Friday, February 04, 2005

When a spade is never a spade...

Well, if you had even been remotely watching the university and grad school scenario for some time, you probably know what I’m going to write. This is one of those one-off ‘inquisitive’ kind of posts, the likes of which I generally tend to avoid. But of all the things I don’t understand in the Indian college education culture, one is this: never say the truth, come what may.

Every street corner guy knows that the salaries top Engineering institutes and top B-schools quote are oft inflated. I myself don’t know what the relative truth is, but perception does percolate, even to me. Why can’t information be quoted as is across all grad schools, or, for that matter, across all universities and colleges across India? What really is the problem if everyone calls a spade a spade? As far as my brain-search goes, such a culture is deep enmeshed in the life and blood of all grad schoolers. You start speaking about something that’s remotely wrong with respect to the institute; you’d find nothing less than one thousand souls barging on you. But then, it’s perfectly understandable, because that seem to be the culture everywhere. Be a Roman in Rome. All this happens just because no one wants to be the root cause for his/her ‘alma mater’ getting a stained image. What’s the net effect? Information asymmetry, as it is called in business terms. People in an institute know far more than what outsiders thought possible, and nothing comes out, like information being sealed in a watertight container with zilch exit points. Heavy duty censorship makes sure that ‘bad’ things are siphoned off somewhere, and what really goes out is a bleached version of truth.

Who really is the loser? Prospective students, for one. Umpteen universities dupe students in the name of ‘excellent placements’, and ‘foreign exchange programs’. Mind you: excellent is relative, and Afghanistan and Turkmenistan count as ‘foreign’ too. You don’t get into an IIM? Now dare to think beyond IIMs. Why? You don’t really have a choice. Last when I heard, they didn't have a worthwhile campus to mention about. Another B-school in Coimbatore promised a 100% placement - only that the salaries are like 10 K a month, which never reaches the news. Or take the engineering college scene in TN. There are 40000+ seats, the highest in the country, and the number of eligible candidates is 30000. But still, most of the colleges brag about God level professors, state of art infrastructure etc. Is all this even remotely possible? My own experience in my Engineering college was 'revealing' - to be euphemistic. Ours was informally rated number 4 in TN, ignoring IIT Chennai. It was quite an achievement to get into the college - I had to get 95% in standard XII since I had no reservation backing me up, no rural quota backing me up, and no good higher secondary school backup. I was excited at the prospect. But the kind of professors we had didn't impress from the very beginning. End of the day, although a managed to get a campus offer in Oracle, I couldn't exactly figure out what I did that can't be done studying in lower rung colleges.

As far as B-schools are concerned, IIMA is simply numero uno, which is evident from the impressions even our professors have on IIMA. Thank God IIMA is good, coz IIMI, which is a direct offshoot off IIMA, tries to depict its mentor all the time. We have exactly the same cases, exactly the same load. But then, its a known fact that faculty in IIMA is a class apart, at a level every B-school aspires to.

As far as the main subject of this post – information asymmetry – is concerned, I would love to see a completely transparent system in Engineering universities and B-schools. I’d long for the day when they call a spade a spade, when everyone quotes a bad experience a bad experience, and when everyone sees transparency as an ideal that’s sanctimonious. But, somehow - at the risk of being called a cynic - I suspect I would be 120 years old then.

P.S: The haziness of this post is completely intentional. Edited once to add more haziness. :)

12 Comments:

At Friday, February 04, 2005 12:22:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does ur contemplation mean that IIMs are not really worthy of the attraction they receive..??attraction in terms of placement salaries and the PGP programme ?Or is it only abt IIM -I ??

 
At Friday, February 04, 2005 1:31:00 PM, Blogger Govar said...

Well, anonymous, I guess I mentioned that all institutes fudge information. I dont separate X from Y, or for that matter, IIMs from others.

This post was probably a direct outcome (outpour) of an incident in IIMs (not IIMI, if you are so inquisitive) which I happenedd to come across. I revelead it, and well, I didn't get a red carpet welcome, if u know what I mean.

 
At Saturday, February 05, 2005 2:32:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK. I'll be blunt. This is true of not just all IIMs but all B-schools. I have relatives and friends who have studied in the best of the best (A,B,C,L) and I myself am in an IIM. I can tell you very honestly, that these things are common across all of these schools. Some are better, some are worse, but essentially they are all alike.

Another thing, these things never will be open because the STUDENTS don't want them to be....they don't want the truth known if its bad, because they fear their brand and snob value will be adversely impacted. There are a few good things about the IIMs too (tons more than any other B-school in India) but there are several bad things too....and now, there's only one way you'll find out....get into one.....

JD

 
At Saturday, February 05, 2005 12:59:00 PM, Blogger Govar said...

Well anonymous, I don't really see why choose to be anonymous. I'm not an 'out'sider as you think. I'm doing my PGP1 in IIM-I, which I guess is displayed in the front page.

But then, while I agree that students remain to be silent, which is my point too, I don't see what exactly we gain out of it in the long run.

 
At Sunday, February 06, 2005 12:09:00 AM, Blogger Joey Tribbiani said...

well.. you are mixing up two things.. active misinformation and passive silence. The dare to think beyond and 100% placements stuff in local B schools are in the former category while not talking about certain gloomy stuff at the IIMs is in the latter.

There is another category in the middle.. that is the CTC category.. CostToCompany salaries that some companies quote... which includes the canteen subsidies, training expenses and even the per sq feet allocation of building rent and energy expenses..

-Bhaskar

 
At Sunday, February 06, 2005 3:14:00 AM, Blogger Govar said...

KIK! yeah, companies quote ridiculous things at times. While we passed out of Engg school, we were told that Cisco pays like 3.8K CTC - but when asked, it included club, swimming pool priveleges of close to 10K pm, which is like farcical!

 
At Sunday, February 06, 2005 3:32:00 AM, Blogger Sumit said...

The blame partly lies with the media. The IIMs are portrayed as GODS! Bschools all over the world don't make a fuss about 100% placements the way we do in India. Then there is competition so everyone inflates the salaries. The CTC component is used to make the package look respectable atleast to the layman... Institutes don't complain bcoz they can show higher median salaries... Its a vicious circle.. Don't most students benchmark the schools on the basis of placements.. ?

 
At Sunday, February 06, 2005 10:53:00 AM, Blogger Govar said...

Ofcourse, media can be blamed for making the news spicy, but we gotta remember that the source of the news is people from the campus.

 
At Monday, February 07, 2005 12:39:00 PM, Blogger John Ivan said...

only indian b-schools engage in this...we need to shift from rankings and placement figures.

 
At Monday, February 07, 2005 3:41:00 PM, Blogger AJ said...

I agree with you that internally the system is not as strong as it is being exposed to world...but brand value is more concern now days.
Today we have a no of similar products in market,but only those flourish which have better brand name(marketing strategy) or against which the consumer has rigid opinion to use:-)

 
At Thursday, February 10, 2005 4:33:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

well i think its case of "my daady stronget" ..one b-school quotes inflated figures n everyone else has to follow suit jus to maintain there competitive edge ...the figures being quoted this year r beyonf teh realms of imagination ..i dont think any organisation will pay that much to a fresher from a b-school in general...but the question is who will take a lead in being truthful...in my opinion atleast the IIM's placecomms shud have a pact one year n release stats as salary+others format as used by internation bschools ...coz once the IIMs do it others have to follow or else they put their credibility in doubt ...
its not jus abt the salary stats ..data fudging is there everywhere ..summers stats ..workex stats. there is so much filtering of news that it looks fishy...isnt it time for the future managers to b transparent ..which is the need of the hour in corporate world as it is ...

 
At Thursday, March 16, 2006 11:55:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reason why bloggers from a b-school can not mention about the dark side of their school is obvious. Even they have a stake in the success and brand building of their school (network externality) and hence nobody would like to brag about his/her school in such public forums as blogs/media etc to malign the reputation of the school which could make a long term impact on the school's brand and their own careers.

When the prospective students send e-mails to current students asking for their expert opinion on a particular school, the current students have no choice but to give only the rosy side of their school. No one can expect the current students telling prospective students the complete truth. When a prospective student converts into a current student, s/he would do the same to next year's applicants. The information assymetry still remains and the vicious cycle repeats year after year. "Teri bhi chup..meri bhi chup" is an apt description for such information assymetry in b-schools.

Thus, blogs of current students can not be reliable source of information of any b-school. 25 bloggers out of 200 students is not a representative sample and some of the bloggers are on official commitees to spread good news of the school. I do not see an end of information assymetry as the incentives of both the parties are not aligned. The irrational media has worsened this problem.

 

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