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2015: Year that made positive moves on autonomy to IIMs, saw entrepreneurship emerge as a clear career option

E Kumar Sharma     December 25, 2015

An important highlight of 2015 would arguably be the move by the Ministry of Human Resource Development to listen to the voices over the need to grant greater autonomy to India's premier business schools - the IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management).

This was evident from the re-drafting of the IIM Bill 2015 that now intends to retain the autonomy of IIMs. This, say pundits, in the higher education space, is certainly a signal in the right direction as the old bill could have led to some undesirable interference with these institutions.

What remains to be seen now in 2016 is how this will move ahead and at a larger level what the government plans to do on higher education in the country. It is with good reason that Ajit Rangnekar, Dean of the Indian School of Business (ISB) while hoping "the IIMs will continue to evolve," says, "hopefully in 2016, we will also get the new higher education policy that will show the direction in which the government is headed."

However, the just concluding year, from a student perspective, especially across the business school campuses, was a vote in favour of entrepreneurship as a career option.

This was particularly so in technology-enabled sectors like e-commerce, which is where many start-ups emerged. Even existing players saw more funding coming in, enabling them to consider growth and in this process hire talent from leading Indian B-schools. The year saw many hiring management talent as against hiring just from technical colleges, which was largely the case earlier.

While this has been seen as a positive trend given that going forward one is only likely to do a lot more with say a mobile phone, there are also concerns emerging.

Many, for instance, fear the trend is not reflective of a bubble emerging.  While hoping this trend is based on sound economic reasons and not exhibiting itself as just a mood of the day, Ashish Nanda, Director of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A), still feels it is a welcome development that "a great deal of entrepreneurial activity has happened in the technology-enabled sectors as they are changing the dynamics of many industries and disrupting existing brick-and-mortar models". He also feels building on some of the trends evolving over the past couple of years, 2015 saw a gathering force on not just the dimension of entrepreneurship but also in technology playing the role of an enabler in providing blended solutions in learning with some interactions in face-to-face setting complemented by some distance learning opportunities.

That apart, he saw during the year, business schools recognising the value in having a class with diverse backgrounds. "Increasingly, business schools are understanding and appreciating the value of having an incoming class with diverse experiences with students from different backgrounds, gender and economic strata."

All of this leading to a richer learning experience for everyone within the class.

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