of 2002: Networked, but still in the real world
in New Delhi & Jaidev Majumdar in Kolkata
Picture this. 1:1 student-PC ratio, 24-hour
access to Internet in hostel rooms, video-conferencing with
students and faculty across the world, state-of-the-art teaching
tools in the campus....No, we’re not talking about Wharton,
Stanford or Harvard. Some of the leading business schools
in India claim to have all this and more. In short, they’re
A recent presentation made by the Indian
Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad, on its information
technology initiatives says that besides mounting new courses
relating to IT in the post-graduation and management development
programmes, IIM-A has done several domestic and international
consulting assignments in the area. The creation of Centre
for Electronic Governance (CEG) is one of the recent IT initiatives
at IIM-A, with the backing of biggies such as Oracle, Compaq,
Caldera and CMC. Through the CEG, the institute has developed
a dairy portal and dairy information services kiosk to help
But, at a more basic level, premier B-schools
are offering the best technology to its students, equipping
them with a ticket to the world. Says Xavier’s Labour Research
Institute (XLRI) director Prof P D Thomas: ‘‘We have taken
a lead in numerous ways in ensuring that modern technology
is leveraged to the fullest extent in providing its students
with a deep insight into management principles and practical
Apart from offering a specalisation in
the area of Systems Management, XLRI uses technology as an
enabler in ensuring that students are not only familiar with,
but adept at applying technology in solving business-related
problems, Prof Thomas adds.
At IIM Lucknow, which has a budget allocation
of Rs 1 crore for IT infrastructure, the most used technology
is the web. The instructors put up their course notes and
lecture presentations on the Web for students to access outside
the classroom, says IIM-L IT professor V Sridhar.
Another leading B-school, Mumbai-based
S P Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR), offers
high computer to student ratio and 24-hour Internet connectivity
in hostels. Says SPJIMR director A K Sengupta: ‘‘We also have
a virtual library called Kpool.’’ At IIM-L also, the library
has journals in the electronic media. ‘‘We get the journals
in the electronic media a full month before the journals in
the print form are released,’’ says Prof. Sridhar.
XLRI, besides providing all students with
personal computers with a 24-hour Internet connection in their
hostel rooms, conducts annual conferences specifically dedicated
to IT and systems. ‘‘We have now taken another bold step by
conducting our entrance test, the XAT, online in association
with a US enterprise, Blueshift Technologies,’’ says Prof.
IIM-A, which also boasts of a PC per student,
has undergone several evolutionary steps in the past 10 years.
In 1999, it decided to take a comprehensive review of its
IT infrastructure. A budget of more than Rs 2.5 crore was
approved by the board in early 2000. By the end of 2000, the
IIM-A campus had a large fibre optics based network providing
connectivity to every room in the dormitories. Network in
faculty wings was rebuilt using structured cabling technology
and high-end switches; and providing more than 100 MBPS of
switched bandwidth to the desktops.
Another tech innovation at IIM-A: While
cabling for LAN, each student room here was cabled for voice
also. Now every room in the dorm has a telephone with a unique
external number associated with it. Because of this, it is
now possible to make a direct voice call to student’s room
from anywhere in the world.
But when it comes to replacing conventional
classroom teaching, e-learning is yet to take off in a big
way. XLRI, for example, is in the process of launching a programme
to set up 20 e-classrooms all over the country which would
enable executives to attend lectures by XLRI faculty without
having to travel out of their cities.
At IIM-A, although all classrooms are equipped
with ceiling mounted projection system connected to a PC and
a VCR, a lot is left to be done. Use of technology to convert
educational material to digital form and deliver the same
to students in an interactive manner, is set to be the next
evolutionary step at IIM-A.
SPJIMR too is planning to launch e-learning
and video-conferencing programmes soon. At present, the software
packages that SPJIMR uses include modelling tools like Precision
Tree, Attris and MS project software; simulation sofware like
Markops and Markstrat; and enterprise software like ERP, BAAN
and CRM packages.
Most top B-schools have ambitious plans
to go the e-way soon. But hurdles on the way continue to be
poor internet connectivity and high cost of software packages.
‘‘Many of the collaborative technologies require a substantial
bandwidth, which is not available in India in all places,’’
says Prof. Sridhar.