The Indian Institute of Management-Calcutta (IIMC) was established in 1961 by the Indian government in collaboration with Alfred P. Sloan School of Management, the Ford Foundation, the Government of West Bengal and the Indian industry. Over the past five decades, IIMC has evolved as an International Centre of Excellence in all facets of Management Education and is today one of the finest business schools in Asia.
Prof. Shekhar Chaudhuri, the former director of IIMC and a consultant with the World Bank, recently spoke about the institute that he helped nurture and the various initiatives that have propelled IIMC to its present great heights.
Prof. Chaudhuri began by speaking about the internationalization of IIMC. “Till the first 40 years of their existence none of the IIMs had any significant international orientation other than offering a few courses like international management, international competitiveness, international marketing, international finance, etc. We did not have internationalization in a real sense until the last 10-12 years. In 2003, for the first time, we articulated a common vision for the Institute and that was to develop it as an international center of excellence in all facets of management education.
“In 2002 we had five to six foreign institutions as partners and today this number has grown close to 50 and we have partners all over the world mostly in Europe; some are in USA, Australia and Asia. We send 90-100 students every year and get about 50-70 students from these institutions.
“Last year we also signed double degree diploma program ESCP Europe, which is one of the top schools in Europe, it has various campuses in Europe the first one was in Paris. The program has been activated and students have come from there and our students have also gone there. We are also working on starting a double degree doctoral program with a well-known research oriented institution in the US.
“The numbers of cases used in the courses have also been increased. We have an arrangement with Harvard Business School publishing from where we can buy any number of cases and this enables our faculty to use any of Harvard Business School materials, be it teaching notes, industry notes, etc. and after that use of cases have gone up significantly. For past four years we have been deputing our faculty members to Harvard Business School; every year we send four people for learning, for faculty development and internationalization.
Highlighting some of the other initiatives taken during his tenure as director, Prof. Chaudhuri said, “In 2007, we launched a PG program for executives in leadership in manufacturing, under the aegis of the National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council (NMCC) as we felt the need for attention in the sector.
“In 2009, we changed our admission criteria; earlier we were taking admission through CAT, but to increase the number of students we now have different channels though which we take admission. While we used to get seven-eight students in our doctoral program, in past few years the number has gone up to 20-30 students every year.
Elaborating on the basic difference in the teaching-learning environment at Indian and foreign institutions, Prof. Chaudhuri said, “ In my experience of teaching in foreign institutions, mostly in US institutions in both under graduate (UG) and post graduate (PG) programs, I noticed that the students are much more serious in foreign institutions at UG level than in India.
“Another difference is that faculty at IIMs are handling various things like teaching, training, consultancy projects which are called institutional activity. In US, faculty members are required to just teach, and training and consultancy are considered their individual activity, with no sharing of income with the institution.
“However, when comparing the quality of teaching at IIMs with a very large number of institutions in US, not the top ones, I would say that the older IIMs are far better than the US ones in terms of quality of teaching, it is far high quality here.”
Clarifying on the plans to open an IIMC campus abroad, Prof. Chaudhuri revealed, “We have been talking about it but till now there has been no serious development on this, it is there on the horizon. Right now we have so many Indian students here itself who need admission and we can expand our programs. The Government of India is encouraging IIMs to get foreign students in India and we are working on it as priority within our rules. The government also plans to organize some road shows for this abroad, this will bring diversity and our students will get exposure and then when they go out and get jobs in foreign countries it will be easier for them.”
With regard to future plans of IIMC and placing greater emphasis on research work, Prof. Chaudhuri noted, “We are looking to add another 30 - 40 faculty members in next few years and would like to recruit people with very strong research orientation because our goal is to become a much more research oriented institution. We are focusing on two aspects teaching excellence and research excellence, these will be two guiding factors for us. We are inviting people from different universities both foreign and Indian so that our faculty members develop relationship with them and they would come to know what is happening at other institutions and this would give push to research.
“We would also like to have more faculty development programs as now we are sending faculty to Harvard to acquaint our faculty members with latest techniques and orientation to become absolutely world class. We also want to strengthen our student exchange program; we would like to increase number of students in all of our programs. The other challenge would be to strengthen our executive education further.
“We also have plan to start very strong online program which will be a post graduate certificate though we have not finalized it as it is in planning stage and in later stage we may be able to award diploma through our online programs. For that we will need to have very strong admission process, then curriculum, examination, etc. so that we can reach out to very large number of people. We are also planning to develop a management teacher’s program where people from industry or other university would like to come and spend a year at our campus and work as faculty member,” said the professor in conclusion.