India, in the twenty first century, is comfortably poised at the threshold of excellence when it comes to business education. However excellence in my view, is the state or quality of excelling that earns honour and respect from people. Moments of excellence can happen by default when the rest fail and only one succeeds. That is not sustainable excellence since this is achieved by only a stray episode coming through a stroke of luck. We should strive for sustained excellence at all times rather than some moments of excellence coming through by chance.
The Indian management education is undergoing a paradigm shift in its scope and essence. However any progress comes with its own quiver of challenges. At the same time every challenge is an opportunity in disguise and every innovation bears its genesis in obstacles faced and conquered. Rhetoric claims that the nation’s education system has this unflinching ability to provide the best-in-class theoretical education, yet inadvertently, it has not been able to transform it into a viable catalyst for progress. India houses a massive pool of talent, some of the best educational institutions but we still need to develop a theoretical framework which is embedded within the structural and functional arrangement of our system. In this process, we have to increase the fitness of our management education system so that it can belong to local as well as global environment. We have to develop those structures, patterns and systems which are not externally imposed on us but are evolved based on our needs and aspirations. This well-knitted domestic ecosystem, benchmarked with the best in the world can help us to move up on the growth ladder. This would be based on the interplay between the system and the environment and would lead to evolution of both. Developing this system is neither utopian, nor impossible for a country like India which is comfortably mounted on an enviable economic growth gradient, geared up to surge ahead.
Management education sector is a continuously evolving one and it is still not in its saturation phase. Hence, while there have been many entrants in last two to three years in the management education space, quite a few have also vacated this space and many have difficulty filling their capacity because of their inability to manage target expectations. Most of the B-schools have started paying attention to upgradation, rationalisation and restructuring of course curriculum to make them practically viable for aspirants. Since no institution can afford to stand still adorning the ornaments of the past glory. We have to keep moving ahead embracing the changing environment, earning more glory that is contemporary.
Business students need to have onsite practical experiences in real work environment that will enhance their learning and understanding. Towards this, management teaching should reflect ground-level realities in Indian businesses. Innovative pedagogical tools and practical learning methodologies should become the substratum of Indian management education. Academicians should have a dialogue with management practioners and understand the requirements of business and business challenges. Wherever and whenever possible, the curriculum should then be redesigned to meet this latent demand thereby including effective and relevant management principles.
The new redesigned curriculum at leading B-schools should consistently focus on integrating business ethics, corporate accountability, corporate citizenship and global competitiveness in management education. A need is now being felt towards developing ethical managers and business leaders with a high sense of accountability to the society. Additionally, there has also been an increased focus on the developing soft skills like interpersonal communication, managing conflicts and negotiations. An increasing focus on developing entrepreneurial mindset is now clearly visible. Moreover, there has also been a growth in the family business enterprises and hence management programmes are now directed towards it. B-schools have to adopt a multidisciplinary integrative approach which, can deal with ‘business’ as a whole, instead of teaching marketing, sales, finance, etc. This helps students to learn everything in an interdisciplinary manner. In other words, the corporate needs should well be echeloned in the management education curriculum by putting more emphasis on practical exposure and execution skills, as against just theory. There is also a burgeoning demand for executive education. Apart from long term courses, short term customised executive development programmes are important to develop the skills of those in business. In the wake of financial meltdown, a larger number of executives were seen joining such short term management development programs offered by several reputed business schools in India.
One of the key challenges most premier B-Schools face contemporarily is that of faculty competency development. As a corollary, institutes today are initiating faculty exchange programs, investing in capacity building and inducing fresh blood. Indian B-Schools are increasingly advocating the best of domestic and international associations and tie-ups, since they see viable and tangible values in those in bettering the academic standards. The strategic interest in all such opportunities is driven by the need for creating an impact or having footprints that go beyond national boundaries. As the world gets globally connected, unification of professional education enriches the process of learning. Collaborations reinforce the complementary strengths of the partner institutes. Collaboration is the keyword, if B schools wish to survive in today’s cut throat market conditions. They don’t only need to collaborate within the borders of our country but also beyond the border. The B schools which do not collaborate will have to perish. Collaboration is a continuous evolving process.
Business education in India is poised at a very promising growth chart and in the next decade, Indian professional education will become globally competitive and sought after with students and faculty from across the world opting for courses in India. Another development envisaged is the global accreditation of India’s premier business schools. This entails a significant investment in human resources, as also in other learning resources and benchmarking academic processes with the world’s best known management programmes. As Indian businesses make their presence felt globally with each passing time, we will see the gap narrowing between world-class education providers and world class business professionals. Only then we can create the future with sustained excellence. Only then Indian management education would develop a system so as to connect governance, justice and economic development to the human quest for equity, fair play and excellence in life.