Tag Archives: Education

The Derecognition – A Short Story

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By Ganesh Subramanian

It was a warm and humid Friday afternoon. David was leaning against the walls of the academic block and smoking his favourite cigarette brand Wills. Classes for the day were over in Karkodak Institute of Management and the students had left for their hostels. The campus wore a deserted look. The rusty metal chair placed near the main entrance was also empty suggesting that the security guard had gone out for his routine cup of tea. David always spent some time alone in the campus in the smoking zone just beside the academic block smoking his cigarettes. It made him clear up his mind, according to David, a joke which his classmates had a hearty laugh over every now & then as they believed David had no brains for a management degree.

David always believed that he is a creative type and he ended up in KIM just to escape the pestering nature of his parents. In his brief journey with KIM so far, David has found more things to complain about the institute than praise. Taking another puff and admiring the tiny rings of smoke that he exhaled, David found his chain of thoughts broken by the image of a bespectacled man entering the campus gate at a distance. He seemed to be in his mid 50s and was professionally dressed. Quickly finishing his cigarette, David tried to remove the last traces of smoke around him by waving his hands furiously around his mouth, lest he should be caught by a professor.

As the man neared the academic block, David heaved a sigh that it was not any of his professors. So David assumed that it must be one of the parents of some student intending to join his institute and it was no surprise given that it was admissions season. The man approached him and asked if he was a student of the institute and David replied in the affirmative. The man wanted to know some information about the institute and David was convinced that he must indeed be a parent of some prospective student and was more than happy to oblige him. Given his hatred for the institute, David made a promise to himself that he will give only the truth about the institute so that he could save atleast one misguided soul like him from joining the institute.

“Academically, how good is KIM? What can you tell me about the teaching staff?” the bespectacled man asked.

“Sir, the professors are not that great sir except for a couple of them. In fact, most of the faculty put up on our website are not our permanent faculty. They teach at some other college. They have been listed on the website to make up the numbers.” replied David.

“I see” nodded the man thoughtfully. “What about the placement report?” “I believe you had fantastic placements for the outgoing batch. Isn’t it?” the man probed further.

“Sir, to be honest with you, only 80% of that batch has been placed. The rest of them have got into companies by their own efforts and their names along with the companies have also been included in the placement report due to the placement policy. So the figures that you see in the report for salaries and number of people placed are not true, sir” replied David.

“What about the infrastructure? Do you have comfortable facilities in the college and at the hostels?” asked the man.

“When we joined we were told that three of us have to share a room, sir. But later they said that for the next few months four of us have to share a room since new rooms are being built. Till now, new rooms are yet to be built and we are still 4 in a room, sir. The only saving grace is the food which is decent catering to tastes of students from various parts of India” David responded.

Before the man shot his next question, David pre-empted him and said, “Sir, if you decide to get your son or daughter join this institute, I would suggest that you look for other better institutes, sir. The fee charged here is also quite high compared to other colleges and no aspect of our college is praiseworthy sir”

The bespectacled man smiled at David and asked, “What’s your name, son?”

“My name is David sir” said David.

It so happened that the bespectacled man is a senior executive from the inspections team of the AICTE. Based on a number of complaints received about KIM, AICTE decided to go for an inspection of KIM last month. But when the officials visited the campus, they couldn’t find any trace of wrong doing in the administration or the management and the college officials have cleverly covered up all the mess, apparently having been tipped off about a possible inspection by someone. So AICTE decided to visit the campus again, this time sending a single official for inspection in the next month itself when the college management least expected it, expecting the college management to be caught off-guard and also trying to find out the anomalies from some students itself.

The bespectacled man shook David’s hand and said, “Nice meeting you, young man! Thanks for your open and honest views about the institute. I am Mr. Verma, a senior official from the inspections team of the AICTE. Your prompt answers have made my job easier. I will immediately file a report with my department recommending your institute to be derecognised so that we can save innocent people like you from being exploited”.

David looked stunned by what he heard and was left speechless as Mr. Verma confidently strode out of the campus main gate.

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Good vs Mediocre B-schools: An Ocean Of Difference

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Who better to dissect B-schools than our double MBA graduate, CAT trainer and author Ganesh Subramanian. In this article Ganesh Subramanian talks about the oceanic sized difference between the good b-schools and the ones that are just hyped about. 

MBA as a career option after an undergraduate degree has been the talking point for the last eight years or so in India. For years, studies abroad was and still continues to be a much sought after career move. But in recent years, a management degree in India has been getting attention and preferred as a passport to high-paying jobs in the country. This is reflected in the increase in the number of students taking up management entrance exams in the country year after year, most notably the CAT, considered to be one of the toughest entrance exams not only in India but globally.

While the successful end up in dream B-schools of their choice, those who fail to crack the exam have to settle for lesser and often unattractive alternatives. Given that some students are willing to go to any length to do a management degree, it has led to mushrooming of numerous B-schools in the country and sadly, despite the huge number, quality is severely wanting in most of these B-schools.

There are a number of factors that play a role in determining and labelling a B-school as a good one or a bad one. Faculty, quality of placements, infrastructure facilities, quality of students, etc. to name a few. The sad scenario is that one or more of these is lacking even in certain good B-schools.

In the not-so-good B-schools, the scenario is quite bleak in B-schools which have sprung up as an offshoot of engineering colleges. Barring a few good colleges in this genre, the rest of them have been started purely with a profit making intention, riding on the MBA craze. Such B-schools are plagued by shortage of quality faculty, minimal industry interface translating into very average or poor placements and poor quality students.

When one interacts with students of such institutes, the gap in quality is quite appalling. Poor communication skills coupled with utter lack of seriousness in the course makes one wonder how they got admissions there in the first place. Most of these students are still very childish and immaturish in their thoughts and in what they talk, how they treat things. These students are still in their undergraduate mindset and it’s sad to think that they are post-graduate students. There is no willingness to learn new things from their experienced peers. The students without work experience are the most pathetic of the lot. The new found attitude or the lack of it is surprising because students who passed out in the early part of the millennium possessed a maturity far beyond their years unlike their contemporary counterparts.

Unfortunately, the same bad aspects mentioned above have also percolated to students in some top B-schools. It seems as if these students have taken the age old saying “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” a little too seriously. One can only pray to the Almighty to give some of these half-cooked, dim-witted students the necessary strength and brains when they confront a heartless, merciless, indifferent human being called “THE BOSS” when they enter their work life.

Although the scenario can’t be completely reversed, two things can be done here. One is that managements in mediocre B-schools can take the right steps in bringing their institutes on par with the quality of the top colleges and the other is that students need to be more careful and selective in their B-school selections. Things can then change for the better.

Calcutta Chromosomes – II

Sampurna Majumder continues with the series about her stay in Kolkata.

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Since the Boi Para or College Para was a new addition in my daily routine, I used to look forward to it, every evening. Reaching the university campus was an adventure in itself for me. For I somehow, always felt the ride to be bumpy all along. Though I boarded the same bus everyday, and got down at the stop nearby, I invariably lost the way, criss-crossing through the by lanes of the famous Kolkata locale.

After much ‘tribulations’ and walking through almost all the by lanes I would finally reach Ashutosh Building. Our classroom was in the first floor. Walking down the long, dark corridor was enough to take me down the stairs of nostalgia. As I entered the classroom and occupied a seat for myself, I found myself sitting amidst unfamiliar faces. Minutes later I saw K and S making their entry. My eyes greeted them and vice versa.

presidency-collegeI always found sitting in the class to be quite boring. Specially the lectures on printing. Though this was a completely new arena for me, I could not help but to doze off in between lectures. I yearned for the break very much so that I could rush down to grab a cup of tea. K and S would invariably join me. Me and S shared a common interest, tea. We both just could not stop having enough of this beverage.

Somehow the tea stall down the road just below the university building, had its own charm. Sipping tea from a kulhar (small mud pot) on a busy evening had its own magnetic appeal. Me and S would sometimes bunk classes only to catch a sip of the heavenly tea, or at least it seemed so to us. We would spent hours chatting over numerous cups of tea. We loved each other’s company.

Sometimes we would walk down to footpath lined with bookshops to indulge in shopping which would simply touch our intellect just like a tangent. We would spend hours with the bookseller to reduce the price of a second hand or probably a third hand John Grisham thriller to almost seventy-five percent. Nonetheless we loved it. I was finally experiencing what I possibly missed out as a college going Kolkatan would indulge into.

The hours after class was a welcome change for all of us. We would sit at the staircase of the central library and go on chatting for hours together. We actually indulged into what the Bengalis fondly call an adda session. Finally I was blessed enough to taste the Kolkata College Life or more precisely life at the famous College Para. I was living my young adolescence and of course loving it.

Calcutta Chromosomes – I

Sampurna Majumder narrates her sojourn to the City of Joy for a year. Although born and brought up in Kolkata, her perspective of the city changed when she returned to Kolkata after a Sabbatical of five years.

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Kolkata, popularly known as the City of Joy, is considered to be the cultural and intellectual capital of the country. Locales, such as the College Street Boi Para and the Coffee House will stand witness to this statement. These are the hubs within the city that beam with intellectuals and budding artists. This the city’s nucleus where one will find some of the best minds flocking.

mile-long book stalls on college st in calcuttaBookshops or rather kiosks strategically positioned all along the footpath is an unique attribute of the street. Apart from these, the street definitely boasts of an array of premier institutions, right from the University of Calcutta to Presidency College. This is where the youth of Kolkata comes to life. Comes to live life.

However, I belong to the category of the not-so-lucky ones to have lived the experience. Though this city happens to be my birth place, I never really got to experience or live my youth in this city, because as a young adult, I moved to a different city, probably in pursuit of something ‘bigger and better’. Nonetheless, my destiny took a different turn when I returned to the city after a hiatus of six years.

30-calcutta-universityMy hands were empty just as my mind was. I had completely lost control of myself. Could not figure out what to do with my ‘doomed’ future, as my Mom said. After sitting idle at home for five months I enrolled for a Diploma at the prestigious Calcutta University. I thought probably this would give some meaning to my meaningless life, a direction to follow in my seemingly directionless life.

Classes were held in the evening from 4pm to 7pm. Thus began my year long association with the age old renowned university and more importantly the College Street.

I still remember my first day at the university. Despite my mother’s explaining the bus route and the stop, I lost my way to the university the very first day. Nonetheless, I managed to reach the esteemed institution after a long walk from MG Road. While walking down the street I could not help but stare at the kiosks and the booksellers in awe.  The amount of knowledge these people had regarding books! Books from almost every field from literature to science to engineering, law, competitive exams. The list moves on.

CU 3A week into classes, I had made a few friends with whom I started hanging around after classes. It was then that I began my tryst with the intellectual hub of this age old city. I shared a good rapport with K and S. However, what was interesting was, the variation in the age group of the students. Since the course specified that there is no age limit, the eldest student was a retired college principal of sixty-five and the youngest being a fresh graduate of twenty-one. This distinction made it unique and all the more interesting to know and associate with people with myriad personalities. Somehow, I could feel a certain flamboyancy raging through, whenever I interacted with the group.

We first met at the College Street campus of Calcutta University. Little did I know that the year long association would leave behind such indelible impressions, which would force me to pen down a memoir, after much time has lapsed and I have again moved away from Kolkata, probably in pursuit of my dreams.

….And I Completed My MBA….

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Gurulakshmi Iyer-Hait narrates an account of how difficult it was to manage a husband alongside a regular MBA course. Husband looked more manageable than MBA. Read on…..

I am sitting in the examination hall sweating. It’s the QT exam. Well, I had memorized all the formulae. To all those who are unknown to Mr. Quantitative Techniques, it cannot be mastered by memorizing. But I had done it. The examiner distributes question papers and answer sheets and I go blank. I just feel like going to deep slumber. Just then my sub conscious weak mind is woken up. And Ah!! it was a dream!! What a nightmare, I realize. People dream of missing a train, being left in front of a monster and here I was, dreaming of going blank in the examination hall. Having woken up I could not resist thinking of my B-School days.

Well it was difficult to manage home and college. Yes, I was married when I enrolled for my MBA. After trying all the career options in professional financial courses, I decided to end my jinx by getting married. For parents, this was the safest bet. Finally they were getting rid of me and alongside my whims and fancies of another expenditure involved in a professional course. This definitely was a two-way victory for the Iyers. However the aspiring and restless mind that I have, I just couldn’t remain composed without getting into something fruitful. This time I decided to convince my better half to get me enrolled into this prestigious course called MBA!!!

College after marriage wasn’t easy to say the least. Day long lectures, challenging presentations and assignments. No wonder it was a monstrous task to get placed after all that toil that went in for 2 years. A great balance and adjustment was needed at the home front and husband dear readily agreed to such adjustments. Did he have an option after the kind of money he had spent and also his belief in me was at stake.

The thought of again attending college brought back memories of graduation .The good memories though as usual did not last long. The initial excitement was replaced gradually by over whelm, anxiety and cut throat competition. Late night lectures, Sunday presentations became part and parcel of life. Getting half a day off on Sunday was a bonus for both of us. We actually learnt to live within constraints then. But when I entered corporate world, I remember frowning on six days working culture. What a pun it was?

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Guessing the lunch menu while sitting in the lectures seems so funny now. The IP messengers were such a boon to pass on secret messages within the class or to exchange jokes on professors.

And finally the thought of the tension during the placement season. Even today I feel butterflies when I think of those days. Companies came in and picked up students, both friends and competitors while you waited for your turn anxiously. Someone will surely be fooled by you is a strong belief which starts to fizzle as the placement season nears its end. As you wait, someone selects you and all that you enjoyed in those 2 years seems to slip away faster than water from your hands.

After two years of excessive pressure, fun and sweat, I finally became an MBA, something that was very important for me to break the jinx and get started with a new life altogether!! Today when I get up from my nightmare and think about those days, it really seems like a great achievement to me, an achievement or rather an opportunity not all married women get!!

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Habits That Annoy Every Indian: But Do We Work Towards Eradicating It

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Venugopal Rajagopalan writes of India’s basic problems and how they will stem the development if not taken care of. A must read

In our everyday life, we go through a series of routines right from getting up in the morning to going to office and spending time at your work environment. In this entire cycle, there are so many subtle things that happen, many of us take notice of it and most of the time, we tend to ignore a lot of stuff, which is actually annoying or disturbing.

At times, after seeing these things, I really felt ashamed to call myself an Indian. I curse myself to be born in such a country that boasts of a rich culture and heritage. Sadly, most of the culture and the ‘Incredible India’ tagline is just a marketing gimmick to attract tourists and show them that ‘All is well’ in a country where one has to ‘survive’ rather than ‘live’ on an everyday basis.

The sad part of that the so called ‘Educated or sophisticated’ part of the society also does not bother and behaves in a Nonchalant manner. This post might sound very negative to most readers; however the objective here is to bring out awareness as well as a call for action to look forward to seeing a better India in the near future.

Here is a list of annoying things that one can see everyday and tend to ignore/forget or move on with it:

1. Spitting on the road: This is every Indian’s birthright; people take a lot of pride in doing so while they are walking, driving or even sitting on a bench. Eating gutka, pan or even spitting normally seems to be the way of life for most of us when we are on the road. If we start counting the number of people doing this on the roads, you may not be able to keep track of the number of instances that you could see by the time you reach home in the evening.

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2. Jumping Signals, cutting lanes, driving in the wrong lane and honking without reason: I strongly feel that the traffic laws should be either completely eradicated or it needs a radical change to even do something even remotely effective to manage traffic. What is really disturbing is the amount of urgency that people tend to showcase on the road. Even if it means blocking someone and causing a deadlock situation and traffic jam, they would still go ahead and do it. What is the point of having so many tests to certify someone as a good driver if this is what we see regularly on the roads everyday? Why not save time and money and give a driver’s license to every tom, dick or harry who owns a vehicle or wants to drive one? Another very disturbing habit on the roads is the amount of honking that we do and the ridiculous usage of the horn. Having been to places like Singapore, Malaysia and Australia, I was extremely surprised to see that people hardly ever use the horn while driving. It is not that they do not have so many cars in their cities, however people are intelligent enough as well as courteous most of the times to help manage traffic.  In many of these places, there is a heavy fine on Honking unnecessarily. The horn is only used as an emergency measure in situations that are unavoidable.

3. Littering roads, lakes, gardens and national parks: I haven’t seen a city in India that can boast of being litter free. No matter how much we educate people or impose fines on them, the fact is that for them, the world outside is still a garbage can. They feel that they have the birthright to throw anything and everything they can wherever they want to.  My blood boils and I feel disgusted when I see some of my ‘Educated’ colleagues or friends do it. Most of them try to get away with the excuse that there are no dustbins on the road, how does it matter anyway if I throw a small chocolate wrapper on the road. Another statement that we get to hear is “Yaar yeh India hai, idhar sab chalta hai.” The same buggers would go to other countries and behave as law abiding citizens just because of the fear of being caught, fined or embarrassed. If they are caught here, they try to first argue with the cops, then try to bribe them or try to show off their contacts with their standard response “Tu janta hai main kaun hoon.” Most of the heritage sights and structures are also spoilt by people who try to implant their name on them as a fashion.

 4. Lift Etiquettes: This is the most common as well as highly ignored phenomenon. The basic etiquette that one can follow while boarding an elevator is to allow the people who were inside to come out and then step in. However, most of the so-called cultured and educated corporate professionals try to squeeze themselves in even before the guy inside can take the first step to come out. Many people even board the lift and move in the opposite direction just to be assured of a place while it is going up or down. It is downright silly to do that as it is a wastage of time for both themselves as well as for the other people who are waiting patiently on their respective floors.

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 5. Forming a queue in public places: This is an age-old Indian problem where people love to behave like hooligans. You go to any public place like a passport office, Tea Stall, bus/train stations etc, you would always find people pushing and prodding each other. Seldom will you see people taking an initiative to form a queue and help others as well. The guy who tries to do that will always end up messing his/her chances to get there. For me, the worst experience in this domain was when I was in holy place of Shirdi trying to have a ‘Sai Baba’ darshan. I could not believe the behavior that I saw from people who were so called ‘devotees’ in a place of holy worship and peace. Just for the darshan, people were almost man handling each other and trying to get an upper hand in getting a ticket or even a sight of baba’s idol. I was wondering what would Sai Baba think of all this drama.

 6. Acceptance of mediocrity: We as a country are used to accepting mediocrity. Our entire mental conditioning happens with accepting whatever is dished out at us. We accept bad roads, lack of basic infrastructure, lack of transparency and accountability in our leaders and so many other things. The problem is with the middle class mentality of ‘moving on with life’.

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Just to re-iterate and make a point here, the objective of this piece is not to point out the negatives or mock about our country and its people. Instead, the objective is to remind everyone about the woes that we all go through in our daily lives chose to keep mum about it. Nothing stops us from pointing out to a fellow Indian that they are destroying or spoiling a public place, which is maintained with the taxes that every individual pays.