In India, about 200,000 students, average age 24 to 25, take the entrance qualifying exam for admissions to business school yearly. (HR and business education occurs at the post-graduate level after the student has acquired a college degree.)
Of approximately 1,000 institutions offering management degrees, 20 top-tier schools, including six elite Indian Institutes of Management created by Parliament, will accept 8,000 to 10,000 students. These institutions are the feeder schools for jobs with the top companies and are highly competitive. For example, at the Narsee Monjee Institute of Management and Higher Studies in Mumbai, 34,000 students apply for 240 seats. Graduates from these elite institutions are assured a good job with a desirable employer.
Aneeta Madhok, dean of the faculty of management studies at the Narsee Monjee, estimates that 8 percent of business students will complete an MBA with a major in HR. A few schools, like Xavier Labor Relations Institute in Bombay and Management Development Institutions in Gurgaon, offer entire MBA programs dedicated exclusively to HR. They graduate between 400 and 500 students annually.
In the 1990s, nearly half of MBA students were women. Today, Madhok says the number is decreasing, down to only 15 percent. "A lot of women seem to be choosing more self-expressive careers like art, design or music." But, of those who opt for business, HR is the career of choice. This year, of the Narsee Monjee's 20 HR majors, 16 were women.
Madhok says operational and quantitative learning is emphasized in the Indian business curriculum. "There's a lot of cramming and memorization. We're criticized for our approach, but in the long run the rigor of our programs and emphasis on knowledge retention seem to pay off."
Little attention, it seems, is paid to HR strategy. "Strategy is something you learn through experience," Madhok says. "By the time you get to be the head of HR, you will have learned it on the job."
Robert J. Grossman, a contributing editor of HR Magazine
, is a lawyer and a professor of management studies at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.