Emphasizing to capture the technology of the 21st century, Dr. Bhimaraya Metri, Director of the Indian Institute of Management, Nagpur shared some practices that heads of the colleges and universities should not do. With the Education Post’s Tanay Kumar, Dr. Metri hammered over the research in the agriculture and agribusiness in India.
A post-graduate student from the engineering stream usually enters engineering research and then engineering academics in the future. How have you turned up to become a learned scholar in “management”?
Besides graduation and post-graduation, I completed my Ph.D. as well in civil engineering. After graduation, I worked in the Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra and then moved into the profession of teaching. When I was a research scholar at IIT Mumbai, a professor from IIM Lucknow had arrived for our viva-voice. My Professor at IIT Mumbai told him I can be very good at teaching management and he must consider me for this role.
Further, I used to teach Quality Planning for M.Tech. students at IIT Mumbai and my research guide used to observe my way of teaching. I used to conduct and manage various seminars and symposia at IIT Mumbai. And, I got an opportunity to work for a World Bank project and from there somehow I started teaching management subject.
From IMI Delhi to L&T Institute of Management and many other eminent institutions, you have headed many other private institutions. How “managing” a public institution differs from a private one?
Every institution adopts its own strategy to position itself. Different management is required in all five kinds of sector: government, private, corporate, public and international. The biggest difference or way of working one can see that in private institution, numbers of authority layers (hierarchy) are lesser than the government or public one. Then, that institution will have to depend on other organizations to promote.
I was the director of IIM Tiruchirappalli as well and my appointment was done by the Appointment Committee of the Cabinet of India, which is headed by the Prime Minister. And here at the IIM Nagpur, my appointment was done by the Indian Institute of Management Act 2017 and IIMs have been given higher autonomy. Now, I have to manage with the IIM Board, while at the IIM Tiruchirappalli, I had to manage with the contemporary Ministry of Human Resource Development. On the other hand, in a private institute, such type of management only exists with the institution’s board or committee.
So, the governance structure affects the leadership and management at a big level and once one understands the structure, she/he starts to strategize along with that.
Professors and academicians teach in institutions which are headed by a Vice-Chancellor. You yourself have trained Vice Chancellors. So, according to you, what should VCs and the administration of the institutions NOT do while managing an institute?
Before answering to this question, I would say first that Vice-Chancellors should work to align the institution with the industries’ requirements as it is really required for India’s future.
Now coming to the question, first, heads of the institutes should work for the long-term vision in their short-term tenure. We all know that most of the heads are appointed for more or lesser than five years. So, first they should not state something which would be beyond their tenure, for example, “In the coming 20 years, the institute would become this or that.” I hardly believe that they really would be the head of the institute for 20 years. So, they should not make some unrealistic claims.
Second, they should not be content or satisfied with the ongoing courses. What I mean is that, keep looking at what updates are running in the global education and courses. Don’t be content that the course at your institute is complete in itself.
Third, it is better not to give some irrational political statements in your institutes. Quality of the academics should not be distracted by the internal politics of the institution and even the outer world politics as well.
To say on fourth, institutions’ heads should not downgrade the quality of the institutes if they cannot enhance it. What I mean by this principle is that every institution knows what would mar their brand and what would enhance it. So, if the heads of the colleges are not able to enhance the brand, at least they should not downgrade it.
And the last but not the least, I would say please don’t become the head of the institute just for the status quo. They must not cease taking good decisions just because their tenure should go in comfort. Experiments have given great results to the world, so the heads must do the thorough research and should imply some innovative and futuristic decisions within their institutions.
Supply chain management, project management are some branches of management study. Why should a non-MBA student also study some core management electives?
It’s crystal clear in the New Education Policy – “Multidisciplinary, Trans-disciplinary and Interdisciplinary.” Management itself, in its core education, is a kind of multidisciplinary study. Management of industries differs from one another. Example – in automobile engineering, fuel efficiency of a bus plays a crucial role but simultaneously the engineer has to think about ‘number of passengers’ as well because beyond a certain number of passengers, overloaded bus will adverse fuel efficiency. So, that is how one has to study some core management principles as well.
In June, you were sharing your thoughts with a newspaper on farmers and their co-operative system. How do you see the future and challenges of Agri-Business for management students?
I come from a farmer family of Ankali village at Sangali district of Maharashtra and thus I firmly state that agriculture must really receive attention in the 21st century. I take pride in mentioning here that IIM Nagpur has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Maharashtra Agribusiness Network (MAGNET).
I would emphasize that we have to and really have to focus on agriculture like Israel has done. Answering to your question, I really believe that research and innovations in agriculture-cum-agribusinesses must receive big encouragement. Maharashtra and Gujarat are the good examples of productive co-operative agriculture and we must foster these practices in other states as well. Maharashtra is one of the least internally migrated states in India.
With your erudition in technology and management both, what messages and recommendations would you like to give to the readers?
I would recommend that capture and synchronize yourself with the latest technology and its practices. We should disrupt the technology and its practices rather than getting disrupted. Second, I would say that always stay grounded, stay humble and stay connected to your routes wherever you are. Understand the importance of villages and their role in your everyday lives. Last but not the least, I would say, we should focus on co-operation rather than competition in the current world.