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IIMs, ethics and values

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After playing out in boardrooms and courtrooms, some of India Inc’s infamous scams have crashed into the classrooms of the country’s iconic IIMs. The recent spate of corporate embarrassments like Satyam, 2G spectrum, Bhopal gas tragedy (Dow Chemical Company) and their protagonists have become a talking point at the new IIMs, which have introduced a mandatory course in business ethics and values as part of the flagship post-graduate programme in management.
IIM-Trichy, the country’s newest and mentored by IIM-Bangalore, will introduce a full-credit mandatory course in ethics, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and values this summer for its first batch. “India is known for its values and ethics. Sadly, things have changed in recent times. Every student who passes out of the institute should act as change agent with socially responsive behaviour. During the interview stage itself, we assess the qualities of ethical behaviour, integrity and spirit of inquiry among the prospective students,’’ IIM-T director Prafulla Agnihotri told TOI.

For the full report in the ToI, click here.

All very fine. But, the question that keeps coming up is what kind of a value system is the IIMB imparting to its students when it retains a Mukesh Ambani of the US$ 1 billion 27-storied Antilla home fame/ notoreity as the Chairman of its Board of Governors? All of the money may have been acquired legitimately. But, whatever, do you need to flash it around this way, even as some 25% of the country's population continues to languish in poverty?

Or, am I being old-fashioned?

Muralidhar Rao


idontspam's picture

Or, am I being

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Or, am I being old-fashioned?

Not old fashioned, but its like saying if I wear a silk suit at my day job I shouldnt be donating money to khadi bhandar.

No doubts ethics need to be taught, it is becoming increasingly difficult to identify conflict of interest situations. Did telenor know unitech may land in the 2G situation? How does one evaluate ethical scenarios and what should one do when they hit a Black Swan? Most B-Schools students are so busy doing quant that ethics is like the sanskrit paper which you didnt need to pass to get a grade.

But more importantly, I recommend B-Schools address an appropriate mechanism of compensation for negative externalities to society from conducting business. THis is hurting in a big way today. Institutionalizing a way to measure impact, continous monitoring & compensation which creates a positive value to society should be the focus. This may be more pressing in need today before the yellow matter hits the fan

kbsyed61's picture

It's all about self content or greed for more!

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Murali Sir,

All need to hear what Warren buffet said in an interview with NDTV. When asked about his parting of 90% of his wealth and its impact on his life style, this is Mr. Buffet's response:

" He has given out all that which doesn't help him and his family in any way. But that money given away will surely help others"

We have already seen how our Indian Corporate resented the idea of putting any mandatory measures as part of corporate social responsibility.

In our society we want to make money to sustain not just ourselves and our children but also next 7 generations.

To be frank, our wealthiest are the most uncharitable.

dvsquare's picture

@murali Sir, Assuming that

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@murali Sir,

Assuming that Mr. Ambani has earned all his money legitimately, we also know that he is also creating a lot of employment, he has a contribution to India Inc growth and industry development, but at the same time, if he would like to maintain his lifestyle or want to live his life the way he wants, its his wish. Its just that life style standards are different for different for different people. For him, building that 27-storied Antilla is same as living in AC rooms for many, or travelling in good cars for others etc etc.

We cannot define the boundary for anyone else, but yes, if there is some question on his integrity or honesty or legitimity of his business, definitely it should be actioned upon.



afalak's picture

IIT, NIT (ENGG) and IAS/IPS/Law should also be covered.

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I am from one of the Engg colleges and we never had such a course even though humanities (literature, grammer, spoken english, psychology, a foreign language and economics) are mandatory courses but people game those courses to get max grades and thus high CGPA without really getting the essence why such a course exist in an engg or tech program.

The Institution of Engg which is an autonomous body needs all engg to agree to ethics as part of being a member. Membership to this body entitled you to use the engineer tag in many countries (and India). Just having a BE/Btech/ME/Mtech is not enough.

The question is why can we not make the course mandatory. Its very easy for an unethical corporate organisation to mislead the engg or the managers (or any workers for that matter) by saying that this is our business goal and needs to be done at any cost or we will fire you. If the worker knows what is ethics and what defines an ethical behaviour he/she will object and question and we need such people in every strata of society.

I would also recommend this course to be taught in the Civil and Administrative services and Legal education programs. Honestly, they are more in need than the engg/medical and management professions. They cause more long term damage by unethical policy changes than engg, mgmt and doctors combined. Doctors anyway take the oath however hypocritical it might be !

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