A Success Philosophy for the 21st Century Student – Dr P V Ramana

Often I have felt whether a MBA is needed for success in the big game of LIFE! I spoke many times to incoming batches in my own institution about this. I have tried below to briefly put up my thoughts to you:

1. We are living in an age of Excess Information. I will call this the EI age. This is characterized by abundant information universally available and the universal access to powerful search tools to find out what we need, when we need. EI is also available on the go, instantly at your command by a variety of devices – Cell Phone, iPod, PC, Tablet PC etc

What do we do with this veritable sea of information? I submit that all this information is to be used somewhere and it is your duty to make Information useful to you or some one else.


2. Then what do we do with this knowledge? Knowledge without action is like a vessel from which no one drinks! Behavioural Scientists tell us that between Knowledge and Action there is a trigger called Attitude. It is Attitude that determines our actions, with or even without knowledge. Attitude can be Positive or Negative. You are helpful if you are positive, and withdrawn or even destructive if your attitude is negative. While a Negative Attitude almost always has bad consequences, a Positive attitude leads to Positive results more often than not.


3. All actions lead to consequences good, bad and ugly. Who is responsible? Of course You are responsible. Why? You had the information, you made this information useful and acquired knowledge. You had the action attitude, and hence You alone are responsible for your actions. Can you accept responsibility for all your actions? If You are such a person, you will notice many people start to gather near you, ask your advice, request your help and are at peace only because You are there to accept responsibility! It is evident that this is the making of a Manager.


4. What next? My idea is that not only you are responsible for your own actions, but you are also responsible for the actions of all those around you, peers, colleagues, bosses, subordinates, family and friends. There is a good reason why this is so. Let us recount again: You collated the information. You made it useful and acquired knowledge. You have a Positive attitude. People trusted you and followed your advice and instructions, being safe in that you will take responsibility. Since you are in a position to impact the behavior of those around you, then You are responsible for them! If you are the source of Knowledge, Advice and Action, and hold yourself responsible, you become a true Manager!


5. When does a Manager become a Leader? The answer is when you can tell the Truth. The simple unvarnished tell-it-as-it-is kind of Truth. Why? Simply because in this dual world of deceit and corruption, people are hungry for Truth, and they will worship it when they see it. This capacity to tell the truth at all times is the hallmark of a Leader! We know it to be true, but do not practice it. Can you maintain a Friendship or nurture Love without Truth? Can a Liar face his or her spouse, or the children with respect and affection? Can we bring home-values into the work place? Business demands truth, since it is clear, the faster You know and disseminate the Truth, the faster can the enterprise act on it! Also Technology makes truth telling imperative, since the communication and information systems are telling the truth in real time, and instant cross checking reveals any Misinformation or a Lie in the system. If you tell a lie, the system will catch you! Truth leads to Trust, which is the significant mark of a True Leader. If you have it, then you can Manage and Lead


It is time to tell a story now. I heard it myself, and believe in it. let historians debate if it actually happened. Here goes:

Marcus Aurelius is indisputably the greatest Consul of the Roman Republic that ever lived and served. He was elected Consul an unprecedented 3 times in a row, retired, and came out of retirement to save Rome and got elected another  3 times in a row. One fine  evening he was playing with his 5 year old great grandson, who asked him ” Great Grandpa, people call you the Saviour of Rome. How did you get elected as a Consul? I want to know since I want to become a Consul too!”

He replied thus – “The first quality to be considered for election is to have Veritas. This is a quality, an aura that surrounds a person who is known to tell the truth at all times. If you have it, then people will believe you without question. ”


Piped in this 5-year old  – “I got it. What the second quality? Tell me quickly”

You might wonder why a 5-year old is thinking of leading his country at that age. Do not forget that in those time average life expectancy was 30 to 40 years, and you could conquer the known world, as Alexander did, between the ages of 14 and 28. You have to start early!

Aurelius replied thus – “The next quality is known as Gravitas. This is the capacity to command and get people to obey you. Remember if You do not have Veritas, Gravitas is of little consequence”


Pat came the next question: What is the third quality? If I have these qualities can I stand for election?

Aurelius replied: “These two are not enough. If Veritas and Gravitas are seen in the same person in great meaure, then such a person has Imperium, the Right to Rule. Only such persons, who are perceived by the public to have Imperium can stand for Election”


Needless  to say, the 5-year old is Julius Caesar, who became the first Roman Emperor!

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Draft Note by Dr. P.V. Ramana to the CII Higher Education Committee, prepared by the Task Force constituted on May 27, 2011

Task Force Members

i) Dr. P.V.Ramana – Chairman, ITM Group – Convenor

ii) Sri Dhiraj mathur – Executive Director, PWC

iii) Sri Ajay Kapur – Director, Higher Edu Initiatives, Oracle Corp

iv) Sri Amit Kaushik – Director, Educaiton Strategy, CISCO

v) Sri J V Ramamurthy – President and COO, HCL Infosystems

vi) Sri Sashikant Singhi – Director, Poornima Group of Colleges

vii) DR A S Khalsa – Director, iPer

Note: This is a first draft for internal circulation of Task Force members.

Submitted for comment, suggestion, additions and deletions.

1. FDI and FCRA: As per current law 100% FDI is allowed in education. For-profits are not allowed to get licenses from University Grants Commission and AICTE or under Private University Acts of different states. Hence the investment vehicle is often a Society or a Trust or Section 25 Co. As only Sec 25 Co can issue share capital, it is the most preferred medium for investment. Money flows into the operating non-for-profit from an Indian corporate, or a Fund in India or abroad or from a foreign collaborator. Wherever there is a foreign source direct as in case of most VC and PE investments, or indirect in the sense that the investing company has foreign shareholders or has access to foreign funds, the FCRA act comes into play. While all legal authorities and Big-4 Accountants are of the firm opinion that investment in a Sec 25 company being in exchange for a share subscription, does not come under FCRA, investors are jittery since the FCRA legislation has harsh penal provisions.

What is required: A clarification from Home Ministry that FCRA is not applicable for investments under automatic FDI in a Sec 25 Co against equity subscription, and that the Sec 25 Co receiving such investment is deemed to have fulfilled all its compliance requirements upon filing requisite RBI returns for inward remittance and issuing equity against such a remittance.

Action: Appeal to Home & Law Ministries

2. Can a Sec 25 Co issue shares to the public in an IPO? I have had some discussions with SEBI some years ago, when Sri Damodaran was SEBI chief. Some impressions gained:

a. Share issue at par is not a problem, and I was asked to file a RHP. Since lack of clarity, I did not do so

b. The real problem lay in the CCI formula for share valuation. Some opinion states that since no dividend distribution was possible, share of Sec 25 Co can only be valued at par. Others differ and say that a Sec 25 Co can be valued and traded at a value that reflects market demand and underlying business and asset valuation, and potential for growth.

c. If a Sec 25 Co can do an IPO, a vast channel for gathering public funds for Regulated Higher Education opens up. There is great appetite for Education sector shares, and this needs to be done

What is required: A clarification from MCA and SEBI, that a Sec 25 Co can issue capital to the public in an IPO or private placement, and that it will not lose tax exemption and not-for-profit status just because shares are valued above par. Any tax impact is in the hands of share holders, for Capital Gains. There is no dividend distribution and no taxes allied to a dividend payout.

Action required: An appeal to MCA and SEBI, and CCI for clarification and issue of a Press Note on this subject.

3. Bond Issue: There is talk in the Finance Ministry that tax-exempts like Societies, Trusts and Sec 25 Companies may be allowed to issue bonds. Can these bonds be traded? Zero coupon bond with a convertibility option? Credit rating for a bond issue? (CRISIL is rating Edu Institutions treating them in the SME Segment – ITM is CRISIL rated “A”, the highest possible in this segment). What is the security for the Bond Custodian?

4. Special Class of Companies for Regulated Education? There is talk of removing tax exemptions from Trusts and Societies engaging in ‘commercial’ privately financed ‘regulated’ higher education. The underlying thought process is the fact that many of these institutions have acquired huge asset base, and have proved to be a source of black money generated in the form of Donations and Capitation Fee. The obvious move forward is to create a special class of partially tax exempt companies on the lines of Sec 501 (c) company under the US Tax Code.

Suggested features:

a. Flat tax of say 10% on taxable surplus

b. Shares can be valued, traded and issued to public just like any commercial share issue, under existing SEBI regulations

c. No bar on shareholding resident, non-resident, foreign individuals and companies etc (At present a Sec 25 Co has no such restrictions)

d. No dividend distribution at option of the Co. Max limit of 10% on any dividends Action required: Note to be submitted to MCA, MoF and SEBI for amendment to Companies Act, and IT Act

5. Education as Infrastructure: Regulated Higher Education requires huge investment in Land and Building. Land requirement is onerous – Private universities need 10 to 25 acres in Metro and 50 to 100 acres in Towns and Rural areas. Thereafter at least 100,000 to 200,000 sft of built academic spaces are required. Total infrastructure budgets exceed Rs 200 Cr at a minimum for a modern first class university set up in the initial start up phase itself. While the government thinks nothing of annual grants of 100’s of crores for existing IITs and IIMs, there is no money for new institutions, and no safe way for any ROI on such investments made by private entrepreneurs. It is important to not ehere two comments made 10 years ago by a full SC bench in the TA Pai case:

a. The idea that education is noble and charitable is giving way to a view that education is a necessity and must survive by generating a required surplus

b. An academic degree is a private good for private gain, and not to be always considered as a public good for public gain!

Keeping this in view, it is eminently practical to declare Education as fulfilling the norms of infrastructure, and make it eligible for legal and tax treatment that is now accorded to Infrastructure.

Some required changes:

• Press Note declaring Education fixed assets as Infrastructure

• Permit Infrastructure companies to build and lease academic, administrative and hostel/residential spaces to the Institution, with such lease costs being eleigibel for cost recovery as part of tuition calculation by Fee Fixation and Review committees

• Lease rents to be a revenue expense

• Permit operations in long lease premises (greater than say 10 years) where academic space requirement is less than 50,000 sft, and waive land requirement in Metro cities

• Permit the institution sponsor to own the land & building and charge a lease rent to the institution or the program (This moves the Depreciation and Interest from a tax-exempt entity to a Taxable entity, and at the same time increases revenue to government as the lease rents are taxable)

• Enable Education Infrastructure companies to function like housing finance companies

• Allow Engineering and Technical institutions to be built in the compounds of large manufacturing and technology companies (Automobile, Machinery Mfg, Pharma, IT, Hotels etc) to integrate training and a working academia/industry interface

Action required: – Appeal to MHRD, University Grants Commission, AICTE, MCI etc – Appeal to MoF

6. A gradual approach to permitting for-profits to launch Higher education: Everywhere in the world including China, for-profit corporations have been allowed entry into this field, subject to the same regulatory framework, except that they are subject to tax. Is a graduated approach to this possible?

a. Permitting Sec 25 Co shares to be traded and valued by the market

b. Minimum Taxation on Trusts and tax-exempts, bringing them gradually to the same footing as taxable companies, dividend limits, prohibiton of dividend to promoters, etc

c. Allow PLC’s to sponsor Sec 25 Co as closely held. (They can merge financials and show earnings accretion in parent co, without actually taking money out of the tax-exempt domain. Increase in valuation will take place in parent co shares, not in in Sec 25 Co shares)

d. Treat Sec 25 Company as having a special tax status, while being on par with a PLC for raising capital, and a maximum fixed earnings distribution

e. Permit PLC to engage in regulated Higher Education field, just like in the USA All these are feasible and have been discussed by policy makers at one time or the other.

A concerted approach and pressure will make change happen gradually.

Any other angles to be investigated?

Please mail your comments to the core group first. Any comments posted in this blog will find their way into the final draft for consideration by the committee

Dr. P.V.Ramana

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Osteoarthritis (OA) dealing with OA with dietary supplements


I started experiencing OA pain in right knee since last 5 months. The pain crept up gradually to hip joint as well. This is a post giving details of how I am coping with this with dietary supplements only so far.

Caution: Painkillers are best avoided in OA, since they cause acidity, and hardening of arteries as well. Arteries can become so brittle that it is possible to experience uncontrollable multiple arteries ‘splitting’ and flooding the body with blood! This is the reason I chose to deal with OA with food supplements only, and NO DRUGS AND NO PAINKILLERS!

The supplements I am using:

Glucosamine with Diacerene – This helps to povide the aminoacids required in building new cartilege. Glucosamine is also a natural painkiller after continued use of several weeks. Doctors recommend life long use

Latest versions of Calcium intake – Brittle bone tissue is also a reason for abrasion and pain. Triple A Cal is a good source, as also Shelcal (Osteo)

New Generation Bio-Actives: These help mediate energy transfer required to build new protiens for Cartilege and sinovial fluid. I am using SAMMY which is a pre-curson to ATP and helps energy release at required sites. I am also using Cobasoft OD which is a bio-active version of B-Complex

Hyaluronic Acid: This is needed to build up the quantity of sinovial fluid in the knee joint. I am using Hyal Oral daily. Injections are also available

JoMo: This is a Florida based company supplying a liquid which has extra-strength ingredients such as Collagen, Glucosamine etc in Cherry and Pomegranate concentrate. The fruit concentrates are very antoxidants. Not available in India. can be ordered from http://www.jomo.com. JoMo stands for joints in motion!

Collagen: This is needed to build up the cartilege in the knee joint which acts as the cushion. Collaflex sachets of 10 gm are available at all chemists.

Collagen type II: There is empirical research to show that Type II Collagen is better to build cartilage.. Best source is Chicken sternum bones. Nit sold in India but available from USA f with trade name Encore Collagen II capsules.

Multivitamin Tablets: B-Plex Forte of Surbex Osteo are good

Antoxidant specific to OA: Cap GLA is available in India. GLA stands fro Gamma Ligneic Acid

Things not to do: Reduce walking and also reduce weight. No climbing of more than 2 floors at atime. Climbing up staircases puts maximum stress on the knee joint and supporting muscles!

Exercise: Simple exercises designed to strengthen calf and thigh muscles, and stationary cycle exercise.

The result is that I am going about with no pain and no restriction in knee joint!

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COMI et al fighting AICTE- Come together to separate only?

The latest on the AICTE front is that COMI which won a significant relief in Bombay HC in their WP 1335, has approached SC recently asking that the relief granted to AIMS/EPSI members – ie stay on operation of the AICTE Dec 28, 2010 notification, be extended to them also.

COMI members are PGDM institutes in Maharashtra who came together on the basis that the 3 landmark cases in SC – Pai Foundation, Islamic Academy and PA Inamdar hold good and accordingly they argued and won. They got the right to:

– Do their own Test and be exempt from CET

– Do their own counseling, and escape DTE CAP

– and do their own admissions

Bombay HC gave the relief asked for and asked them to submit to DTE and AICTE a Process Handbook detailing how they would do transparent and merit based Common Admission Process. – This is a permanent relief till the Inamdar judgement in SC is overturned, which is not likely in a long time to come.

Obviously members of COMI did not like to work together and wanted be on their own for at least one more year, hence their SLP in SC.

ITM has decided to stick with the Bombay HC order in WP 1334 and not to go to SC. This is because the HC has recognised that:

– There are no complaints against ITM since last 20 years, which is close enough to 25 years mentioned in Inamdar case

– ITM is a multi-state institution, with a number of B-Schools spread across 4/5 states

– ITM is already doing a transparent CAP based on CAT/MAT

My feeling is that SC will reinstate AICTE notification with modifications and COMI has to go back to HC and start all over again.

I feel that COMI has given up a permanent remedy for a short term relief!


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Innovative Programs in Management Education

All of us know about the 2 year MBA and the 2-Year AICTE approved PGDM in India. Why 2 years? In general in USA and Europe, the MBA is just 12 to 14 courses, ie 36 to 42 Credit hours. Some of us do a whole lot more – for instance the ITM 2-Year PGDM is a 6 Trimester, 32 course, 96 Credit hour program, almost a Triple MBA by US standards. The reason we do it is to cram in pre-requisite and 4th year equivalent courses when compared to a 4-year undergrad degree in USA vs the Indian 3-year UG degree.

There is a huge demand for various types of Executive Management Education. These are of several types:

– 40 to 44 Week full time programs (like ISB,  IIMs PGPX, GLIM, AGSB etc) for executives who would take off an year from their career track. Many of these have a 4 to 6 week immersion in a developed economy (AGSB takes all students to a 6 week internship in USA)

– Week-End only Exec MBA – these are usually longer, stretching to 64 to 90 week-ends. A variation on this model is alternate 3-day week-ends

– Capsule model, with a 5-day intensive capsule delivered once in 3 to 4 months, with assignments and Independent study in the interregnum. Usually 4 to 6 capsules qualify for a EMBA award together with a capstone module.

– Part Time model with classes on 3 to 4 week day evenings (like the MMM, MFM and MAM of Mumbai University)

– On-line models (Hughes sponsored programs with curricula and content from XLRI etc)

– Short term models like the NIIT Experia, in association with IIMs

The USP of these models is:

– Experiential and shared learning

– Minimum time off from work

– Career enhancement is the goal, rather than a first job

These models ought to be left alone, since these are intended to be for working executives, and no public purpose is served by seeking to regulate ALL programs. If AICTE were to regulate all programs and issue model curriculum, it follows implicitly that:

1. AICTE regards itself as the source of all innovation, and

2. No program can aspire for Research and Industry Interaction based continuous innovation., and

3. No regional institution can aspire for National level presence, as predominantly it will attract local talent only.

I feel sincerely that AICTE should really stay away from regulating innovative programs which are a different breed from the generic University affiliated MBA programs. Licensing, and prescribing minimum expected norms for infrastructure is fair enough, but seeking to prescribe a curriculum, controlling admissions, fixing the tuition fee etc is going backwards in to the License Raj era!

Dr P. V. Ramana

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The AICTE published a notification on December 28, 2010 abdicating its responsibility for PGDM programs. AICTE intended that State DTE CAP process should apply to all PGDM programs. This has destroyed in one stroke the hopes of lakhs of MBA aspirants who write the CAT, and MAT etc with hope of getting admission into IIMs etc, failing which they can aspire for admission into quality programs like ITM, across the country. The Bombay High Court Judgment of 24/02/11 in effect has allowed ITM to continue to admit PGDM students through CAT, MAT, XAT etc  for the year 2011-12.

AICTE has served a very useful function since 1994, when it was blessed with an activist Chairman – Dr SK Khanna. He realised the true potential of the AICTE Act and started vigorously implementing the basic functions of AICTE – setting norms, inspection of ‘Technical Insititutions” and granting LOI, LOA etc. The process worked, till it was abused. Ever since Dr Mantha has taken over, the process improvements he undertook vastly changed the functioning and removed all traces of the taint it had accumulated. a fully on-line and tamper-proof system of granting approvals brought back the shine to AICTE, just when the Reform Bills were stuck in the parliament. Then why the retrograde decision of bringing PGDM admissions into the DTE domain? Let us examine the raison d’etre for the existence of the PGDM program.

It was intended to be a non-grant, non-affiliated, autonomous track equivalent to a MBA. The reason was that, barring a handful, the University affiliated MBA programs had atrophied into teaching shops, and every institute had to follow the University prescribed curricula. Naturally the obsolete curriculum did not allow any industry-relevant and research-driven topics into the system. ITM was born recognizing the very fact that few colleges cared for what the Industry needed.

Then why this decision? One can only speculate that the AICTE Council took a view that ALL ADMISSIONS MUST BE STATE CONTROLLED! This view is contrary to the principles of justice and fairness expressed by Hon’ble Supreme Court in 3 land mark judgments  (TMA Pai, Islamic Academy, PA Inamdar)  which can be summed up briefly thus:

a) Managements have the right to manage

b) This right includes the right to admit, fix eligibility standards, and fix the fee etc

c) For MBA programs, the eligibility should include a standard entrance test like CAT, MAT etc

d) An independent agency or a Consortium of Colleges of similar type, can conduct this test.

e) The Institutes should make available in the public domain the eligibility criteria and the weight given to different elements such as CAT Percentile, 10th, 12th and Graduation marks, work experience, relevance of qualifying exam to chosen course of study, any PG Qualification, GD and PI scores etc of the Total weighted score.

f) The results should be put in the public domain

g) Selection shall be on the rank ordered final merit list

h) There should be a single window so that candidates do not run from pillar to post seeking admission in different institutes.

ITM fulfills these criteria, since, ITM runs many B-Schools in different states, with AICTE approval ( a total of 8 LOA with 1 under process), accepts standard national tests, and conducts open and transparent admissions, with a single window for all the B-Schools under its brand ITM.

Management Quota? ITM does not take any Management Quota – ie ITM does not sell seats – ever!

Is there a continuing role for AICTE? In the last couple of years, ever since the Dr Mantha has taken over, AICTE has done a fantastic job of streamlining the approval process, introducing fully on-line procedure etc. In fact the need for visiting the AICTE Office has disappeared! AICTE derives its power form the Parliament, and unless the Parliament decides otherwise, has its role in defining and enforcing minimum standards in Technical Education.

I have this basic idea regarding the future of Educational Reform and Regulation. The TMA Pai 2002 Judgment of SC clearly stated that ‘the idea of an academic degree as a “private good” that benefits the individual rather than a “public good” for society is now widely accepted’ (Para 49). This statement is questioning the need for overbearing control of higher education by the state. Future regulatory reforms have to stand this test, or will be struck down by SC

Also I feel that several categories of Institutions will emerge needing different control mechanisms, and one size will not fit all:

  • IIMs, IITS etc owned by Central Government etc not presently under control of either University Grants Commission or AICTE
  • Deemed Universities, under University Grants Commission. This category is presently under attack, but will regain prominence due to the sheer need for independent universities to cater to the huge demand
  • Private State Act Universities, limited to the State where they are licensed for first 5 years, but can operate Nation-wide later. University Grants Commission is loosely controlling these. Not all states have Private University Acts.
  • ITM like multi-state institutions, controlled by AICTE – providing a National Alternative to IIMs and the like.
  • PGDM Schools who are strictly regional
  • Stand alone Institutions of great merit , like ISB, who really do not want nor need any control
  • Purely commercial operators, neither accredited nor controlled

Market forces will control the destiny of the great number and variety of Institutions in Higher Education, where there is a scarcity of quality Institutions at the top end, and seats are going a begging at the bottom end.

I leave you with a basic question – Are Management Insititutes to be classed as “Technical Institutions”? I feel that the field of Management studies is so different that it needs an Independent Self-Regulator. AIMS had this opportunity, but surrendered it meekly in an AICTE organized Seminar/Workshop  (in 1993-94 – I believe) in Banglore well attended by some of the doyens of Management Education. We need to recover from that. How should we go about it?

Dr. P V Ramana

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Hi All

I have just started a blog site at http://drpvramana.com

You are welcome to add comments and keep the discussion going. I intend to start 2 threads – AICTE and Education, and my thoughts about “Upanishads – Simplified”


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Hello world!

Hi, Welcome to my world which currently has 2 themes – Higher Education Reforms, and the second is “Upanishads simplified”

Dr P V Ramana

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