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B School
“Free Markets can exist with Social Focus but with Regulation”
Management Education in India is at an Inflexion Point with Major shifts Beckoning in scope, Content and Pedagogy. K. T. Chacko, Director, IIFT talks to B&E’s Anchal Gupta on his views on The Direction that Management Education will take
Issue Date - 03/02/2011
K.T. Chacko is a 1973-batch IAS officer from the Madhya Pradesh Cadre. A Masters in Economics from Kerala University and a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard University, Chacko has held various esteemed posts in the government from being the Private Secretary to the Commerce Minister (1985-87) to serving as the Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), Indian government, from 2004-2006. He joined IIFT as Director in 2007 for a 5-year stint. Here, in an exclusive interview with Anchal Gupta, he shares his experiences and insights on management education:

B&E: How has management education in India changed in the recent years and what are the positive signs you see for the future?
K.T. Chacko (KTC): With Indian businesses scaling new heights, particularly in the last two decades, management education in India has evolved to address three important challenges. Firstly, in design and delivery of appropriate programmes. Managers at different levels demand different skills ranging from functional expertise to skill reorientation to understanding global policy issues. With such varied demands, appropriate course content and teaching methodology have become necessary for effective learning experience. Secondly, the challenge is leveraging technology. Virtual classrooms, simulations and interactive learning are taking classrooms to the work place of the executives. There is increasing pressure to deliver higher quality program content and new methods of program delivery. Third comes the imperative of international exposure’ B-schools are looking at new ways of bringing this international exposure to students. At IIFT, we have developed academic collaborations with 31 B-schools across the world, which has resulted in many student and faculty exchange opportunities.

B&E: Quality research has been a big question mark for Indian B-schools and universities. How can this scenario be improved in Indian management institutes and what has IIFT been doing to enhance R&D in its core areas?
KTC: Increasingly, we find that industry is keen to develop knowledge in the area of measuring effectiveness of business strategies, valuation of the human capital, quantitative assessment of policy developments et al. As such, the challenge for B-schools is to convert the traditional modelling techniques to practical tools for industry analysis. IIFT recognises these challenges and has taken concrete steps in meeting this industry demand. Our faculty has carried out a number of industry based projects. For SMEs, IIFT provides research support through capacity development programmes and web based resources. This apart, IIFT is known for research in the areas of international economics and trade policies.

B&E: Faculty crunch is considered to be a big impediment for almost all universities in India, especially government institutions, because of attrition by private universities. What steps need to be taken to address this issue?
KTC: A good faculty pool is an asset to any business school. Many B-schools have taken new initiatives to develop and retain faculty. IIFT has developed a mechanism, which provides full support to faculty to participate in international conferences, international training programmes, et al. Besides, financial support is also provided for faculty participation in national seminars and conferences. This has encouraged IIFT faculty to work on new research themes and present it in international and national fora. Also, IIFT has developed a detail work norm, which recognises and rewards excellence. For these reasons, our attrition rate has been very low.

B&E: B-schools in India have been teaching concepts of capitalism and free markets for years now. Do you think that B-Schools now need to teach sustainable capitalism – a concept which not just addresses the motive of profit maximisation, but also ensures that corporations start moving in the direction of sustainable development?
KTC: Free market economics can coexist with sustainable development provided there is an appropriate regulatory/incentive framework. With consumer awareness increasing on issues like child labour, green labelling, ethical practices et al, corporates are being forced to integrate these issues with their business development plans. More and more firms are engaging themselves in various activities under CSR. B-schools have to rise up to this challenge by including courses like Business Ethics, Corporate Governance, Environment and Natural Resource Management. IIFT has already taken initiatives in this direction, like compulsory project-based attachment with an NGO as part of the MBA curriculum, setting up a centre to provide consultancy and training for SMEs and hosting the annual Al Gore Sustainable Technology Venture competition to encourage entrepreneurship in the area of sustainable development.

B&E: Many B-school students are moving towards social entrepreneurship and similar non-conventional occupations post their MBAs. How do you believe that this trend can be made to expand and what are the challenges that are being confronted by young entrepreneurs in the social sector today?
KTC: We have read about instances where MBA graduates from premier B-schools have refused jobs with MNCs and started initiatives like setting up small canteens. These are welcome trends which can change the face of rural India. It is essential to sensitise students to a value system that is based on compassion, independence and integrity. In this sense, it is important that a closer interaction with NGOs is fostered, facilitating interaction with successful entrepreneurs and industry leaders and providing networking opportunities to the students.

B&E: What has been your personal success mantra in life and what advice would you like to give to the youth?
KTC: Strict adherence to basic human and social values has to be the foundation on which success can be achieved. It is important to recognise and promote team spirit & make each member feel important in discharging his/her responsibilities. In the end, effective leadership becomes paramount.

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