Background pic of Rajasthan by Emmanuel Dyan. Foreground pics of Shastri Institute which has applied for closure of its management wing
The website of Pearl Institute of Management in Bhilwara (PIMB), Rajasthan reads: The program is challenging, the curriculum is rigorous and the selection procedure is highly competitive. As a result PIBM seeks candidates whose abilities, skills and personality indicate strong potential for success in the future. The same institute also lists as its features - modern infrastructure, separate hostel for boys and girls, free laptops, 100% placement assistance, well-stocked library, free foreign trip, Wi-Fi campus and air-conditioned class rooms. Plus, the website has a list of 40 companies with which the institute has tie-ups and possibly placement chances.
BUT - Pearl Institute of Management, Bhilwara has only 4 students in class!
And this is not the case with just this institute, but the majority of them across Rajasthan. Of the 134 odd management institutes affiliated to the Rajasthan Technical University (RTU), only about 20 per cent have more than 10 students in class. There are some 11,000 plus seats going vacant in management institutes, say officials of the institutes. And this news is still easy to digest. What is more unnerving is that an increasing number of them are filing for closure. Not to forget that many have closed shop already. PaGaLGuY did a quick round up of b-schools around the state and met up with management institute officials which have no idea how to rectify the situation. They see bleak days ahead and prefer to just float with the tide right now. The shocker is that all these are All Indian Council for Technical Education (AICTE)-affiliated schools and mostly offer PGDM.
Increase in number, decrease in quality.
According to Prof RN Krishna, director of Centurion Institute of Management at Jaipur, business education in Rajasthan was quite an in-thing a decade or two ago. Till 1991, there were just 3 MBA departments in the three universities. Post 1991, when government stressed on higher education, institutes flourished everywhere and that led to the downfall. Everybody started opening management shops, no one thought about quality or ethics. Centurion Institute has some 20 students in the institute when its sanctioned intake is more than a 100. The fall of quality is a point corroborated by Chairman of the Udaipur-based Buddha Institute of Management Mr Vishal Gupta. According to Mr Gupta, management education in Rajasthan began its decline a few years ago. Since there was a push by the government to start management institutes, many flourished in the early and middle 1990s. But these included many fly-by-night operators who only wanted to make some money. No one thought of education at all. Slowly and surely, those who could not sustain, began falling apart and closing down and this trend still continues."
According to Mr Gupta, the figures are even more astounding. He claims that about 70 per cent of all management institutes in Rajasthan have anything between 0 to five students. Buddha Institute of Management has about 45 students when it has an intake of 120 students.
RTU to be blamed
Dr GN Purohit, director of Vyas Institute of Management in Jodhpur is of the opinion that the Rajasthan Technical University, under which most management institutes come under, is to be squarely blamed for the scenario. It is the RTU that sets the norms which all have to follow. Be it the course structure or the schedule of the examinations, RTU has the sole power to decide and that has led to most of our problems today, says Dr Purohit. Explaining further he says that RTU not only delays the admission process every year but also sleeps over the examination schedules. Results get delayed by as much as 11 months and re-evaluation queries are addressed in some 8 months. How does one run an institute in such conditions? Besides, entrance exam papers are set more or less with commerce students in mind as the people in RTU are primarily from an engineering background, not management, states Dr Purohit.
PaGaLGuY tried hard to get in touch with the Chancellor and Vice-chancellor of the RTU but kept getting tosses between the two offices, with neither willing to field any question. The AICTE office in Chandigarh, which takes care of Rajasthan also did not want to comment and asked me to speak to AICTE office in Delhi. The secretary to the AICTE (Chandigarh) director said: Sir does not entertain verbal questions or email ones, only fax. PaGaLGuY sent a fax but no response as yet.
Khushboo Toshniwal, student at Pearl Institute
Some are happy with the numbers
Even with four students in its first batch and six students in its second batch, Pearl Institute of Management Bhilwara (PIBM) is happy. Officials from PIBM told PaGaLGuY that better days will come when management is taught in the truest sense of the term. In Rajasthan management is not yet a sought-after degree or diploma, it is just another degree like many others. Very few students actually harbour dreams of becoming real managers. But that will change over the years and when that happens more students will evince a genuine interest, said the official.
Atul Bapna, a management consultant who works in Bhilwara said that at Pearl, not a single lecture is cancelled, or a day given off because of only four students in class. Ironically, the PIMB, has large classrooms and a huge library. While relevant books are yet to be stocked in the library, the peon manning it is proud to display all the books, not being able to even read the covers.
Students at PIBM, the four of them that is, seem happy. They said that being few, they get undivided attention from the faculty. Khushboo Toshniwal, one of the students said: In the situation that we are in and the families we come from, this is the best since we cannot really travel far for studies. Khushboo did her placements at the Future Group, Mumbai last summer. Another student Abhishek Vijayvargiya said that he is pursuing his MBA because he wants to become a good manager with a good company.
Saurabh Jain, a student from the second year said that given the constraints that students in Rajasthan have, institutes like these help fulfil simple needs. We cannot leave our families and villages and go far but we want to do something in life. What better way than to study for an MBA, he said.
Faculty is an issue
PIMB has five professors for four students. Most institutes get faculty from nearby cities and states and offer them permanent accommodation on campus to retain them. Rajiv Kumar who teaches Finance at PIMB used to work in Kolkata in a private firm before PIMB while Prof Amit Tripathi who also teaches Finance there used to teach in an institute in Kanpur. Rajasthan seemed a better opportunity than Kanpur so I came here when this offer came along, he said in broken English.
Not all faculties can speak good English but that is the least of the concerns in Rajasthan. Ironically, the medium of instruction is only English. For fees under Rs 3 lakhs for two years in many of the institutes, what more can one expect. Mrs Niddhi Maheshwari, director of the Siddharth Institute of Management in Sanganer, Rajasthan said that often students become faculty of the institute from which they have passed out. "What can you expect. Students here get little or no exposure from the outside world. The fact that students do not like to leave the state for placements is a big issue. Students are not corporate-ready in the true sense of the term even though they may be intelligent. Corporates need to come her in big numbers and change the direction of management education in Rajasthan for it to survive." Ms Maheshwari says that her institute has some 25 students.
In many other institutes, directors double up as faculty and also admin and HR staff. "Everybody does everything," said Mr Gupta.
Bigger institutes also face the same problem
Jaipuria Institute of Management, Jaipur is one of the bigger and better management colleges in Rajasthan but the plague of few students has not escaped it either. Running with a class of 27 students in the current batch, the institute is happy that its other branches in Lucknow and Noida are boasting better capacity. Says Dr Rajiv Thakur, Director of the Jaipur branch: Yes, we are affected by the situation today but we are not consciously looking at volumes. We prefer to cater to quality education with the students we have.
Dr Thakur adds that running a management college in Rajasthan is a different ball game. We are looking at developing other skills too. Here some students cannot even speak proper English. We have to look at imparting skills which translate into employability, he said. Considering that Jaipurias fees are just Rs 6 lakhs, the facilities it offers on campus are extremely modern and the place is packed with latest amenities.
Prerana Bhadani, is a first year student and from Ranchi, studying at Jaipuria. She preferred to join Jaipuria and not Indian Institute of Management Ranchi. IIM Ranchi is new and we dont know how it will shape up but this college has a reputation which is why I cam here, she said. Sadhana Gupta and Sapna Verma are from Jaipur itself and joining Jaipuria was an automatic choice. It is the best in Rajasthan. We come from conservative families and this place has a good reputation so we took admission here, both the students say.
Those shown the door
Regional College of Management, in the Sanganer area in Jaipur, closed its management wing this year. An official from there told PagaLGuY that forget seeking admission, no one turned up for the entrance exam either. Why will anyone want to study management in Rajasthan. No big companies come here to recruit, what is there to gain for the students? We had very few students last ear but no student this year, so had to close shop, the official answered.
Same is the case with Kautilya Institute of Management in Sitapura, on the outskirts of Jaipur. Its Chairman Admissions, Sandeep Toshniwal said that while the sanctioned intake for his school is 60, he got an extremely poor response from students. We had no choice but to close down. We hope in the future we can start again, he said.
On the verge
And Shastri Institute of Management, started by Sunil Shastri, son of Indian second Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, is on the verge of closing down. Shweta Jain, who teaches HR and Operations at the institute, said that the college has already filed for closure. There are 7 students in its second year batch, though the intake is 60. While Ms Jain speaks highly of the Shastri Institute, she said that the reason management education is slipping in Rajasthan is because it is being seen as a channel to make money. Rajasthan does not have the professional attitude to run quality institutions. Many run it like as if they are running a lala ki dukaan. And those that cannot offer quality, obviously do not survive for long.
She added that there is no stress on getting good faculty in the institutes, leave alone other problems. "It is just the question of getting someone to teach. Research by faculty is also unheard of. In Rajasthan it is easy to enter and exit the PGDM domain. People set up institutes and close them as and when they feel like.
Placements remain the sore point in management institutes in Rajasthan. With few industries, only retail outfits of big companies come to Rajasthan to recruit or small local outlets. With salaries of Rs 5-15,000 per month who will want to study management, asks Dr Purohit. He adds: If big companies do come to the campus, they expect students to stay in big cities and offer Rs 12-15,000 as salary. How can students manage? And often this money also comes at the end of the placement term? Dr Narendra Sharma, Assistant Professor at Jaipuria said that in addition to the issue of placements, parents do not want to send their children outside the city or state.Which company will then come to campus and offer big money. At least the bigger institutes manage get decent crop of companies, the smaller ones have a tough time.
Nothing seems to be going right with management education in Rajasthan at the moment. Except for a few big institutes, the smaller ones are either going to be driven out in the months to come or steer away from management to stay afloat. Yes, the start of the Indian Institute of Management Udaipur (IIMU) may do something to change fortunes and direction but it will take a while even for IIMU to establish itself. Unless of course the AICTE takes it job seriously and does a bit of study in the state and plug the holes in the system. For starters, lets wait for a response to the fax that PaGaLGuY sent to AICTE.