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Among various measures, the idea of transforming ‘local colleges’ in Manipur into ‘Innovation Centres’ may be the most effective approach to fuel rapid socio-economic growth of ‘people and place’ across towns of Manipur in 5-10 years timeframe through facilitating collective participation of local people.

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Names of towns/villages in Manipur wherein Higher Education institutions are located

A strong reasoning behind the idea is the possibility of utilising strategically located college campuses (of approximately 88 colleges) scattered across the geography of Manipur state in various towns as an open platform for ‘Community and Business Engagement’ among industry professionals (who are natives of the nearby locality but living outside Manipur in various cities of India and abroad), academics and students of the respective colleges, local NGOs and government officials nearby the colleges. College campuses maybe considered as ‘Knowledge Zones’ or a place where ideas and locally applicable innovations can be freely exchanged without fear in a ‘non-bureaucratic and non-corporate’ work-environment. Measures related to improving academic (teaching & learning) environment of the local colleges have been kept aside for another article. This article intends to present new measures of maximizing utilization percentage of currently available infrastructure (i.e. classrooms and estates) and (teaching and non-teaching) staffs at colleges in Manipur for an add-on impact to local people around the colleges socio-economically, with less/minimum impact on the delivery of ongoing academic schedules.

It is a well-known fact that most colleges in Manipur in the past decade don’t conduct academic classes regularly and have also a very low number of students. College infrastructures (including services of staffs) seemed highly under-utilized with unclear benefits to the local economy and irregular usage of college facilities caused equipment/buildings to deteriorate quickly due to poor supervision. In such scenario, the question does arises – what purpose does our colleges in Manipur serve to the local economy and social wellbeing, apart from the fact that these colleges provide employment to few staffs and higher education to a tiny number of local teenagers with negligible scope of getting a job or a bright career opportunity on their graduation. Without a doubt, colleges in Manipur may be comparable to ‘white elephants’ to the economy of Manipur under the current socio-economic scenario. Then, the next reasonable question arises – ‘how can we increase the benefits and good impact of having a college campus in our local community and nearby town’.

 

The intent to impart higher education to young students of Manipur through local colleges may be combined with the vision of state government to bring about socio-economic development of local towns. For realising this expectation, the state government would need to create a dedicated job position of KE (Knowledge Exchange) professional at each college (through an initial funding from state govt budget or one time financial assistance from central government). The key responsibilities of the KE professional may include (1) creation of external income earning capacity of the college through efficient utilisation of college infrastructure, (2) realisation of ‘brain gain’ to local towns around the college campus by inviting Manipuri professionals (from the nearby towns but living outside Manipur state or abroad) for KE activities and enabling effective engagement with the local community through hosting academic and business events, and (3) building strong relationship with global funders and corporate firms to bring in external incomes (such as sponsorships and partnerships) within the predefined knowledge domains of the college. Management of KE activities are best assigned to KE professionals (as full-time job role) rather than being considered as add-on role to the current responsibilities of academic staffs in colleges. The aim of such approach is to make the entire process sustainable in due course of time so that expenses of KE professional and relevant KE activities can be paid out of the income earned through commercial exploitation of resources at the college campuses.

 

In case, the state government is keen to explore feasibility of such proposal as mentioned above and in rest of this article, it should consider hiring KE/innovation consultants to structure an implementable plan that suits the local scenarios of Manipur. Such similar approaches are already implemented in various developed countries such as UK, wherein local municipal council and various government departments work in coordination with higher education institutions to rejuvinate socio-economic growth of the local towns. This impact of having a college/university in a town is in addition to providing employment to few academic and support staffs, and giving graduate education to the local youths.

 

State government may consider utilising part of college campuses to engage local SMEs and Self-Help-Groups for delivery of local enterprise support services (i.e. fund access and professional advice) by having ‘hot-desk information offices’ representing the officials from Sub-Divisional office (SDO/SDC) or District Collector (DC/DM) office. Such an approach would bring accessibility of business support services and funding opportunities closer to the target audiences of local entrepreneurs and future graduate entrepreneurs at the college campuses. Such hot-desk information offices attached to the college campuses may help transforming the college to be a vibrant environment filled with local people and industry professionals. This transformation will provide psychological boost to the thought process of students to aspire being a budding entrepreneur in the local town.

 

Academically relevant external projects (funded by government or various funding organisations) and socio-economically relevant services (such as training courses for local SMEs and not-for-profit organisations) can be planned for delivery at the college campuses to increase presence of local community in the college campus. Management of such operations are to be conducted by delegating the activities to a KE professional under a clear strategy, so that in course of time, the income earned through the external oriented services can meet the operational expenses (incl. salary of the KE professional). Various assets of the college campus such as swimming pool, playgound, library, café, labs, classrooms, auditoriums may be let out during weekends and out of working hours slots in order to generate revenue income for the college. Academic staffs of the college may also contribute appropriately to the planned KE activities based on their personal interest as well as academic interest. The budget management (both income earning and expense planning) of the KE activities must be with the KE professional in order to assign proper accountability of the funds. Conducting socio-cultural events by local NGOs ought to be encouraged at the college campus, so that vibrant environment of the college campus can be maintained due to visit of external audiences. Moreover, catering and other trade items can be sold while hosting local events within the college campuses. Organising trade and technology events through the KE professional can also infuse innovative ideas for discussion among the students and academics of the college.

 

A dedicated knowledge exchange web-portal may be created to ease info sharing to various stakeholders (i.e. government departments, industry professionals, students, academics, local NGOs and municipal councils) in order to help successful delivery of the overal KE strategy at various college campuses in Manipur. The web-portal may include basic and advanced training materials for facilitating knowledge exchange related services by KE professionals and also relevant resources for external customers accessible through payment of appropriate service fees. Having a clear KE strategy can help motivating college staffs to participate in KE activities conducted at their college campuses. KE events will attract students to college campuses for learning real world knowledge in addition to attending academic classes for their degree courses. Moreover, such an approach will enable creation of an ecosystem for local innovation at the college campuses (instead of leaving college campuses defunct and under-utilised).

 

Capacity building of local human capital is one of the most essential ingredients of enabling socio-economic development of a state. Making Manipur a prosperous socio-economically developed state is the dream of many youths and senior citizens of Manipur (incl. our ‘self-proclaimed’ politicians). Transforming colleges at various towns of Manipur can help in creating the necessary quantity and quality of capable human resources (across villages/towns) which Manipur desparately needs. This approach will also allow the state government to combine developmental intitiatives at various towns of Manipur with the intent to provide higher education facilities in those towns by allocating the annual budget efficiently.

 

About the Author:

Shanjoy Mairembam (BEng, MBA, LLM) is an Innovation Consultant based at Leicester (UK). He supports mentoring of young entrepreneurs in ‘conceptualization of ideas into business case’, and offers role of a ‘Business Doctor’ to local NGOs/MSMEs in Manipur.

For further info, visit http://www.shanmaiconsulting.com; E-mail: shanjoym (at) gmail (dot) com

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Realities of life start to bite us when we are around 25-35yrs of age. We begin to look at our lives with more seriousness about the past and the future. By now, we acknowledge two facts – (1) Money (through a salaried job or an earning source) is crucial for living. Having a good philosophy for humanity and a non-income earning hobby aren’t enough in life. (2) Our parents are not young anymore and we need to offer our support at their old age. This is more important because, we need act as role models to our kids (or future kids) by showing care and love for parents. Thus, we are struck by the most challenging dilemma around 25-35yrs of age – ‘shall I return back to Manipur, but how?’returning_home_airport_01In search of opportunities to study in prestigious colleges/universities and work in jobs after our studies, we have left Manipur during our teenage period. By the age of 22-35yrs, we are working in a relevant professional career and residing at a developed city of India outside Manipur state or in a foreign country. Also, we are likely to been married by then and have already started a small family with own kids.

One popular option used by most non-resident Manipuris to return back to Manipur (irrespective of current profession or years of job experiences) is to try for Manipur Civil Services Combined Competitive (MCSCC) exam conducted by Manipur Public Service Commission (MPSC). It’s not sure whether most MCSCC exam aspirants actually know what type of work or life style one has to live once selected in that exam and begin to serve in various administrative departments of the Manipur government. Also, it’s not sure what happens to those years of work experiences, technical skills acquired and professional education undertaken in the past by those non-resident Manipuris after becoming high ranking administrative officers. Maybe, MCSCC exam is the most targeted choice because of the status of MCS/MPS officials in society and the income earning possibilities within the state among available jobs.

Another popular option used by non-resident Manipuris (with an average academic, especially among boys) is to try for a job in Manipur Police services (such as Assistant Sub-Inspector, Sub-Inspector, Indian Reserve Battalion Sepoy, Commando Sepoy). Prior job experiences and graduation degree of individuals are also less relevant while applying to the services of Police. What most educated Manipuris living outside Manipur expect when shifting to Manipur is a reasonable salary from a job (or an income source) and maintaining a reasonable social status within Manipur. Also, most non-resident Manipuris love to aim for the job of a teacher in school or a lecturer in college in Manipur. Thus, many non-resident Manipuris depends on government provided jobs to return back to Manipur and many of us haven’t yet tried to explore about any other options to come back to Manipur.

Some of the reasons why most non-resident Manipuris could not realize their wish to return back to Manipur are – (1) non-availability of directly similar jobs in their professions in Manipur, (2) availability of few jobs in some relevant professions, but needing to bribe officials and ministers to get those jobs, (3) being too late in one’s age to shift to Manipur (because of having grownup kids who were already adjusted to the outside social environments, or inability to just leave the jobs as monthly salaries fulfilled family maintenance, or their parents had already died and no close relatives lived in Manipur now), (4) not earned enough money and not gained appropriate business acumen with risk-taking attitude to start businesses in Manipur.

Some of the possible opportunities in Manipur that non-resident Manipuris can try to shift back to Manipur are – (1) starting a business in tourism/hospitality sector (such as running a restaurant, hotel accommodation, travel transport services, cultural tour programs), (2) starting a locally relevant agro-business (such as rearing of pigs/chickens, egg production, milk production, cultivation of pineapple, sales of dried fruits, potato farming), (3) starting a trading business on off-the-shelf goods (such as electronic items, bedding-clothing items, woods and furniture), (4) starting an advertising and marketing agency (such as sales and promotion of local products, non-news related publication and design activities, general website design activities), (5) starting advisory services (such as educational consultants to admit students from Manipur to various colleges in other Indian states, income-tax/business setup services to local enterprises, export-import setup services to local entrepreneurs, investment in stocks and real estates located in other cities of India, funding grant application to various government and private bodies for projects of local enterprises). The other possibility is to try to expand the business one already owns in other cities of India or abroad to Manipur, or to try to expand new offices in Manipur for the company wherein one currently works at senior management position in other cities of India or abroad.

The key challenge to returning back to Manipur by most non-resident Manipuris is that they haven’t acquired relevant skills, life experiences and risk taking willpower to venture into the career opportunities feasible within Manipur. Also, they may not have enough cash to invest the required start-up fund and most importantly, they may not have known appropriate advisory contacts to support them during the transition phase from ‘where they are currently living’ to ‘within Manipur’. One must motivate self to learn transferable skills while at work in various jobs at other cities of India; such as (1) business acumen on how to deal with finances and resources, (2) people management below and above the current job position, (3) relationship building with peers and non-peers, (4) calculated risk taking and self-starting attitude, (5) networking with relevant professionals and individuals in the interested industry/social domain, (6) awareness on government policies and funding supports in interest areas, (7) self simulation of draft ideas by making occasional visits in Manipur and execution of prototype projects, (8) learning to work in teams to achieve personal project objectives, and yet led by self. Its worth to remind ourselves that – ‘Employees tend to remain lifelong as employees or salaried persons, while entrepreneurs of own businesses tend to aim big to grow as one wishes and leave behind the businesses/wealth-earnings to their family on retirement’. In most state/central government jobs within Manipur, one may find self being stuck for life apart from just waiting for the monthly salary. Also possibly, he/she may not like the work environment and job roles, but, there is no other alternative job to quit and thereby no other means of livelihood.

If a non-resident Manipuri wishes to return back to Manipur someday, one should start saving money from early stage of life and start planning how one can invest own time/money in Manipur. As an example: by building homes at our respective town/village in Manipur in a way that some rooms/floors can be let out to tourists for a short stay, we can even earn some income and also contribute to tourism growth to the local town/village. Thus, if we are ready to write MCSCC exam and become MCS/MPS officer after having done entirely different jobs for years in industry and completed highly technical academic studies in the past, why not we dare to dream even bigger like creating own business firms by using the intelligent brain, life experiences, and willpower we’ve got. Earlier the actual realistic planning on ‘how to return back to Manipur’, higher is the success rate of returning; otherwise the person is daydreaming and wasting own time/effort.

About the Author:

Shanjoy Mairembam (BEng, MBA) is a Business Strategy Consultant based at London (UK). He supports mentoring of young entrepreneurs in ‘conceptualization of ideas into business case’, and offers role of a ‘Business Doctor’ to local NGOs/SMEs in Manipur.

For further info, visit http://www.shanmaiconsulting.com; E-mail: shanjoym (at) gmail (dot) com

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Availability of govt jobs has almost dried up in Manipur state. Getting recruited into govt jobs are also extremely tough requiring bribing and having contacts with govt ministers/officials. If one compares the amount likely to incur to get a govt job with the amount one will get as salary in the lifespan of that job, it’s mostly obvious that one will be running into debt for the sake of getting a govt job. Young graduates have almost no industry jobs to work within Manipur except leaving outside Manipur to look for job. So, the question is – ‘isn’t there any other career option for young graduates in Manipur?’

owning_business_01

There is the saying – ‘Where there is problem, there is the opportunity waiting to be unlocked’. It’s now left to self how one approaches the problem. Another interesting saying is – ‘When you got nothing to lose, why not take the chance?’ So, how about planning to own a business as one graduates and becomes the ‘Boss of own life and other employees’.

Anyone who just passed 12th standard (i.e. 17th/18th yrs of age) is already sufficient to be in the world of business. By that age and qualification, one has got the basic education (reading, writing, calculation, social common sense, world we live in) and also, the physical and mental strengths to lead. May be what’s still missing for running/owning a business is the will power and extra guidance/tips on that business setup.

The ultimate formula for a business is based on the simple mathematics equation of ‘Profit or Loss = Selling Price – Cost Incurred’. By considering how to maneuver the parameters on right hand side of the equation, the result on the left hand can be impacted accordingly. To understand concept of a business; try to imagine how a local shop operates, how a school functions, how a rickshaw driver works, how elderly women at Keithel (i.e. Photpham Phambi) make a living, etc.

If a ‘Business’ is to be demystified, it can be viewed as activities happening in three aspects;

(1) Legal/Financial Accounting – A business needs to be a legal entity thereby requiring a registration to operate and show financial statements annually for Income Tax filing. The govt lays down regulations (including tax benefits and supports) for doing business in that industry sector and the region where it operates.

(2) Continued Justification of a Business Case – The logic behind purpose of doing business has to be appropriate at any instant of time throughout lifespan of the business. A business can’t continue to run if incurring losses beyond permissible limit of operation, or business has failed to achieve minimum targets as expected by promoters or shareholders.

(3) Sales-Production-Procurement logic – Any business goes with this concept of ‘get something’, ‘add value on that something’, and then ‘sell off that modified something by making some benefits (e.g. money)’.

While studying a degree course in a college within Manipur, a youth can focus on how to setup a business before graduating. The college may have few basic ingredients that may be helpful to the business setup – such as access to library, buildings, high bandwidth internet, academic staffs, like-minded friends, local communities, industry professionals and govt officials, etc. Also, the similar resources in Manipur University, Central Agricultural University and other higher education institutes in Manipur can be utilized for own business setup support. There are development grants provided by various govt ministries in each district which youths can apply for business setup. Also, youths can avail training support provided by state govt departments (e.g. Manipur Skill Development Society) and central govt departments (e.g. ministry of DoNER) from time to time.

What’s worth reminding herein is ‘Life is not a SPRINT, but a MARATHON’. Graduating from a college is not just the end of life or start of a career. Also, ‘What’s the difference of doing and not doing a degree course in Manipur?’ in the sense that ‘Will someone give the graduate a job in Manipur after graduation?’ Time of youth is to try to find out the purpose of life and what one is best at doing things. One may always fall back on parents to restart a life/career again till age of 20-25th yrs. All the big businesses and organizations we treasure today (e.g. Facebook, Microsoft, Apple) are built by youths in the age of 15yrs-30yrs. So, why not try and take the chance when feasible. Get a business mentor today and start thinking now.

About the Author:

Shanjoy Mairembam (BEng, MBA) is a Business Strategy Consultant based at London (UK). He supports mentoring of young entrepreneurs in ‘conceptualization of ideas into business case’, and offers role of a ‘Business Doctor’ to local NGOs/SMEs in Manipur.

For further info, visit http://www.shanmaiconsulting.com; E-mail: shanjoym (at) gmail (dot) com

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Thousands of working Manipuri professionals (within Manipur state, across Indian cities and foreign countries) wishes to contribute for a better Manipur, but they are mostly not sure how/what to do amidst complexities in govt administration and social chaos in Manipur. State govt can effectively benefit in terms of both financial and voluntary (knowledge/experience) contributions from high caliber Manipuris, if a systematic contribution management framework is developed at the state level with global usability focus. Any individual Manipuri professional willing to share his/her expertise and experiences must be able to do so in a simple and straight forward process towards improving public service deliveries. Thus, the Manipur State Innovation Council (headed by the Chief Minister) and the state planning department ought to consider adapting the current working model towards an integrated and comprehensive Innovation Management structure that can impact every village/town in the state with contribution of Manipuri People (i.e. professionals) residing across the globe.

 Innovation Management in Manipur State

  To create and sustain innovations systematically within Manipur State, we needs –

(1) Local Knowledge-based Institutions enabled to support innovators and sustain innovations

(2) Network of professionals to provide a platform (esp. web-enabled) for ‘Great Minds’ to interact and engage, i.e. sustaining an interactive professionals’ database

(3) Aligning govt ministries (esp. finance support and officials) to support innovations and innovators in their respective sectors

(4) A facilitation centre (esp. created in a Public-Private partnership model) to coordinate all branches of innovation support and execute centre’s administrative activities for public support

(5) Annual face-to-face Networking and Group Discussion Event to bring together Manipuris (esp. professionals across the globe) and govt officials to build trust and relationships

(6) A business oriented forum to lobby or discuss business issues and govt policies that impact specific business sectors in the overall industry

Thus, the key building blocks for a Manipur specific Innovation Management framework may comprises (1) Academic and research institutions, (2) Govt departments, (3) A centralized innovation support centre, (4) virtualized knowledge exchange networks, (5) A business representatives’ forum. And the key activities required within the framework may comprise of (1) Conducting an annual semi-professional global summit, (2) Organizing webinars on topics relevant to Manipuris by inviting distinguished industry professionals on the panel, (3) Allowing students to undertake internship projects in various govt departments (4) Allowing professionals to contribute their work experiences through guest speech or tendered consultancy project, (5) Liaising with Manipuris in foreign countries and outside the state to promote Manipur tourism.

The KEN-Manipur initiative (started by few Overseas Manipuris after the Pravashi Bharatiya Divas 2011 in coordination with few dedicated state govt officials and local academic institutions) is aimed towards building an online database of high caliber Manipuri professionals (residing across the globe) per knowledge/industry sector as ‘Knowledge Exchange Networks’ and each network being supported by relevant departments in the state govt as well as local academic and innovation institutions within Manipur. State govt needs to embed this KEN-Manipur initiative within the state innovation council so that every Manipuri (who may belong or have originated in the past from any village/town within Manipur) can contribute and interact in the virtual web-platform under professional conduct comfortably without feeling discriminated or alienated by focusing on the topic rather than person/ethnicity. Also, relevant govt departments can send out press releases, tender notice, consultation invite on policy formulation, and internship/short projects on the KEN-Manipur website periodically. Interestingly, most social associations and professional discussion forums in Manipur are found being restricted to few individuals only on the basis of ethnicity, religion, birth-place, etc (thereby with own vested self-interest) and there seems no cross-sectors knowledge sharing mechanism connecting each other. Moreover, overall development in every village/town in Manipur may be feasible at a faster speed with active contribution from Global Manipuri professionals in addition to support provided by state govt officials. Knowledge Transfer Networks (KTNs) of UK Govt is one such example of KEN-Manipur initiative used elsewhere.

An annual Global Manipuris Summit (GMS) is the need of the hour to inspire Manipuris residing across the globe to visit Manipur once a year and create a bonding relationship with local Manipuris as well as state govt officials. The summit may be conducted as a semi-professional event by having theme-based workshop/seminar programs, and cultural programs. The benefits of such summit are (1) cause a mindset change impact among various local Manipuris (currently being segregated on ethnic/religious interests instead of humanity) towards a socio-economic development focus, (2) share working knowledge and life experiences received elsewhere by global Manipuris relevant to the local people, (3) contribute to growth of tourism and hospitality sectors in Manipur by the visit of thousands of non-resident Manipuris, (4) receive foreign direct investments (FDI) and professional expertise contributions to various socio-economic projects within Manipur. Also, unlike annual Manipur Sangai Festival, Global Manipuris Summit is likely to bring in extra revenue to the state govt as well as local tourist/hospitality businesses with the inflow of Non-resident Manipuris. Pravashi Bharatiya Divas of Central Indian Govt is one such example of Global Manipuris Summit conducted elsewhere.

A dedicated facilitation centre (e.g. Global Manipuris Facilitation Centre – GMFC) needs to be established in a Public-Private Partnership model to provide important administrative supports to coordinate KEN-Manipur activities (online as well as conducting of monthly local knowledge exchange event), to organize annual Global Manipuris Summit, to liaise with the industry partners for business engagement by global Manipuris as well as govt officials, and to link with the academic and innovation institutions within Manipur. With opening of Moreh as international trade gateway to South East Asian Countries, many visa/legal permission related issues that may impact overseas Manipuris (and local Manipuris) are often going to come up waiting for quick resolution. Such a centre can support redirection of genuine queries from Manipuris to relevant state/central ministries for quick action. Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre (OIFC) of Central Indian Govt (created by partnership between Confederation of Indian Industries – CII and Ministry of Indian Overseas Affairs – MIOA) is one such example of Global Manipuris Facilitation Centre created elsewhere.

A new comprehensive business forum (e.g. Manipur Social and Business Enterprises Network – MSBEN) functioning under global professional ethics and represented by most business enterprises within Manipur is essential to complement any possible collective benefit to industry sectors in Manipur by coordinating with both state govt ministries and other local bodies. Currently available business forums in Manipur lack global perspective and are fragmented to only few industry sectors. The new business forum ought to cater to only Manipur specific businesses yet covering businesses run by Manipuris in other global locations in order to enable building global supply chain of Manipuri business owners. Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) is one example of such business forum.

Schools, colleges, training centres, and universities within Manipur may be transformed into innovation houses wherein not just students and staffs in those institutions indulge in creating new innovations but also local businesses and social bodies can gain business support services and avail innovation support resources for their benefits. Innovation also refers to bringing mindset change (i.e. way of thinking) in addition to creating new technology products/ideas. There can be a centralized (and web-based) innovation support centre having policy documents, and high value staffs; while few chosen or most academic/research institutions can have trained staffs (being delegated or newly recruited) to provide support for enterprise development and business activities. Some of the specialized innovation institutions may be asked to take ownership of conducting monthly/periodic KEN-Manipur workshops by inviting/receiving Manipuri professionals (who may be returning to Manipur state for holiday break), and video/presentations of such useful discussions may be uploaded in KEN-Manipur website for future access. This approach of institutional ownership also enables respective institutions to build strong ties with industry and professionals for the benefit of their staffs, students and alumni. In addition, these institutions can avail access to thousands of highly qualified Manipuri professionals via the database of KEN-Manipur. Innovation vouchers and Capacity Building funds may be made available centrally and be allowed for individual institutions to bid for project sanctions.

Most State Govt departments tend to work in-silo and people (esp. the intended target consumers of each department) often don’t receive govt dept’s announcement of relevant information on time. Most plans under each department (as created by state planning department) fail to reach success at a reasonable level of completion mostly due to implementation issues and bottlenecks during rolled out phase of the plans. Thus, there is a need for collective overseeing of innovation support services provided in each state govt department. Each department may delegate officials to contribute in relevant networks of KEN-Manipur by sensing ongoing discussions in particular networks and by promoting activities/policies/funding info available in their department for usage by professionals and local businesses. Also, there is feasibility to cross sell opportunities (tenders/projects) by govt department to networks relevant to another department within KEN-Manipur (thereby leading to effective usage of govt money).

One key hurdle to be overcome for enabling non-resident Manipuris and local Manipuris (including state govt officials) to engage effectively is the need for acclimatization by both parties to a mid-way work culture suitable to both i.e. adjustment of attitudes/egos. There needs to be orientation programs such as ‘Train the Trainer’ – to help industry professionals to learn working culture (ethics and attitudes) prevalent in Manipur state before they even start their personal contribution, ‘Openness and Team-work training’ – to help state govt officials to adjust their working style to corporate environment by understanding how industry professionals work.

If the state govt has the will to initiate implementing the above recommendations with funding from either state govt or Union Ministry of DoNER (or elsewhere), Manipuri professionals working across the globe can start contributing easily in a simple process towards socio-economic development of every village/town in Manipur. Also, current social unrest in Manipur due to mistrust among communities may go away faster in due course with mindset of local people getting changed because of knowledge inflow from non-resident Manipuris on a peer-to-peer contact basis.

 

About the Author:

Shanjoy Mairembam (BEng, MBA) is a Business Strategy Consultant based at London (UK). He supports mentoring of young entrepreneurs in ‘conceptualization of ideas into business case’, and offers role of a ‘Business Doctor’ to local NGOs/SMEs in Manipur.

For further info, visit http://www.shanmaiconsulting.com; E-mail: shanjoym (at) gmail (dot) com

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Education is imparted in a systematic approach worldwide for a purpose which is ‘sharing knowledge to inspire minds’. Though School Education may be rather about teaching and learning, but, Higher Education in college/university is more about empowering students to get a job or start a new business in their post-degree career. Unless graduates are exposed to skills and experiences during their studies (thereby finding utility latter in the job market and social environment), the time spent in college/university will amount to waste of time and effort in today’s competitive world. Thus, teaching may be considered as the main theme of education, yet ‘Employability & Enterprise’ tends to be the main objective of education from the ‘performance measure’ perspective.

 Employability_Enterprise_01

 The current education policy in Manipur state has been focusing mostly on providing teachers to schools/colleges and their transfers management, creating infrastructure, and student intake numbers; instead of any new innovation and growth aspects in education to deal with local societal needs and changing global environment. This approach may work with management of school level (up to 10th or 12th standard) institutions but ought to fail drastically when dealing management of colleges and universities. Students out of school level institutions feed into colleges and professional institutions for higher studies or on-the-job studies. If there is no better college, Manipuri students just need to leave Manipur state in post 10th or 12th std for higher studies and thus, we are seeing thousands of students leaving every year (thereby also affecting state’s economy). For higher education institutions to survive, presence of vibrant industries around to provide jobs and business setup opportunities to graduates out of those colleges/universities is also essential. Higher education institutions are source of inspiration and guide to our society by producing responsible adults with add-on values in addition to the book knowledge. Thus, education policies for school level and higher level ought to vary drastically and both need serious attention by using different approaches to deal with.

Private schools (if not govt schools) within Manipur can survive successfully; because ‘score-card and pass % of students’ (which is within the control of school management with less/no influence from other external sources) are the only benchmark used for rating schools and no other measuring aspects are currently used (e.g. extra-curricular activities, staff profile, diversity of staffs as well as students intake, health and safety on school premises, financial fees and scholarships offers, support for disability students, religious tolerance, focus on sports facilities, and promotion on traditional culture, etc). State govt also seems to focus more on school education as compared to higher education and even indicated its intention to create ‘Manipur Education Services (MES)’ similar to Manipur Civil Services (MCS) just to look after school education services. Though it may be innovative, the focus has been not yet clarified on what exactly will be role and accountability of MES officers. One MES official can be assigned per a group of schools or per zone or per district to manage the non-academic aspect of school administration; e.g. management of school infrastructures to maximize utilization factor and timely maintenance (thereby cost saving), budget management and local social impact of school to maximize benefits of govt funding and school education objectives, etc. Thus, school teachers can focus on teaching part while state education officials can focus on non-academic aspects.

State govt seems to get no clue what to do with higher education sector in Manipur. Manipur University may be responsible for academic aspects of its affiliated colleges (e.g. updating course materials, checking mandatory quantity and quality of academic staffs per college, conducting exams under the new semester system, providing certificates to graduates, etc), but, its role starts and ends with affiliation of colleges only. Also, since Manipur University is now a central university and not under state govt, it may say anytime to any govt colleges to seek for de-affiliation if unsatisfied with what/how they function. Yet, Higher Education officials seem pleased only with task of govt colleges in Manipur just getting affiliation certificate from Manipur University. State govt are supposed to work more closely than before with Manipur University to devise far-reaching higher education strategies for Manipur and transform colleges into innovation houses; thus, helping villages/towns across Manipur getting the benefits from nearby colleges apart from local youths getting college education. Because, Manipur University has already gain autonomy from state govt on what/how it likes to function, thereby state govt can’t just direct whatever it used to in the past. Thus, Higher Education officials ought to be clear on what is within their role and what is delegated to Manipur University regarding the management of govt colleges within Manipur.

We are yet to see much discussion on ‘what happens to students graduating out of colleges in Manipur (affiliated to Manipur University and other universities outside Manipur) and universities in Manipur (i.e. Manipur University, Central Agricultural University)’, and ‘how colleges/universities in Manipur ought to support students for their future careers’. National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) does take employability (i.e. students getting a job on graduation) and enterprise (i.e. student enterprises in college, new startups by students, new innovation ideas/products from college, engagement with local businesses and industry professionals/alumni) as part of their rating approach for colleges and universities in India, though in less priority and less percentage focus. Sadly, ‘Employability & Enterprise’ agenda has not yet been  seen as one of the main priority areas of Higher Education policy in Manipur, though the agenda is very essential for the survival of colleges within Manipur and can transform colleges into innovation houses for benefits of local people in Manipur.

Looking from the perspective of ‘Education as a system of input, operation, and output’, questions arise like – ‘Why do we create products (degree courses) for consumers (college students) which got less utility (applications) in the local market (industry jobs)?’; ‘how much % of course contents is about hands-on application of knowledge being taught?’, ‘how much budget % is allocated per college on career development aspect as compared to staff salaries and infrastructure maintenance?’, ‘what is the policy of local business engagement for each college around course design and skill development aspects?’, ‘what is the involvement policy of alumni to support back colleges/universities?’, ‘how is other ministries in state govt (e.g. Industries & Commerce, Science & Technology, regional development agencies in each district and panchayat zones) coordinating with higher education department and various colleges from the aspect of innovation for enterprise and employability agenda?’, ‘how about satisfaction surveys from graduates every year on each college by defining performance metrics to rate each college and accordingly provide innovation funding for relevant support?’, ‘how much responsibility and accountability is assigned to the management team in each college for welfare of students and college infrastructure as compared to education ministry itself?’, ‘how the aspect of student unions in colleges currently focused on political aspects can be reoriented towards innovations around course studies?’, ‘why no plans are made to make buildings and equipments of colleges available for students’ career and skills development activities instead of leaving under-utilized in non-working hours (of evenings, weekends, and holiday breaks), ‘why no delegated staffs assigned to provide career development and enterprise creation support in each college/university?’ and, so on.

On the ‘Employability and Enterprise’ agenda, state govt may implement a hybrid model of funding and operation for higher education institutions in Manipur e.g. a centralized depository of support services (in terms of course contents, business startup funds, on-demand enterprise support services, advisory consultants/academics, equipments, a web-based knowledge resource to be accessed by representative of each college if not by every students, etc) and a localized support services per college (e.g. one-to-few teaching staffs be delegated after relevant trainings to advise on entrepreneurship and deliver enterprise support activities, or appointment of management graduates having experience in such enterprise activities).

‘Manipur Innovation Council’ chaired by Chief Minister setup in 2011 ought to look into overall higher education scenario and enable colleges and other higher education institutions to transform themselves into innovation houses to cause effective socio-economic impact to the village/town wherein they are located. Also, upcoming ‘Manipur Innovation Roadmap 2012-2020’ whose design work is currently advertised by Planning Department in Manipur State Govt through a tender process needs to incorporate concepts of making all the higher education institutes in Manipur contribute towards innovation culture in Manipur, and integrating other innovation related govt ministries with higher education institutes to empower youth as well as local businesses in easy access to necessary business support and technical know-how.

About the Author:

Shanjoy Mairembam (BEng, MBA) is a Business Strategy Consultant based at London (UK). He supports mentoring of young entrepreneurs in ‘conceptualization of ideas into business case’, and offers role of a ‘Business Doctor’ to local NGOs/SMEs in Manipur.

For further info, visit http://www.shanmaiconsulting.com; E-mail: shanjoym (at) gmail (dot) com

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Understanding issues around Higher Education (HE) and local enterprises in Manipur today may be started by asking two most basic questions simultaneously – ‘Why does someone need to go college/university for HE studies’ and ‘What does industry sector need to grow in terms of manpower and skills’. We ought to look at HE sector and industry growth issues under the same umbrella for analysis and not in distinctively separate dimensions. The same fixed amount of input (i.e. Time, Money and Manpower) needed to tackle those two issues separately may be used collectively under an integrated strategy to simultaneously tackle the need to support growth of more local enterprises (thereby providing jobs to local people) and the need to revive higher education in colleges/universities (thereby satisfied academics, support staffs, and students).

Govt of Manipur ought to understand ‘the underlying implicit and explicit relationships between HE institutes and Industrial firms in a state/country’. The detailed analysis (though very critical) on how operation of state govt departments in HE sector (such as Education (U), Technical Education, and Adult Education) can be improved is beyond the scope of this article. Also, what’s excluded herein is how administration of colleges by respective college management can be enhanced and how liaising with Manipur University or Central Agriculture University as affiliated bodies may be made more efficient.

The approach of designing and delivering HE services in Manipur seems to ‘start and end with Education only’, without looking beyond and considering the local environment in which HE services operate. Graduates and post-graduates with traditional degrees are produced within Manipur who may be of least relevance to local needs or lack enough course experience to cause social impact locally. Moreover, it looks like as if colleges and universities in Manipur are just created to produce few finest graduates to be then exported to other Indian and foreign cities for better jobs and follow-on studies. Thus, return on investment (ROI) in terms of social and economic impact by having 70+ colleges and two universities within Manipur currently seem below expectation on ‘continued business justification’ rating and underperforming as a public service proposition.

On the other hand, state govt departments servicing to social and business organizations (such as Commerce and Industries, Cooperation, Income-Tax) are yet to show confidence on local people about their ability to bring about visible sustainability support to local companies and growth of new startups. Unhealthy law and order issues in Manipur (cited as a result of insurgency) may likely not attract big companies from outside Manipur to open up offices within Manipur and also, locally grown-up businesses may not successfully survive for continued operation after startup.

State govt has initiated some programmes recently to provide skill-based trainings in various industry sectors to youths/students in Manipur by financially sponsoring to third-party institutes within and outside Manipur state. Such initiative does help Manipuri youths/students to get employment in companies outside Manipur. Yet, there is huge vacuum to enable local companies to grow so as to absorb such trained individuals for the benefit of local economy. Thus, this current approach of state govt seems just like a one-sided policy to invest public fund meant for Manipur state on training few local Manipuris youths/students and then exporting them as quality manpower resources to feed into the need of other cities/states in India.

So, What if, for once, we look the spectrum of Higher Education from the perspective of need by industry and local market?

Universities in most global locations (esp. in UK) are now exploring extensively on various HE concepts to serve needs of industry clients proactively – such as Work-based Learning, Bespoke Training, Contracted Research and Consultancy, Modular-based course Programmes, etc. In order to outsmart the upcoming huge competition from various private training business companies on teaching similar course offers as universities do normally, UK universities are now more inclined towards the Research and Knowledge Transfer aspect for survival and income generation while maintaining a reasonable income generation through teaching degree/post-graduate courses.

In UK, Modular-based course Programmes are highly successful because courses are delivered in block modular mode. As an example: A 5-weeks modular course of a subject paper looks like 1-week face-to-face class plus a 4-weeks (away from classroom) academic experience period to reflect the learning by self. Students are either asked to write a written exam or online test or submit a project assignment by the end of the 5th week. After successful completion of the 5-week period, academic credit is awarded for the module. The student receives the degree after completion of all the mandatory course modules (including projects). In this approach, students (from nearby the university, within the UK and foreign countries) can travel to the university campus to attend the 1-week face-to-face class and then return back home to complete the next 4-weeks academic experience period. These students are still considered to have done the course study in Full-Time mode (though in modular approach).

If one explores the business model of large ‘training business’ companies: (1) these companies pick up the demand of particular skill sets needed for companies in an industry in a geographical market, (2) they hire industry professionals and academic experts to devise course contents and structure of delivery, (3) they advertise the courses for delivery in particular date/month of a year and recruits students accordingly, (4) they hire large classrooms or offices on rent for a specific period in line with the course delivery schedule, (5) they also hire trainers/lecturers on contract to deliver the planned courses. Thus, global companies in training business get the necessary income inflow from students’ fees and the profit after deducting the payment for classrooms hire and contracted staffs. This model is likely to be successful as long as these training companies are able to provide trained students who can get job in a company after studying the course with them.

For HE delivery in Manipur, we can reuse some concepts from both UK universities’ modular course delivery approach and global training business companies’ course delivery approach. Some state govt departments (e.g. as Commerce and Industries) can identify specific industry sectors that need to be groomed for growth within Manipur for social and economic impact locally. Other state govt dept (e.g. Education (U), Technical Education) can be entrusted with the responsibility to design and develop specific courses (in degree and post-graduate levels) by hiring industry professionals and academic experts to meet the likely demands of skills needed in job profiles available in that specific industry, and also include academic aspects of reasoning and creative thinking in the course design for students. This course development can be done in consultation with competent academic governing bodies (such as UGC, AICTE) and universities (in Manipur or outside the state or abroad). State govt departments (e.g. Sericulture, Agriculture, Fisheries, Science and Technology) can provide funding incentives/vouchers to local SMEs and business owners to recruit local candidates as their employees to undertake relevant jobs in their businesses, and at the same time, allow to access those funding grants only to directly reimburse some percentage of course fee/expense of their sponsored employees who are undertaking such specially created degree/post-graduate courses in their industry sector. This approach enforces business owners to be more responsible and accountable in both business growth and HE delivery. Also, students paying fees on own to study such courses are more likely to get a job on graduation in the local market. Already available buildings of local colleges in various towns in Manipur or other state govt offices or Manipur University or Central Agricultural University can be hired in advance for delivery of the degree/post-graduate courses in a modular fashion. Also, lecturers/staffs can be hired on contract for the course deliveries from industry and academic institutions in Manipur.

This suggested approach does involve (1) developing such course programmes after agreeing on a teaching and learning pedagogy (thereby, extensive consultation among industry, academia, academic standard bodies, and govt) (2) applying Project Management and Programme Management methodologies to ‘create and dissolve’ the entire design and delivery activities as multiple projects in a programme mode (thereby, saving money and administrative headache because of not having to build new costly classrooms and incur maintenance cost for infrastructures, not to continue providing salary and maintenance cost for teaching and non-teaching staffs after the duration of course delivery, etc), (3) efficiently managing resources needed for supply and demand to higher education delivery and industry growth (thereby, matching HE delivery services to current needs of industry in a ‘pull mode than push mode’).

Thus, state govt must undertake drastic changes in the current approach of HE delivery and Enterprises support in Manipur. Also, an in-depth research by hiring competent HE-Sector strategists is essential along with consultations with all stakeholders involved in HE delivery and Business Support services.

About the Author:

Shanjoy Mairembam (BEng, MBA) is a Business Strategy Consultant based at London (UK). He supports mentoring of young entrepreneurs in ‘conceptualization of ideas into business case’, and offers role of a ‘Business Doctor’ to local NGOs/SMEs in Manipur.

For further info, visit http://www.shanmaiconsulting.com

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In simple words, Information Technology (IT) can refer to ‘anything that we use in modern daily-life to communicate with each other using technology globally’. Technical experts who work in various aspects of developing and supporting the IT products/services can be broadly called as IT Professionals; while business firms who work to serve people’s need using IT products/services can be collectively named as IT companies. Yet, have we really understood ‘what IT growth may mean for us in Manipur?’

Setting up of proper infrastructure in the entire country (i.e. back-bone network connectivity such as laying fiber-optic cables, installing core routers and switches) is the duty of the government for socio-economic development (by tendering projects to private firms). Interested private companies (such as Internet Service Providers) may then bid for govt licenses to do business of providing IT network services (e.g. 2G/3G spectrum allocation). In Manipur, Department of IT and Department of Science and Technology (Govt of Manipur) are entrusted with infrastructure building responsibilities. Creation of a Software Technology Park of India (STPI) at Imphal and ongoing development of an IT park at Imphal are some activities that govt of Manipur has been taking up to provide localized IT infrastructure for having offices of IT companies. In the past, BSNL has undertaken such laying fiber optic cable activities in various parts of Manipur. Also, IT infrastructure development activities are often carried out within large corporate firms whose business may or may not be within IT domains.  Network engineers and server administrators work in such IT sectors with skills of telecom/networking (e.g. Cisco certified courses, Sun certified courses). Since Manipur and other North East Indian states are yet to have proper IT infrastructures in place, IT graduates can focus to be Network engineers and server administrators while Tech-Entrepreneurs can focus on such IT industry sectors for supply/sales of network/server devices to govt offices and startup companies in Manipur. Cabling of wires/fibers and installation of network/desktop devices for setup of new offices also require support of experience IT network engineers.

On non-infrastructure oriented IT sectors, there are many IT software/hardware companies which develop products/services meant for end-user customers at home or office. Nature of products/services in a region does depend on the available IT infrastructure and social usage habit of tech-gadgets in that locality/state. There are already many distributers/Tech-Entrepreneurs in Manipur doing business for selling IT products (such as laptops, desktops, mobile phones, tablets, printers, scanners, high-end smart phones) for general consumers (end-users). In bigger business scale, Tech-Entrepreneurs can even think of sourcing components from global manufacturers (in Taiwan, Thailand, China, Malaysia, etc) and assemble in Manipur for sales distribution across NE India and neighboring countries. This is the similar business model adopted by Dell (and Indian companies such as HCL, Wipro, etc) for their company branded PC/printers/office-accessories products. IT graduates can also aim to be technicians who can fix issues on such IT products (software/hardware). Yet, it may be hard for local IT graduates from Manipur to get recruited into product development companies located in big Indian cities (such as Nokia, Samsung, Cisco) to design such tech-gadgets, since such companies used to have the recruitment norm of having only high quality Bachelor degrees in Electronics/Communications/IT from top-reputed engineering colleges in India. Interestingly, there are very few Indian companies focusing on hardware design and manufacturing of IT products due to not wishing and inability to compete (in terms of marketing and sales) with IT products of global multinational product companies; though some Indian IT companies may have the skills and experts to develop hardware products.

The IT knowledge areas wherein startup IT companies in Manipur may focus are development of end-consumer-based applications software such as mobile apps (for iPhone, iPad and other smart phones), enterprise management software (for resource utilization and check), video games/animations (for fun) and serious games (for simulation and modeling), website/intranet/ecommerce portal, etc. It’s worth to remember that ‘Responsibility for programmers/engineers is to deliver the technical aspects of the client’s requirement, whereas the owners of a startup IT company is to deliver the overall IT solution catering to business need of the client’.

On business aspects, the key hurdle in setting up startup IT companies around consumer application-based software domains will be finding clients who will offer the IT projects. Also, most Indian companies (including big ones) procure such IT projects from western countries and other developed nations (wherein society has more usage of modern gadgets and technologies/infrastructures are in place). Also, more the organizational maturity of the IT company more is the confidence to advise clients on IT solutions that serves the business problems of clients. On technical aspects, skills required for undertaking such IT projects may be experience on some programming languages, database management, web-development scripts, graphic designing, etc. Learning materials (and demo programs) are extensively available on internet for free in various websites and books can be bought by want to-be techies to develop apps and software programs by self. Most of the software programmer/developer or IT geeks in the world are often self-created masters through self experiencing rather than out of university teachings. Though having studied courses such as Bachelor of Engineering (B.E.) or Master of Computer Application (MCA) are always useful during handling IT projects, any IT graduates and techies can still be able to master the programming skills though self hands-on learning enabling them to take up such end-consumer-based applications development.

IT companies are in fact just firms providing technology solutions (products/services) enabling efficient operations for businesses in other industry companies. So, only having engineers and project managers with technical skills within the company isn’t sufficient. Running a successful IT company requires having experienced business managers to identify which industry sector and which business issues of targeted client segments – their company is going to provide solutions through their IT products/services. Ability to source IT projects and manage effective potential client engagement is also critical to survival of an IT company (just similar to other companies in other industries). Building list of project portfolio undertaken in the past and embedding organizational maturity/processes so that potential clients can rely on are also essential for sustainability of an IT company’s existence.

In addition to software development businesses, IT-Enabled Services (ITES) such as BPO (Business Process Outsourcing), KPO (Knowledge Process Outsourcing) are feasible for setup in Manipur, if provided there is uninterrupted broadband service and power supply. Such ITES projects are often sourced from western countries and other developed nations (though those projects can be from within India as well), and their business model is based on providing low-cost and 24hrs IT enabled support to clients need/business. Such ITES businesses may provide jobs/money to local employees, but they don’t create much meaningful values on local knowledge market since their project activities doesn’t involve any software or hardware development.

Thus, Graduates and Tech-Entrepreneurs in Manipur should first evaluate which industry to serve and what skill-sets are necessary to work in IT industry. Rapid IT growth in Manipur can be achieved by focusing on supporting local application-based software development IT companies that serve businesses in other industries (including e-governance projects of Manipur govt).

About the Author:

Shanjoy Mairembam (BEng, MBA) is a Business Strategy Consultant based at London (UK). He supports mentoring of young entrepreneurs in ‘conceptualization of ideas into business case’, and offers role of a ‘Business Doctor’ to local NGOs/SMEs in Manipur.

For further info, visit http://www.shanmaiconsulting.com

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