On the 3rd day of NICOM 2014 (theme: New Perspectives of Finance and Changing Economic Scenario), Institute of Management, Nirma University in association with the Government of Gujarat and Knowledge Consortium of Gujarat organized a panel discussion on the theme of Innovative Management Education: Focus on Economics and Finance Education as part of the National Education Summit 2014. The National Education Summit is being organized by the Govt. of Gujarat as part of Vibrant Gujarat. The panel consisted of prominent academicians in the field of economics and finance.
The discussion started off with Dr. Ravindra Dholakia, Professor, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, speaking about the transition phase that the world is going through. He began by talking about the 3 basic prices, those of commodities (inflation rates), of capital goods (interest rates) and of currency (exchange rates). Before 1991, all these were well determined externally, so the job of managers also involved less number of risks. After liberalization in 1991, the market became the determining factor, introducing risks and thus rewards in the management. This is manifested in rewards in employment coming through wages, interest on investment and profits through the risk taking. Mr. Dholakia next went on to differentiate between management education and management training. The latter teaches what to do, and the former teaches us what to think through the use of case-based pedagogy. He opined that focus should be shifted to use of case studies in the current education system. Mr Dholakia suggested that the current education system focus more on example-based study and on selectivity and freedom to choose courses as electives. He also said that practice is abstract and theory is complicated; without proper grasp of theory, practice seems like a mirage.
Next, Dr. Dinesh Awasthi, Director, Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI), Gandhinagar, addressed the audience by introducing three questions- who is to be taught, what is to be taught, and how it is to be taught. Today’s students learn differently than before; the IT revolution has led to all information being constantly available online, including online courses. The economics education needs to advance beyond microeconomics and macroeconomics, towards economics in finance, natural resources and poverty, and the history of economic development. Also, bottom lines need to be redefined, shifting focus from greed to profitability, learning from social ventures that are socially beneficial and yet profitable. He suggested that webinars, cases, role-plays and videos be utilised to make the pedagogy more tech-savvy, more suited to students than to teachers, and more socially and economically relevant.
The next speaker was Dr. Jeemol Unni, Director, Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA). Talking in context of the pedagogy used in IRMA, she informed everyone about how the students are made to go through simulations to understand the rural markets, which are governed by small economic units, being combined into collectives to enable better policy dialogue. Thus game play can prove beneficial to address the socio-economic issues of rural livelihood by making students understand the real rural scenario. This will only help India advance as the issues of the 60% of India’s population, which lives in rural areas, are understood and taken care of.
The audience was then addressed by Dr. Samir Shah, Associate Clinical Professor, LeBow College of Business, Drexel University, USA. He emphasized the importance of business analytics catching up as a trend , Big Data being a prominent one among those. By 2015, about 8 zettabytes of information will exist the world over, which would need to be analyzed for businesses to succeed. Business analytics addresses the ‘what if’ question saving businesses from the adverse effects of going by gut feeling. Innovation in education can be introduced through such ways and perspectives. There is going to be a shortage of business analysts in the future, and it would be good idea to find a midway between management courses and business analytics courses to create aptly skilled managers. Business analytics will also help in new product development, gaining customer insights and better corporate decision making.
The concluding part of the panel discussion was addressed by Dr. Darshan Desai, Professor, Berkeley College, New York, USA. Dr. Desai said that innovative education may not be necessarily new, the impact of such innovations is more important. The reason of the gap in industry expectations and student output is because of the increasing trend of narrower specialisation which leads to candidates with narrow focus of the world. This can be avoided by employing holistic and experiential learning. For this, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) is increasingly being used. The limiting aspects of MOOC are assessment, dropout rates and reproducing without internalizing. Once these are addressed and MOOC is leveraged, it will end the problems in ‘deliverology’ and stop the smart people from getting smothered, frustrated and dropping out of the current education system.
In the concurrent track sessions in the day, papers were presented on various topics of Capital Markets, Corporate Governance (including disclosure practices, viability analysis, etc.), Government Policy and Economics, Financial Inclusion, and Emerging trends (including online shopping and payment systems, psychology of investors, etc.). Track sessions were held separately as part of the National Education Summit during which papers were submitted on ICT enabling of education, The unending debate of Assesment and grading systems, Impact of globalization on management education, etc.
The valedictory session was addressed by Dr. Bharat Gariwala, Chairman, Gujarat State Third Finance commission, Gandhinagar. He urged the students to keep in touch with the ground realities to formulate better strategies. This, he explained through the use of economics and the live example of the preparation of the state budget. He explained this through various statistics such as subsidies to businesses given to the tune of Rs 2 Lakh crores whereas 49% farmers are not able to leverage technology due to lack of sufficient funds. He also drew a contrast between the urban India and rural Bharat urging students to understand the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility and Inclusive development and inclusive growth of company in the society in the future development of the country.
Thus NICOM 2014 came to a successful end, making the students richer with knowledge to enable them to sail better through the world of management as well as enriching the academia from Ahmedabad and other parts of the country.