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IIM students sold on Brand Politics

Giant corporates and multinationals appear to be passé for a handful of students from the premier Indian Institutes of Management this year.

Written by Suman K Jha | New Delhi | Published: February 18, 2009 1:00 am

Giant corporates and multinationals appear to be passé for a handful of students from the premier Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) this year. Reflecting a growing trend,while one student from IIM-Calcutta has volunteered to put his skills at work in NDA prime ministerial-candidate L K Advani’s campaign office,another from IIM-Ahmedabad has ambitions of interning with Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi this election season.

An admirer of L K Advani,especially after he met the leader last month,Harsh Vardhan Chapparia is a second year student at IIM-Calcutta and has also studied computer engineering at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. And while he plans to join a business consultancy firm in June,Chapparia has more than a passing interest in politics. The president of the students’ council at IIM,he admires Lee Kuan Yew,Barack Obama and Mahatma Gandhi. Apart from Advani,of course. “As a leader with a nationalist outlook and more than fifty years of experience in public life,one can learn so much from him,” said Chapparia,when asked on he why opted to work for Advani. He will get back to the corporate sector after the elections.

Sources in the veteran BJP leader’s campaign office said that after the launch of his website,as many as 5,000 volunteers — including a large number of professionals — had signed up,wishing to contribute in various capacities to Advani’s campaign. A large number of professionals had similarly applied to join Rahul’s “Aam Aadmi Ka Sipahi” programme.

Several students in other IIMs,too,want to be associated with “mainstream political parties”. Most of them see the Congress or the BJP as their “natural option”,but at least one student who spoke to this paper wants an association with a regional party.

It was Chepuri Krishna who started the trend of IIM students interning with political parties. A student of IIM-A,Chepuri worked with the CPI(M)’s central office last year and produced a paper on the “unorganised workforce in the country”.

Chepuri has since joined the Monitor Group,a business consultancy firm,but hopes to contribute to the economic cell of the CPI(M) after the Lok Sabha elections. While at the IIM,he had floated the idea of students working with parliamentarians for a course on “how best to spend MPLADS (Member of Parliament Local Area Development Division) funds”. While the idea in its original form didn’t find favour with the faculty,it was reworked and expanded and a new course on “constituency management” is being run at the institute.

Three MPs — Madhusudan Mistry (Congress) Harin Pathak (BJP) and Sitaram Yechury — are working with a group of students there as part of the course “that tries to work out “specific priorities” for various MPs for their respective constituencies. Srijan Pal Singh,a member of the group pursuing the course,has already decided on a full-time career in politics.

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