This article is in response to the article published in Mint http://www.livemint.com/2007/08/27001558/Lesson-from-IIMK-Set-up-new.html
Most of us retain enough of the theological attitude to think that we are little gods.
~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr
Just imagine what would have happened to the country if Indian army would have fought battles only around their location of advantage and not in the remote and inaccessible terrains.
In his article Mr. Palety has taken tunneled approach and has missed the broader picture. His ideas are myopic and ignore the long term tangible and intangible benefits of opening IIMs in 2nd tier cities of India. I would like to comment on some points:
On not opening IIMs in remote places
Government has a holistic approach towards the country as it thinks about the growth of country as a whole. The growth and development should be equitable as far as possible. If Govt. starts opening IITs and IIMs in industrial belt then all the IITs and IIMs will be segregated in few industrial areas of the country. In that case what will happen to the other parts of the country? Wouldn't the disparity between them increase?
Any city having an IIT, IIM or ISC will automatically come on the India's education map. It will give the city a prominence. It will ensure of the quality skilled manpower supply to the industries in the nearby areas and hence helping in the growth in that area.
Many of my friends have counter argued me by giving examples of younger IIMs and some of the IITs where industrial development has not happened in spite of the presence of these institutes for long time. If anyone believes that mere presence of IITs and IIMs in a particular region should lead to the industrial development of that region then either he is very high on expectations or is naïve. All that these institutes can do is to provide support to the development process. Rest is the prerogative of state/local government that how they capitalize on this advantage. If industries have not come up in the proximity of these institutes even after a prolonged interval then it is the failure the government not of the institutes.
Equitable distribution of growth
A lot of hue and cry is made over opening an IIM in Shillong. I feel that this is a very good move by the government of India. Till date GoI has given less attention toward the development of north east compared to other parts of the country. No wonder these states are one of the least developed states of India. With opening an IIT and now an IIM Govt. has taken a step in right direction. IIMs, IITs, IISs are not just educational institution but they are wealth of the country and it needs to be equitably distributed across the country. Also this gesture is sign of inclusivity towards these states.
Many of my friends are from north east. They travel to far areas in the country to get higher education. If they get an IIM in their backyard it will save them from a lot of hardship. Also it will motivate others to pursue higher education.
Industry Interaction is important not locating near the industries
The most valuable asset an educational institution has is its students; everything else comes a distant second. Open an IIM at any remote location and you can rest assured that it gets the best of the breed. Once you have right people right thing will automatically fall in place on doing right thing.
As far as industry interaction is concerned two months of summer training gives student a lot of exposure. Apart from this there are numerous seminars and workshops organized where people from industry share their ideas and views. Also the batch is laden with rich industry experience as it comprises of students from diverse field and having substantial work.
Location is no more important
Distances are no more the same as they were few years back. In another couple of years one can expect most of the 2nd tiers cities well connected with Metros. Location disadvantage of IIMK is very minimal because of its proximity to Bangalore and Cochin. Also it is very well connected with Delhi and Mumbai.
Do not leave the problem, find the solution
There are certain problems that an institute faces because of its being situated in remote area. The way to develop these institutes is to solve these problems. When Govt. is opening any institute of education in remote places it should ensure that basic amenities which are essential to sustain the institutes are there. An airport which is well connected to metros, good schools for faculty's children, jobs for spouses are some of them. In short it should ensure about the good life of the faculty and staff