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MBA / PGDBM / PGDM is the flavor of the season. In fact, MBA has been the favorite flavor of countless past seasons. The most important thing in an MBA is BRAND, which is to say not all MBAs are equal. To wit, an MBA from say XLRI or IIM-A would be light years ahead of any Pune MBA, even Symbiosis, in starting salary. Even an MBA from Pune’s top colleges such as BIMM of Sri Balaji Society or SIBM of Symbiosis would be leagues ahead of an MBA from say Ram-Bharosay MBA College. Average XLRI MBA starting salary this year was ten lakhs, while the average for a top Pune college is @ one-third of that. Similarly the starting salary difference between abovementioned top Pune colleges and run-of-the-mill colleges would again be one-third, i.e. the starting salary for a fresh MBA from a not so well known college would be @ 10,000/- per month. 

MBA tuition fees alone, at even just started colleges in Pune, with hardly any infrastructure are @ Rs. 2,50,000/- per year (plus 12.5% service tax plus 1% education cess). Add to this other associated fees and living costs for two years, an MBA needs to spend over six lakhs over two years. This is quite expensive. Yet is it worth the money and the time? 

Be that as it may, there are alternatives. Many specific industries have lately been released from the government’s socialist clutches. Industries such as insurance, retail, telecom, media, real estate and many others have been thrown open not only to Indian corporates but even to foreign direct investors (FDI). There has been an investment boom. Our growth rate for 2011-2012 is projected at almost 8.75%. Inflation notwithstanding, there is a surge of growth fuelling a large demand for suitably trained, industry-specific, manpower. 

As the late Peter Drukker, the world’s top management guru said, “An MBA is suited for just one job: Executive Vice-President in waiting”. This waiting period usually lasts about 20 years for those who eventually make it there – most don’t. 

In the MBA’s quest for the Executive Vice-President slot, he generally moves from company to company and industry to industry and ends up becoming just that – a generalist. 

Is it worth spending two years of your life and six lakh Rupees to land a Rs.10,000/- per month job? Most people would probably say it isn’t. So, what is the alternative? The alternative is short duration industry specific courses in retail, insurance, real estate and so on. 

The classic Indian education system was designed by Lord Macaulay to produce clerks for the East India Company. For this, he established three universities in 1857 viz., Bombay, Calcutta and Madras. While the top management of the East India Company (EIC) was with British people like Robert Clive and Warren Hastings, the top clerks of the EIC were Indian brown sahibs, graduates of the above universities who had to go to England to write another exam known as ICS, now called IAS, to become top dogs. Lower down the line were the Babus. 

The first Babu was Gobind Ram Mitter and the last Babu was Bhuban Mohan Niyogi. Though the core business of the EIC as per the charter granted to it by the King of England was TRADE, in effect, after Robert Clive defeated Nawab Sirajudaullah at Plassey (Bengal) on 23 June, 1757, the EIC became the ruler rather than a trader. 

Even after independence the system continued, with toppers of universities opting for an IAS career. The system continued because under Nehruvian socialism, all major industries and trade were govt. controlled. With the current liberalization and opening up of the economy (and the govt. sector drying up), there is now a great need for industry specific trained manpower. And this is where industry specific manpower training is stepping in. 

Short courses of six months or maximum 0ne year duration costing a fraction of MBA fees are the passport to a job. 

One of the most important factors for succeeding in a job is: DOMAiN KNOWLEDGE, and MBAs have no domain knowledge. The MBA institutes DO NOT teach any domain knowledge. 

So, do you want a Rs.15,000/- job after spending and six lakhs and two years? Or do you want a Rs.10,000/- job after spending fifty thousand and six months? 

In any case, MBA is most useful at entry level. As your career progresses, MBA becomes less and less important. Your performance in your previous job(s) becomes more and more important. For which the dominant factor is DOMAiN knowledge. Success is based on your ability to APPLY your domain knowledge. 

MBA does not create Ability. Ability is created by the environment in which you grow up. Ability is created by your parents, grandparents, friends, teachers and other factors (such as environment) while you are growing up. Your ability is more or less defined by the age of 15, by the time you finish class 12. 

Reliance was created by Dhirubhai. He was not much educated. He was a laborer in Yemen doing faltu job as filling petrol in vehicles. He was at ground level, not highly educated like his children. Yet he sent his children to do MBA in top colleges in US. But Dhirubhai had DOMAiN knowledge of how the system in India works. And he created wealth. 

By doing MBA, Mukesh and Anil learnt how to MAiNTAiN and increase wealth. Which is what they are doing. 


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