of the 'Howrah Bridge', friends made, times shared etc etc.

I know a bunch of you are going to be quite upset by now... And that the average IIMC grad believes he or she is special, creative and different compared to the supposedly driven, structured and soulless types from IIM A.

But, to a dispassionate and outside eye, there is a lot that can and must be done to the campus. Rankings aside, IIMC needs to regain its clout, become a leader in certain chosen spheres. Right now it appears content to follow where others dare to tread.

A quick example: IIM A starts a PGP X program (1 year MBA for execs with 7-15 years experience), IIM C follows a few months later. Does it matter who gets there first? Hell, it does!

Perception is reality when it comes to any kind of brand. And right now IIM C seems more slothful than swift. More content to rest on past laurels than carve out a vision for the future. It's time the institute and its alumni wake up and kick some serious butt.


  1. Rash...I guess the points you have raised are hardly of any concern to a common aspiring B-School Grad.

    These comparisons are obnoxious or rather ridiculous to say the least.I think it's time you stop raising such issues on your blog.

    Come on grow up now and stop that Lalita G type meri saree uskee sari comparisons...

  2. Ab well, you know something yaar... it's like when an IIMA Alumnus goes and tours IIMC and then says, 'look, I dint really like it', however unbiassed the opinion might be, it still sounds odd.

    May be all you have said is kind of, from a very neutral point of view, but as a reader, anyone can feel a lil bias somewhere. NO, I haven't been to either of these institutions. I am happy here in the jungles of IIT Madras. But of course, it would be hard for me, to not find things in other IITs which IIT Madras is proud to to have. I guess, you kind of got what I kind of wanted to tell.

    In a sentence, this blog was not for you to write though it's a different issue that you ob write well.

  3. Very frank opinion..

    More than the post by Rashmi I liked the comment by Ajit chouhan. Its not because I am an MCP its because wht he said is absolutely true

  4. Going purely by your account I would choose IIM C over IIM A. To be driven and structured is a personal trait. dont think I need a school to teach me that. And God forbid the day I become soulless.

  5. Rashmi,

    I agree to many of the things you have said, but at some places you have got your facts wrong. Unfortunately, we have 75% attendance all through the six terms.

    And perhaps being laid-back is not all that bad a thing for IIMC if I get a better chance to decide what I want to do with my life than try doing the 'in' thing. I am of the school of thought that too much of drive to do (Comparitively) well makes one follow the herd.

  6. whoa!!
    Way to go Rashmi, the facts are infallible.
    In spite of the obvious lacunae identified, if IIM-C junta do well in life, as they are, .. well we're probbly you know .. hardier .. look it doesnt matter how the buildings are .. our networks within campus and friendships across batches are much stronger .. thats what matters in the end .. the rest evens out. in the long run we're all dead rats anyways

  7. Rashmi,
    I am a regular reader of all your posts, but this is my first comment, because I dont agree with you. What you say may be true, but somehow u mixed up the story by bringing in trivial comparisons. And somewhere the message got muddled. And yes I am from IIMA. So I am not biased.

  8. Hats off 2 u Rashmi !!!! I'm highly disappointed by the way u put up your point.
    There are always two ways of looking at things or anything in life. A glass of water is either half empty or half full, depending on what you choose to see in it.
    Well according to you some ( IIM - A's ) may be lucky to have the grass beneath their feet, and you mean to say some others may fret & fume and look at the neighbours and envy the green of the grass on the other side.

    These are the attitudes of the mind. I can't understand what the point u want to put forward. These sort of comparisons are for which kind of junta......U need not feel nervous as hell about IIM - C's tomorrow. Look at the horizon and its vast expanse, get absorbed by the feeling.

    This campus is our successor's legacy, Amanat, just as you nurture your daughter and help her to grow into a beautiful lady( i don't know u've one or not )only to give her away to another man another family.

    Here we came 2 nurture ourselves, not to see how d buildings are and what kind of infrastructure we've.

    Thanxxx 4 ur suggestions anyways.. we always give others our welcome hand............

  9. Nice pictures-the only thing I liked about the post.

    But whatever happened to your arguments, Rashmi. If you do present facts and use them to draw out arguments for or against any issue,there has to be an attached "so what" to it.

    IIMC doesn't have a system in which girls rooms are next to guys. You mind it...So what? As a reader, why do I think it makes any difference at all ???
    IIMC does not have spic and span, hotel like accomodation. So what? The faculty at IIMC is 90% bong...So what? Your arguments would make perfect sense if-

    1) The girls room not being next to guys adversely affects any kind of intermingling between sexes
    2) The hostels not being hotel like brings down student morale.
    3) Faculty being 90% Bong means that the faculty is not upto the par and the academic standards are comparatively low.

    All of this, sadly, isn't the case. I am missing your point or is there any point at all in this whole post ??

  10. Sorry rashmi!

    didn't like it. the arguments just don't hold. and who's this 'koolvibsflyinghigh'? he probably lives by the media feed of calcutta/kolkata. Go there and then comment.
    btw Trams are the best things to happen to any city.


  11. Rashmi

    I have been a regular visitor to your blog but I can't beleive that the same person has written this post! Did you outsource this one or what?!

    I will not even respond to the points you made, guess lots of people are already doing that.

    And what timing! Just when interview admissions are on and students will decide which IIM among A,B,C they want to join (if they get that lucky, that is). You sure did a good job.

    Sorry to say that this post seems more like one written by a 20 yr old unsuccessful IIM aspirant than one written by a (distinguished?!) alumna.

    Guess its only fair to disclose that yes, am an IIM C alumni, albeit a hurt one.

    Best wishes,

  12. I would say point of view matters.
    Would be really interested to know Ma'am if you actually decide to go to an institute because it has better infra.And as far as usage of pictures is concerned, I would say that
    should give the readers another biased view of the IIM C campus, which is my second most favourite one, the first being my alma mater.

    didnt really want to post this comment, but in light of the fact that a lot of aspirants read ur blog, felt the need to provide another pictographic biased view.

  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  14. I am an admirer of your posts and
    always recommend your articles to
    everyone.. so i guess i have earned
    the right to blast this post as almost
    complete drivel.

    "If you dont know Bengali in Kolkata, then you are gone because people dont want to communicate in any other language."

    This is the crappiest part.
    Forget short time visitors.. many many
    marwaris have lived and done business
    in Calcutta for generations .. many
    of them do not speak bengali (though
    many of them do speak). if you can
    sell clothes to retail customers
    (including innerwear) without knowing
    bengali, you gotta admit your statement is way off.

  15. CAM with dragonfire :))

  16. Its a bit awkward to comment on a blog. After all blogs are opinion pieces and you can have any opinion, even if it is erroneous. Its none of my business.

    But the popularity of your blog is what prompts me to post some sort of a rebuttal.

    From the reading of your blog, the points that I can see mentioned are:

    1.The city is grimy, laidback and not at all dynamic like Abad or Bangalore.
    - Laidback I can agree with, but grimy and "experience" is part of any city. After facing Bangalore traffic you don’t have an experience, you have a rebirth.

    2. IIMC has a very resort like campus.
    - Thanks. We are about to re-build a Beautiful Jetty. This calm atmosphere is what helps us avoid that stressful and harried look that other MBA students always seem to have. After all brick walls are not exactly known for soothing people.

    3. ...viewed the Louis Kahn plaza. I felt awe. I felt humble, insignificant.
    - Interesting point. This, I think, is a key difference. I never felt intimidated or insignificant or "being unworthy of" in IIMC. But then different institutes have different ways of inspiring people. Some do it with fears "better attend classes or else ....", some do it with support "enjoy yourself while you learn".

    3. IIMC Programs are not tough. While A and B really put their students through a grinder.
    - Being put through forced, stressful labour is enjoyed more by a masochistic bent of mind. Even so, the amount of work that is part of curriculum in IIMC, the range of courses and projects that we do is nothing to scoff at. Its a talent to not appear stressed out even when you are being overworked. 75% attendance vs. 90% attendance: college level independence vs. school level guidance and control.

    4. Business magazine rankings
    - Very controversial. You might want to check Recruiter’s perception rankings. After all placements are supposed to be the most important thing.

    5. Sense of movement, new ideas, initiatives
    - You have to be here to know about that. I really don’t know how much you know about IIMC but it seems to be based on a one day visit which does not do justice.

    6. Faculty being 90% bong.
    - So what is the point?

    7. Infrastructure not up to the mark
    - True. At the moment, we are not where we would like to be. But I think the importance of big red brick buildings is a tad overstated in determining the student or the institute quality.

    Overall, it was a controversial blog piece which elicited a lot of response. But I am sure this was neither unexpected nor unwelcome.

    I think you are trolling.

  17. do u really think that whether there are banians hanging on the corridor or designer suits make any difference to the qulity of a b-school.

    and about the architecture i believe that a building which makes you feel humble and insignificant is just achieving the opposite of what should be intended in a place of learning (remember Stoddard Temple in The Fountainhead)

    if u really wanted to compare iima, b or c u should have done that using more serious parameters like placements, number of papers published etc.

    (just for clarification - im not an iimc student)

  18. Way to go, Rashmi!

    Of course, buildings matter! Take a lot at the stiff competition that goes on in US campuses. To give an example, my former school, (Haas, Berkeley)has remodelled its campus to pursue its goal of being in the top 5 B-schools in the world.

    Of course, diversity in faculty matters. Once again, Haas has had the distinction of attracting a diverse international pool of academics - from Nobel Prize winners, to top govt officials to big time entrepreneurs and executives. Diversty in the student pool matters too. I found it an eye opening experience to intereact with extremely bright and articulate people from all walks of life and not just from the IT sector.

    Rashmi clearly has pride in these institutions and wants them to be world class. Her post was a nudge in the right direction. Clearly, if you want to attract a certain profile of students and faculty, you have to *look* and *act* world-class and here, and rankings matter!

    Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley are recognized brands the world over. Yet, their deans are constantly thinking of ways to innovate teaching methods, rip apart campuses, raise funds, fund research and bring about real change in industry and society. In fact, alumni keep getting emails and snail mails from the deans of these schools.

    Something we Indians can learn from them, no?

  19. Okay, to begin with, you're missing IIM C's biggest advantage over WIMWI - W. Bengal is NOT a dry state. You can actually get beer on the IIM C campus! BEER (sob!). And if you want something harder, you get to CHOOSE - you don't just gratefully accept whatever moonshine your local bootlegger manages to arrange. That alone should be enough to convince any right thinking person to go to C. :-).

    Seriously, though, I do think you're being unfair to Cal. I'm never averse to articles that laud the old alma mater, but even I'm forced to admit that the arguments you make here for its superiority over Cal barely hold water. I mean, okay, so I definitely agree that Ahmedabad has better architecture. But I don't know about anything else.

    1) When I visited Cal in 2001 my sense was that the hostels were better, not worse - certainly Net connectivity from hostel rooms was superior at the time (though I suspect it's about the same now), and rooms were a little smaller, but otherwise amenities were more or less equivalent.

    2) Calcutta, your friend says, is dead and oppressive. Compared to what, Ahmedabad? Which features half a decent movie hall, no theatre to speak of, and a half dozen genuine restaurants? Really?

    3) While I'm all for diversity of faculty - I'm not sure that Bong vs. otherwise is the relevant dimension to judge diversity on. Surely where they got their PhDs from, or what disciplines they're trained in would be more useful?

    4) Let's leave arguments that imply that spending more time in classrooms equals greater learning or a more rigorous program to the Ponytails of the world, shall we? Nothing I've seen or heard on Cal campus or experienced in years of working with IIM Cal graduates suggests to me that the Cal program is any less analytical or rigorous than the program at Ahmedabad. They may spend less time in the classroom, but that doesn't mean they're less competitive. And frankly, I can think of plenty of courses I took at A where I would have been much better off attending only 70% of classes. If only.

    I do agree, though, that IIM C could do a better PR job - so to the extent that you're saying it's an undervalued institute I'm entirely with you.

    Bottomline: I've worked with a number of IIM Cal alumni over the years; some of them are close friends of mine. And I've never had anything but respect for their ability, attitude or talent. My assumption has therefore always been that IIM C is, in every objective way, as good a business school as Ahmedabad. So if it's genuinely true, as you would have us believe, that the infrastructure is worse, the faculty less competent and the course work less challenging and dynamic, then I can only conclude (reluctantly) that their students must be smarter than ours - just to compensate. But we're not really going to believe that, are we?

  20. Been to neither, but odd to see adults behaving like kids....Interesting.
    As long as the finished product is good what else matters??
    Atleast it probably leaves the IIMC ians hardier and little more down to earth than the IIMA ians with no offence to other IIMA ians.

  21. IIMs are so overhyped that ppl are not even ready to acknowledge the lack of adequate infrastructure. Someone commented on what difference would infra have for a potential B School aspirant. Well wait for another 5 -8 years when many top universities around the world come and establish their campuses ! Do you guys think they would provide the same facilities you have @ IIM- C ?

    Why only look at the infra . i think all the IIMs should dig depper into their dens and answer some basic questions like : In its so many years of existence why hasn't IIMs produced more than a handful of world class leaders as yet. Why are only most of the CEOs hailing from the Harvards, and Whartons of the world ? i guess something is terribly wrong with the system. Having said that I must accept the fact that most of the students who get into any IIM are very intelligent. But once they enter an IIM for most of them as someone rightly put it is a case of " I was born intelligent but education ruined me . "

    If you just wander around a few B Schools , have a peek into the hostel rooms you would have perhaps derived a new meaning for "world class infrastructure ".

    I live in Mumbai and if you have some spare time while moving around the fort area use the male rest room @ JBIMS . And you would understand what I mean.

  22. hey rashmi abt th IIM-A intimidating part.......i was at IIM-A for my GD/PI and i think the building was so intimidating that it was not inviting....
    also i think abt the laid back attitude and 75% attendence....i think that is much better than breathing down someones back.......that tooo at the PG level!These people are not junior college students....

    Also i do understand this is you personal opinion...but i did not like this post.Its not just IIM-c you should not compare any college to another.....werent you the one who said the the B-schools must concentrate less on the rankings and solve the real problem?!

    im really disappointed in this one...

  23. dear rashmi,

    i am a regular reader of your blog, and well, i wouldn't repeat other commenters in saying that u dissapointed me in this blog. You are entitled to your point of view that "my b school is better than yours", because inspite of your saying it, this is what your post sounded like.

    You compared IIM A and IIM C on basis of the regional attributes of faculty, not their achievements, you compared the two on the basis which was more "laidback", on percentage of attendence required, on how "middle class" and "marxist" the living quarters were. The point remains is what should be the priority of these factors when comparing b schools.

    You said that IIM A's breathtaking architecture out shines IIM C's.

    Would you really say these are not trivial points of comparison.

    If someone were to compare Harvard or Sloan with IIM A, would they be comparing them on these factors to say which is better?

    I would request you not to call this a proper comparison and the reasons IIM C went wrong, but a totally personal account of why you though your life was better because you were in IIM A. I guess you got a little mixed up.


    ps- i am not a student from any of the iim-s

  24. Piush,

    I think we have all the rights to criticize the post but to start levelling frivolous charges makes it all look really childish. she has a right to express her opinions and we readers can retort to the 'post' but let's not accuse her of writing it for publicity.
    Rashmi, we might not agree on some posts but we love your blog. period.


  25. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  26. Rashmi,..i follow your blog regularly and sometimes i have to admit that a bit of IIMAish arrogance creeps into your writings. Architecture wise and campus wise, IIMB has been hailed as being the best, and i'm saying this not because i'm an alumni. and having lived calcutta, yes...everything about calcutta has "soul" and i will never understand why people don't like calcutta as a city.

  27. If your whole point is that the relaxed-image and the chillout kind of perception IIMC portrays to the outside world is the core of the problem of its relative brand image tumbling, I guess it didn't come across.

    What comes across is that you consider IIMA as the model institution and the de facto standard, and that you don't like the city (Calcutta) or the IIMC hostel rooms and infra surrounding it.

  28. Since everybody has said just about everything else, let me add just that wee bit that has been left unsaid (I am a Joka alum). Yeah, you're probably right about the infrastructure and all (haven't visited the campus in two decades) but ...

    - ganja was available right outside the campus gate from Kishanda

    - we had the pleasure of taking our female compatriots for boat rides (that was stopped, I learned, after a couple of students drowned)

    - we had the pleasure of taking Rekha (student) out for a walk around the lake. This was a required duty of all male students in our batch.

    - we got to eat mishthi dohi at Sri Durga's in Behala, just opposite the tram depot (do they still have trams?)

    - we got to drink the famous Jupiter 21 beer

    - we got to listen to lectures by phamous, eminent, Marxist economists (remember, we were young, idealistic, and hence Marxist then)

    - we lived too far away from town to get into much trouble

    - the famous Bengali Puja festival; 'nuf said

    - we got to rescue villagers during a huge downpour, when the entire region (including our campus) turned into monstrous inland sea.

    - we learned why Marxism and socialism are pretty lousy ideas; unlike numerous Indian professional Leftist "intellectuals" who study and work in places like JNU and run "NGOs", two years in Kolkata will cure you of this disease forever

    To cut short this already overlong story, you're right about a lot of what you're saying, but ... no Indian campus will ever compare with even the lowliest campus in the US, so what are we arguing about? Harvard is phamous not for its instruction or facilities(you can get as good instruction at US business school #20 for one-tenth the money) but for its "connections". You can ignore pretty much everything you learn at Harvard and yet succeed. CAT selects people who are smart and motivated enough -- it is just a filter. They will probably do just as well even if they spent two years inside a coal mine.

    Sure, I think IIM-C should improve its campus. So should IIM-B and IIM-A and all the 23 other alphabets. (BTW - I have spent a couple of terms teaching at IIM-B: the sarkari bureaucracy there including peons, is nauseating. Likewise at IIM-C.) None of this is likely to greatly impact how the alums perform later in life.

    Just my 88-odd paise.


  29. Rashmi ..Please come out of this IIMania.. :-))

    write something else...

  30. Amen to Ali. As Voltaire put it (or I think he put it) - "Dude I dunno what you say, but I defend to kingdom come ya right to say it". I'm not from any of the IIMs, being a humble CA (and God knows what a complete bunch of bores we are), but I am a fan of this site. Vot publicity yaar ! I mean come on - this is a blog !! - its OPINION !!

  31. Well, i suppose the marxist thoughts do flow over. After all , how long can a capitalist establishment remain without being affected by the unreasonable marxist crap being talked outside the gates. The apathy has to carry over. Its not the IIM, Kolkata itself has that image of laidbackness, pointless arguments, apathy and gloom. 20 years of Marxism , nay more of Maoism rather than Marxism.

    God Bless IIMC. In fact, I hope all IIMS do well. Wish you success. (disclaimer: i am not an IIMian, in fact not an MBA at all)

  32. Hey Rashmi,

    Success is yours! Traffic is up; you have suddenly changed your image from a somewhat treacly do-gooder to a controversial Christopher Hitchens-type provocateur; and basically spiced up your blog with this post. :)

    Way to go, spice-lady!

  33. Guess if you had presented a 'neutral' visitor's perspective on IIM, it would have been more bloggish rather than sloggish, so to speak. Passing judgments based on hanging underwears, small rooms, homogeneous faculty is a bit too harsh. Hence this outburst. Treating (and enjoying) any new place as an absolute might be a better idea.
    As a sidenote, modernisation of infrastructure wont necessarily mean un-underwearisation of hostel corridors :)

  34. --- Now Kolkata as a city is the next hot thing, and the general mood among people and administrators of the state/city is quite similar to what would have been in Bangalore 7-8 years ago. So the only way it can go is up.

    Is it so. kolkota ?? Next Hot thing ?!? .. I am surprised. Whatever industry was there in the earlier days, has been driven out by cpm terrorists on the streets calling bandh every alternate day.
    Bengal can never progress as long as your cpm maoists are around.

  35. Yet another disappointing one from you Rashmi. Not worth the space it is eating both for the post and the reactions.

    I remember you writing some time back that you regret not writing enough. If writing this kind of posts is what you call writing enough - then you were better off writing less.

    I tend to agree with what kidinutopia, piush and Govar has commented about this post.

  36. Am I the only guy here who thinks some of the things being said in the comments are ridiculous!

    First of all...I have neither attended nor been to any of the IIM's so my opinion is out of the question.

    But I do find the attitude of some of the commenters absurd.
    On a large scale people seem to be pissed that 'this post hasnt lived up to the standards'. Ok...maybe true but I dont think she has any obligation to outdo herself everytime. This is her blog goddamitt...she can write anything she wants and I feel noone has any right to expect something and then flame her personally for not living upto those.
    As a responsible editor for JAM she has a responsibilty to provide unbiased opinions...IN THE MAGAZINE. Why shud she in her personal space? None of you are paying for the 'bandwidth/netspace' she is taking up. So stop cribbing that 'this post doesnt deserve its resources used'. God...that has to be the stupidest thing anyone has ever said.

    And the most ridiculous accusation is the one related to Rashmi trying increase her blog-popularity through her posts. Something like this doesnt even deserve a rebuttal.

    So a lot of you are pissed at her for making unfair comparison. From her post and from some of the more sensible comments I guess she probably was being unfair. But for godssake stop this righteousness facade and criticize her in a healthy way.

  37. The point of whether Rashmi's article is biased or not - its quite irrelevant. All that is relevant is whether much of what is mentioned is true or not.

    Its so easy to dismiss it as an opinion of an exIIMA - but the point is for a common man /aspiring student/overseas corporate recruiters, its going to look much worse - because they have much higher expections from the campus that Rashmi would anyway.

    Its really sad to see IIMCians being in this state of denial !!

  38. Totally agree with Murli on the Filtering part. I too believe that a lot of what comes out of IIM A,B,C is due to what goes in - rather than the "process". Sure the hostels at Joka leave a lot to be desired. I lived in one of those rooms with the picturesque undies right outside for 2 years- do I regret it - hell no. I was thankful that there was a Dhobi to wash clothes though. And the lake I could look at when I wasn't looking at the undies wasn't too bad either.

    Personally I thought the hostels at Joka were much better than those at IIT-M. When I just joined IIT M (98)- there was a water problem in Chennai. The loos didn't have working flushes which worked and if you started your day without encountering fixed deposits, you considered yourself lucky.
    IIM C was by that note - much better. For any darned moment does that take anything away from IIT-M students? Hell no. Does IIM C infra suck- yes.
    Does it take away from IIM C students- no..Does it suck as much as it is made out by the pics and this post-probably not.
    Calcutta might be laid back. IIM C admin might suck. But IIM C is what is is, despite these, not because of these.
    Infra and sad profs are a common complaint across IIMs. My friends from IIM A and B have mentioned profs who are amazing and some who are atrocious. IIM C has its share. We do have some amazing profs too, both bong and non bong.
    I agree IIM C infra surely needs to improve though - but on the red bricks part- I haven't seen or been awed by them But well, I'll settle for the Joka lakes, the jetty, the Howrah bridge, and if you dont agree - may the birds poop on you :)

    Cynical Side notes: From what I've seen, people usually pick A over B and C.
    Between B and C people pick based on geographical proximity to home/boyfriend/girlfriend/other soft reasons. A lesser number of people pick C or B over A for the same reasons. The more fun loving people might pick C or B because of
    - no (now lesser/less strict) attendance -c
    - i love bangalore -b
    - bong factor -c
    - my friends are going to either - b/c
    - iit kgp -> c

    And that I think is the way it should be - because I believe there is little to choose between them.

    So all these debates mostly result in a lot of time pass. Continuing on the filtering theme - Last year, A leading recruiter (yes!it was a bank!) was heard saying "We need people who can do some math and can communicate well. The rest- we can teach them."

    So long as intelligent people clear cat and go to the IIMs, recruiters will continue to go there in hordes cos the average quality of talent here is higher than elsewhere- red bricks, Kahn architecture, Lakes and bird poo notwithstanding.


  39. One major factor to not go to IIMA - No alcoholic drinks available. You have to get the stuff illegally at a premium

  40. Very, very interesting debate, at least to a non-IIM alumnus outsider like me. Rashmi, with regard to your piece, my observations are:

    I'm sorry to say, but I don't share your enthusiasm for the IIMA building. I don't care much for Louis Kahn as an architect, especially that monstrosity he designed as the Dhaka Parliament. The IIMA building is no different, and is very austere and uninviting. Give me a socialist type office-block any day that doesn't masquerade as great architecture.

    The attendance thing is redundant at the level of postgraduate studies. Anyone motivated enough to get into an IIM can take care of his/her own classes.

    Diversity is great, but I don't know how useful it is if all faculty members are Indians who've passed through the same national education system. As Arun says, it does count for a lot in a place like Haas, because the faculty and student body is truly international. This is certainly not the case for any of the IIMs.

    I just checked the US B-school rankings and they have Harvard in first place, almost neck-to-neck with Stanford and Wharton. Now if I was choosing between them, I would invariably choose Stanford. Why? Heck which moron would drop gorgeous Palo Alto to go freeze their ass in Cambridge, Mass. Maybe folks are choosing IIMC for the liquor after all :).

  41. about Indian's absolute inability to consider another point of view.
    Remember that Rashmi is in the magazine industry, and seems to understand much better than most of the commentators on her blog, that perception matters, in fact it is everything. Whether she believes newspaper rankings are an accurate portrayal of actual quality, is irrelevant. What is important, as Rashmi mentions, is that those ratings actually influence good students' choice of a B school. She gives her opinion on why she believes the magazines' perceptions of IIM-C have dropped, and all you guys can do is bash it. It is okay to disagree, but most opinions come across as Knee jerk reactions, rather than considered thoughts.

    Her points,
    1) The awe inspiring look that the campus lacks. You have to have lived near a building that is inspirational to realize the effect architecture has on a human. But that is besides the point, fact is, many aspirants might be inspired to go to a college which fills them with grandeur, rather than a college whose atmosphere looks no different from where they spent the last 15 years of their life. Most probably, daring and risk taking people would choose the former alternative. Do note that this will have a very small yet significant influence.

    2) Diversity is essential. Every man is the sum of his experiences, and people from similar geographical and cultural backgrounds tend to have similar thinking. 90% of the faculty being of any single group (whether Bong, Jewish, or Konkani) is bad irrespective of the quality of the professors. While it does not hurt the students, it prevents them from acquiring an appreciation for other thoughts, ideas and cultures (a point which seems very well demonstrated by most of the respondents to this post).

    3) Forget comparing IIM-C to A, the fact that an institute that claims to be modern and international, needs its students to dry clothes in their rooms, definitely gives the impression that it does not live up to those claims. Note that I am not saying that it is not a great university, or as modern as you can get, but these clothes do not present that idea, in fact, they give the impression of an ordinary outdated school. Instead of comparing, if you would think about improving your alma mater as best as you can, rather than being satisfied by the status quo, Rashmi's post would surely have looked quite different.

    For the record, I am a 2nd year undergraduate student studying in the USA, having lived in Bombay for all my life before college.

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  43. I very much agree with Kali/Varun...guys wake up and is someone who is talking what she wants in her blog, in her space, and in her time, she has all the rights to do so... Where is freedom of speech gone? Is it just we use it in our defences only during controversies external to blogosphere? Is it not internally applicable too? Why go on an attacking-spree now? Why can't we be sensible enough to just read the blog with an open mind and take the good things and ignore the ones we don't need/care...why to stoop to such low levels of criticisms...It sure defeats the purpose of education big time...

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  45. Murli: I don't remember seeing any trams around, and I'm afraid I must have missed Rekha on my trip there, but just wanted to say that yes, the mishti doi was truly spectacular. As was the ganja. Though mixing the two proved to be not such a good idea.

    Personally, I think the best indicator of IIM C's lack of proper infrastructure is the lakes. Just look at the lakes that US business schools like Northwestern have. IIM C's lakes are nothing in comparison. It's such a shame. :-).

  46. A person can be judged in more than one way - attire, watch, shades, footwear etc...because, these reflect a person's personality...the same holds good for anything including Institutes...

  47. @Kickinthebutt,

    When Rashmi's intentions are not against anyone, why try making it now on your own? I would urge you to read Varun's point # 2 and then tell what you think...It's precisely what Rashmi and a whole lot of us think...

  48. Rashmi’s painstaking efforts should inspire change. Change for better… That is what development communications is all about….

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  50. I can go on and on with my arguments but then I am more aware that there are people in this world who can never be convinced I sign-off here...

  51. @Falstaff, good to know that ganja and mishthi doi are still available in plenty. I fear, however, that our dear pusher-man Kishanda and his equally stoned goat are no more. Circle of life.

    You couldn't have met Rekha at IIMC. She is long gone from there. Two kids, and in the USA.

    Comparing Joka's lakes with something in the US is unfair. In comparison with anything in the US even the famed Louis Kahn structures are going to suffer.

    BTW, the B V Doshi (of Kanvinde and Doshi, student of Le Corbusier of Chandigarh fame) designed IIMB campus looks impressive initially, but try spending some time in those dark, dank, granite interiors. Also, none of the IIMB buildings will pass US safety regulations. Try taking small children upstairs in the library: they are likely to fall from them. You'll need to tie them to table legs or something like that.

    How about this: I am the only guy to have circumnavigated the Joka campus in both directions in a boat. This was when the entire locality (tens of square miles) was under water after a heavy monsoon downpour. This feat can never be repeated. Take that, Northwestern!

    This is Rashmi's blog, and she is sharing her genuine impressions. Par for the course. But she is making her impressions public. She can take the heat too, I guess.

    I visited my undergrad alma mater a few years ago with my son. It was a very painful experience. The only bright spot was my nickname, scribbled in then wet cement in the bathroom, had endured three decades of wear.

    A general upgradation of facilities across the board, all over India is in order. I think a tour of Infosys, Wipro and other such gleaming modern campuses should do much to inspire. On the other hand, civic sense needs to improve across the board among all Indians too. Without this, a gleaming, modern, new campus will quickly die of rot.

  52. Rashmi,
    I agree tht everyone has his/her own opinion abt everything but displaying it in public forum (mind it, ur blogsite is a public forum by now) will obviously create such furore, which i m sure was expected by you.
    I also have lots of opinion abt a lots of things which may be controversial like selection of ganguly/ attitude prob with IIMA alumnus/ winning of Debojit et al, but that does not mean that i will make my outburst on a public forum like this.
    All i can say is that this is the most immature article by an IIM alumnus i have ever read.

  53. To UNdertaker...

    how many blogs of IIMA alumni have u can u make such a generic statement...

    please do ur homework before makin such statements......

    and who are you to judge the immaturity...are u claimin maturity....

    and most of all if she has acted immaturely why do u expect her to react maturely to ur comment...

    all i can say is u have wasted ur time ..

  54. Rashmi Bansal a lot was said by you in this blog about Infrastructure. Bengali culture, Lower middle class looking hostel rooms, mosquitoes etc.

    What ever you said is based on very little information and that too fairly incorrect but what was your point in saying all this. Who were the target audience?

    If it was just for comparing IIM C with A and B, then I must say it was an extremely narrow minded comparison.
    I believe if you want to compare two different entities, than you should only compare the effectiveness of the outcome from them. Why do you want to see the process? Why do you want to compare on the basis of these factors that are not at all important? Why it is that you want to show some one miniature to prove yourself large?
    If you want to put side by side IIMs than weigh on the basis of student’s profile, placements, academic achievements and how the alumnus of that IIM are being rated in the industry. These are the attributes that a student gains from high profile learning and with over all personality development.

    If it was only to inform the Government or Board of IIM C regarding the “so called falling” Brand image, then also there was no need to put all this in a public forum. You could have prepare a report/ presentation and send it to Ministry of HRD and IIM C Board.
    IIM is a brand name because the word INDIAN associated with it. It not about IIM A, B, C, I, K or L it is only about INDIAN and by posting such blogs you are seriously spoiling brand INDIA.
    A Student while making decision about which IIM to join never considers its location or infrastructure. His only parameter is the value that he could add by joining the institute. If Govt. of India open an IIM in the middle of a “so called backward state” Bihar, student will join that too and companies will come there also because they only trust Brand IIM.

    You said that hostel room looks like lower middle class tiny structure and hostels needs to be demolished. What was your point that a person from lower middle class has no right to study in an IIM or just by entering into IIM you are entitled to live in a Five Star Apartment?
    Do you know that even today more than 25% of Indian population is below poverty line and literacy rate is 64%? When there is such a serious need of fund, why to demolish a structure that is perfectly safe and provide good living conditions to more than 700 students? Why don’t you write something that could help Govt. or other Indians in improving the infrastructure of our country in some way?
    I think these issues are much much bigger than infrastructure of IIM C. But you won’t write about them because from your post it seems like you want cheap publicity.

    Think at least for once about what I have said because no responsible Indian will post such immature thing.

    I believe that as a grad of IIMs our responsibility is to feel every Indian proud on us. I request other readers also to not compare on such parameters. We must only try to enhance the brand equity of IIMs.

  55. I quite agree with a lot of points you've put but as many have stated it still will smell of a bias to any reader (It does atleast to me).
    Why don't you conduct these kinds of IIMA Vs Other management Inst comparisons via an independent person rather than you yourself?
    I have been at neither of the two campuses but if anything you've told for IIM C is true then its time for them to wake up.

  56. Dear Ms Bansal.

    Do you really think that IIM A is IIM A because we have a mini fridge and a washing machine in each dorm? Your post is yet another A vs C post with perhaps content far more trivial than most.

    The entire piece smacks of frivolity - is architecture that intimidates you really the source of IIM A's success?

    In addition to insulting a lot of people from Cal, you're also belittling those of us at Ahmedabad.

    I don't want to get into another debate of which is better. I believe both schools are great and both need quite some work before they become world class.

    I am justly proud of my alma mater. But for things such as the quality of students that come here, the intensity of the course, the brilliant professors. Praising us with great architecture and mosquito free dorms is more insulting than calling us second class!

    - An irritated PGP1@ IIMA

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  58. There are a few things I would like to point out.
    The minimum attendance required in IIM A is 80percent.
    Secondly IIM A started a one year program PGP X only after ISB Started and became relatively successful. I m not saying your point does not have merit, just that you seem to come across as being biased.

    Now please don't level accusations of me trying to defend IIM C. Being a 1st year student of IIM A I have absolutely no incentive of doing so. I m just saying please try to get post your views in a more objective manner. The article to me, seemed liked one which had a prejudged result of the comparisions ..rather than evaluating each college on their merits and then giving your judgement.

    Thank you
    Rahul Mamman
    D15-10 IIM A

  59. Congratulions on a wonderful aricle...It seems a fair and objective assesment of the way things have discussed the problems and provided your solutions ...I have no idea that why are people responding in such a manner here...IIM-C is a wonderful institution...the hanging chuddies banians nowithstanding...such things are built for nostalgia and certainly when you have that Ibank job in London ,ul recall those experiences...with a smile on ur face...yes a lot needs to be done on the infrastructure front...and that holds true for most institutions...Overall I am in agreement with Rashmi...I can't really compare the creative aspirations between A & C but I m sure.With due respect to the Bong Intellegensia an overwhelming Bong faculty is not a great idea simply because diversity in the faculty is not only healthy but also has become a USP in most institutions...btw I am not from any IIM-A,B,C,D x y z....or any other..just an observer

  60. What does having a 90% bengali faculty profile be a negative for IIMC if the faculty is well qualified? Its ridiculous to bring this point into the picture!

    Also regarding the laidback attitude, dont you think it is the students credential that he could achieve lot more or equally so with a little relaxation?

    I am no IIM grad, but hope to be one some day, but such an assessment on your part will not have any bearing on which one I will choose.

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  63. @koolvibsflyinghigh
    "If you dont know Bengali in Kolkata, then you are gone because people dont want to communicate in any other language." -- crap !!
    you knw wht?? u ve totally wrong idea abt Cal.. every Bong may nt be able to speak Hindi fluently.. but atleast they r able to understand it n ll def try to reply ur query, they watch hindi movies as much as they watch bengali movies.. u ve stated very wrongly abt Kol Mr Kool...

    o ya Bongs r highly intellectual :) but thts not a pt to be highlighted.. we r Indians.. thts it..
    i never saw IIT-ians comparing themselves? y do IIM-ites need to?? after all IITs n IIMs are 'd premier' institutes of our country!

  64. Rashmi,

    Your post was ridiculous. I dont see the reason behind your article. If you are an IIM-A alumni, the institute must have imbibed in a feeling of welfare for the country as whole. I can bet they never teach to endorse IIM-A and make a mockery of other IIMs! I dont know what special elevtive you took to have this stuff in your mind. It would have been great if you would have talked about the beauty of taking something from others! For that matter the executive developmetn pgm you talked about! Is it something to feel shy of, when we take something good from somewhere and master it better than others? I dont who is better but I dont see any point in making this statement by you!

    >And what you wanted to prove by that drying underwear stuff! I guess you also live like normal human being and you wash your clothes and hang them for drying somwhere! I wont like to make a statement against any IIM for that matter. But where do you hang your clothes for drying? Do you hang them in your cupboard and lock it?

    >And yes whats the point of having all Bong Profs? DO you have any problems. Anyone can see a racist in you from that statement. I guess you forgot that intellectuals are supposed to stand for India and not Kolkata or Ahmedabad like you standing. I guess by your statements, some regional outfits my contact you for advocating their interest. Can you see a repercussion of your statement! How come you earned your degree from such a prestigious institute?

    > Well, architecture and building. Point well made. But ywould you like to read in an institute which has worst faculty nothing to teach but has a 5 start campus! Well, a good campus, high-tech and swanky is needed by everyone but not at the cost of the real thing for which it is setup and I guess that is EDUCATION! You should see that the recruiters dont come to see the buildings from all over the world bu to hire talent! They have great buildings than any educational institute here! DO you think that matters most! It would have been great if you would have dealt with this point in a manner to point out that the buildings are old but the people are there who make anything livelier! You know more than I do about how you could have handled this point!







  66. It was fun reading the post. Didnt have time to read the comments. Guess those would be full of people throwing mud at each other. By the way, would be joining IIMC this June..still a great read..and some great issues addressed.

    Thumbs up!!

  67. @koolvibswhoever

    If you wear shades in the night, this is what you get. Kolkata is not a metropolitan city you say. I shouldn't argue. For an individual whose intelligence allows him a blogger name called koolvibsflyinghigh, spelling Kolkata properly, I think is a great feat in itself.

  68. Nice post. Being an old hand, I remember the days when IIM B was a new school and IIM C and A were the places to be. How things change...

  69. IIMA started its PGPX program on the heels of ISB then. whatdya say bout that? :P

  70. maybe its just ain't a coincidence that certain b schools r more into habit of producing attention mongers... chetan bhagat being one...along with the author of this blog !

  71. I just converted my IIM A call and will join this year. I think that we are comparing two great institutions here and they are both at the top of their game. As far as rankings go, well those are crap. I can say this because I am a student of a NIT (Surat) and I see musical chair being played with the rankings every year, whether its engg colleges or bschools. As for me, it wouldnt have made much of a diff to me if I would join A or C. As for the 75% attendance thing, i guess its a matter of choice.

  72. But, to a dispassionate and outside eye, there is a lot that can and must be done to the campus.

    The problem is, you wont be seen as a dispassionate eye. The article is inconsequential. totally.

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