Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Ajit Rangnekar and Savita Mahajan on why the Punjab government is right to give 70 acres of land to the Indian School of Business

They are not quite disinterested parties here: Ajit Rangnekar and Savita Mahajan are Dean and Associate Dean, respectively, of the Indian School of Business (the latter is also the chief executive of ISB-Mohali). While they do highlight the benefits to the state of Punjab, let me excerpt the section where they justify ISB's need for 70 acres of urban land in Mohali:

Why do educational institutions need low-cost land? First, to clarify, ISB is not a commercial institution. It is a not-for-profit organisation for which all contributions made by donors, whether individuals or corporations, are philanthropic in nature. Any surplus is ploughed back into the institution and not a single rupee is distributed to any of the donors as a return on their “investment”. In that sense, ISB, like any other not-for-profit educational institution, is a “public purpose entity”. ISB has been provided 70 acres (not 100) of land on long lease (and not outright sale) by the Punjab government. The terms of the lease agreement prohibit ISB from financially benefiting in any way from the use of the land other than for educational and research purposes. In fact, in the best sense of a public-private collaboration, the government has also achieved its investment objective with the donors and ISB investing '250 crore for the development of the Mohali campus in Punjab in the next year or so.


That brings us to the last point about why today’s educational campuses cannot be too far from the city hub. Attracting high-quality faculty (and students) requires an existing ecosystem in reasonably close proximity to provide access to industry. Strong industry-academia interaction is critical for building a thriving academic institution. Similarly, high-quality essential services such as schooling for children and medical care have to be provided to attract the best talent. If a campus is too far away, the institution will have to provide these facilities, diverting scarce funds to services that are not core to the provision of high-quality education.


  1. truti said...

    [[Also, an educational institution’s life-span does not cover years or decades but centuries. A hundred years from now, 70 acres may be limiting and the campus will certainly have high-rise buildings, amidst an urban cluster. Much before that, like other great universities that started as standalone institutions, the IITs, the IIMs and ISB may well become full-fledged universities covering multiple disciplines and programmes, catering to thousands of students. Every major university in the world is facing a severe shortage of space because the initial estimates of land were grossly inadequate.]]

    I agree almost entirely with the Deans of ISB-Mohali. This is arguably among those very few privately sponsored edu non-profits that is transparent and aspires to ethical conduct. I am leaving out the many fine institutions estbd by the Tatas because that group sets an impossibly high standard of philanthropy. I am also excluding the IIT/Ms because they have been founded by the government. But I will include among these National Law School and a few other private law universities. The Deans are absolutely right (and how!) that an edu must be driven by a vision that spans centuries and not mere years or decades.

  2. truti said...

    IIANM Ajit Rangnekar is the son of the great and legendary Ahilya Rangnekar.