Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Monday, Aug 22, 2005
Industry & Economy
Corporate - Management
ASCI A college that moulds administrative mandarins
Dr S.K. Rao, Director-General, ASCI.
Hyderabad , Aug. 21
OVER the last 50 years, the Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI), Hyderabad, has become synonymous with that of a centre sharpening the skill sets of practising managers and civil servants, in both the corporate and Government sectors, through diverse training programmes.
It had also gradually branched out into research and consultancy.
In terms of impact and earnings, these two areas have started showing a healthy growth in contributions.
The stimulating academic environment preserved in the majestic Bella Vista campus, bang on the middle of the burgeoning city, the strong faculty, the well-equipped reference library, has given it a unique place among institutions in the entire country.
The swimming pool, the subsidised bar and restaurant, the cosy living quarters for trainees, and its indoor games and tennis court, offer excellent options for participants to utilise their spare time.
A neat blend of strengths in infrastructure, geographical location, faculty, library and the conducive environment has enabled the ASCI to positively contribute to the policy initiatives of both the State and Central Governments over the years. However, the institute today finds itself in the midst of a highly competitive environment, especially in the in-service management training space, attracting faculty, particularly the young with research focus and increasing its income generating avenues.
In order to meet these challenges and maintain its image, the ASCI has set itself on the road to making changes. The Director-General, Dr Siripurapu Kesava Rao, said the motto of the institute in the years ahead is to take up issues that are national and make India competitive.
Consequently, the ASCI has taken up challenges that address the concern of how India should position itself in the new world economy and global polity and how to make PSUs more competitive vis-à-vis the private sector. It has, in recent times, focussed on sensitising civil servants, corporates and industry on the World Trade Organisation, Intellectual Patent Regime and global trade issues.
The ASCI is a totally autonomous institute. It has a budget of around Rs 20 crore. The institute is able to raise Rs 11 crore through consultancy and research and Rs 9 crore from training programmes.
Dr Rao said the ASCI was not really in competition with the Indian Institutes of Management or the Indian School of Business, where the focus is on students and courses, which are different from ASCI's core strengths.
In the near future, the institute plans to introduce certificate course of 6-9 months duration.
The insurance sector, municipal administration are areas that are being thought of.
The ASCI runs a two-year course now in hospital administration, Dr Rao said.
The institute is also looking at greener pastures abroad. It is in the process of developing opportunities and links with neighbouring countries. ASCI recently sent a team of dozen senior managers to Beijing and Shanghai to study marketing issues.
Malaysia, Singapore, Korea are already on the radar for similar exercises. South Africa has asked ASCI for a collaboration in the public sector. South Africa, Brazil, China, Korea are growing economies, which are interested in India. Therefore, studying management, companies in these countries would be useful for us, the ASCI chief said.
On the faculty front, Dr Rao said efforts were on to attract more young and middle level professionals. ASCI has started a scheme for Research Fellows to do Ph D programmes and simultaneously involve themselves in ongoing projects. About 7-8 positions are to be created. The institute also wants to send more faculty abroad for training.
To keep in tune with the changing work cultures, the ASCI has also devised its own method of encouraging the faculty to utilise their talents. It allows 50 days of personal consultancy. In the earning by staff also there is a formula of sharing between the institute and the faculty. "Faculty salaries could be higher, though they are more than the UGC scales," the Director-General said.
Dr Rao said some of the new areas that ASCI is trying to diversify were gender equality, agriculture and rural poverty, education and corporate governance. Over the years, the institute has built up expertise in these areas also and would like to consolidate, he said.
In the changing times, it would be more practical to bring senior policy makers and business leaders into one room to discuss issues and take up relevant programmes within the country. One such recent initiative saw the ASCI bringing together Secretaries of Health, Education and Finance, he said.
Referring to the contributions of ASCI in the areas of public services, Dr Rao said there would be more focus on governance issues and basic services to the people. "The centre has invited us to develop a code for good governance and we have given suggestions already," he said.
The ASCI has also suggested a Civil Services Board at the State level (to look at transfers of IAS). It would be a sort of buffer between politicians and IAS.
The idea emanated from the impact of frequent transfers of IAS officials, leading to dampening morale, affecting governance and delivery of services to people.
In the services delivery, both rural and urban, the ASCI is taking a bigger role. It has organised a Collector's conference recently. It has carried out an ADB funded project on basic services delivery. "The West Bengal Government has also approached us for a similar study," he said.
To meet future challenges, ASCI plans to add facilities. It has a wish list of a new auditoria, lecture halls, latest audio-visual equipment. It has chalked out a budget of Rs 5-7 crore for this. "The land is available and we will find the resources," Dr Rao said.
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