The curious case of the Indian MBA…

Veena Venugopal editor of BLine has a piece on Indian MBA (she was an MBA too).

 

She reflects on her experience of taking about a session on India in a Spain college. She was surprised to see large number of students turn up on a freezing morning. She contrasts this with experiences of students in India who have such a cost and benefit approach to studies:

Last week I was shivering in the -12°C weather in a historic little town called Segovia in Spain. I was there on invitation from one of the big universities, IE, to give their students an idea about contemporary India. What is India beyond the global headlines of the IT industry? What are the social, political and economic issues that India and Indians currently face?

On the panel with me was Eugenio Luján, who is the dean of philology at Complutense University of Madrid and a scholar on vedic history. He traced the strengths and problems of India from a historical context and my job was to inform them about their contemporary status. How does caste work, what are the gender norms for Indian women, why is it that there are communal clashes here; actually since people live so close to each other, how is it that there aren’t more communal clashes? How do the rich behave? How do the poor cope? How does inequality play out across various areas?

What was fascinating for me was not just the fact that a bunch of students braved the weather and turned up at 7pm — after a full day of class — because they were curious about issues in India but, more importantly, that they did this for something that has very little to do with their coursework or examinations. They don’t earn credit from this, they are not tested on their knowledge of this country. They merely wanted to get an idea of how things worked in other places. Last year, they listened to people from Russia. Next year, they’ll pick another nation and try and grapple with the ground realities there. It was impressive, this commitment to general awareness of the world around them.

In India, especially among students pursuing professional courses, it is virtually impossible to find an audience that is eager to understand the nuances of society in their own country, much less a distant land. If there isn’t a grade or a job offer at the end of it, Indian students will not “waste” even a minute of their time on it. While this is a rather all-enveloping phenomenon, it is particularly prominent among management graduates. Other than a routine one-credit course covering business ethics, there is very little that forces these young managers — really the crucial one per cent creamy layer of Indian society who can actually make a big difference — to think about the country they occupy as anything other than a “market”.

Though, she is comparing general students to that of MBA students in India. So it is not really apples with apples. But yes point well taken. It is a big problem..

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One Response to “The curious case of the Indian MBA…”

  1. MS Says:

    Can concur based on my own experience studying abroad. Many young Indian classmates don’t bother acquiring broader perspectives, even when they attend universities abroad. I guess our primary education system trains us to optimize for results, and sadly we never grow out of it.

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