India has nearly 6,000 MBA colleges across the country, but, according to a study conducted by ASSOCHAM in 2016, over five lakh students who graduated out of these institutions were unemployable. Despite the steep curve, students still throng to B-schools in the hopes of jobs, decent wages and an opulent lifestyle.
Most of these colleges vary in terms of infrastructure, lifestyle and fee structure, but they are all fundamentally alike. From some experiencing power cuts to those who have had the fortune of having a “party scene” as part of their academic life, to those who thrive in the atmosphere of perseverance, and those who feel their institute matches up to the surveillance society we have arrived at—the voices are varied, yet valid.
VICE taps into these mixed emotions and expressions, and questions the basic tenets of academia in MBA colleges in India through them:
Kalli Gawri (Indian School of Business, Mohali): It’s almost like a hotel. We have a 2-BHK, with 24/7 housekeeping and room service. Total bills usually run up to ₹5,000 a month.
Divya Kesharaju (Institute of Management Technology, Hyderabad): It’s a complete residential program so I had a one-room-kitchen not far from the campus. However, we had to run our own errands, among other things.
Haquemin Hussain Belal (University of Calcutta): My college is an old campus with a yesteryear charm to it. I have often felt like it was haunted! The hostel facilities are very basic, but the college campus is complete with equipments like projectors and research facilities.
Areeb Ahmad (Madan Mohan Malaviya University of Technology, Gorakhpur): The power grid of our college was recently upgraded so there has been no power in the classroom for a week. How long will the generator last? Otherwise, the college infrastructure is good compared to most colleges in the area.
Arvind Aiyar* (Taxilla Business School): It’s one of the best private colleges in Jaipur and hosts students from almost all Indian states. The infrastructure is nice—the hostel rooms have attached bathrooms and come with bed and Wi-Fi, with access to a mess that serves vegetarian food. However, the most integral part of our campus is the 24/7 CCTV surveillance. The cameras have been put in classes, corridors and at the gates. Fortunately, they have left the toilets alone!
Hasina Chaman* (Mudra Institute of Communications Ahmedabad): We had roommates in a four feet by eight feet rooms, with no attached bathrooms. There were two common bathrooms for those who stayed in 14 rooms, with four showers and three toilets.
Talha Razi: The MBA department has just shifted into a new building and now it’s one the best departments in the university as far as infrastructure is concerned. We have air-conditioned classrooms, well-equipped seminar rooms and a small audi. We are sort of privileged as compared to other departments.
Divya Kesharaju: We have parties every two-three days. And when we weren’t partying, we’d play Counter-Strike, name bots after our professors, and shoot them. For food, there’s the canteen but we eat in the mess most days. Or if we’re feeling fancy, we’d go to the dhaba next to the campus.
Kalli Gawri: During orientation, we were asked to participate in a treasure hunt in order to get to know our campus better. They organised water polo game as a bonding exercise too. At the end of it, we had to host parties based on different themes, such as Bollywood, ‘Netflix and Chill’, ‘Udta Punjab’ (featuring substance abuse) and ‘Desi Tharra’ in which we had to drink. Other than that, we have professors who host parties and smoke up with us. One of them even plays an entrance song ‘Kundi mat khadkao raja’, when we enter a class!
Hussain Belal: Our department is somewhat of an elite department. I was the class representative in a batch of nine boys and 11 girls. Most of the people in my class were Bengalis so everything was according to Bengali culture. Kolkata has an adda culture. We enjoyed indulging in banter at a tea stall, and discussed politics. There was some groupism too, based on political lines.
There was a fest on the occasion of Bengali New Year. We used to get our classes cancelled. There were events like Bengali theatre and musical performances, apart from fashion shows and Bollywood dance. However, we never had props like a DJ. We’ve had ministers coming in to address students.
Areeb Ahmad: It’s a state government college so the facilities are sparse as compared to, say, a private B-school, and the fee structure is less too. Most students come from Gorakhpur or nearby areas like Kushinagar and Devariya. It’s very rare that someone from other states will come here.
I am a backbencher, which meant that we shared double-meaning jokes and nicknaming people—a girl who is short is nicknamed Chutki, while another who is quiet is named Sannata. My name is Doordarshan, as they think I seem to know a lot about television and movies.
Hasina Chaman: We had a really good mess. We’d get non-veg twice a week, sometimes even Hungarian food. And in the mornings, we could order eggs whenever we wanted.
It was truly like a vacation—wake up whenever the fuck we wanted and have parties every day in our rooms. We also had batch parties every couple of months.
Arvind Aiyar: When I joined, our classes started at 9 am and would sometimes even stretch till midnight. The students had to protest to limit classes to 8.30 pm. There is nothing else in our lives other than studies, and no holidays except Holi and Diwali.
Most of the discussions are about assignments and studies, and then some more. Students don’t even talk to each other much in class because of the cameras. Dating doesn’t even exist on our campus! Our seniors had told us that if the management gets to know about relationships, they’d summon the couple and inform their parents. It’s almost like an episode of Big Boss.
For one assignment, we were told to help a BJP candidate market himself to the people and help him win. The topic of another assignment was the four-year rule of the Modi government.
Talha Razi: There are people from everywhere, even 5-6 foreigners. People in my class have formed a number of committees: literary, social welfare and placement. The literary people are bringing out a magazine, the social welfare ones go to villages to teach poor kids. In Aligarh, as most courses have gender segregation, the literary activities are the best way to meet girls.
Thera a lot of engineers in our class, who are highly excited to see pretty girls. They are trying their best to get noticed.
Kalli Gawri: Fees for our course is ₹35 lakh for 10 months, but with the packages on placements, it is usually recovered in 18 months.
Divya Kesharaju: Fees was ₹11 lakh for the course. If the average student works for two to two-and-a-half years after graduating, they can recover the fees.
Hussain Belal: As it’s a university, the fee is just ₹6,000 for the whole course. The facilities are on par to that fee structure.
Areeb Ahmad: The fee is around ₹1 lakh per year, which is much less than any private B-school. Gorakhpur has a tag of being a ‘backward’ city, but I see the burning desire among the students to break away from this image by working hard.
Arvind Aiyar: My fee is around ₹9 lakh for the total course, including the hostel. The placements are good, so it’s not that much an issue.
Hasina Chaman: My fees was around ₹12 lakh. Standard packages were ₹7.5 lakh, so we made it back in under two years.
Talha Razi: My fee for the course is just around ₹24,000 as it’s a government institute. I am a day scholar, but the hostel fee is one of the lowest in India as students from poorer sections come here. We even get medical facilities for that.
* Names changed on request.