Once more into the breach

Bhushan: major mission
Despite a 47-year career in the fields of education, training and management consultancy and many a mission accomplished in banking and academia, Prof. Y.K. Bhushan believes that he has one more major mission to accomplish. Right now he is pulling out all the stops and utilising his reservoir of skills and experience to vault the ICFAI Business School, Mumbai (IBS-M) into the top ten league of B-schools in the country by the year 2008.

Given that IBS-M admitted its first batch of students in 1995 and has entered the business management education ‘occupation’ (business in academics is frowned upon by the Supreme Court) some three decades after the country’s first B-school (IIM- Calcutta) was established and that currently there are 958 business education institutes countrywide, that’s quite a tall order. But quite obviously the promoters of IBS-M believe that Bhushan who is modestly designated senior advisor to the school, is their best bet.

Which is hardly surprising given Bhushan’s impressive curriculum vitae and track record. An alumnus of Delhi’s top-ranked Shri Ram College of Commerce and Institute of Economic Growth who pressed on to acquire an MBA from Indiana University, USA, Bhushan played a pioneer’s role by introducing contemporary personnel management and HRD practices in the then floundering public sector banks as HRD manager of the Central Bank of India and Dena Bank. In 1984 after over a decade in banking, Bhushan accepted the challenge of taking charge of a newly-promoted, low-profile B-school operating under the name and style of the Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS), Mumbai.

Under his stewardship during the period 1984-2001, NMIMS metamorphosed into one of the most respected B-schools in India and is consistently rated among the top ten in the annual surveys of business magazines and the pink papers. "NMIMS was the first B-school to interact intensively with Indian industry and non-profit organisations to design innovative, new age syllabuses and programmes for students and working executives. We also added a new dimension to business education by developing study programmes for NGOs, women entrepreneurs and school leaders. And a factor critical to our success was that we were able to develop a cohesive and stable faculty with negligible turnover," says Bhushan explaining the rise of NMIMS through the ranks.

Now Bhushan is all set to apply this institution development formula — with additional innovations — to catapult IBS-M into the league of top ten B-schools. Can he replicate his NMIMS success with IBS-M? The 300 students who are enrolled in the institute seem to believe he can. And so do some of the top corporates in Indian industry who have snapped up the latest batch of 150 IBS-M graduates at annual salaries averaging Rs.4 lakh.

Gaver Chatterjee (Mumbai)

Chaudhuri’s theme song

Chaudhuri: trickle-up advocate
With his youthful looks and trademark ponytail, young Delhi-based Arindam Chaudhuri has already established a reputation as a business management guru. The author of three heavily-promoted business bestsellers and dean of the Centre For Economic Research and Advanced Studies at the Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM), Delhi, Chaudhuri an economics postgrad of Madras University with an MBA from IIPM, Delhi teamed up with his father Dr. Malay Chaudhuri former professor of economics at IIM-Bangalore, to promote Planman Consultancy in 2000.

The unique selling proposition of the firm is that it offers "Indian solutions to Indian problems" rather than applying foreign case studies and solutions. With branches in India, USA and Canada, the firm numbers General Electric, Standard Chartered Bank, Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC), Ernst & Young, McKinsey & Co, Amway, Ranbaxy, Coca-Cola, Hewlitt Packard and Nestle, among others in its clients list.

Likewise IIPM (estb. 1973) has experi-enced exponential growth under the stewardship of the Chaudhuris pere et fils. The institute which bills itself among the top five B-schools in India has seven branches, in Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune and Ahmedabad with 1,000 students instructed by 250 faculty on its payroll. "Why is it," asks Chaudhuri with some anguish, "that despite India possessing the world’s best management schools and a huge reservoir of skilled talent, Indian corporates don’t feature among the world’s best? Well, simply because we’re so busy following the American template of management that we’ve failed to evolve our own solutions which are in sync with peculiarly Indian conditions and ground realities."

This is the theme song of Chaudhuri’s bestseller management tomes Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch (1997), The Great Indian Dream (2003) and Theory ‘I’ Management (2004) which have notched aggregate sales of 3.25 lakh copies according to Planman Consultancy sources.

Looking ahead Chaudhuri believes that the survival-of-the-fittest model of corporate development needs to be substituted by a "survival of the weakest" model under which small and medium enterprises are helped to grow. "Under the globalisation model some countries want to become the neo-zamindars of the world under the guise of creating a global village. India can only adopt these principles once we become a competitive nation. We should develop our own growth model which opposes the principle of privatisation of all profits and nationalisation of all losses. Double digit GDP growth is very attainable if policies connected with ground realities are adopted. Like China, we need a trickle-up rather than the trickle-down growth model that we’re currently following," says Chaudhuri.

Neeta Lal (Delhi)

Forthright diplomat

Smith (right): valuable opinions
Paul Smith, OBE (Order of the British Empire) is an Indophile who doesn’t hesitate to wear his heart on his sleeve. On May 24, Smith inaugurated the Mumbai office of Middlesex University, London. Speaking on the occasion Smith detailed his longstanding love affair with India, his views on the changing education scenario in India and abroad, and offered his opinion on the future direction of Indian education.

An alumnus of King Edward School, Birmingham, and Queens’ College, Cambridge, Smith can speak with some authority about Indian education, having lectured in English at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi between 1978-80. He then returned to Cambridge to pursue his doctoral thesis prior to signing up with the British Council in 1983 and being posted out to Kano and Lagos (Nigeria), Myanmar, Chile, Germany, Bangladesh and as director of the British Council in New Zealand. He subsequently returned to Britain to serve as director (arts) of the council, before being posted as director of the British Council (western India), in June 2000.

"The modern Indian is very cosmopolitan and global in outlook and is poised to ride the crest of advances in science, economics, medicine, information technology and the physical sciences," predicts Smith.

In his opinion Indo-British academic and cultural exchanges are on the upswing. "There is an annual increase of 40-50 percent in the number of Indian students enrolling in British universities and institutions of higher education. Last year 14,000 Indian students enrolled," he says.

While this annual enrollment is not as large as the number of Indian students signing musters in the US, it is a discernible increase. "The interest in British education has risen after the political climate in the US post 9/11," muses Smith, adding that the council is doing its best to swell the flow of Indian students to Blighty. "We conduct seven-eight education fairs each year in different cities to provide full information to Indian students about higher study options in the UK," he says.

Though Smith is bullish about India, he opines that the school education system is a drag on its growth and development. "The real purpose of education is to enable youth to grow into independence in a wholesome and happy manner. However, the current school system in India is like a conveyor belt. I think it needs revision," he advises.

Though a diplomat, Smith doesn’t hesitate to forthrightly voice his valuable opinions on Indian education. A refreshing characteristic in a British diplomat whose tribe is known for its collective stiff upper lip.

Mona Barbhaya (Mumbai)

New genre edupreneur

Pai (left): experiential education champion
The new buzzword in the drawing rooms of smart set, middle class India is experiential learning. But given that most school syllabuses are innocent of experiential education, a growing number of outdoor-learning-cum-holiday firms have mushroomed to provide it. In this new genre of edupreneurs is Kusum Pai, co-promoter of Future Bound India Pvt Ltd — a Bangalore-based experiential education company (estd. 2003) and the only business enterprise in India to have been licensed by the New York-based Outward Bound Inc — the world’s largest adventure firm with branches in over 35 countries. The licence agreement was signed between K.K. Kabra, worldwide chief of Outward Bound and Hari Prasad, Kusum Pai and Eashwar S (promoters of Future Bound) in Bangalore on June 1.

"Children are increasingly morphing into couch potatoes with an aversion to physical activity. Firstly rote-learning imposes a huge burden of lessons, and secondly other pastimes such as computer games, television, CD-ROMs are becoming popular. Against this background the main objective of experiential education is to encourage kids to experience and commune with nature by engaging in outdoor physical activity. Following our agreement with Outward Bound, we hope to introduce high quality experiential education programmes in India," says Pai.
A law graduate of Bangalore University, Pai practiced in the Karnataka high court for eight years in the 1980s until motherhood forced her to give up legal practice. "It was during my son’s early school years that I noticed excessive emphasis on mugging and memorising. Physical activity and outdoor games were a low priority. Since then I have been researching ways and means to incorporate field work, trekking and nature exploration into school curriculums," says Pai. Hardly surprising given her background as captain of Bangalore University’s volleyball team, basketball player and athlete.

urrently Pai and her team of six enthusiastic outdoor educators are looking forward to welcoming a team of professional educators from Outward Bound who will train them to adapt the latter’s curriculum and delivery methodologies to local ground conditions. Only after Future Bound’s faculty is thoroughly trained will they be allowed to use the Outward Bound brand name for their experiential education programmes.

"School managements are enthused about outdoor learning activities like trekking, rock climbing, camping etc especially during vacations. But they don’t understand that learning life skills is an ongoing process, not something that can be given attention only during holidays. Our objective is to persuade school managements to devote one hour every week to experiential education. Unfortunately only a few principals have been receptive to the proposal. But this is surely an idea whose time has come," she says optimistically.

Future Bound’s plans include establishing a fully equipped outdoor education and experiential learning centre featuring rock-climbing walls, campsites and water sport facilities on the outskirts of Bangalore within the year.

Srinidhi Raghavendra (Bangalore)