Sharing some academic practices from Germany and Denmark, Dr. Ram Kumar Kakani, Director of Indian Institute of Management, Raipur emphasizes on adopting best academic practices from different nations. With the Education Post’s Tanay Kumar, Dr. Kakani also enlightened about Applied Econometrics, a potential branch of economics that students can think they’re career in it.
From a graduate in Chemical Engineering to an employee of the Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) to a professor at an academy that trains Indian administration officers, it’s been quite a journey. Tell us about it.
Humans have this tendency or zeal to keep looking for some purposes in life. At least, in my case, it surely exists. During my PhD at IIM Kolkata, I used to take the classes and further in life I got involved in the teaching profession. I really enjoy teaching, interacting with youth, creating redolent puzzles for the students.
In 2010, some of my friends who are IAS, they advised me to teach at Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie (LBSNAA). They thought that I can really contribute to an institution like LBSNAA and said I should give it a try even for short stint.
In 2012, I started teaching at LBSNAA and maximum learning in my life has happened at this academy. Then again, to “search meaning in life”, the zeal kept stirring me and it turned up to me that students must also know what I learnt at this prestigious academy, therefore I came back to the academics.
What I really I want to do is to create a space of academic excellence with social impact in a state like Chhattisgarh, so that more students could contribute in maximum capacity to the country.
In collaboration with an American organization, the Center for Creative Leadership, you had played a critical role in designing the Leadership Module for IPS and IAS at LBSNAA. Please tell us that how you designed this module.
In one meeting at LBSNAA, Joint Secretary Department of Personnel and Training asked whether we could induct and begin Leadership Module here. His emphasis for this venture came from a conclusion that around 600 officials from India are trained abroad every year for ‘Leadership.’
I am really thankful for the support I got during creation of this module at the LBSNAA from authorities like Mr. Padamvir Singh, who was then director of the academy and Dr. Sanjeev Chopra, who is currently Principal Secretary of Government of Odisha. Both of them gave the full freedom to me to infuse the best practices in creation of this module.
We had visited the top 20 leadership academies of the world, including from Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Germany. We requested them if we could sit down together to create a module on leadership. So, the bigger part of the module was surely from the Centre for Creative Leadership based in the USA and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Germany, but we had infused all the best practices from the whole world.
You have taught in Denmark, Nigeria, UAE & Singapore. All of these countries must have different pedagogies and education systems. What is that one system or one method that India should learn from each of these four countries?
I would start with Denmark. They love their focus towards discussion, debates and sessions on research. One example would explain it better that every Friday, there is a ‘Luncheon Seminar’ in which they discuss ideas during the lunch time. Every scholar comes with her/his lunchbox and another scholar/person explains or gives a presentation on any issue or subject and all of them discuss after their lunch. Second phenomenal thing is their high honesty and integrity. I really admire this quality in many people of Denmark.
I would say Nigeria really focuses on quality training and higher education, especially teaching to working experience. Scholars from countries of the North African part fly to Abuja just to attend a research session of two-four hours, along with Nigerians.
If I talk about the UAE, things are tightly scheduled, everything is somehow pre-planned and pre-structured.
And there is definitely a lot to learn from Singapore. Best of the intellectuals are there in Singapore, including many ones from Southern India. Singapore has created an ecosystem that encourages for innovations, not only in the academics or in scholar ways but even in common discussions as well.
Any management or leadership practice of any other country you came cross which could be infused in India?
I found some in German leadership programs. In Germany, some experiential programs or some classes are usually of merely 15-30 minutes duration. But after this short exercise on any issue/topic, they discuss a lot on participant’s experiences they perceived during the exercise.
Sometimes a teacher or trainer gives a topic, tells the student to take a walk in the woods, contemplate on the issue and share the answers or feedback after this short walk.
Germany has a program – TCI which stands for Theme Centred Interaction. There will be a group of people and they will discuss on one theme and those interactions add lessons to the students really fast because more personal experiences are explained.
In 2010, you published a paper on “Applied Econometrics.” Please tell us about this branch of economics.
The study is somehow related to modifying a certain theory or finding our rationalizing why this is happening. Let me give you one example of this branch of the study. There is a paper which essentially used forty years of data, which indicates that small and mid-cap stocks in the Indian stock market are bound to fall when it is Amavasya on Friday. But the same doesn’t happen in any other country.
So, the question arises that before the publishing of this paper, was the stock market experts knew this peculiarity which is being “applied” in the Indian economy? In short, this study is something that uses the real data to verify economic models in different markets.
Most students in the management stream come from urban areas, while a majority of rural Indian youth hardly opt for core MBA and other management courses. How could this gap be filled so that rural youth also start considering STEM and management courses?
The answer can only be to give someone an opportunity to visit the management study centres and have some experience. In one world you can say exposure, but I would say ‘breaking the wheel of hearsays’ as well. For example, when I was in Bokaro, people used to recommend not to go Jamshedpur because it is very expensive. These ‘hearsays’ somehow stopped many people from even visit Jamshedpur.
So, I would be in more favour of opening any important education centre in a city like Mahasamund of Chhattisgarh than Greater Noida or Pune. It will somehow encourage the rural youth to break the wheel of hearsays and experience more of the world.
What should a student from “millennial and Gen-Z” keep in mind before opting for these courses: Finance, Economics, Management and Strategy? Since each one is different from the rest of the three.
I would say first try to be familiar with the jargons and widely used terms of these studies. For example, someone wants to study finance, so she/he must really be aware of the commonly used terms in this study. So, any student must completely understand the basics and jargons of these studies.
Furthermore, students should not get carried away by the information overload. They will have to focus on the authentic, standard and optimum sources of the information. Plus, the work lies on their shoulder in this regard, as they will have.