Need to revisit the curriculum at design schools, including NIFT/NID : Be Entrepreneurial

It was a pleasure and privilege to be part of the Jury of the finals of the first All India #NIFT HG #business plan competition at @n.i.f.t national HQ in Delhi. It is indeed an honour and joy to start a new journey of contributing to the #design #education and fostering #entrepreneurship in design schools of the country.

Today, we have 16 NIFT campuses across the country. Five finalists emerged from the six month long competition that started from each of the 16 campuses. This initiative by #HarishGupta, an #NIFT alum of 1991 batch is praiseworthy and has the potential of #transforming the #design #education in #India.
In the pic include the visionaries who have given shape and are still giving to not only NIFT but also design as a edu-vertical and industry in the country. first DG Mrs Rathi (IAS) and current DG Mrs Sharda (IAS). Also seen are pioneer in #womenentrepreneurship @cwei Mrs Shashi, the founding CEO of Lacoste in India, Jayant, Harish Gupta of fashion learning, Praveen of Pincap fintech and other eminent roleholders in the NIFT fraternity Prof Sibichan, Prof Prabir, Prof Sudha, Prof Sohail…

The Jury was chaired by Mr Ganesh Natarajan, now an entrepreneurial mentor and investor, who has been known for spearheading Aptech at one point of time.

My few take aways from being part of the Jury..

A. The students taken in by the NIFT/NIDs may be creative, but the institutions need to invest in their personality transformation. You can present yourselves, create opportunities and clinch deals only if you are articulate and are convincing.

B. There is a dire need for instittutions to create a larger vision for themselves that can impact society in various ways, not limited to churning graduates. The four years of education needs to integrate with the external world. Break the insulated existence.

C. Then comes the need facilitate students to create their vision for life. Greater the integration with the external world through excercises of bringing outside world into classrooms and taking classrooms to the outsideworld, higher will be facilitation of students to have a better vision.

D. Need to foster entrepreneurial mindset as part of evolution of a student during the four years. This happens only when the institution is entrepreneurial, faculty is entrepreneurial, the processes are entrepreneurial. The institution should think of a few challenges/problems in its city as projects that could add immense value to the society, and solve them through their expertise; bring in relevant corporates to sponsor (csr), integrate these projects with the curriculum, at least in the 3rd and 4th year. Initiate the students into a structured entrepreneurial curriculum in the second year.

E. Of course embrace and institutionalize the competitions like NIFT HG business plan competition to help students participate, validate their ideas, create incubation possibilities. The funds will pour in. I am sure there are many investors like me who want to bet on the horses with potential.

F. The institutions need to tell themselves that they will incubate half a dozen endeavours/companies every year.

A stitch in time saves nine, as they say. It is time for NIFTs and NIDs to restitch in time to infuse energies.

Time to take off.



What Now? After class XII results : On Zee Business Panel

Every year, this time of the year is a challenging time for most students who are graduating from school. The expectation that is thrust on each by the families and society really takes toll on every child.

It is very important to understand the child and help the child have confidence in himself or herself, in their capabilities. Through the school, facilitate the child to understand self and the world around, by exposing, exploring, experimenting, experiencing, imbibing in many contexts, across a variety of spaces in those eight intelligence dimensions – linguistic, logical/mathematical, spatial, nature, kinesthetic, Musical (read the article Every child is gifted).

The world is looking for problem solvers and shall dish out anything to have such on their board. Money is never a problem. Be a learner for life time, have courage to push boundaries, to discover what more you are; Be humble in any given situation… So much more in this panel discussion with renowned career counsellor, Ms Pravin Malhotra.

If you have any more thoughts or doubts can surely write to me

DU first cut-off list…… Was on DD News Night : What should be the way ahead for INDIA?

Sreeni was in the panel discussion on Delhi University cut-offs of 2014 and way ahead …

Once again it was that time of year when the Delhi University announced the first cut-offs for various colleges under it, late last night and was made public this morning by the newspapers.

This year was more special because the date for announcing was deferred following the chaos created by the UGC vs DU wrangle on scrapping Four YEAR undergrad prog! UGC under the very same Chairperson who was praising the FYUP last year, did a volte-face on FYUP this year. The govt changed and so did the sing-song! When will our ‘EDUCATION LEADERS’ and ‘POLITICAL LEADERS’ see education as key to eradication of all ills? As long as education system is a tool in their hands for personal fights and glory, nothing can improve.

Anyways, after the roll back of FYUP, the cut-offs were announced and lo behold, again 100% was the cut-off for a few courses in a couple of not so sought-after colleges! How? Why?

Doordarshan had called me to be on the panel to discuss the issue of DU cut-off list this year. In the DD studios I was with Dr. Pradhyuman Sharma, Principal, The Hindu college in the Hindi news bulletin, while I was with Dr. Varshney, Dean, Student affairs, South Campus of Delhi University in the English bulletin; while Mr. Ashok Ganguli, ex-chairperson, CBSE linked from Lucknow; We also had a student, who have had tough times in the DU admission process, in each of the bulletin, in the studios.

Issues discussed –

High cut-offs? When students get 100% in Psychology and English, obviously the colleges have to keep the cut-offs at the maximum. Otherwise they may be inundated with so many forms and if they have to accept all of those who apply, then they had it. I got to know during the interactions, that a couple colleges were at the receiving end last year – over 1200 had to be admitted, when they thought an in-take of 180 for a particular course, as the college’s cutoff was low! So colleges are playing safe this year.

Mr Ashok Ganguli spoke – in the CBSE results, over 60000 student scored more than 92% in Maths; many got 100% in English! He was talking about the grace marks being given, liberal corrections etc that has made it worse..

Education and Curriculum! Should our school education not orient towards skills and problem solving than rote learning and re-production. That is the only way to get out of this madness of 100% scores and Merit lists!! And get students with capabilities into higher education..

Applications : Every student hedges. Most students do not really know what they want to do in life. Hence they apply to inexplicable number of courses in as many colleges..This year there were 2,75,000+ applications for mere 54000 seats…. In all possibility the number of applicants may be 1.5 lakh, if we consider each one applying for multiple courses / colleges!

Elimination vs Selection Why should the DU admissions be an elimination process? why cannot it be a selection process? why should it not have entrance exams for every course? In fact, the existing entrance exams for courses in English, Journalism too got abolished!! The entrance exams may get even not so high-scorers in board, but better off for the course!

Why only Delhi? Why should DU get applicants from Dibrugarh, Ladakh, Pondicherry, chennai, Bangalore……. Is Delhi University, only centre for excellence? Do we as a nation lack any other centre of excellence?

  • In the nation rankings of colleges, about only 20% of the colleges from DU come in the list, eighty percent are from other centres of excellence. Then why such a rush to Delhi? Should we convert a few of those outstanding colleges across the country to convert into universities with a few more colleges under their wings to mentor to increase their quality and standings.
  • Is it the eco-system around the Delhi University that is most attractive and productive? or Is it a life-style choice? Is it the centre-of-power of the nation….Is there more opportunities here for student?

More colleges? Is having more colleges in Delhi university the solution? How many more colleges will we have? Should you convert top colleges into universities with multiple campuses across the country?

Why only a few courses?  Do only these courses offer potential employment? Is it a flock mindset? How do we counsel and mentor students, their parents and families to opt for those courses and subjects that the students have natural flair for? Can the universities / colleges work with schools to help them facilitate this process? Should it not be the role of every faculty / professor to mentor students in the class?

Entry of TOP foreign universities a solution? This has been lying in the cold storage for a long time. With middle-class families having more and more disposal income in their hand, with crunch of quality colleges, are looking at top universities of the world. Indians spend about $20 billion annually to get their education abroad! The universities abroad are eyeing Indians along with Chinese to fill their coffers! Will these families look at the best of the colleges setting up campuses in India? Of course, there are issues of – which universities will come to India? What is the pricing point at which families lap it up? How will we ensure quality of world standard? How will we attract the FACULTY of that caliber?

Is TECHNOLOGY the way ahead? The numbers in the future are going to increase for sure, with 75% of the population expected to be under the age of 24 by 2020! The problem is going to get compounded as we go along. Should as a nation we not look for solutions that will address this issue. This can be addressed with a two pronged approach –

Can we not lay emphasis on exit exams than the entrance gates?

  • Can we not allow students to apply for any course of his or her choice irrespective of what scores they get?
  • Can we not create Exit examination tough enough to award only those who are really good.
  • Let the duration of the program be decided by the quality of the student… one may finish the program in two years, while a few may take even 7-10 years

Can we have an outstanding HYBRID model (BEAM-CLICK-Brick & Mortar) with a huge emphasis in virtual facilitation

  • Pool the outstanding faculty talent from across the country to create / can video sessions on every subject and upload on the web to access
  • Have all the contents / notes online for students to peruse and study
  • Have doubt clearing sessions live with faculty to interact ; thousands can attend these sessions at one go, with a good mechanism
  • Have surprise tests, short and long tests, and track performances
  • Unsatisfactory performances should compel the student to repeat that segment/course of the programme
  • There can be a few contact sessions with eminent faculty…

For me it will not be a wonder if quite a few who undergo the technology-facilitated programme out-perform those who are admitted to campus-based  programmes. I have had an exposure of over 14 years in this space of tech-facilitated learning and I can vouch for this way! Indeed there will be a great opposition for this model – one of the co-panelist was very vehement! But that is the way… Best of the world universities (MIT, Stanford, Harvard…) are going on to this platform, launching their MOOCs – ….. Phoenix set the tone!

Our own IITs and IISc came together to initiate NPTEL ( to provide learning resources to Engineering students from those engineering colleges across the country that lack quality faculty and learning resources. This can be made more interesting and compelling…… by integrating with compulsory hands-on-learning with SMEs in such a way that the students get practical exposure while the SMEs get keen manpower….

We certainly need someone at the HRD ministry with a grand vision for our nation! Else we will be doing the delta changes and will go back and forth with protestations coming from all directions. This government has a mandate, it needs to take those bold steps to make a bit difference to the real driver – EDUCATION – for the nation’s excellence in every space.

I rest my thoughts here…..kindly share your thoughts here …

Convocation of class of 2013, IWSB

Convocation of class of 2013, IWSB

Convocation of class of 2013, IWSB

Convocation of class of 2013, IWSBConvocation of class of 2013, IWSBConvocation of class of 2013, IWSBConvocation of class of 2013, IWSBConvocation of class of 2013, IWSB
Convocation of class of 2013, IWSBConvocation of class of 2013, IWSBConvocation of class of 2013, IWSBConvocation of class of 2013, IWSBConvocation of class of 2013, IWSBConvocation of class of 2013, IWSB
Convocation of class of 2013, IWSBConvocation of class of 2013, IWSBConvocation of class of 2013, IWSBConvocation of class of 2013, IWSBConvocation of class of 2013, IWSBConvocation of class of 2013, IWSB
Convocation of class of 2013, IWSBConvocation of class of 2013, IWSBConvocation of class of 2013, IWSBConvocation of class of 2013, IWSBConvocation of class of 2013, IWSBConvocation of class of 2013, IWSB

Convocation of class of 2013, IWSB, a set on Flickr.

The convocation ceremony, the Ceremonial evening at IWSB, for the class of 2013 was much awaited. Usually the convocation happens before the class joins the corporate world in the month of March. Since this batch did their second year as exchange program students at BIMTECH, the convocation had to be deferred, to receive their grade sheets etc.

Prof Navneet, Prof Raju Mazumdar, Prof Sunil Joshi, Prof Bhumika, Prof Rajeev Ranjan along with the families and friends of the class attended the ceremonial evening.

The evening was graced by Mr. Vishwadeep Bajaj, Founder Chairman and MD, ValueFirst, one of the most valued telecom companies of 2012. Vishwadeep delivering his convocation address shared the lessons learnt during the last twenty five years while tracing his journey of ups and downs, exaltations and disappointments. He summarized the learnings as –

a. Have a vision, be passionate about it. Dream Big!

b. Once you dream, share it with the larger world

c. Believe that the dream has already come true..

He related this with his journey of great self-belief that he always carried since his early college days, of being an entrepreneur. His only aim was to be one and he chased it, tried his hands at a variety of things, with singular aim of being an entrepreneur. The journey took him through various industries and countries, each time a new path emerged, whenever he hit a dead end. Today, Vishwadeep is one of the most celebrated and valued visionary in the Mobile and digital communications industry.

Satya, while picking up from what Vishwadeep said, shared that all that Vish said is indeed true; but the most important factor that helps one really succeed in life is – disciplined execution. He reminded the class of 2013 that pay attention to every detail and every small commitment you make. Value every individual and task, irrespective of how big or small. The greatest of the victories on our journeys happen only when we abide by this fundamental value – discipline.

With their favourite faculty Navneet and Raju around, who shared a few jovial moments with the batch the evening came to an end. The dream of most of the students, of wearing a ceremonial gown and getting their degrees has been fulfilled. The class had a wonderful time, capturing their selfies and throwing their hats!

Wishing each one a great journey ahead. Love you all guys… take care..

Sreeni in a panel discussion on DU admission cut-offs – News Night, Doordarshan 8:30-9:00pm

Sreeni was in the panel discussion on Delhi University cut-offs of 2013 and way ahead …

The Delhi University announced the first cut-offs for various colleges under it, late last night and was made public this morning by the newspapers. There was joy on many faces, but more faces showed somber mood within. A couple of colleges had 100% as cut-off in the B.Tech computer science courses, while a few stopped short of it by saying 99.75%, a little consolation, for honours courses in Commerce and Economics.

Do colleges have any choice? I wonder and so do many, that, how can someone get 100% even in subjective courses like psychology and economics; one can understand in courses like Mathematics and Physics. And the trend is not limited to CBSE, it has been with many state boards too. Wish all these 100%agers bring a few more Noble Prizes for India, on their journey of life.

– Delhi University has received over 2.5 Lakh applications this year. Now on an average, every student has applied to 6-8 courses across the colleges… How many distinct applicants really?
– Most of the students do not really know what they want to do in life, so hedging across courses.
– And going to DU. to a college in the north campus is a lifestyle statement; Parents want an epaulet; students want to be the ‘in’ thing out there

What will the colleges of the university do when students with such high scores apply, and in so many numbers, from across the country? Only possibility is, look at the trend of scores of the students this year, and look at the trend of final choices by the students in the last couple of years for your college, and take out cut-off for each of the courses, hoping such and such numbers would join. If students play games in applying, colleges play with cut-offs.

On Doordarshan’s News Night, this evening, we had discussion on the current scenario – Cutt-offs, pressures on students, their parents and family, the choices that they have……. The News Anchor was Gautam and my fellow co-panelists were Prof Pradhyuman, Principal, The Hindu College, DU and two young girls – Amrita, aspiring for the journalism and mass-communication course and Ruchika, an enthusiastic economic honours aspirant. Both Amrita and Ruchika did not make it in the first cut-offs list, but hoping to make it in the next.

In the English panel, we had on panel, Mrs Usha Albequerque and the principal of Deen Dayal Upadhyay college of the Delhi university.

The discussion was on the way ahead for students and the university too!…. variety of ideas discussed

– Why not have entrance exams for all courses and have weightage for class XII marks and entrance exams too so that so many talented 60-70% students too will have a chance to showcase their aptitude for the subject and enter
– Why not have more colleges in Delhi university
– Why not more universities – The best of the colleges of DU can be converted into universities and compel to open up in larger campuses
– Why this flock mentality among students, only for certain courses, and to north campus?
– Why no focus among the students, and applying for a variety of courses; what can family and society do
– Why not to other universities in the NCR or elsewhere in the country, so many good colleges exist
– What pressures play on students from family and society, how to facilitate them…

whether you had watched the show or not, I am sure you too will have a few things to say… kindly share your thoughts here …

Building an Institution : B-schools to search within – A session with Prof Rishikesha T Krishnan

Rishikesha T Krishnan, Chairperson Corporate strategy & Policy Area, IIM Bangalore

Rishikesha T Krishnan, Chairperson Corporate strategy & Policy Area, IIM Bangalore

Rishikesha T Krishnan, in the last two decades, has been very active in the spaces of strategy and innovation, and championed on how they can be made integral to the systems to enhance the competitiveness of organizations on one end to nation building on the other. He is a member on the boards of various government, quasi-government bodies as well as editorial boards of prestigious publications. His silent work has found space in the public domain in the form of research papers and books. His last work From Jugaad to Systematic Innovation: The Challenge for India caught the imagination of policy makers, intellectuals and students of innovation alike. He has been showered with many awards – Dewang Mehta Award for Best Teacher, Jamuna Raghavan chair in Entrepreneurship at IIMB, IFCI award for best thesis at IIMA etc. His complete profile can be perused at Prof. Rishikesha T Krishnan

Prof. H Chaturvedi inviting and introducing Rishikesha T Krishnan, Prof A Sahay, Prof P N Mishra, Prof Rishikesha

Prof. H Chaturvedi inviting and introducing Rishikesha T Krishnan, Prof A Sahay, Prof P N Mishra, Prof Rishikesha

I thank Prof. H Chaturvedi, Director BIMTECH, for inviting me to be part of the invigorating session by Rishikesha at the campus. I was thrilled to be there listening to a thinking individual and was also nostalgic about meeting a professor from my alma mater, IIM Bangalore. Rishi moved into IIMB the very year I graduated (1996), hence missed being in the same learning spaces. I have had a few interactions with Rishi in the last few years at our Alumni get-togethers or over the phone, but this was the first time I was in a session of his. I was more delighted because the session was about institution building and building of self that go hand-in-hand, which is of great interest to me personally. I invest a lot of my time in these spaces.

The session was chaired by Prof P N Mishra, Director and Dean, Institute of Management studies, Devi Ahilya University, Indore and anchored by Prof Arunaditya Sahay, Dean (Research), BIMTECH.

The session with Rishi is in first person as I documented while the session was underway. I sought his permission to blog this. Here it is.

We as a nation are known internationally in the strategy and innovations space because of the two stalwarts, Late Prof C K Prahlad and Prof Sumatra Goshal, whose contributions have impacted organizations and nations.

Revisiting the B-School Curriculum and program Design

As part of understanding the shifts being made and envisaged in the B-school curriculum, I was a member of team that visited a few campuses in the US, like Kellogg, Stanford. MIT, Cornell, Wharton and Yale

Key lessons from US business schools

  • MBA has become more of business analytics than administration
  • Does not foster professional dimensions, especially ethics and governance
  • Promotes most of theoretical framework, we need to move towards applied discipline

US schools response

  • Dire need to link theory and practice
  • Can we think of labs for experiential learning
    • sustainability lab, ecological outcome; work with start-ups
    • work with consulting companies to anchor the. Courses exposing to real problems
    • people come with different background and levels of understanding and analytical thinking; build on people prior experiences
  • Integrated approaches to managerial problem-solving
    • can we look from stake holder’s perspective – customer, investor, partners etc
    • Eg: Yale looks at raw cases and is not packaged in most of the cases; internal portals eg. All related articles regarding an issue and keeps updating (eg Maruti unrest, can I compile are reports and articles historically to the current situation)
  • Focus area on leadership
    • Kellogg : values and crisis decision making
    • Sloan : intensive Leadership workshops
    • Stanford : capstone leadership course
  • More attention on career planning
    • most have no access to unbiased view of careers, industry and companies
    • passport seminars
    • active immersion : going through the whole course
    • Mintzberg’s matrIx ..will to manage vs zest for business  (I will update this with the matrix soon)
Prof Rishikesha in his flow

Prof Rishikesha in his flow

What are the priorities for the Indian business schools?

  • Building business acumen
    • can we build more insights from traditional businessman’s acumen – cash, profits, assets, growth, people etc
    • Using simulation tools actively in our curriculum
    • What does it mean to be a professional
      • people are watching our behavior patterns – authoritative etc, how do we take care
      • Learning by doing (eg.)
        • businessmen teaching, real life issues, evaluation
        • managers supportive of innovation and change – can we give more opportunities to explore
        • Collaborative skills- need to really help future managers to work on this,
        • Sustainability – A key to future course world-wide
        • How to keep all Stakeholders perspective

Institutional building – Curriculum building is taken care of if we do institutional building

  • Matrix on – relevance and practice Vs research, conceptual rigor
  • IIMA must have been a pioneer in India, but what next – the recent cover story in a magazine talks about IIM going back to B-school?!
  • ISB, Hyderabad, started just a decade ago has walked into the IVY leagues of the world. Why?
    • People with strong wherewithal backing it
    • clear vision
    • strong international partners
    • now capable young resident faculty
    • Scaleed to recruit 570 students
    • New campus in Mohali now
    • resources,
    • flexibility,
    • determination to make it
    • Matrix – theory of business V (I will update this with the model soon)

IIMB Trajectory : There has been a significant shift even at IIMB in the last 7 years

  • Focusing on research capabilities
  • Enhanced support of internal research projects
    • use of internal resources to push faculty to excel
      • incentivizing for high quality research output; when you incentivize other things why not research
      • inviting more and more people to visit Campus and take seminars
      • First Research and publications report has come out – target the most reputed  Financial Express 45 journal’s list
  • LEARNING FROM THE STRATEGY AREA EXPERIENCE – we have been consciously working at it even more assiduously
    • can we recharge the faculty to take initiatives in the right direction
      • vibrant doctoral program in management
      • largest number of doctoral programs (15 at any time); 9 of 13 alumni are faculty at other IIMs
      • Emphasis on that get invited for – Awards, seminars and proceedings
      • faculty research and student research programmes have to be synergistic and synced
      • students work published in SMA
      • One of our senior most professor, Prof Ramachandran, teaches his courses with his own cases
      • We do Outreach programmes – Strategic Management teachers programmes – foundation course for faculty from other institutions
      • Shared committed to excellence at the dept level
        – strategic plan for the department has been created

Each one of us can be invaluable to an institution, if we are clear on what we are here for. Have we got our plan right? So questions to ask for, is –

    • Have got strategic goals for self
    • what am I bringing here
    • how much am I driven internally

As an institution we need to ask a few questions

  • Can we create supportive environment
  • You cannot buy innovations. How do I promote constituents to take the initiative
  • Money can play a role to some extent. In fact, we should take money off the table. Yes, raise the compensation base to a comfort level
  • Can we create research platforms
  • Encourage and recognize excellence in all that we do
  • Could be a good practice – CAN I TAKE OATH THAT I WILL EXCELL IN WHATEVER I DO

I wind up by showing A MODEL OF ENGAGED SCHOLARSHIP – source Prof. Ramachandran (I will update this with the model soon)

Q & A

1. What do you think of Qualitative research and relevance in our country? How do people perceive it?

A. Internationally, they shy away. But there has been many a development of late. Now QR is being made rigorous – understand and incorporate


A lot must be happening, considering the popularity it has gained. (quite a few people shared)

  • perception handling : influence and impacts – Look at the Arab spring, Occupy movement, the recent incidents in India
  • information warfare : being used extensively; very potent way of creating panic
  • education : A lot being done.

3. INDUSTRY’s understanding of research and how to apply

Yes, we need to work on educating them and making them partners in many ways


ISB is a success story; Though they had a lot going for them, I am sure every institution if determined can make it happen.

Prof P N Mishra’s Concluding address :

  • Research : relevance and context are very important
  • Look at Japan and Korea Vs the US and UK : The oriental philosophies of building nation is very different from occidental. Each one has succeeded in own ways, at the same time failed the world in many
  •  A real good teacher is one who endeavors to create students better than oneself..

Day 5 : SPIC MACAY – 27th National Convention, 2012 @ NITK Surathkal, Karnataka

The Guru Shishya duo at its best - Madhavi and Arushi Mudgals
The Guru Shishya duo at its best – Madhavi and Arushi Mudgals

As the day 6 is the D-day for the presentation of the intensives, momentum gathered in all the 29 intensives, practicing and polishing was the norm of the day. On the crafts front, they were heading to creating at least a couple of pieces each to show off on the stage. It was also interesting to see about a dozen youth from Pakistan joining along with their professors from Beacon university for arts, and enjoying dancing in kathakali, bharatanatyam, singing carnatic classical music etc.

It was interesting and coincidental to have the day full of DUOs – Looked like the TWOgether day at the 27th convention :

a. Qawwali by Warshi brothers (Nazeer & Naseer Ahmed Khan Warsi)
b. Odissi by Guru Sishys Duo – Mudgals – Madhavi and Arushi
c. Carnatic Violin by Express Mysore brothers – Shri Mysore Nagaraj and Dr. Manjunath

kindly visit the SPIC MACAY NATCON daily reports on SPIC MACAY Natcon Stage

Thousands of captures of SPIC MACAY conventions, see on my Flickr collections
Like my Facebook – Photo and Visual Arts Page

Next posting tomorrow… Love. Sreeni

%d bloggers like this: