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IIMK Director Debashis Chatterjee Finds Lessons For MBAs At Kumbh Mela

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What has the Kumbh Mela to do with MBAs or for that matter, the typical Indian homemaker who runs the establishment with severe resource constraints? IIM Kozhikode director Debashis Chatterjee seeks to provide the answer.

Pointing out that the fundamental shifts in management have been largely about unlocking the potential that exists in resources, he says it is more about unlocking the human resources, to reimagine and reconfigure the world.

In an interview with edexlive, the education supplement of the Indian Express, Prof Chatterjee stressed the need to tune into a new culture of disruption by tapping into innovation.

He said the Indian system has delivered value for 1.3 billion people with such few resources which is a massive management challenge. Even with the biggest gathering on earth at the Kumbh Mela, there was no epidemic, no massacre or infectious diseases.

This was because it was managed phenomenally well at the ground level. The Professor says Indians have to take pride in their own ability to manage things. India is a nation of last minutes, even this is something that needs to be studied. How the people are able to put so much together at the very last moment.

In this context, he points to the typical Indian woman who runs the home with severe resource constraints. What goes into the make-up of the mind of this individual can be used to innovate management studies as we know it, he says.

“Prof Chatterjee says it was high time that the IIMs started discovering these pockets of excellence.” That is explicitly our mission: globalising Indian thought.”

Prof Chatterjee pointed out that education remained out of sync with what was happening in reality. However, with the help of Artificial Intelligence (AI), “we are beginning to scratch at the surface of potential. It’s high time that we tune into this new culture of disruption.”

Asked if the education system was equipped to handle such futuristic changes, he replied in the negative. Prof Chatterjee wanted the IITs and IIMs have to take the lead to usher in development in this direction.

He said the need of the hour was to focus on is less cognition and more immersion. He made every student at IIMK write about where they are headed as a student, gave them this vision and asked them to create it. “Once you have that vision at such an age, it is much easier to find the resources necessary,” he added.

He pointed out that 6 members on the board at IIM Kozhikode were women. While women  constitute 50% across all industries and the world at large, he felt it would be a disservice to India as a modern civilized nation if his own thinking  and classroom did not reflect it

About the aspirations created among women, he said the boards needed women representatives but could not find suitable candidates. “How would they find them if they do not create enough space for women within the education sphere itself? We have to change the context of gender diversity in India,” he said

About him being referred to as the architect of IIM Kozhikode and its excellence, he said he had only tried to connect the dots at IIMK. The institute was the first IIM to go digital with education in 2001. The other institutions are only beginning to catch up with the digital culture. It was built partly through the digital format and partly through FaceTime.

He said the IIM was able to reach out to a large number of students who were already working but still wanted an IIM education. Despite the IIM’s geographically cut-off location with no direct flight to New Delhi, IIMK managed to transform education.

About achieving gender parity, he said IIMK managed to get 54% women in the ranks. Since the inception of the first IIM in 1964, the percentage of women had remained not more than 8-10%. The national average of women in IIMs is 26%.

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He pointed out that 6 members on the board at IIM Kozhikode were women. While women  constitute 50% across all industries and the world at large, he felt it would be a disservice to India as a modern civilized nation if his own thinking  and classroom did not reflect it

He said if a girl gets into an IIM from a village, she becomes a talking point and her own son or daughter will be inspired and begin an important cycle from there.

Ever since the setting up of the IIM in Kozhikode, what used to be just two barren hills have been transformed. The presence of the IIM has changed the flight patterns because of the corporates that fly in to interact with the students. Top consultancies from around the country come to the campus.

Prof Chatterjee said Kozhikode used to be known as the place where Vasco Da Gama landed. Now it is known for IIM. It has changed the context of the city. Top political leaders, including the entire cabinet of Kerala, visited the campus. IIMK has even been able to influence policy, he added.

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