Can management curriculum be rejuvenated in line with the Indian context and ethos? The director of IIM-Ranchi has the answer.

With experts proclaiming that Indian management is at a crossroads, the newer Indian Institutes of Management (IIM) are looking to creating a niche for themselves as well setting benchmarks for global institutions. Speaking to The Hindu Education Plus during a visit to Coimbatore, M.J. Xavier, Director of IIM-Ranchi, says that this is essential with the hiring pattern of MBAs changing in the light of the industry's declining craze for management graduates.

Curriculum orientation

“The global recession has gone to prove that there has been excessive focus on monetary gains, greed and gambling in business. The curricula of the new IIMs are being oriented towards facing this kind of business. The best way to package the curriculum is to base it on Gandhian leadership and not on the Western leadership models. When we have the best of business examples in India, why should we continue to teach Western case studies?” asks Mr. Xavier.

Based on the motto ‘Thought Leadership through Erudite Fusion', Mr. Xavier is revamping the curriculum of IIM-Ranchi, which started functioning in 2010. Its first batch will pass out this year.

Young leaders

“IIMs and Indian Institutes of Technology are considered the best. But we do not ensure that these institutions put forth thought leaders. We only continue to disseminate what is generated in the West. Publication of a paper in a Western journal is seen as an achievement. It has to be understood that what goes there from here comes back to us well-packaged. It is time we created knowledge and disseminated it throughout the world,” says the Director.

He is involving many Indian experts from various fields, even unusual ones like Buddhism and Vedic management, for bringing in changes in the curriculum. He is confident of making a mark in five years, when nearly 30 per cent of the study material will be developed indigenously.

A person who believes that it is more economical and convenient to depend on technology than on human resources, he is looking forward to developing certain administrative and academic technologies that he hopes to incubate in Ranchi and pass it on to other IIMs.

Portable classroom

A portable classroom concept, by which students can attend classes from anywhere, develop evaluation methods not based on examination, listen to virtual lectures before attending class in a classroom to engage only in debate etc., are some of the changes being worked on in the Ranchi campus.

These changes will reduce the burden of land, money, and human resources required to maintain such institutions.

“The concept that a good management institute requires 200 acres of land is a myth. With good planning and wise use of technology, the requirement can be brought down to less than 100 acres. In the same manner, instead of employing many faculty members, I am looking at tapping faculty from abroad, and nearby institutes like XLRI, XISS and other premier ones to create a hub of HR professionals who can teach our students from wherever they are,” he says.

Industry involvement

“The new IIMs in Tiruchi, Kashipur, Raipur, Rohtak, and Udaipur, besides Ranchi, are revamping the IIM style education based on the local flavour. Tiruchi is having a lot of industry involvement in the institution, Kashipur is introducing the group examination concept, Raipur is getting students summer projects with the government rather than sending them to corporates, and so on. There is much of Indian-ness being brought in with a broader vision, quite unlike the older IIMs,” says Mr. Xavier. Acceding to the fact that the new IIMs might be shown the “poor brother” status during this year's campus recruitment, he says it is not difficult to convert the so-called locational disadvantage of the new institutes into an advantage. For one, the rural immersion of students is done well when they get to take up local projects. Mr. Xavier has been successful in bringing many people from the industry to make them familiar with the institute as well as the students so that they will know what they are in for when they choose the campus for recruitment.

Trying to be different at all levels, he believes that the infusion of Indian content and ethos in the management curriculum will result in the 3H model — humility, honesty and hard work — that will produce good managers.