At a serene campus in the Mumbai suburb of Powai, students are busy presenting discussion papers.
The subjects appear to be taken straight out of the curriculum of the business school run by their more famous neighbour, the Indian Institute of Technology. Topics range from the key to success to theories of self-management, transformation and the pursuit of excellence.
But this is no ordinary B-school. For starters, the ‘professor’ is a saffron-clad swami. And the ‘text books’ are the world’s oldest written repository of knowledge—the Vedas.
Welcome to the Chinmaya Mission’s ‘Yuva Vir’ (literally, young brave-heart) programme. The two-year, post-graduate programme does teach students management—both of businesses, and their lives.
Swami Mitrananda, who conceptualised and designed the course, says the school offers a “mix of opportunities to grow spiritually and professionally.”
The ‘mix’ is a three-level programme, comprising four months of learning, 20 months of ‘serving the nation’ and professional internship. And the promise of “life-long growth while pursuing professions.”
The ‘value-based leadership training programme’ includes exposure to select portions of the Bhagwad Gita, elementary Sanskrit and philosophy. This is combined with workshops on attitude management, time management, stress management communication skills and the like.
Community service comes next, largely in schools and colleges, followed by internships in corporate houses or NGOs.
The Mission, founded by followers of Vedanta guru Swami Chinmayananda in 1953, does not advertise the programme or even aggressively pitch for placements. But it is attracting students from around the world. And top corporates, ranging from the Aditya Birla group to HSBC, are hiring their graduates. “All 51 students from our first batch were either successfully placed, or have started their own businesses,” says Swami Mitrananda.
Says Vivek Gupta, a Canadian citizen who dropped out of a conventional B-school to join the course,” I had everything. Health, wealth, a career. But now, my learnings are higher.” His classmate Jyoti, who already holds an MBA in finance and was a civil servant in Chennai, agrees. Adds Vimal Singh, a Durban pharmacist: “This is the best thing that could happen to me.”
Why do corporates come hiring here? Swami Mitrananda says his students are more “meditative” and thus more efficient. “Moreover, their integrity and character is beyond doubt.”
Getting in either easy or tough, depending on your viewpoint. The minimum qualification is a bachelor’s degree. But candidates are picked based on an interview and a rigorous background check.
And the Mission holds a killer advantage over all other B-schools: the course is completely free.