Lord Meghnad Desai, chairman, Meghnad Desai Academy of Economics (MDAE), Mumbai, professor emeritus London School of Economics, Life Peer, British House of Lords, talks to HT Education about the need to relearn economics in India.
What prompted the move to open MDAE?
The growing divide between academia and industry was the primary catalyst behind the establishment of the academy. Industry experts and academics, who are part of our academic and advisory board, identified shortcomings in the employability in present day graduates and formed this academy to develop real world economists and finance professionals.
How will students be selected?
The academy is seeking its first batch of 30 high calibre students who will be selected after writing two essays. There will be an entrance test and a personal interview. (To apply, visit )
How do you intend to oversee the affairs of the academy?
I am the chair of the academic board. I am actively involved in the design of the course curriculum and will also mentor the research efforts and teaching of the academy.
Faculty and institutes associated with the academy?
The faculty members of the academy comprise of a mix of both academics and industry practitioners, trained from reputed institutes such as MIT, Cambridge, Warwick and the IMF. We could partner with them as the objective of both the faculty and the institution is synonymous in terms of creating a conducive platform for budding real world economists.
The postgraduate programme in economics and finance is just a 11-month course. Why?
The programme is modelled on a similar structure as that of the masters programme at the LSE and other leading masters universities in the UK, all of which have one-year programmes. It is intensive and avoids long breaks between semesters and is meant for graduates from any discipline who have strong quantitative skills and would like to learn economics and finance to solve real world problems.
The programme does not have AICTE/UGC affiliations – what opportunities for placements will students have then?
The Academy has deliberately not been affiliated to the any university in order to maintain autonomy over curriculum design and delivery.
We believe MDAE has brought together some of the most renowned economists from across the globe. Illustrious members of the corporate sector will also be involved in curriculum design, live projects, guest lectures, internships, and placements.
Why does India need an academy like MDAE?
Economics education in India has not kept pace with developments in the workplace. There is a dearth of post-graduate programmes which marry strong theoretical foundations with applied skills necessary for a rapidly globalising economy. In particular, the Global Financial Crisis and the rise of Big Data have generated a need for a more practical education where students of economics and finance develop a new toolkit to analyse and address real-world problems.