DILUTING ACADEMIC STANDARDS TO ABYSMAL LEVELS

This is with reference to the status of B-school education in India. There are people from industry who have made a transition from a corporate role to an academic one but the compensation awarded to faculty members in second-rung management schools is way too meagre. Compensation in an academic career and corporate career are completely mismatched. There are no performance appraisals in an academic career and, if you travel to a conference, you are expected to travel only by buses; the bus tickets have to be attached to your voucher for reimbursement. The Sixth Pay Commission’s recommendations have not been implemented in many management colleges in cities like Pune and Bengaluru. Faculty members are driven to the point of frustration. There are private universities, in cities like Bengaluru, which charge a bomb for a two-year MBA programme but offer no guarantee for placements. This is the reason many students chose to opt out of an MBA programme in the current academic year.

The MBA syllabus has remained unchanged for more than a decade and there is very little participation of corporate world in academia. You have some familiar faces from the corporate world who visit a two-day workshop for 20 minutes and that is it. It appears that even the NAAC accreditation is a big joke. Managements, in most colleges, have to balance between admitting lower rung students with poor academic credentials in MBA programmes just for the sake of financial viability. They seldom realise that in doing so, they end up diluting academic standards to abysmal levels. It then becomes a vicious cycle because poor quality students do not get placements and poor placement record keeps good students away. This leads to further deterioration in the quality of students who enrol for MBA.

At one such private university in Bengaluru, the faculty are put to such immense pressure that many leave the university within two years. As if this were not enough, students are asked to rate faculty’s performance and, based on the so-called feedback, faculty are simply chucked out.

The management of some B-schools in Pune is seldom interested in upgrading the infrastructure. Shabby toilets, unpainted classrooms, broken chairs in classrooms, poor hostel facilities, projectors that do not work—all these add to the woes of the students and faculty members. Many colleges end up treating their students so badly that negative word-of-mouth publicity dissuades future students from joining the college. The situation is pretty much grim.
Chandraprabha Venkatagiri, Mumbai, by email

MIS-SELLING OR FORCE-SELLING?
I appreciate your efforts and support provided to victims of wrong selling by banks. Because of Moneylife’s efforts, many investors got justice. However, I have observed that in many cases handled and resolved by you, the client blindly trusted the banker and was not careful in his dealings. While making any investment decision, if the investor reads the documents carefully, there is less room to regret afterwards.

Thus, through Moneylife, on the one hand, we should educate the common man to read the documents carefully before investing and not to be careless; on the other hand, we should inform the banks to make sure that their employees provide and allow clients to read the risk disclosure fine-print.

On many occasions, I have noticed bank employees don’t allow customers to fill the form; they themselves fill the form. Because of this, customers don’t get an opportunity to read the fine-print. So, through Moneylife, we can ask various banks to look into this issue and allow clients to fill up the form themselves or, at least, allow clients to read the form.

All banks, via their website and other media, should inform clients about their right of choice and right to say NO; banks should ask their employee to respect clients’ fundamental rights. Because of this, whenever an employee tries to force-sell any financial product, even after the client says NO, the client can immediately point out the salesman. This will be a big tool in hands of customers who are prey to force-selling.

Now, if customers as well as employees are taught and informed about customers’ rights and, if banks order their employees in no uncertain terms, to stop immediately as soon as a customer says ‘not interested’, there will be neither force-selling and nor mis-selling .

At present, while closing a bank account, customers are asked to give reasons for account closure. Here, again, the bank should understand the customers’ right of choice. As long as the customer does not give a reason, banks hesitate to close the accounts. So, my submission is that we must educate the customers rightly. Things will improve then.
It seems there is already the code of ethics by Indian Banks Association but some bank employees do not follow it. This is why, sometimes, we receive phone calls at odd hours from their marketing team. If we make some customers alert, as soon as code of ethics is violated, the whistle will be blown by the well-informed customer and banks will be compelled to follow ethical practices.
Prashant Mehta, by email

PROBLEM SOLVED, SATISFIED!
I feel proud to be a subscriber of Moneylife and to see the management of the magazine immediately responding to a subscriber’s problem, despite their busy schedule. Regarding the banking problem, I had made a detailed complaint to two senior general managers; the matter has been settled amicably now due to your intervention.
Thanks very much again for the resolve to assist people in this altruistic fashion. Wishing Moneylife all the very best in all its endeavours.
Dr Jayaram Subramanian, by email

GOOD WAY TO GO PAPERLESS?
This is with regard to “Get the best of online shopping for the holiday season” by Raj Pradhan. Personally, I buy almost everything online, mostly electronics. Of course, the risk of scams is real; it can be exhausting as well. But, with some good sense and patience, you can get great deals online. To manage my purchases better, I am also using a new web app, unioncy.com, helpful for tracking warranties and receipts and storing all the documentation on cloud. It’s a good way to go paperless and stop worrying about lost receipts or expired warranties.
Raj Amesh

“NAMED AND SHAMED!”
This is with regard to “Kingfisher Airlines is biggest defaulter of public sector banks”. Thanks Mr Utagi for coming out with the data that was always available but deliberately withheld from public scrutiny. It is now up to the Parliamentary Standing Committee to take it up suo moto and ascertain the full facts about the poor risk assessment, deliberate low monitoring of the advances, lack of proactive checks, and faulty debt restructuring leading to backdoor write-off without proper approvals. Since high-profile, big-ticket players are out to sabotage any enquiry, only those with impeccable credentials should be associated with the inquiry. There has to be immediate action to put up all the charged assets on sale, to realise whatever is possible; above all, banks must immediately freeze any further funding by insisting that the promoters pump in additional funds right away.

In addition, borrowers and their guarantors ought to be named and shamed by each bank, now that the High Court has cleared the publishing their mugshots.
Nagesh Kini

A LESSON NOT TO FORGET
This is with regard to “Equity mutual funds register highest sales in November as market hovers near all-time high” by Jason Monteiro. Here is an excerpt from one of the highly acclaimed investing books: BULL! A History of the Boom 1982 -1999: “Throughout most of 1988, people were still taking more money out of equity funds than they were putting in; but investors who sold would watch neighbours who bought grow rich. It was a lesson they would never forget.”
Nilesh Kamerkar

BRAVE ARTICLE
This is with regard to “Pramod Mittal spent 60 million Euros on daughter’s lavish wedding?” Thank you very much for this brave article which, as I am aware, is totally based on facts. I am in them process of and/or have shared this and/or am sharing this extensively on social media as well as through other means, and have filed and/or shall file specific RTI applications as well as public grievances on this subject with the authorities in India as well as the European Union, including in context with the other information. Keep it up, and even if you get legal notices, do remember, we are with you!
Veeresh Malik

GOOD COMPANIES’ SHARES ARE OVERPRICED?
This is with regard to “Retail Tales: Investing in India’s retail stocks” by R Balakrishnan. The problem with good FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) and pharmaceutical companies is that nobody can ever buy them at 1 ‘peg ratio’ (price/ earnings/ growth ratio). They are always overpriced... If I am not mistaken, Aswath Damodaran says “Good companies may not be good investments.”
Vinayak Bhimrao Mudholkar

PROMPT REACTION
This is with regard to “Disabled people can use RTI to good effect” by Vinita Deshmukh. Thank you for reacting so promptly post our session at our conference. Your work has always been exemplary and I hope that our association will go a long way in making things change.
Anita Iyer Narayan
 

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Beware commonly held investment beliefs

Cliff Asness, a well-known hedge fund manager who runs AQR Capital, lists his annoyances and...

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Book Review: Why I am Paying More

IIM Ahmedabad has teamed up with Random House to publish a series of management and business books, under the ‘IIM Ahmedabad Business Books Series’, to bring their teachings to a wider audience.

IIM Ahmedabad has teamed up with Random House to publish a series of management and business books, under the ‘IIM Ahmedabad Business Books Series’, to bring their teachings to a wider audience. One such book is Satish Y Deodhar’s Why I am Paying More (Random House; Rs299; 277 pages). This is his second book as part of the series. Interestingly, Satish Deodhar was the first convenor of the computerised common admission test (CAT) administered in 2009, an experiment that was plagued by leaks and viruses.

One glance at the book’s cover and you would expect it to be about pricing; since that is what the title says. But the book is really about Economics 101, with concepts like demand, supply, monopoly, price ceiling, price floor, oligopoly, etc, explained in detail. After all, it goes without saying that pricing is central to the field of economics. The title seems to have been rephrased from Economics 101 to Why I am Paying More. It feels a lot like a textbook, with simpler words, less jargon and a lot more real-world examples. A crossword at the end of the book is a neat idea to test readers’ proficiency after the book has been read. However, readers will certainly get an impression that this is the same generic stuff that is available in most textbooks and not an exclusive from IIM Ahmedabad. Deodhar’s writing is a bit prosaic; more humour would have helped.

Thanks to the Internet, readers today have a wealth of information sources, at the click of a button, from the finest global universities, including easier-to-follow videos. They could try their hand at learning from websites like MIT’s Open Courseware. Also, a better way to learn economics is to read books that are offbeat and fun and keep readers engaged, like Stephen Levitt’s Freakonomics or Tim Harford’s Undercover Economics.

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