National Education Policy

Re-envisioning B-Schools in India: Cues from NEP 2020

The spirit of the new National Education Policy 2020 prepares a ground for transformation in pedagogical practices. It is high time that B-schools take a leadership role in galvanising management education by adopting a multi-disciplinary approach in restructuring curricula and accommodating more liberal arts electives.

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By Srirang K Jha

Stand-alone B-schools have been in existence in India for more than seventy years now. These B-schools have generally followed the templates emanating from the West. In fact, the Indian Institutes of Management, established by the government of India, have been set up on the lines of some of the top management institutes of the USA such as the Harvard Business School. Interestingly, there were fewer private B-schools prior to liberalisation, globalisation and privatisation that was initiated in India in 1991 under the leadership of PV Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh. The opening up of the economy created a huge demand of management professionals which in turn triggered setting up of stand-alone B-schools in the country under the aegis of trusts and societies sponsored by some of the bigger industrial houses.

Visualising the burgeoning need of quality education, Dr Stya Paul, a leading industrialist and philanthropist, established the Apeejay School of Management in 1993. Likewise, some other great institutions also came about during that period. However, during the 1990s and 2000s, several B-schools cropped up. Mushrooming of B-schools without any regard for quality education resulted in loss of employment opportunities for the graduating students as they were generally not ready for the industry. An immediate fallout was a gradual decline in the number of B-school aspirants. An MBA, which used to be a sure-shot passport to corporate jobs, no longer appeals to students. Many of the run-of-the-mill B-schools have already closed down and several others are looking at a bleak future.

This is possibly the best time to re-envision the B-schools and regain the confidence of the corporate houses in terms of providing industry-ready professionals who can match the expectations of all the stakeholders. The National Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020) provides a great opportunity to all the stand-alone B-schools to drop the old templates which have failed beyond repair. NEP 2020 has already set the tone for a facelift of stand-alone B-schools which now need to adopt a multi-disciplinary approach and gradually become mini universities by offering a range of courses other than the MBA programmes and set up academic departments which can directly or indirectly supplement good quality management education. NEP 2020 categorically mentions the phasing out of single-discipline higher education institutions. Hence it is possible that the stand-alone B-schools in the current form may not exist in the next few years. The message from the NEP 2020 is loud and clear. And B-schools have little choice but to envisage a new avatarthe sooner the better.           

NEP 2020 presents optimism in terms of the rising youth population in the country and concomitant employment opportunities for them provided the academic institutions are willing to change almost everything that characterises higher education in the country today. It is high time that B-schools can take a leadership role in galvanising management education by adopting a multi-disciplinary approach in restructuring the MBA curricula and accommodating more liberal arts electives like photography, creative writing, sociology, art and culture, history, as also big data, machine learning, artificial intelligence etc. The architects of NEP 2020 mince no words in observing that ‘multidisciplinary abilities across the sciences, social sciences and humanities will be increasingly in greater demand’. Currently the MBA curricula are heavily loaded with traditional core and elective courses which do not necessarily prepare the graduating students for careers and life. Hence, the B-schools need to revise the MBA curricula without much delay.    

“It is high time that B-schools can take a leadership role in galvanising management education by adopting a multi-disciplinary approach in restructuring the MBA curricula and accommodating more liberal arts electives like photography, creative writing, sociology, art and culture, history, as also big data, machine learning, artificial intelligence etc.”

At the same time, the teaching-learning process in B-schools needs to change with new age pedagogy. According to the NEP 2020 document, ‘education must move towards less content, and more towards learning about how to think critically and solve problems, how to be creative and multidisciplinary, and how to innovate, adapt and absorb new material in novel and changing fields’. Further, NEP 2020 also mentions that ‘the pedagogy must evolve to make education more experiential, holistic, integrated, inquiry-driven discovery-oriented learner-centered, discussion-based, flexible, and of course, enjoyable’. The spirit and intent of NEP 2020 prepares a ground for transformation in the pedagogical practices in B-schools as also in other academic institutions from schools to higher education.

The onus of ushering in NEP 2020 is primarily on the faculty as mentioned in the document quite eloquently. Both the state authorities and top management and leadership teams of academic institutions are expected to create a conducive ecosystem for the successful implementation of NEP 2020. Hence faculty members across academic institutions need to take up the call and devote themselves to first understand the spirit and intent of NEP 2020 and then prepare themselves for leading the change.

Srirang K Jha, PhD, teaches Indian Ethos and Business Ethics, Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability and Corporate Strategy at the Apeejay School of Management. He has contributed articles to leading newspapers like Economic Times, Hindustan Times, The Hindu, etc. Besides, he has published more than 50 research papers in national and international journals.  

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