IISWBM IAS Study Centre - A review
NOTE: I am not
certain, but I strongly suspect that [as of August 2007] IISWBM IAS
Coaching Centre in Kolkata has been wrapped up.
A little known fact about IISWBM is that it is India's first
Management Training (MBA) institute, founded in the year 1953. I was
rather fortunate to be a member of the institute during its Golden
Jubilee celebrations, and I fondly remember the big birthday bash of
IISWBM held at the Science City on the 25th of April 2003. Situated
behind the famous Calcutta University and Presidency College in the
prestigious College Street area, it is a stone's throw from Hindu
Hostel which prominently proclaims in its main-gate that Rajendra
Prasad, the first President of independent India, had spent a part of
his student life there.
I first saw and met IISWBM in early August 2002, during a rain
washed afternoon of the monsoons, which had lavishly filled two
shallow rooftop pools. As I spent some time at that charming spot,
milling with a handsome crowd, I fell in love with the institute and
promised myself that I shall come here for IAS training. Thereafter we
met the Director1, after some waiting, and who gave us a lot of time.
We were impressed with the infrastructure, and after talking with the
director, we were impressed with the 'human capital'. A few more
months, and I found myself a member of this old institution.
what are the good points of this institution:
Being a management institute, it will enamour you with its looks, and
when you compare it with other academic environs, it will surely strike
you. The floors are clean, the walls are white washed, the chairs are not
broken, the toilets are squeaky, and there is no shortage of water.
On paper, you can opt for any subject as an optional. So, unlike most
institutes which only gives a few subjects, it offers a larger basket of
And the most important factor is that it has a large section in the
library for civil services- the collection of books is really large.
If you are already starry eyed, let me help you come back to earth. The
institute, being a management institute, is really well maintained- it is
really clean - no complaints. Let's take the case of choice of subjects.
All reputed institutes offer only a few subjects because they have
expertise in only those subjects- a blind foray into unexplored options
might bring down their brand equity, about which they should be very
jealous. Through the years they have gained priceless experience in those
subjects, and hence they feel confident about advertising about those
subjects. If an upstart institute advertises mindless choice of optionals as
its USP, it better maintain its claim. Now, let us see how this institute
manages its faculty. Every year it acquires a new faculty from various
colleges and universities. Also, a few of the faculty are former civil
servants. Some of the faculty are from reputed colleges- for example, last
year they had someone from Presidency College, and the year before that they
had someone from Jadavpur University. But the IAS syllabus is not the
university syllabus, nor they exams conducted the same way. They call for
different sort of practice, answering, merit. Someone from a university,
without any initiation into the competitive exam regime (and mind you, this
is the most difficult competitive exam), no matter how renowned he might be
in the university fora, might not be a good choice. But someone, even with a
modest degree, can be a genuinely good teacher if he has thought about the
syllabus, studied it properly, collected material and teaches properly,
inspiring the students to succeed. Motivation management should come
instinctively, interaction should be maximum, and the teacher should lead
the students to practice more and more- the only road to civil service
success. About IISWBM, I can only say- alas! And as they keep changing the
faculty from year to year, the teaching gets no experience. According to a
newspaper article, the institute, which has been running for the last decade
or so, has churned out a measly number of about half a dozen successful
candidates. Last year there was only one who succeeded at the Prelims level.
Yes, the library has a good section on civil services. Unfortunately, a
large amount of shelf space is occupied with outdated books, which are
totally useless. There are a lot of really good books, most of them
costly, but totally superfluous so far as the syllabi is concerned. A very
large number of books have never been issued! A very large number of books
which could be of use are rendered useless by being disallowed for issue- so
they rot in the library shelves, unread, unappreciated. And while books are
bought, they do not reach the library shelves. For example, the department
bought the 2003 GS Prelims Manual back in January; it reached the shelf in
October, months after the Prelims was over, and just days before the batch
was to retire. From the books that the department keeps buying, it is
obvious that there is no lack of finances. Only if they could use the money
to buy proper books, and get them to the students who could benefit from
them! (You can issue two books for a period of two weeks from the library).
Tests are held seldom. Only one full fledged GS test was organised before
the Prelims. No full fledged optional test was held! The status with the
Mains preparations is even more pitiable.
Thus, unless the institute arranges for worthy permanent faculty,
arranges for good material and makes them available to the students, and
regularly tests them on the skills acquired, the institute is moribund. I
cannot recommend this institute to anyone, unfortunately.
A few facts: There are two batches in a year, one in the month of
December, on in the month of June-July. The course fee last year was
Rs.8000, plus Rs.2000 refundable library deposit. For reserved candidates,
the course fee is half of that (in fact, last year the full course fee was
returned to the reserved candidates).
4th and 5th of December, 2003.
2007, right after my Bharat Darshan [I had become an IAS by
this time] I was in the locality and thought I would pay a
visit to the centre. I enquired about the Director and I was
told that while the centre has been wrapped up, the Director
of the centre still takes management classes. I tried to
seek him out and was fortunate to find him right in front of
me. I called out after him and accosted the gentleman. It
was one of the coldest receptions I received. I told him
that I had finally made it. He said that he knows, that he
had read my name in some list in some newspaper, or
something. He showed a terrible hurry for a class he said he
needed to take. Probably I was one among the two or three
successful candidates that this centre could pretend to have
'produced', and this was the reception I receive in that
place. I was thankful that the centre had wrapped up. This
centre and its organizers need no more torture the hopes and
aspirations of gullible students...
[Updated: August 2007]