USP of our program is case-study oriented teaching with strong industry interface: Ms. V. Usha Rani, IAS, Director General, MANAGE
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In an interview with Careers360, Ms. V. Usha Rani, IAS, Director General, National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management, Hyderabad (MANAGE) shares her thoughts regarding management education in India.


In this interview, Ms. V. Usha Rani explains about the unique features of their specialized programme- Agri-Business management. She remarks that case study based pedagogy and industry based interface at MANAGE prepares students for a great future. She further mentions that the students are provided with opportunities to gain corporate exposure in problem-solving skills and through performing Live Projects for the companies.


Read full interview, below where the Director shares plan for enriching the management programme and the selection criteria for the same.

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Careers360: How do you foresee the MBA programme scenario in the coming years?

Ms. V. Usha Rani: There has been a lot of churning in management education in the last 3-5 years. Institutions offering management education and students seeking admissions into the program are becoming more quality conscious. Institutions which are able to add value and are able to meet industry requirements are able to survive and grow. In the coming few years, I feel, more and more management educational institutions in India are going to benchmark to international standards.


Careers360: Do you think the MBA tag is losing its sheen? If so, then what according to you are the reasons?

Ms. V. Usha Rani: In the earlier decades, when management education started becoming popular, there was a huge rush of institutions offering the program (often solely with commercial interest) and the number of applicants seeking admission into MBA Program. However, in the course of time, it became amply evident that many students coming out of these institutions are not employable. The reasons are well known. The student community has also realized that simply having MBA degree from any institute is of no use. The result is they have become more discerning in selecting an institution which adds value. No wonder, the number of institutions offering MBA courses has come down and so is the number of students. This kind of shake out is good for management education.


Careers360: What is the total intake in the flagship PG programme in Management in your institute?

Ms. V. Usha Rani: We have an annual intake of 60 students per year. We charge a total fee of Rs.6.81 lakhs for two years including tuition fee, boarding and lodging and all other expenses. Excluding hostel charges, the annual fee comes to Rupees Two Lakhs Two Thousand and Five Hundred per year. We have not revised the fee structure for the last two years.


Careers360: MANAGE has been on the forefront of bringing agricultural extension management systems and policies. Can you please share the journey of the institute?

Ms. V. Usha Rani: As an apex institution in agricultural extension management, we have done a good job in agricultural extension management. We are the pioneers in bringing about Reforms in Extension through Agriculture Technology Management Agency (ATMA) concept which now covers the entire country.


Through Agri Clinic & Agri Business Centre Scheme (AC & ABC), we have promoted agrone-yearship in rural areas. Under the Scheme, we have trained nearly 40,000 agricultural professionals who have established around 16,000 ventures in agri and allied activities. MANAGE has also launched a one year Diploma in Agricultural Extension Services for Input Dealers (DAESI). The objective of training input dealers is to transform them into para professionals offering better agricultural advice to farmers while marketing the agri inputs. MANAGE has also done commendable work in capacity building of Kisan Call Centres and is also functioning as Level-III institution with the responsibility of coordinating the functioning of Kisan Call Centres in select States.


Further, for in-service extension personnel, MANAGE has launched a one year Post Graduate Diploma in Agricultural Extension Management on a distance education mode. Of course, capacity building of higher level extension functionaries with innovative training technologies has always been our forte. We have done quite a lot but we have a long way to go further.


Careers360: How has been the placements at your institute for 2015 batch? Any sector/function specific trend that you noticed in the process?

Ms. V. Usha Rani: The placements for outgone batch ‘15 have been good. Ours is a sectorial program, basically catering to agri-sector. We had 30 companies visiting the campus from 08 sub-sectors viz., Banking and Finance, Agri Input, Commodity, Food and Beverages, Consultancy, Poultry, Development, and Retail. The placements have seen a number of companies visiting the campus than last year and more diversity in the category of companies recruiting the students. As for sector specific trend in recruitments, Banking and Finance and Agri Input companies were the major recruiters.


Careers360: What will be your selection criteria for MBA/PGDM programme for academic session 2016?

Ms. V. Usha Rani: A multi-stage selection procedure is followed for admission into MANAGE – PGDM (ABM) Program. Any graduate who has taken CAT is eligible to apply. In addition to CAT score, other parameters like Diversity Factor, Writing Skills, Group Discussion, Micro Presentation, Personal Interview, Work Experience and Academic Record are also given due weight-age. The selection criterion for the academic year 2016 is going to be same as described above. Though we have not been giving any specific emphasis on gender, on an average, 30% of the students are female students. Though we have opened up the Program to any graduate from any stream, however, we would still like to encourage students from agri and allied sectors to join the Program. Hence, we give a weight-age of 06 marks for these students. I may also state that MANAGE – ABM Program has a PAN India character with students virtually from all the States studying in MANAGE.


Careers360: What is the USP of your flagship management programme which differentiates it from the others?  How do you plan to enrich your flagship programme

Ms. V. Usha Rani: Our USP is case study oriented teaching pedagogy and strong industry interface. The first window of opening for our students starts with summer internship of 08-10 weeks. Here, students get a chance to have a closer look at the functional agri business practices and applications. It also helps our students to acclimatize with practical working conditions. This tenure helps them not only to understand the business scenario but also in making career choices. Incidentally, all the summer internships are paid internships. We have a very large number of Guest Lectures where agri-industry captains are invited to speak on specific agri-industry related themes, known as Samanvay Series.


Our students are also given an opportunity to gain further corporate exposure and in problem-solving skills through taking up Live Projects for the companies. The 10 day Village Visit Program keeps them grounded to the rural realities. In addition to internal faculty, we invite best of the faculty from IIMs, IITs and other reputed institutions to handle sessions for our students.


In the next few years, we would like to enrich the Program by starting an Incubation Center for promoting Start-Ups and Entrepreneurship. We are also making efforts to have Students Exchange Program with some of the Foreign Universities offering Agri Business Management Program.


Careers360: What is your take on the western biases of peer-reviewed journals, as indexed in international databases?

Ms. V. Usha Rani: I feel, instead of complaining that there is a western bias, the real reason may be that the number of quality papers contributed to journals in the management area from India are few and need to be encouraged and increased. In recruitment and career advancement, paper publications in quality journals should be given due importance. We should also come out with India-centric management journals of our own.


Careers360: Any message to the B-School Aspirants?

Ms. V. Usha Rani: Before the students decide to enroll in any B-School, they should consider their aspirations and the difference that institution is going to make to their future. They should compare the differences between both because they will be investing not only a huge amount of money by way of fee, but also going to spend two years of their prime time to build a great career for themselves. They should use criteria like value for money, placement record, infrastructure, quality of faculty, industry-interface etc. while making a decision to join in any institution.


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