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Business Briefing 5/12

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The B-school Exam Bungle; ABCD Lessons for Infosys

The B-school Exam Goof-up; ABCD Lessons for Infosys

The B-school Exam Bungle

Common Admission Test (CAT), the gateway to management education in India, is  fast turning into a farce. The idea to roll out an online examination, replacing archaic and cumbersome pencil-and-paper format, was a noble one but the fragility of the new internet-based model has cost students dear. It is estimated that nearly 20 per cent or more than 8,000 students at the latest count, will have to reappear for what is considered one of the toughest exams in the world. In 2008 some 250,000 candidates took the test. Convenor of Cat, Satish Deodhar claims that such things do happen in a “transitional” phase, but for a country known for its IT prowess and managements institutions such as the IIMs that crave to be counted amongst the best in the world, virus attacks and collapsing networks are bad advertisements. The fact that Prometric, the international educational testing service provider and NIIT, the homegrown IT education firm—which were awarded this Rs 200 crore project—failed to conduct rigorous pre-exam, proof-of-concept test runs is even more worrisome. If this had happened in the US, rather than in India, would Prometric and NIIT have escaped debilitating class action suits? Indians will have to adjust and move on.

ABCD Lessons for Infy

After the sexual harassment case involving Phaneesh Murthy, IT giant Infosys has a new bee in its bonnet.  Promila Awasthi, an India-born US citizen and an employee at the company’s Silicon Valley office has filed a lawsuit for ‘cultural insensitivity’.  She has accused Infosys management of often making derogatory remarks such as Americans not having family values, and using pejorative adjectives such as ABCD, or American-Born Confused Desi. Awasthi further alleges that Infosys management ridiculed her for celebrating the American holiday of Thanksgiving, saying that she should not celebrate it because she is Indian. The claims sound ludicrous especially because Infosys has had long experience in dealing with overseas clients, not just in the US, and being culturally sensitive is one of the first things taught to recruits. But if true, it could become a bigger PR disaster than the Phaneesh Murthy case, given the surge of anti-outsourcing sentiment in the US.