From pre-school to PhD, we have very successfully charted a linear path for our children. We have done what Henry Ford did to automobile making – introducing the production line, where every task is streamlined, every job is specialised and where conformity is the rule, that puts one on the conveyor belt of conventionality. In the process, we can like Henry Ford about his Model-T, proclaim, that one can have it in “any colour you want, as long as it is black”.
The key features of this production line academic system are the strict adherence to the syllabus, where students are cajoled to conform to the never-ending quest for that extra mark; discipline is used to stifle their natural urge to question or experiment; and to blindly follow as gospel truth, the sermons that we deliver. Capacity utilisation, in terms of student roll-out becomes the goal, profitability in terms of revenue generated by the institutions the raison d’etre, and the attaining of an efficiency level where we churn out clones faster than we can imagine, an end in itself. The Model-T is everywhere, ubiquitous in its ugly, uniform black. Oblivious of (or is it obnoxiously ignorant?) the ground realities, of the demands of the times, or even the desire to cater to the needs of the consumers.
We can pat our collective backs like Henry Ford did with his perceived success of the Model T. Or, we can take a hard look at what has brought us to this precipice. Can past successes guarantee a shelter against future redundancies? We can continue to load antiquated, anachronistic software (read dated syllabi) on state of the art hardware (read fresh student batches) or do we empower them with the latest operating systems? We can either evolve to tango with the times, or do a Dying Swan. We can either force students to chug along like steam engines on the tracks that we have laid down for them – take them from point A to point B – even as life plays out its grand drama of creation all around the tracks. They can look with amazement at the opportunities sprouting all around them, but restricted as they are to the tracks, can they seize those opportunities? Drink life and success to the lees? Add value to the economy? Contribute to the Nation building process?
There is a growing chasm between us, the academia and our consumers, the industry. We provide them with raw material that is far from being finished or “deployment ready” and must be worked upon, leading to the unpardonable wastage of scarce resources. Tied up as we are to our respective assembly lines, we are unable to incorporate their – the industry’s needs, leave alone give them bespoke solutions. The result, being the creation of a Holy Trinity of lost opportunities. The biggest loser in this entire rigmarole apart from the Industry and the Academia, is, needless to say, the student, whose natural, instinctive creativity is choked; whose talents are blunted; and what could have stood out in proud defiance, is forced to submit to the ordinary. What we are doing is simply put, sacrificing excellence on the altar of mediocrity.
Commerce Plus is our humble effort to break out from this rut, to destroy the moulds of conformity. Our formal journey may have started only two years back, but the background work leading to the journey has been continuing for some time now. The idea is simple – to open the windows and let the fresh air in. To let the young minds equip themselves for the life ahead, as opposed to cramming them with information, all signposts and no destination. To provide students with an opportunity to embrace a culture of inclusive learning: see-feel-learn-earn, where they learn by example and excel from experience.
On a more realistic level, Commerce Plus is also an effort to empower students who are not among the so-called best and the brightest. Efforts are directed towards instilling the required skill sets without confining them to the class rooms, expose them to the experts through interactive sessions and help them acquire skills, hands on, through industry visits so that their transition from the campus to the office is as seamlessly integrated as possible. The fees that are charged for this entire process has been deliberately kept extremely low, subsidised as the dream is, by the management of the institution. A sacrifice for inclusion, contribution of a responsible Corporate Citizen, in an effort to give back to society, a part of what it draws from the society, for sustenance.
On an even higher level, Commerce Plus is an extension of the thought that had led to the setting up of the BESC way back in 1966. The institution was originally conceived with a view towards providing a platform for the dissemination of knowledge, with a marked orientation towards commercial knowledge, irrespective of all socio-economic considerations. To provide supplementary doses of “formal education” to students pursuing careers in business, which explains the morning and evening classes. Even today BESC retains its overwhelmingly Commerce core and from this vantage point, Commerce Plus, is but a logical extension of an idea whose time has come.
Today, it is but significant that while BESC celebrates its 50th year of being, we are preparing to take our first faltering steps towards the fulfilment of a greater goal, towards the achievement of something that was the integral part of the original charter that our founding fathers had set before themselves, towards a mode of imparting education that is not restricted by or within, itself.
The Commerce Plus, which had begun as an experiment within the hallowed portals of BESC is now in its infancy. And, in keeping with the dream of our founding fathers of making a thousand flowers bloom, we want to open it up for our peers in the domain to review, help us refine it further and if deemed fit, to embrace it for the benefit of our children, the knowledge warriors of tomorrow. The seeds of Commerce plus were planted by BESC, was sustained by a vison, watered by a search for excellence and the tender sprouts guarded with funds from internal resources. Now that it is ready to bear fruits, it is our pleasure and our duty to invite the world to come and share the fruits of our honest efforts – what we have nurtured with our tender loving care.
Th Model T, which had once dared to test the stratosphere and was virtually peerless in its success, was soon consigned to ignominy when it refused to change with the times, refused to pay heed to the needs of those it was supposed to serve. If we do not rise to meet the dynamics of our times, if we fail to future proof ourselves, if we restrict ourselves to the assembly lines of this anachronistic system of rote, then a future that will be worse than the one that befell the Model T, or for that matter the T-Rex, awaits us.
BESC has been synonymous with Commerce for the last five decades. Come join us as we celebrate it, in all its myriad hues and abilities that aid the creation of wealth for the Nations. Join us in our Mission to unshackle the minds of our children. Join us in our Mission to Celebrate Commerce. Join us as we embrace the power of the plus.