Economic Times ND 7/07/2011 p-13
New Managements Accreditation Process
National Board of Accreditation (NBA) and All India Management Association (AIMA) organised a seminar to discuss the draft accreditation process for the management programmes, in New Delhi

Speaking at a seminar organised by All India Management Association (AIMA), the apex body of professional management in India, and National Board of Accreditation (NBA) on New Management Accreditation Process at New Delhi yesterday, Kapil Sibal, Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Government of India, said, "This meet is important in today's context as there is a tension between access to education and quality of the same in the Indian education system. There is a tsunami of people who want access to education, to knowledge. They are getting the same at a plethora of educational institutes across all levels, across the country. But whether these institutes are providing education at par with the global standards is something that needs to be ascertained." Sibal emphasised that while access to education at all levels is being facilitated by the presence of these institutes, another movement needs to be encouraged, that of ensuring quality which will ease and eventually remove tension between access and quality of education imparted. He emphasised that AIMA can work in this direction with its vast experience and being the professional management body in the country.

The growing number of educational institutes in the country across all segments might be hailed as a sign of a growing economy, but to ensure that the prospective professional talent coming out of these institutes is up to mark, there needs be a system in place which can do a quality assessment of the same.

To oversee the growth of technical education and to evolve a mechanism for its quality assessment, the NBA has come out with the revised edition of the Manual for Accreditation of Business Schools in India. AIMA brought together experts from the industry to deliberate and discuss on the new accreditation process being evolved for the management programmes.
The minister also stressed upon the fact that the industry and academia must work together to ensure quality of the management professionals. "I am happy to see AIMA taking steps in this direction and I hope they continue to make efforts for the same," said he.

Talking about the need to have a quality check in place, Gautam Thapar, President, AIMA and Chairman and CEO, The Avantha Group, shared, "Today, there is a question mark on the employability of most of the engineering and management graduates coming out of India's thousands of technical and management institutes. Also, the disconnect between the education and                 the employer's needs is leading to severe frustration among India's educated youth. This has ominous social and political implications. This seminar is an effort from AIMA's side to facilitate the improvement of quality and relevance of management education hi India."

Calling accreditation a must for quality education in India, BC Majumdar, Chairman, NBA, said that this assessment is important in the light of massive expansion of education in India. Seconding him on that, Dinesh Kumar

Paliwal, Member Secretary, NBA, stressed that the new draft will encourage industry and academia to work together. Vinayshil Gautam, Chairman, Management Accreditation Evaluation Committee, NBA, explained, "The draft report is an attempt to improve and align things to the contemporary situations. I am confident that AIMA can further the cause of quality education with its vast pool of resources."

Assuring Sibal of AIMA's commitment to focus on quality management education, D Shivakumar, Vice President, AIMA and Managing Director and Vice President, Nokia India, emphasised, "AIMA will consider its role and share the responsibility in accreditation of business schools with all the horsepower it has. We will also make efforts to strengthen the link between industry and academia:"

Financial Express 07 July 2011
'IPO isnít the only answer to expansion plans'
RECORD CAFE GAUTAM THAPAR Chairman and CEO, Avantha Group

In industry circles, the chairman and CEO of the $4 billion Avantha Group is known to be a bit of a recluse. Gautam Thapar seldom attends CII conferences and rarely speaks to the media. Unlike his peers, you would hardly find the 51-year old Thapar making forward-looking statements about his group. FE’s Diksha Dutta & Ronojoy Banerjee caught up with the Avantha patriarch in his central Delhi office, where he shared his vision for the group and his deep-seated angst concerning the education system. Thapar is also president of the All India Management Association (AIMA).

Why has the Avantha Group not got some of its newer business listed on the bourses yet?

Analysts have been long puzzled at the possible growth momentum that companies such as The Global Green and Avantha Technologies hold if they tap the IPO market. Do you agree with that view?
I do not see an IPO as the only answer to fund expansion plans. If you are growing from indigenous resources, you do not need to go to the market. So if you create businesses that are good and profitable, exceed the cost of initial capital and also give you good returns on equity, then there are always options for such businesses and an IPO is only one among many options. You might go for a joint venture with somebody or bring a minority strategic partner who looks at India in the long term and then grow the business.

The government is learnt to be in the final stages of allowing FDI in multi-brand retail. As Avantha already has a sound food processing business in Global Green, will you consider extending the business and possibly rope in a foreign partner and start your own retail operations?
It would be great news if the government allowed FDI in multi-brand retail retail. But our focus is on the supply chain and we do not want to get into retailing at present. Twenty five years from now, I might get into retail because the landscape will be different then. It is better to sit back sometimes and see how the landscape of a business turns out. You cannot jump into every new, fashionable business that comes in. One big fixed cost is the very high rentals. In our traditional businesses, we are doing well and are among the top performers in terms of market share and size. In the new businesses, we are doing well in profitability, if not scale.

So what’s the plan going forward? Will you look at consolidating your existing businesses or have you identified a new growth segment for Avantha?
Well, we have identified insurance as a growth driver for the group going forward. In this connection, we are going to enter life insurance business and hence we are looking for a partner with whom we can tie up. Honestly, we like the business as well. I am looking for businesses where you need management skills and where the entry is not dictated by regulatory potholes or licences or such hurdles. I am looking for businesses which are run by people or management and you compete on quality. You do not compete on licences, otherwise you will go back 30 years. This is a conscious design.

You will offer every kind of insurance service? How many potential partners are you currently talking to?
We would pretty much offer a wide gambit of services. But I am afraid at this stage I would not be able to comment beyond this, especially on the number of partners—whether it’s two or ten (Thapar laughs).

More than 50% of your employees are non-Indians. That’s quite a number. Doesn’t this have its own share of challenges because of cultural differences and so on?
Management talent is universal. It has simply nothing to do with nationality. Basically, 50% of our assets are not in India and thus the employees are not here. You buy companies abroad because of a strategy and add people. Most of the manufacturing talent is out of India, hence we had to hire from there. But this has its own share of challenges as well, as you pointed out. For instance, there is a massive time gap between India and, say, another European country where we have an operation.
Often, coordinating the same becomes a huge issue. So yes, it is quite a challenge, especially from a human resource point of view.

Many of the marquee old family business names in India are somewhat losing their relevance in comparison to the newer business families. Do you think this is an accurate assessment? If yes, what has led to this?
Market dynamics have completely changed over the last two and a half decades. For instance, you did not have so many players 25 years ago, FDI was very limited and markets were closed.
The entrepreneurs of today have found different sources of capital, which years ago were non-existent. But yes, there was a period in India’s economic turnaround when several opportunities were available. If you look at the maximum wealth creation in the 1990s, it has actually come out of the services industry—telecom, financial services, information technology, software, airlines, hospitality. When I look at the last four years by contrast, a big chunk of wealth was created in infrastructure and power. I think there are many business groups, not just us, but even the Tatas who went through a difficult period in the 1990s because the markets had changed, duties came down, competition entered. Some could retool and some could not. The ones that could not retool missed certain opportunities.

You are also closely connected with education since you also have your own schools. You are also the president of AIMA. How do you look up on the problem of fake management institutes in the country?
The problem is that India has a multiplicity of regulatory authorities. This is not logical. In order to create capacity, you have doled out licences to many post-graduate institutes and medical colleges, with no quality control. There is no focus on structure or transparency. Then you have different regulators and bodies that decide differently. So, once 10,000 students have got a degree, you can’t suddenly deny it to them. Honestly, it is a mess. The regulator should provide a route for these kind of anomalies to go one way or the other. If you want quality, you have to propose a very precise, time-bound way by which an institution has to move to a certain level. If you are a deemed university, you should be told that if in the next five years you follow certain steps, you will be a full university under the central government.

Your tenure as AIMA president is going to get over in September this year. How has this journey been?
It was a learning experience for me. It was very different from running a company. When I head an organisation, I take the decisions. But at AIMA which is a society owned by everybody and a public service everybody has different opinions. It has been a good experience. It is a great body. It is the only platform in the country that has everybody as members, including management processors, educators, local management associations, students and teachers. It has a very large panel. It is the only organisation that deals with every element in the management profession, from testing and education to research.

Mint, ND 7/07/2011 P 4
Schools may be able to opt for govt accreditation

In three months, management schools in India may be able to opt for government ac- creditation in line with international norms, which will enhance their credibility and make them eligible for funding from more local and foreign sources.

Higher standards for faculty, infrastructure, admission pro- cess and student placement, among other parameters, have been suggested in a report on the proposed accreditation process.
A meeting chaired by human resource development minister Kapil Sibal discussed the report on Wednesday.

There is no formal accreditation process for management schools in India currently, al- though they have to meet mini- mum benchmarks and get the approval of the regulator, All India Council for Technical Education, to operate.

“We have tried to set bench- marks in line with leading glob- al accrediting agencies in management education, such as Association of MBAs, UK, and Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business,“ said Vinayshil Gautam, professor at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Delhi and a member of the committee which authored the report.

The committee, which included B.S. Sahay, director of Indian Institute of Management (IIM)-Raipur, and Rekha Sethi, director general of All Indian Management Association, was appointed by the Union government's National Board of Accreditation (NBA).

“As India's education system grows, we need a quality assurance, “said B.C. Majumdar, chairman of NBA. “Those who will get this tag will be eligible to get funding benefit from bodies like department of science and technology, department of biotechnology or external agencies like the World Bank.“

Majumdar said the accreditation process will be in place by September, and will initially be voluntary.

But the Union government eventually wants to make ac- creditation mandatory for all technical education institutes, including management schools. It has already introduced a Bill in Parliament in this regard.

“India still suffers from a problem of accessibility of quality education, especially in the underdeveloped parts of the country,“ Sibal said at the meeting. “Enhancing the mobility of students and providing satisfactory infrastructural framework are keys to upgrade the education setup and meet the global standards.“

India has at least 3,850 management schools, which admit nearly 400,000 students every year. But industry executives say that in the absence of quality benchmarks, most schools do not churn out well-qualified graduates.

“In terms of new recruitment, we find quality only in pockets. Beyond a few institutes like IIMs, you find the new breed is lagging behind, said Rajiv Sahdev, vice president of human resources at Moser Baer India Ltd.

“An accreditation that ensures quality management education will benefit the industry for sure said D. Shivakumar, vice president and managing director (markets) at Nokia India Pvt. Ltd.

IIT-Delhi's Gautam said students who pass out from ac- credited institutes will have an edge in getting jobs too. “Those who will come out for accreditation know that all their credentials will be open to public.

This adds to credibility.

IIM-Raipur's Sahay agreed.

“To keep the process transparent, the panel has suggested that the quality assessor and mentor of the institutes be different individuals, “he said.

Sibal said the process should be such that “we must eliminate all forms of discretion.

What happens now is that you evaluate on the basis of perception of the individual whom you sent there (to institutes) to evaluate. What you really have to do is to set up standards so that the element of discretion is absent.

Dinesh Kumar Paliwal, member secretary of NBA, said the body does not want to accredit IIMs and management courses run by IITs as they have already reached a level of excellence.