29 Apr 2019 18:27 IST

Many challenges remain in rural areas, says Nabard chief

At IFMR GSB convocation, Harsh Bhanwala outlines several opportunity areas for graduates to work in

“Unlearn what you have learnt and start relearning,” said Dr Harsh Kumar Bhanwala, Chairman, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard), while addressing students at the annual convocation of the Institute for Financial Management and Research Graduate School of Business (IFMR GSB), Krea University. The convocation was held at its Sri City campus on April 27.

In the inaugural address, Dr Sunder Ramaswamy, Vice-Chancellor, Krea University, said, “As you embark on a new journey, just keep in mind one acronym WIT: will, imagination and thought, and always pursue life with a meaning.”

Taking rural India forward

Dr Bhanwala, the chief guest, said, “Real India lives in rural India. Some highlights of today’s rural sector will certainly help you calibrate your own ways of how to live, how to do business, and how to take rural India forward.”

On rural India’s contribution to GDP, Dr Bhanwala, pointed out that nearly 52 per cent of overall manufacturing GDP comes from the hinterland, and most leading fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies say that 45-50 per cent of their sales comes from there.

For the first time, horticulture produce is 270 million tonnes, which is higher than the cereal production, Dr Bhanwala said, adding that this is significant. Management graduates need to think about this compositional shift. There are huge opportunities for processing in this sector, related to logistics, and infrastructure requirements, such as warehouses. Increased product life, diversified product requirements, food security and malnourishment are challenges that B-school students can address, he suggested.

“In terms of financial architecture, micro-infrastructure, suitable and affordable financial and leasing solutions for small and marginal farmers are some areas you can work for. And there is a lot of scope for start-ups too. For instance, in the hilly areas, most of the work in the farm sector is done by women, and involves much routine drudgery, so we require automation,” Dr Bhanwala said.

“What is important to me, from the point of view of a development bank, is that we need to talk about sustainability of natural resources as well. When we start consuming everything available to us, we are creating a consumerist society. Consumption patterns in rural areas are slowly catching up with the urban area. Niche products designed for rural areas are the need of the hour,” Dr Bhanwala said.

‘Go beyond accreditation’

On the importance of international accreditations, Dr V Anantha Nageswaran, Dean, IFMR-GSB, told BusinessLine, “It is a symbol of quality. It gives external stakeholders a good benchmark to evaluate the college. But, in order to excel, B-schools need to go beyond accreditations so that students are prepared to face the 21st century world.”


“Rankings should be viewed as incidental or consequential outcomes arising from things that we do. We need to focus on the admission process, faculty, depth and breadth of the courses. When we do all these things well, rankings automatically improve,” he added.

Award winners

Kabayayan Roy received the CM Kothari medal for meritorious performance. Prabhjot Kaur was awarded the A Sivasailam medal, and Subbisetti Sadhana the AMM Arunachalam medal for their academic performance.

A total of 239 students graduated this year and were also placed with an average CTC of ₹8.70 lakh. Rural Electrification Corporation Ltd (RECL), a navratna PSU, offered the highest CTC of ₹18.8 lakh to two students. Five Ph.D students also submitted their thesis to the University of Madras.

IFMR publishes a peer-reviewed academic journal — The Journal of Emerging Market Finance, which covers the theory and practice of economics and finance in emerging markets. “This journal is one of only three Indian journals ranked in the Australian Business Deans Council’s quality journal list,” Dr Nageswaran said.