March 24, 2006

The uptown girl , The downtown train.

I have been hearing something called as ' Opportunity Cost', quite frequently these days. My flat mate recounted the incident of an interview session at IIMB wherein a girl candidate was thoroughly convinced by her interview panel that she's better off not joining any IIM becuase her cost of opportunity if she enters into an IIM will be far more than what she would otherwise be able to generate if at all shes does not enter into the same. Obviously that was a simple number game played by the interviewers as part of their usual soft beating they do around with candidates . But yes, there's an element of truth, and a hard-headed fact somewhere in that game - That is, MBA is the way to 'fancy money'.

So if the question is 'Why MBA?' , the most common and grounded answer one hears is - ' For Money' and only few would give you an answer such as ' I want to learn', ' Marketing,Finance, Banking are my passions' or ' I need a value addition in my profile'. No wonder with a surge in foreign placements from top B-Schools, and an ever increasing thickness of pay packages, who the hell after all will be concerned with learning and value-addition.

And that's where I think is a thick line of difference between those entering IIT's and those entering IIM's or take it even one level higher - between aspirants of engineering and aspirants of management. For the former, money is not a direct motivation for gettting into their dream institution but for the latter perhaps that's the only one. Money or job is not an issue in the minds of students entering the IITs or mayb other engg institutions also, because aspirations are different. People there enter with a different philosophy, with a different craze and with an insanity of doing and learning the only thing for which they have toiled so hard to get into. But I am seriously skeptical if the same holds with those entering B-Schools.And because money comes easy( now that's something contentious here ) after an MBA, is why every other graduate in this country is bidding on doing MBA.

The other time 'Opportunity Cost' made its appearance, suddenly erupting in the middle of my discussion with someone, I knew that this word is going rounds these days, adding more hep to everyone's post-modernist jargon and that too completely cost free. The issue in discussion was the exorbitantly high fees of ISB, that is providing at least an inhibition towards my inclination to apply in there. And pat came out this word as he tried to explain me that one should think like a businessman even when one is not and see that return of investment one year down the line in terms of saving my whole one year ( the MBA curriculum at ISB is of one year. ) and the package I would earn in that saved on year will eventually pay me back the cost of that opportunity, obviously ignoring the facts of any kind of value addition, or learning or even my interest in doing that at personal level.

Far away from all these real-world implication of the word 'opporunity cost', its business value, economic aspects and what not, I kept wondering is that all left in this world to calculate, to even before grabbing an opportunity see the costs involved and leave it if its exceptionally high but hold it if its not much and meanwhile the TV kept playing an unknown video song on a channel, in which a guy jumps off, of a moving downtown train, beholded by the amazing beauty of a downtown girl walking in the opposite direction of train he saw across its windowpane. I rejoiced at the thought that at least somethings still need not be weighed on the balance of 'oppotunity cost'.


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