On October 1, former IIM Ahmedabad Director Dr Bakul Dholakia took over as the Director General of International Management Institute (IMI), New Delhi. Dr Dholakia is much respected for his bold stance on the autonomy of Higher Education institutions. Dr Dholakia was the guiding force behind the expansion of activities at IIMA, where he served as the director between 2002 and 2007. After his term as director ended, he decided to move out of IIM A to help Adani Group set up a Medical School, and a Management School.
MBAUniverse.com recently interviewed Dr Dholakia on a variety of subjects, including his views on state of management education in India, the policy issues, and his vision for IMI New Delhi. Edited excerpts from the interview follow:
MBAUniverse.com: How do you look at the current state of management education in India?
Dr Bakul Dholakia: Indian management education is passing through a transformational phase. While the Top 40-50 B schools are doing well on most of the parameters, we have seen a massive consolidation in the number of B-schools in mid-tier and bottom-tier. I saw this coming way back in 2007-08. This is a market based correction and was inevitable due to the mushrooming of B-schools since 1990s.
I see this trend of shakeout and consolidation to continue in near future. However, I am optimist about the long term future of Indian Management education. Five years from now, I can see the management education in a far more stable state.
What is important to note is that globally too management education is going through a period of churn. Mid-tier B-schools in West are facing drop in number of applications. Top-tier western B-schools are facing questions of relevance and other challenges. But Western B-schools are much quicker to adapt and they have started the process of change much earlier than Indian B-schools. Indian B-schools are very slow to change and adapt to new realities.
MBAUniverse.com: Experts suggest that apart from slowdown in economy, Indian management education is suffering due to unclear Education Policy and Regulation? What are your comments...
Dr Dholakia: Yes, I agree. Indian higher education and management education is over regulated. Management education is constantly under pressure from various regulators like ACITE who don't understand the context of management education. The mindset of AICTE is that of a regulator of engineering education. For MBA education to flourish, you need a regulator with different mindset who understands the context of management education.
One must understand that management education is very different from engineering education. MBA is a post graduate program that aims to develop managerial and leadership skills. Regulating it cannot be the same as regulating the under-graduate education.
Isn't it ironical that while we can trust a 18 years old to elect a Member of Parliament, we don't trust a 20 year old to decide which institute he/she should take admission in!
PGDM B-schools have been under severe pressure in last few years. AICTE notification and subsequent Court cases have created a lot of confusion. How do you see this development...
Dr Dholakia: It's unfortunate that AICTE wants to regulate almost all aspects of running a private B-school. In the 2010 notification, they wanted to take away the autonomy of PGDM B-schools to admit the candidates that meet their criteria, they wanted to regulate fee, and they wanted to even prescribe a model curriculum!
How can B-school differentiate themselves and remain competitive if most of their functions are regulated? Is this the way the Western management education has prospered? No. They have a peer-review and peer-regulatory mechanism and not state controlled.
AICTE is still stuck in a pre-liberalization era. Its approval and regulatory process is based on meeting Infrastructure requirements, and doesn't measure the quality of the programs. AICTE must adopt a outcome based monitoring and regulatory process. This will help quality improve and benefit all stakeholders.
MBAUniverse.com: AICTE says that regulation is needed since some private players resort to unfair practices. What can be a model that gives autonomy to performers, and regulates the fly-by-night operators?
Dr Dholakia: AICTE must look at how public sector undertakings are managed and regulated and draw lessons from it. In the context of PSUs, Government has found a way to give a lot of autonomy to performers like ONGC, IOC, GAIL etc, and it also regulates the under performers. We need a similar grading of B-schools, which should be based on transparent yardsticks, and this should become a tool of effective regulation.
PSU are graded into many categories like Maharatnas, Navratnas, Miniratnas and so on. In early 2014, there were 7 Maharatna, 16 Navratna and 71 Miniratna. These are given different powers and financial autonomy.
I strongly recommend that we should have a similar categorization of B-schools in PGDM space. The ‘A’ category B schools should be allowed to decide their programme structure, curriculum, faculty, fee structure and so on. A few controlling regulations can be imposed with some autonomy to the ‘B’ category institutions. ‘C’ category B schools need the regulator and so should be provided accordingly.
Every five years, the performance of B-schools can be evaluated on transparent benchmarks, and some can move up or down. This system can work effectively for 275-300 PGDM B-schools that exist and will help all stakeholders.
MBAUniverse.com: Coming to IMI, what factors motivated you to join this institution? What are its key strengths...
Dr Dholakia: After serving IIM Ahmedabad as its director from 2002-2007, I joined the Adani Group on two projects. One was the Adani Institute of Infrastructure Management, which has since developed well as a specialized institute. Second was to set up a medical school in Gujarat, which was in a PPP mode, with Gujarat Government and Adani Group as partners. This medical school has come up very well, and has been commissioned as per our plans in 2014. So having met expectations in both these projects, I was looking for the next big challenge. That's when the opportunity to lead IMI came about.
Looking at IMI New Delhi, I could see a holistic premier B-school which has earned good reputation over the years. It has a diversified faculty group from all parts of India, which has strong industry exposure and is focussed on academic excellence. One of the uniqueness of IMI is its healthy teacher-student ratio. We have recently earned AMBA accreditation as well.
All these factors suggested to me that IMI is ready for take-off into the next league of India's elite 5-7 B-schools. These factors promoted me to take up the new role.
MBAUniverse.com: So what is your vision for IMI New Delhi? Where do you see it in next 3 years?
Dr Dholakia: As I said, IMI New Delhi is very strong on Intellectual Capital. Now we will work on enhancing its National, Asian and Global visibility. We will further enhance IMI's stature and appeal to key stakeholders like Recruiters, Applicants and Peers among Asian B-schools.
In three years, I will like IMI New Delhi to become the Number one Private B school in India.
MBAUniverse.com: So what are new trends do you see coming in near future?
Dr Dholakia: I can see emergence of a large number of high quality One Year management programme. IIMs, ISB and a few others are already offering this, but one year MBA will become a much more prominent program in near future. There are several reasons for this. There are a large number of working executives who don't take up the conventional two year MBA unless they get into a Top 20-25 B-school. They prefer to work for 5-7 years, and then look at doing a post experience MBA in India or Abroad. This trend will become stronger, and will create a strong demand for top quality one year MBA in times to come.
MBAUniverse.com: What is your message to prospective students, who are considering to apply to IMI New Delhi?
Dr Dholakia: IMI-Delhi is widely recognized as a prremier B school in India . It will be our endeavour to achieve the status of the best private business schools in the coming years. Our faculty, staff and alumni share this vision and have already started working towards achieving this goal. I invite you to join our PGDM programs and share the excitement of emerging as the top private business hook in the country. IMI is endowed with excellent infrastructure, highly rated large inter disciplinary faculty and a highly motivating ambiance and culture. So, please bring your passion, dedication and commitment. All of us at IMI will do our best to help you realize your dreams and ambitions. .
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