It is March and the media is rife with developments on the placement scenario in India’s elite Business Schools. The placement season has begun and news is filtering on the compensation packages received at the various schools. The news of who and which school has received the highest compensation package is doing the rounds.
I still don’t understand this placement mania in the media. One can understand a weekly column to cover the issue but we see a regular full page dedicated to the events. It is sad that the only way these elite colleges engage the media is on the placement prospects. Is that the only thing that these education temples have to offer?
The most important parameter for a good school is its quality of research and unfortunately, this is something we never get to read. Unlike the west, where the media profiles faculties and their research, all we get to hear from these schools is on placements.
An important way one can judge the quality of research is via peer reviews. The academia makes references to other people’s work in their research and more such references, better is the quality of the research. Though this practice has been abused lately but is still the best way to judge the quality of a research. It is actually surprising that after reading many a research papers (even on Indian economy), you hardly come across a reference that comes from these elite schools. Whenever one comes across an Indian name it is mostly from a foreign university.
There is a huge interest on Indian economy and some Universities have even set up India centers. So, the faculty can’t even blame “times” saying no one is interested in Indian economy/companies etc. The academia can’t even blame the media saying it isn’t interested in covering research. These days awe come across a lot of newspaper articles that explain the developments using research papers. Some newspapers even have dedicated columns profiling research but it mostly covers research done in Universities abroad. Infact, one leading economist who writes a column lamented on the same fact- lack of research in India.
Then there are other events that these schools organize – seminars, symposiums, conferences etc. to discuss various research papers on a particular topic. There is hardly any mention of the same in the media. All we get to read is about the cultural festivals and marketing events.
This is not to say that the faculties do not research but they need to use better ways to propagate their research. They should make efforts to use web and print media to inform people about the new research undertaken in these schools. It is very good if the faculty can get their research published in leading journals but discussing it with the public is be an equally good first step.
The elite schools may not realise but they have led to development of a very dangerous precedent. All the schools seem to be just focused on placements and not on the curriculum. The students also take up a course looking at the lucre and not understanding the suitability. The students should ask their respective schools what they can teach not how much salaries they can help them get.
It is a request that the elite schools take up this matter seriously and lead from the front. They should limit all these press releases on salaries and placements and instead channelise their energies on showcasing their research output. At the end, I wanted to point to an interesting trivia. The financial assistance for one the most profound idea in economics – The Market for Lemons written by George Akerlof – was given by Indian Statistical Institute. So, it is not that the Indian schools can’t do it, all they need is to re-focus.