Thursday, December 9, 2021

The bite of the past- the IIM irony – Harikrishnan Nair, Kerala


The Indian Institutes of Management- the most prestigious national institutes for learning the art of management in the country. Among the Institutes themselves, are the ones who are more coveted than the others; they are the ones in Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Calcutta. To be among them is any young aspiring manager’s dream. A dream that’s hard to realize with a competition that’s increasing every year but made harder by the Institute’s rather questionable admission policy.

Yes, I am an IIM aspirant and I am quite miffed at our highly reputed institutes for being a tad bit narrow minded. There might be a little prejudice involved, naturally so. But I would also like to comment on the principle that I disagree with.

Of all the IIMs, I hear that Bangalore, Kozhikode and Indore; B, K and I respectively demand excellence in previous academics as a pre requisite for even getting a call from them. Let us consider these “previous academic records”. Generally, we can bracket the marks obtained in the 10th and 12th grade along with whatever had been achieved in the graduation period as under this category. Graduation is fine, no quarrel with that. Our reputed institutes should look to filter off those who cannot achieve at least 65% marks. The IITs do the same for their GATE exams and so does ISRO for recruiting new personnel. But 10th and 12th? Are you kidding me? At that age, most “normal” students don’t look to manage five hundred people under them. There are numerous psychiatrists and moreover government laws, putting aside ethics and philosophy, encouraging parents, teachers and peers to “let live” the students. Let them figure out their own methods, their own strengths and their own aspirations. So what if it takes them time, at the young age of twenty two perhaps, to aspire to do an MBA at one of the IIMs. Now I realize, a little late, I should have got at least 95% in my 10th and 12th to have got a shot at a few of these prestigious institutes. Enormously disheartening, that the time machine hasn’t been invented yet. But I doubt if I would have heeded if suddenly a 22year old version of myself would come to me and press me to study for my sake. “Stop sounding like granma,” would probably have been my response.

The IIMs have got CAT as an effective filter. Anybody who got through the exam because of sheer luck would definitely be put to sterner tests in the following stages of admission. The method is highly efficient in letting only the most serious candidates through. Then why demand something from a person which he certainly can’t acquire if that time has already past? A reason given by one professor was that it rewards consistency. Well what about the “dawn of realization” then? What if one student (like yours truly); who may not have shone at school decides to give meaning to his life and work harder than he has ever worked to bell the CAT just to be shunted based on the “past”? Tough luck? Does that even come close to a justification? Sachin Tendulkar took 14 matches to get to his first hundred. Raina and Dhoni got out for ducks. Abraham Lincoln lost a number of times before getting the top job. Know a certain Hellen Keller or our own Sudha Chandran? History is littered with examples of the triumph of the human spirit.

One of the basic principles of management involves using the past as a teacher, the present as the opportunity and the future as the goal. You cannot judge based on past performances let alone, something you have no hope of changing or proving that you have changed. And here is the irony of it all- for something that you couldn’t achieve as a kid (not even 18 at the time of writing those exams), your future remains uncertain.

I don’t need an IIM to make a mark; for again, history’s great men and women got through without an MBA attaché. Yet, it would have helped.

I am not disappointed nor do I regret for not being serious about it at school age. I was a wild free bird who did ‘nt know his potential then; am more of amused as to how I would tell my progeny some ten years from now, about the importance of marks based on personal experience.

Editorial Team of Indian Ruminations.


  1. Prestigious education institutions gives you the proverbial foot in the door. If you do not have that it is harder, but success and happiness have nothing much to do with educational excellence. In fact most of the creative and entrepreneurial persons do not have much formal schooling ( different from education) becasue schooling kills such spirits.
    World needs people with various talents to make life interesting and worthwhile!! You can take my word for it, I have seen it all.


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