Venue: Magnolia Hall, India Habitat Centre

Attendee: Mr. Aritro Dasgupta

This discussion was part of the larger EPSI Annual General Meeting. This session was amongst the most important ones. The moot point of this particular session was regarding a recent bill passed in the parliament which intended to enable the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) to award the MBA degree as opposed to the post graduate diploma till now. The status of the AICTE approved PGDM will not change as a result but it will hugely affect the branding. All the more private business schools are worried that the PGDM offered by them will lose validity and credibility abroad when students apply for jobs or higher education. This write-up will highlight the salient points discussed at the meeting individually by the distinguished delegates.

The panel consisted of the following 16 members:

S. No. Name Designation Organization
1 Dr. H Chaturvedi Director BIMTECH
2 Dr. G Vishwanathan Founder & Chancellor VIT University
3 Dr. R.C. Natarajan Director TAPMI, Manipal
4 Dr. Jitendra Das Director FORE School of Management
5 Dr. P.K. Biswas Director IFMR
6 Dr. Sharad Jaipuria Chairman Jaipuria Group of Institutes
7 Dr. Arya Kumar Director LBS Institute of Management
8 Mr. Gurnam Saran President EMPI Group of Institutions
9 Dr. Sanjeev Marwah Director J.K. Business School
10 Dr. Pradeep Bavadekar Managing Director MITCON Foundation
11 Mr. Mahesh Sharma Editor Careers 360
12 Mr. Amit Agnihotri Chairman MBA Universe
13 Dr. Gauri Modwell Dean (Academics) New Delhi Institute of Management
14 Dr. Sumesh Raizada Dean Jagan Institute Management Studies
15 Dr. Suresh Lalwani Chairperson- PGDM S.P. Jain Institute of Management
16 Ms. Radhika Srivastava Executive Director Fortune Institute of International Business


The following summaries will discuss the points discussed by the speakers who spoke for substantial time period and provided us with significant content.

Dr. H Chaturvedi

Being the alternate chairman of the EPSI and session chair, Dr. Chaturvedi was in charge of inaugurating this session. He introduced us to the grave dangers of the IIM Bill being accepted for the business schools offering PGDM at the moment. The PGDM was an IIM initiation as them not being universities could not award degrees. Thus this diploma was given equivalence to degree so students graduating from them could apply for jobs or higher education or jobs. This same PGDM now attained same status for all other business schools not affiliated to any university but ratified by AICTE. Now if the IIMs start awarding MBA, then what happens to the hundreds of institutions which are awarding the AICTE approved PGDM? These were the major questions to ponder upon at this session. The session chair invited the panel members to speak out their opinions and then a decision will be taken by EPSI over the next 3 weeks. As per this decision, the EPSI will apply to the government regarding opinions on what should be done. Thus there will be a united front presented by all PGDM awarding non-IIM institutes.

Dr. G Vishwanathan

According to this speaker, opposing the IIM Bill was not a valid option. This will mean open mutiny and we do not want that. That will imply that PGDM institutes do not want IIMs to award MBA, but that is not the case. These private business schools are simply concerned about the welfare of their students who have graduated from their institutes with PGDM qualification. Do they now get stripped of chances to pursue higher studies or apply for government jobs? Thus instead of outright rejection, the PGDM institutes must instead try to find a solution. He then went on to add that Indian students who have a PGDM still do not have equivalence to the MBA and especially abroad this is a problem as foreign universities will not recognize the same.

Dr. R.C. Natarajan

Dr. Natarajan feels that there is no immediate reason to panic, but yes over the next 5-7 years of settling time, this issue can blow up. He also does not agree that the PGDM is not treated at par with MBA abroad or in India. The moment a PGDM gets clearance from the Association of Indian Universities (AIU), then the PGDM is considered equivalent to the MBA in all spheres of technicality. Yes, a problem that exists is that many business schools which are awarding PGDM have not taken up

Dr. Jitendra Das

The speaker compared the situation with that existing in the USA where private business schools, once approved, can confer MBA degrees on their own. He feels something like that option will have to be explored in India also. Out of the 4000 odd management institutes in this country, only around 400 of them are AICTE approved PGDM granting business schools. Because the number is so low by comparison, thus the government’s focus is on the bigger picture of university affiliated MBA institutes. So the government’s stance is understandable, yet it must not compromise the position of those 400 odd institutes of which probably 100 of them provide quality education.

Dr. P.K. Biswas

Dr. Biswas recounted his previous experience as being among the founder members of the prestigious Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM) in Bhopal. IIFM when started was promoted by IIM-A and thus holds a special place. Also due to the focus on forest management as a specialization rather than conventional management, this presents a particular basket case. Yet Dr. Biswas informed the audience that long before the formalization of the AIU, students from IIFM not only got jobs but also got admissions to doctoral programmes abroad. This was only possible due to the brand name of the institute. Thus the speaker feels that if institute branding is alright, then the transition may not be as tough as come predict.

Dr. Sharad Jaipuria

The speaker spoke about the travesty that while the original IIMs have all stood the test of time, it is quite unfair to award the same prestige to the new IIMs as well. In fact a lot of private business schools which are AICTE approved have consistently shown top quality as well as adherence to standards which even the IIMs may struggle to replicate. This is what the government will have to consider.

Dr. Arya Kumar

This speaker started off with a hilarious yet pointed statement. He spoke about how the IIMs are the poster boys of the PGDM. In case they themselves because of whom in the first place this entire concept of a diploma equivalent to degree started, where does that leave the others. The others will simply be seen as imposters. Till now there were question marks raised against the diploma. But the standard answer was always provided that the best institutes in the country- the IIMs- were also awarding the same. This statement assured all but now with this umbrella thrown out if the bill succeeds, then the students graduating from the other institutes will be left nowhere.

Dr. Suresh Lalwani

This speaker feels that the very reason that the IIMs right at the beginning decided to opt out of an MBA degree was that they wanted greater freedom. They wanted the freedom to set up their own curriculum and their own selection criteria for students as well as faculty. They did not want to comply with university standards as they felt those were not keeping in with the times. Thus the PGDM was started while they had the opportunity in the first place. Now if the IIMs go back to the MBA option, then they ought to lose autonomy. Also some of the stipulations as per the proposed bill suggest that the IIMs will continue to be registered as societies while getting the benefit of awarding MBA. This will be a double advantage but disadvantageous to millions of students who have graduated from the other business schools with an AICTE awarded PGDM.

Dr. Gauri Modwell

This speaker spoke about how many industries have got specific regulators. Within the broader category of technical education, there exist. For disciplines such as architecture and medical there are separate bodies besides AICTE. For management which is such a super specialized course, there ought to be one such internal industry regulator. The question now arises in case most of the 400 odd PGDM institutes in this country are to be converted to MBA ones, then who all will be conferred with the said prestige and who will decide. Which is the body to decide on quality? Who will then confer the MBA degree, the stand alone institutes themselves or AICTE? But AICTE does not have degree conferring status. These points need to be cleared by the government and HRD ministry.

Ms. Radhika Srivastava

The speaker believes that AICTE has become a police body forever inspecting the institutes rather than adding to their intellectual level through proper regulations. The institutes are thus unable to plan long term for the benefit of their students as they are forever in a state of uncertainly regarding AICTE status next year or year after that. They cannot discuss any concrete plans with overseas partners for example. Thus these institutes feel they cannot fulfill their commitments to students. This affects all spheres of the management including academics, placements and admissions.

Dr. Sumesh Raizada

Having experienced life on both sides, Dr. Raizada described working as a college affiliated to some university is a horrendous position to be in. Universities treat these stand-alone institutes with nothing but contempt. The institutes have little power in any decision making, In fact they can’t even declare holidays for their own employees without universities’ consent. It is far better a proposition to be awarding AICTE approved PGDM.

Mr. Amit Agnihotri

Being from MBA Universe, which keeps track of all matters related to management, Mr. Agnihotri had some important points to speak. As an outsider, he suggested to the forum, that these private business schools must present to the government a simple fact: repeatedly 75 out of the top 100 business schools in the country across surveys have been offering PGDM rather than MBA. Thus the credibility of PGDM as a course cannot be in any doubt. Due to the massive contributions these institutes have made to the corpus of the country in both academics as well as industry, these institutes must be protected. They form a crucial cog for Indian industry. PGDM must brand itself in that sense and not as an alternative to the real thing of MBA. The speaker feels that across management education fairs, the brand of PGDM is never communicated prominently. And this must change due to the quality provided.

Mr. Mahesh Sharma

This speaker from Careers 360 spoke about a landmark case in Orissa which is taking place. He spoke about how similar to this case, the Orissa Technical Association has already taken exception to AICTE norms and lodged case against them. The verdict of that case will be crucial. In case AICTE wins it, then the 5-7 years suggested by a panelist as bedding time for non- IIM PGDM awarding institutes will be thrown out of the window. The period will be reduced to perhaps less than a year. So it is time to act for all these institutes.

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