Economic Times ND 25/01/2012 P-1
IIM-Indore Looks 'Out' for Job Placements

The Indian Institutes of Management, which sit at the top of the business education totem pole, can normally rely on the power of the IIM brand to land their wards well-paying jobs year after year. But as this year's placement season looms, some are being forced to do the unthinkable seek outside help in the process, painting a sorry picture of the economy where slowing growth is forcing companies to cut back on hiring.

IIM-Indore, a relatively new member of the IIM fraternity that was set up in 1996, plans to partner with some placement firms to make sure that all 450 students in the current batch receive offers. The institute is in talks with around five agencies.

"We are trying to help our students get good placements," said N Ravichandran, director of IIM-Indore. "At this point, we have to keep the names of these agencies confidential," he said.

Other IIMs may go down the same path. Sunil Goel, director at Global Hunt India Pvt Ltd, said apart from IIM-Indore, Calcutta and Lucknow had also contacted the firm. Tier-n and m B-Schools are also likely to feel the slowdown pinch. "We are in discussions with some of the institutes, but nothing is finalised as yet. We may help them    with    some form of consulting if the need be," Goel said. But both the older IIMs — Calcutta was set up in 1961 and Lucknow in 1984 denied they had sought help from external agencies for placements. Final placements at Indore may begin hi February with about 60 companies. The 2011 batch had an average salary of about Rs141akhin2011,up 27% on the previous year's level of Rs11 lakh.

IIM-Indore had not used external agencies in 2009, the toughest year in recent memory as it followed the financial crisis of 2008. The batch size that year was 180 and the institute was able to place all. This year the external agencies will carry on a parallel placement process, once the institute receives a definite number of offers by itself, a placement coordinator said in a mail to ET.

Officials say that given the large batch size 450 is the biggest among all the IIMs the average salary is likely to take a hit. This is because as the placement season draws to an end, the quality of job offers, both in terms of salaries and job profiles, gets affected. "These firms will help us in bridging the gap for the last 100-150 students," said a senior official from the institute's placement committee, who did not wish to be named.

The thinking is that these agencies will function independently of the IIM Indore placement cell and will provide opportunities to the participants beyond the existing pool of recruiters.

The IIMs were set up at the initiative of India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, to train managers that were to run factories and businesses of a fast-industrialising nation. The ones at Ahmedabad and Calcutta were set up in 1961, while the business schools at Bangalore and Lucknow came up in 1973 and 1984, respectively. Ahmedabad, Calcutta and Bangalore, the big three, sit at the apex of Indian business school rankings, with Ahmedabad traditionally occupying pole position. Lucknow, Indore and Kozhikode - the last-named also opened its doors to students in 1996 - invariably feature in the top 15.

Whether the firms will get paid for their services to IIM-Indore is not clear. "We have not yet decided on how the institute will compensate these firms or what will be the payment structure. But we will choose only those that bring the best job profiles from their clients. We will also give them a threshold figure for salary packages depending on which sector the job offer is coming from," the official pointed out. The lateral placement process (meant for candidates with work experience) has already begun at campus and the institute has been able to place more than 100 students so far. The process is likely to conclude in another week or so. Saral Mukherjee, chairperson of the placement committee at IIM-A, said the situation is not as bad as it was in 2009. "There was panic in 2009, but things are not as bad this year. In 2009, many companies had put a hiring freeze, but this year, we have not seen even one recruiter who said it is not hiring. There could be some firms hiring lesser number of people, but the quality of jobs has not gone down as yet. We shall get a clearer picture during the final process."

The idea of engaging any external agency for placements did not seem very prudent to him. "When the institute and recruiters form a partnership, the engagements are on a much higher level. There is a constant dialogue between the two parties. Thoughts and expertise are shared on a regular basis. The relationship goes much beyond recruitment alone. External firms can not bring that on the table. They could be useful only in a few cases, for instance, tapping a new geographical location."

Business Line ND 25/01/2012 P-23
After Nalanda, it's Vikramshila varsity's turn to get a makeover
Indo-Asian News Service
Antichak (Bihar)

It was among the most important centres of Buddhist learning in ancient India, but the remains of Vikramshila University in Bihar have been sadly neglected for years. Now, it appears, the ruins of the university would be conserved on the lines of its older counterpart Nalanda.

The conservation plan comes in the wake of the Bihar Government's move to develop Vikramshila's ruins as a tourist destination like Nalanda, situated around 90 km from the State Capital.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has roped in the National Culture Fund (NCF) and National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) to conserve its excavated ruins with an initial investment of Rs 2 crore.

Vikramshila University was set up by the Pala dynasty (750-1174 AD) King Dharmapala in the late 8th or early 9th century. The site is located near Antichak village in Kahalgaon subdivision of Bhagalpur district, about 150 km from Patna.

"The conservation work would begin from February in a phase-wise manner," ASI Patna circle's

Superintending Archaeologist, Mr Sanjay K. Manjul, told IANS in Patna.

He said the initial investment will be Rs 2 crore, though the total cost of the mega conservation and development plan is yet to be worked out.

"NTPC has agreed to fund the conservation work through NCF. A memorandum of understanding has been -finalised for it," he said.

NTPC, under its corporate social responsibility scheme, decided to fund the conservation work. Officials of the three agencies visited the site last December.

Last year, the ASI decided to launch a mega plan for conservation of the university ruins.

Mr Manjul said the conservation, which has been neglected for decades, will help preserve the legacy for future generations.

According to ASI officials here, conservation of 52 shells or reading room-like structures adjoining the main stupa and a major portion of the excavated structure will be taken up.

The ancient Vikramshila University was intended to complement the existing world-class universities at Nalanda and Takshila.  It lasted four centuries before being destroyed during an attack on local kingdoms by Bakhtiyar Khilji of the Delhi Sultanate.

According to the ASI, the remains at Antichak were excavated by B.P. Sinha of Patna University during 1960-69. The antiquities found at Vikramashila comprise terracotta objects, including a large number of plaques representing Buddhist and Brahmanical deities, animal and bird figurines and some symbolic representations, as also a large number of stone images of gods and goddesses.

A few small bronze statues of Buddhist deities like the Buddha, Maitreya, Vajrapani, Avalokitesvara and Manjusri too have been found. The bulk of antiquities comprise stone, iron, copper, silver and bronze objects, including a few silver and copper coins.
Members of the Vikramshila Nagarik Samiti said after more than three and a half decades of excavation by the ASI, no work has been done at the site on the pattern of Nalanda.

The Samiti has been demanding that Vikramshila be included in the State's Buddhist tourist circuit for its development.

Hindustan Times 25 /1/2012 P23
Back in growth mode

The gear has shifted at Mumbai’s Mint Street from neutral to a mild pick-up. The Reserve Bank of India on Tuesday held its policy interest rates but loosened the hold on cash, signalling a bias towards growth after pursuing a tight money regime for 21 months. 

RBI governor Duvvuri Subbarao left unchanged the repo rate and the reverse repo rate (the rates at which the central bank offers cash to commercial banks or sucks out excess liquidity) but injected Rs 32,000 crore by lowering the cash reserve ratio (CRR) the share of deposits banks must park with RBI by 0.5 percentage points to 5.5 %.

“Even as inflation remains elevated, despite moderation, downside risks to growth have increased,” said  Subbarao. “The growth-inflation balance of the monetary policy stance has now shifted to growth, while at the same time ensuring inflationary pressures remain contained.”

RBI lowered growth projection for 2011-12 to 7% from 7.6% in view of global slowdown and domestic policy constraints and left its wholesale price index inflation target unchanged at 7% for 2011-12.

“Based on the current inflation trajectory, including consideration of suppressed inflation, it is premature to begin reducing policy rates,” said RBI. “The reduction in the policy rate will be conditioned by signs of sustainable moderation in inflation.”

Business Line 25/1/2012
CII looks at North-East as next business frontier

With major private sector companies expressing interest in exploring business opportunities in the North-East, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) is looking at the region as the next frontier for India Inc.
The industry chamber is looking at skill development to increase manpower generation in the region as a first step in this direction.
“More than 70 companies have shown interest in tying up with Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) in Assam, which are being developed under private-public partnerships. Eight new ITIs are coming up, while the CII is already involved in managing many of the existing 28 ITIs in the State,” the CII North East Council Co-Chairman, Mr Abhijit Barooah, said.
The two-day-long North-East Skill Conclave, organised by the chamber, concluded here on Tuesday. It was attended by representatives from all eight State Governments of the region, besides Karnataka and Rajasthan and senior officials of many public and private sector firms.
“Along with the rest of the country, the North-East is also benefiting from the economic expansion of the past few years. We have big ticket projects such as the Assam Gas Cracker project and Bogibeel project. However, we need huge manpower as at present the skilled workforce is limited in the region,” Mr Barooah said.
He said the industry body, being involved in management of ITIs, had played a major role in giving inputs for modernising and rationalising the training process.
“We are also working on bringing institutes from the other parts of the country to the region,” Mr Barooah said.
The National Skill Development Corporation, a Government joint venture, has shown interest in providing low-interest loans to the upcoming ITIs in Assam, he said.