TAPMI Director Vision Series: Encouraging Students to be Curious

In many countries, research is given special importance and big research projects even receive grants from the Government. In India, some private colleges focus on the same, however their number is limited.

In this article, Prof. Veeraraghavan discusses how TAPMI is encouraging students to participate in research and how it should be given more importance by the Institutions, Government of India, and corporates.

We find that in most of the top universities in India, the students are given opportunities to be part of active research projects along with the professors. This is not happening with the same frequency in private institutions. Was it happening in TAPMI till now? Or are we planning to basically encourage students to initiate this new development?

In most seen private schools, to the limited knowledge that I have of private schools in India, this has never happened. Maybe in IIMs it probably does as a business school. But what TAPMI does is you know it’s a 2-year PGDM program. The main purpose of 99% students is to finish and get a job and then go out to industry. So, for them what we do as an academic is something very different and they are probably not directly connected to us.

But that’s sad. I think what we are now trying to do here is trying to identify a little set of students who probably have the aspiration to do a PhD program but don’t know what a PhD program is. So, for them, I mean I have a couple of students in the BKFS and PGDM program who work with me in helping me collect a large amount of data sets and extract data from the Bloomberg terminals for my own research. Now that gives them a sense of what does an academic do.

See the fundamental problem is most students think Indian profs only teach. But teaching is 1/3rd of my job. Teaching is not my bread and butter alone. Teaching, research and service is bread and butter. So, if a student knows that a professor does wonderful stuff about knowledge creation, then that interest kind of sparks. The spark comes in and then you can translate it.

So, we have 2-3 students this year, BKFS students, who are working with a prof on a behavioral finance project. Now that has never happened before. So, we tell students why don’t you help us with a small write up or why don’t you help us collect a lot of data sets. See that creates an interest and once the interest is created, see we are not telling them do your PhD here. In fact, I would advise them that don’t do your PhD here. I would say go overseas and do a good PhD program. That would be my recommendation. And then I would say to them come back to India in a few years’ time.

In US and Europe, it is very common for corporates to sponsor research in institutions of learning. In India, I have not come across a case where that happens specifically with private b-schools. Have you seen any positive response coming out of the corporates themselves to promote and encourage research oriented learning as well as the intent that you have displayed?

This happens in numerous countries. In India I’ve seen in IIM-A where CRISIL and couple of other companies have sponsored Chair, Chair Professors. So, RBI, for example, or CRISIL, large companies have sponsored chairs for Profs and the chair funding, the sponsorship comes with some funding. But that is because it’s an IIM-A. They can just about get anybody they want. Any company they want. That’s not the case throughout the country. IIM-B has a couple of chair professors. It’s a tiny, tiny drop in the ocean. What I would really like to see is between the government of India and the corporate entities.

I’ll give you a real example. There something called an ARC which is the Australian Research Council Scheme. Now this is a scheme between the Government of Australia and the corporate entities. They say to the professors if you can bring funding from the industry, we will try and match you with some funding from the government to do joint research. So, the research is say for example with Black Rock. Black Rock says, okay Madhu, I will give you $100,000 for three years. I prepare a complete proposal; a project and I send it to the government of Australia. It’s a very rigorous process. The government says you know what, you already have the funding from the private guy. As a government, I’m going to match. Therefore, I have resources which can be used to address questions that are relevant to industry, that are relevant to the community and that are relevant to the industry. It is such an amazing idea. And I have one of those already from the government of Australia.

Now in the end the government should communicate to all the big companies that are there in the country, to put some funding with faculty. Work on some research projects. As the Government of India, we will also contribute. Can you imagine the impetus? Can you imagine the connectivity between the government, the regulator, the corporations and the business school? This should be called a linkage grant. The linkage between the corporate entities and business schools funded or supported or enabled by the government of the day. I would like to tell the honorable HRD minister to do something along these lines to bring everyone together and there are millions of research issues in this country that can be answered.

There are issues in business, there are issues in government, there are issues in science. Can you see why India is not even ranked? Look where Chinese schools are and look where Indian schools are. Indian schools struggle to make it to top 700, top 500. IISC is probably one school that makes it. China has many schools in the top 100, top 200 schools. Why are they able to do it? Because the money that goes into research is unbelievably high. By research I mean quality research. Quality academic research from where patents can result, from where innovations happen, from where startups are set up.

The industry is facing so many problems, and they need academics to answer but we have no time because we are doing our own research, we have no support coming from government of India, what can we do? It’s a very important point. I know the European nations do it, NSF in the US does it, ARC in Australia does it, the Chinese Government does it, etc.

T.A. Pai Management Institute, one of India’s leading B-schools, has always focused on creating industry ready leaders who are trained to face the corporate world and its challenges. Director Prof Madhu Veeraraghavan has highlighted several objectives in alignment to his Vision 2022. In conversation with him, we discovered much more about the Vision 2022 and his thoughts on research, education and experiential learning.


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