In the middle of a concrete jungle that Gurgaon is,it is one fresh green campus. Although I am not acousticophobic,yet the 30-odd minutes I took to reach Management Development Institute (MDI) from my home through the roads of old Gurgaon made me a bit uncomfortable. But two minutes into the institute,if there was any sound to be heard on a warm Saturday morning,it was the chirping of birds. MDI has a pretty campus teeming with red brick buildings and is dotted with thousands of trees.
I am greeted by Professor VK Gupta,the officiating director of MDI Gurgaon,who joined office last year. The first thing I ask him is that globally the institutes of excellence are mostly in the private sector,but in India they are mostly in the public sector. Its all a matter of age,the older you are,chances are,wiser you will be, Prof Gupta says. Indeed,private sector coming into the field of higher education is quite a late phenomenon in our country. Among the early private entrants into the higher education sector are Birla Institute Of Technology And Science,Pilani,Tata Institute of Social Sciences,Mumbai,and Xavier Labour Relations Institute,Jamshedpur. And they are at par or even better than most public sector institutes from the same field. Prof Gupta adds,Additionally,public sector institutes had foreign collaborations right from the beginning and these worked to their favour. For example,Indian Institute of Management,Ahmedabad,had a collaboration with Harvard and Indian Institute of Management,Calcutta,with MIT,etc. We collaborated with Kelloggs Business School only in the early 1990s.
India has evolved as a knowledge economy now. So,rather than simply churning out students who boast of hefty pay packages,the institutes have to contribute to nation building. How is MDI contributing to nation building, I ask him. We not only train students here,we train industry people as well. Additionally,our PhD programme is among the largest in the country and today we have as many as 60 students doing PhD at MDI. But the question is why do we have them? Because we have got a suitable environment for them in the institutewe pay them handsomely,their scholarship is around R22,000 a month,plus free accommodation and no tuition fees,over a period of four years. So,in effect,we are providing good teachers to other institutes also, he replies.
As far as revenues are concerned,Prof Gupta says that historically it used to be Management Development Programmes (MDPs) but now the scenario is changing and Post Graduate Programme in Management (PGP) contributes most to the revenues.
Many countries in the world have come up with innovations such as knowledge cities,where the best of the foreign universities come and set up their campuses. On his views on the Foreign Education Providers (Regulation) Bill,2010,Prof Gupta says,Whichever universities come to India,almost all of them would come to promote themselves rather than promoting education in the country.
On future plans,I ask him what kind of goals has he set for MDI? Is it that over the next,say,10 years you will set up extra campuses; is it that MDI will produce more,say,research papers,number of MBAs,etc; or do you think of something bigger,say,MDI featuring in the list of worlds top 200 business schools? Prof Gupta says,Research is certainly a big area of growth and we know that. We promote our faculty to produce more research papers and,if they get published in good journals,we pay them handsomely. About your first question,yes,we would certainly like to expand,at least within the country. We already have a campus at Murshidabad,West Bengal,and now we are thinking of going to south India. There are no limits to growth but then we have to keep in mind that growth needs funding and funding will always be a challenge for a self-sustaining private institute. As you talked about nation building a few minutes ago,I would like to add something about our campus at Murshidabad. Now,its a fact that very few students from that region can afford to come to New Delhi or other metro cities for quality higher education. So,somebody has to go to them,somebody has to fulfil their aspirations by providing them quality education. So,in a way,we are contributing to nation building. Indeed,education isnt just about employability,it is about empowerment,too.
On the issue of fees,I ask him what kind of things does MDI look into while raising fees. Also,whether the institute pays back to the society in ways such as providing more scholarships,etc. To be practical,there is no option to raising fees if we want to maintain the quality of education. Also,if you see the infrastructure around,you will realise that maintaining all this requires a lot of money,and most of the money,as I have already mentioned,comes from PGP,our students. But then who enjoys the fruit of all this? Its the students. Prof Gupta says.
He also tells that one of the largest programmes going on at MDI is the student exchange programme. We have tied up with more than 30 business schools globally and about one-third of our students go out of the country to have global experience, he says.
Considering the global scenario,or considering even China,entrepreneurship has not taken off in a big way in India. I tell him this and also that I have heard a lot about MDIs incubation programmes. Yes I agree,but then the investment environment in the country is not that conducive to entrepreneurship as it is in many other countries … he comes up with the usual blame-the-policy statement we have heard so often before I ask him,Sir,say,I am an MDI student and I wish to start my own venture. How will MDI help me out? He answers,We will provide you with some seed money and then we will mentor you. We will also provide you with the infrastructure to develop the basic skills or products. Once we have given you the needed push,its for you to take off. Although he adds that this fact has to be accepted that in India,especially in the middle class,these is a lack of risk-taking abilitiesthe basic thing needed to be an entrepreneur is a high risk-taking capability. Well,these are essentially societal issues. But the good point is that all this is gradually changing, he says.
Its time to leave and,as I am about to,I notice the logo of Association of MBAs (AMBA) on the brochure he had handed over to me. Before I ask him,he says,Almost all business schools look for global accreditations and we are the only business school in India whose all six programmes have been accreditated by AMBA,and that too without conditions,i.e.,for a period of five years.