• Dr H Chaturvedi

Director, BIMTECH & Alternate President, EPSI

There is serious concern among the management educators, policy makers and regulatory bodies like AICTE and UGC about the dwindling fortunes of B’schools.  It is a big irony of the current economic scenario where the Indian economy is showing stellar performance but with shrinking job opportunities for MBA/PGDM pass-outs.  Indian B’schools, even after six decades of illustrious legacy, are facing some of their biggest challenges of recent years.  Three key challenges are related to implications of the 4th Industrial Revolution, regulatory upheavals and serious crunch of competent leaders in B’schoolsat all levels.

  1. 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR)

Industry 4.0 the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) was originally coined by German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Hanover Fair in 2011 but it gained global attention where the Founder CEO of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab emphatically claimed its global emergence at Davos in 2016.  In his famous book “The Fourth Industrial Revolution” he has said, “The changes are so profound that from the perspective of human history, there has never been a time of greater promise or potential peril”.

The 4th Industrial Revolution is showing its full force today in many industrialised nations including India due to the exponential growth of the new fields like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotics, Internet of Things (IOT), 3D Printing, Quantum Computing, Driverless Vehicles, Biotechnology, Nanotechnology, Material Sciences etc.

There has been a visible impact of the 4th Industrial Revolution on the curriculum and course offering by Ivey League B’schools.  In India, a few B’schools have taken cognisance of the rising storm created by the 4IR and have introduced a few new courses mainly on A1, IOT, 3D Printing, Robotics, but a large number of B’schools are still suffering from a mind-set of Industry 2.0 or Industry 3.0.

One of the main reasons responsible for the poor employability of Indian MBAs in recent years has been a casual approach towards these revolutionary changes.  A quote of Nobel Laureate in Economist (2013), Robert J Shiller, Professor at Yale University is very apt in describingthe IndianB’schools’ apathy with 4 IR, “You cannot wait until a house burns down to buy fire insurance. We cannot wait until there are massive dislocations in our society to prepare for the 4th Industrial Revolution”.

  1. Archaic Regulatory Regimes& IIM Bill, 2017

Challenges of the 4th Industrial Revolution are forcing Indian B’schools to adopt these radical changes very quickly and become angile, proactive and resilient in the shortest possible time.  This requires new kind of regulations and mind-set from the AICTE and UGC which are still following frameworks and models of 90’s when management education got an impetus due to the economic reforms introduced by the Narasimha Rao Government.

During the 80’s and 90’s, there was a big shortage of MBAs and the newly set up B’schools required some controls from the AICTE.  The current Indian scenario is completely different in the sense that recruiters are absorbing only 25% of the total intake and have a lot of complaints about preparedness of fresh MBAs to meet challenges of 4th Industrial Revolution.

It is good to note that there are some changes in the thinking of the MHRD, AICTE and UGC.  They are now contemplating to give more autonomy to quality institutions.  But the pace of change is very slow and cannot match the velocity of the 4th Industrial Revolution.

Another big regulatory challenge is certainity of the passing of the IIM Bill, 2017 which is overdue for passing by the Parliament in the Winter Session (December 2017).  Although IIM Bill, 2017 is good for the future growth of IIMs, but certainly it is going to create a big problem for private self-financed PGDM institutions.  (These 500+ PGDM institution face a severe lack of level playing field with IIMs.  In the last few decades, both IIMs and PGDM institutions like XLRI, MDI, SP Jain, IMI, IMT, TAPMI and BIMTECH were enjoying similar kind of autonomy since these institutions were free to frame their curriculum substantial academic autonomy.   The passing of the IIM Bill 2017 in December, 2017 will create doubts in the minds of recruiters and foreign B’schools.

There is a dire need of brining a Management Education Bill which can meet the requirements of the next 20 year or so.  Indian industry will need one million managerial manpower every year in future which cannot be met by 20 IIMs only.

  1. The Crunch of Competent Leadership for B’schools

The history of Indian Management Education bear enough evidences about critical role played by legendary academic leaders like Vikram Sarabhai, Ravi Mathai, V S Vyas, IshwarDayal, Uday Parikh, TV Rao, Pradeep Khandlwala, Dharni P Sinha, S K Bhattacharya, Pritam Singh etc.  These academic leaders were great institution builders and considered very passionate and committed to the institutions led by them.  They were firstly supported by their Boards as well as by the faculty community.

Post 2000, the exponential growth of B’schools required larger number of competent deans and directors but there were only few in the market.  The acute shortage of committed and competent B’schools leaders has been a big impediment in the healthy growth of management education.

Developing and grooming academic leaders in management education has been a neglected activity which has not even caught attention from the MHRD and regulatory bodies.  Due to lack of trained and experienced deans and directors, B’schools in India are facing serious leadership vacuum which would ultimately in the result into deterioration in governance standards and in inefficient delivery of services.

If management education in India has to attain healthy growth and compete globally, it has to pay serious attention in developing themselves in meeting challenges of Industry 4.0, archaic Regulatory Regimes& IIM Bill, 2017 and the crunch of competent leadership for B’schools.