Death Pangs for the MCA

29 09 2010

It is perhaps, the first time that an MCA has risen to the top job in a leading software company. The MD and CEO of Tata Consultancy Services, N.Chandrasekharan is an MCA from REC Trichy (now, NIT Trichy).  Just when it appeared that the MCA course was getting its due recognition, it appears that there are question marks for its survival.

As per a recent Careers360 article on MCA, “there are 75,021 seats in 1089 institutions. Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu account for nearly 60 percent of total number of MCA seats in the country.”

The MCA admissions for the year 2010 are nearing completion.  The news from Andhra Pradesh which has the largest number of MCA seats in the country is depressing. Deccan Chronicle  reports that:

As many as 367 of the 660 MCA colleges have applied for “closure” due to poor response from students in the current academic year 2010-11. While a total of 34,451 seats were on offer in the convener quota during ICET counseling, only 13,104 have been filled. This is of course apart from seats in the management quota.

The vacancy data from Tamil Nadu is not readily available, but preliminary information gathered indicates, that the picture is not very different either. There are nearly 240 colleges offering MCA courses in TN. The total number of seats for MCA would be in the region of 15,000. As per the counseling schedule put up by a web-site, only 8543 candidates have been called for counseling. Even a candidate scoring 3.00 marks out of 100 is being called for counseling. Assuming that a small percentage of candidates called for counseling, does not show up for counseling, a vacancy of 50 % of seats in Tamil Nadu MCA colleges can be expected.

Why this situation has arisen? It could be a mix of several factors.

Firstly, Information technology and Computer Science as a career is losing its sheen, thanks to the recession of 2008-09. This is showing up even in choice of disciplines in IIT. For the first time, Electrical Engineering has closed earlier than Computer Science at IIT-Bombay, reports TOI.

Secondly, inspite of MCA being a specialised post-graduate course, focussing on computer applications, it is treated at par with B.Tech in Electronics/Computer Science /IT by most IT services companies for the purposes of recruitment. Given the huge number of seats created in the engineering disciplines, MCAs compete directly for placement with B.Tech graduates.

Thirdly, MCA programme competes with the MBA programme. In AP, the entrance test is common. Many colleges offer both MCA and MBA programmes. Many students prefer MBA over MCA because it is one-year less and more importantly the placement of MBA is not dependent on the fortunes of one industry, namely the IT industry.

Fourthly, MCA is competing with its own under-graduate version the Bachelor of Computer Applications (BCA) course. Now many universities are offering the BCA course.  Good software programmers can get recruited right after their BCA, without waiting three years for an MCA.

Fifthly, for many science graduates, IT companies are offering jobs just after graduation. TCS, Cognizant and Infosys hire science graduates. Wipro has gone a step further. It not only offers a job but an opportunity to get an MS in Software Engineering from BITS Pilani through their WASE programme.

Lastly, the ballooning of seats in MCA was a highly opportunistic response from the private educational institutions, not unlike the NIIT/ APTECH. When NASSCOM and the IT industry kept lamenting about the manpower shortage facing the IT industry, many responded by adding an MCA programme. Both engineering colleges as well as MBA colleges started offering MCA courses. They added seats with little thought about faculty or course or infrastructure. Until 2008, when the IT industry was hiring in thousands, this problem was not visible.

The IT companies continue to hire MCAs but only from the top institutes. It is clear from the industry response that even the top institutes in India, whether MCA or engineering do not prepare the students well for a career in the IT industry. TCS is building a huge training campus in Kerala.

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has announced that the company is setting up a new learning and development campus in Thiruvananthanpuram (Trivandrum), Kerala. The new campus will house up to 10,000 professionals when fully completed and will offer TCS’ learning curriculum to those who join the company from colleges.

Whereas, there is surplus capacity in private engineering colleges and MCA colleges, the IT industry is creating its own campuses. This is because of the huge gap in quality.

The shakeout was imminent and augurs well for the sector. This will bring a lot of pressure on the colleges which have managed to fill-in their seats to improve quality. Or else, it could be well their turn to close down in future.

As for the MCA aspirants, it should be understood that the MCA course is a specialized course. It prepares the students for a career in building and maintaining software applications. It should be taken up only by those who enjoy software programming and should be only at the good institutes.

– G. Mohan

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What Powers a Name?

14 09 2010

The other day, I was driving through one of the arterial roads of Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad and I saw a new office complex. My eyes fell on the board being erected. I could see the logo KVK written stylishly. My instinct told me, it would be another power company. I confirmed later it indeed was a power company – KVK Energy and Infrastructure.

Yesterday, I was having a chat over phone with a friend. He mentioned a hot stock , BGR Energy, a Chennai based power equipment supplier.

Unconnected events and unconnected information. Yet, I had my own a-ha moment , this morning.

Recall  the power companies that you  know. The pattern of their names pattern will soon become evident to you –   three letters, followed by  word -‘Power’ or ‘Energy’ . Besides KVK and BGR mentioned above,  the other biggies that follow this pattern are – GMR, GVK, KSK and JSW.

It is true that there are many power companies which do no fall into this pattern like Reliance Power, Tata Power, Torrent Power, Adani Power, CESC etc. Also, there are many three- lettered names belonging to companies which have nothing to do with the power sector viz. SKS, ITC, GSK, HCL, DCM, HMT etc.

There are fads in naming companies much like names of kids or Hindi cinema titles. My daughter has two classmates named Ankita and three named Aditya. In Hindi cinema, long English titles are currently in vogue. I Hate Luv Storys, Once Upon a Time in Mumbai, We are Family etc. 

In the case of power companies,  the trend might have started with the success of the first Independent Power Producers (IPPs) from the south GMR and GVK. Since these were successes others followed. I think this naming trend comes out of  part fashion, part superstition and plain creative lethargy.

To make naming simpler for the new power companies , I can’t help offering my two-bits.

Choose  three letters from your name. Easiest is to choose the initials of your name. (GMR, GVK, BGR, KVK are all initials of the promoter like Grandhi Mallikarjun Rao, GV Krishna Reddy, BG Raghupathy etc).

 If  it is not your money alone, you have partners then you could choose the initials of the partners ( KSK gets its name from the partners).

If you are a doting parent you could choose first letters of your kids’  names.

If you are a God-fearing businessman who attributes all your wealth to Gods, choose three of your favourite Gods’ initials.

Please take care that the initials so chosen do not clash with an existing company. Also avoid some popular  three letter initials. SRK is best avoided. In every language and every city, fans of SRK, both in and out of media , have made it sure that SRK stands for Shah Rukh Khan. Others to be avoided are NTR, YSR, MGR etc. These represent larger-than- life heroes/ leaders, who have a fan following even to this day. If you want to avoid some stone throwing on your steel and glass building, just before an IPO, these letters are best avoided.

If all these does not help here are some 3 letter initials which are up for grabs. IWM, GPR, IDK, MMM, LLL.

If you are wondering what these letters stand for, here are their expanded forms:

IWM – I Want  ( your) Money – shows focus of the company,

GPR – Great Power Rip-off – tell it the way it is, not using prefixes like Reliance and do a GPR.

IDK – I Don’t Know ( anything about the power business)

MMM – Minister, Money and Mafia

or

LLL – Land, Licence and Luck  ( your core competencies to be in the power business ).

Until a three-lettered power company has a failed IPO or worse goes bankrupt, this trend may continue.

– G. Mohan





Narcissism Unlimited: Promoters as Brand Ambassadors

11 09 2010

What connects the following? Kingfisher Airlines, MDH Masala, Khaitan Fans, Country Club, Dr Sarkar’s, RRB Energy, Mantri Developers.  Their businesses are all very diverse. What could possibly be common between a spice marketer and a real estate company or between an airline and a fan manufacturer? Yet they share something. These companies have their CEOs or owners appearing in their advertisements and company communications rather prominently.

If you board a Kingfisher flight, you will be invited by Vijay Mallya, the promoter, to be a guest and a promise to be treated like a guest in his own house. The inflight magazine Hi Blitz is full of pictures of Mallya attending various parties with celebrities from cinema, politics, sports etc. After one flight, you will know who the owner of the airline is.

TV commercials of masalas are not expected to be either entertaining or informative. Yet, I am always amused at MDH TVCs. One cannot miss the old man, the owner of MDH, in the ads. He can be seen  blessing the guests in a wedding, sitting in a reclining chair having a cup of coffee or even atop an elephant like a maharajah with the voiceover announcing ‘Masalon ke Shahenshah’.

Country Club, a mid-size vacations company, from Hyderabad is a big advertiser. Perhaps, not so much for their products, but as a vehicle for its owner Rajeev Reddy. If you cannot recognize Rajeev Reddy watch a Country Club ad on TV, press or even a hoarding. If you spot a rotund, neck-less wonder (not unlike a typical Telugu matinee idol) sporting an oversized goggles and a printed Hawaiian shirt in a thumbs-up   posture, you’re looking at Rajeev Reddy.

Years ago, Khaitan fans had a slogan “Khaitan- bas naam his kaafi hai”. Even if one thought that this was an attempt at trying to emulate a Ford or Honda or closer home a Tata or Godrej, by putting family name as a brand, the ego trip was when the Chairman gave a personal guarantee for each fan sold by   the company. Each and every warranty certificate was signed by the Chairman personally.

Recently, a real-estate developer Mantri Developers has gone a step further. The Chairman Sushil Mantri has made his signature as the logo for his company. A press release says:

The Mantri Developers’ new logo is inspired by the signature of Mr. Sushil Mantri Founder and & Managing Director, Mantri Developers. Elegantly crafted with fluid lines, the new logo is a seal of the trust that the customers and partners have reposed in the brand. The strong color of the logo connotes the spirit of enterprise, excellence and energy. In the most compelling way possible, the logo guarantees that Mantri will always stand by and honor their commitment and promises.

When a CEO or an owner appears so prominently in the promotions and communications one cannot but feel amused. Their desire for self-promotion is so high, sometimes even at the cost of the businesses and brands they promote. It does not help that these CEOs  must be surrounded by sycophants posing as advisors and consultants, who would be encouraging these megalomaniacs to appear in the ads and having a good laugh on the side.

– G. Mohan





Quiz Miscellany 6

6 09 2010

Q1: Peter Bentley of London has developed an app for iPhone which is a rage among doctors. What does the application do?

Ans: It makes the phone a stethoscope

Q2: Which two PSUs have come together to start a power equipment manufacturing facility in Mannavaram , Chittoor AP?

Ans: NTPC and BHEL

Q3 : ‘____ are the Unilever of the entertainment industry. They make the rules and others have to follow’ says an industry insider. Fill the blank.

Ans:T-series.

Q4: In Hindi this word means a shoddy temporary fix. Now it is being touted by gurus as the Indian way of innovation. Identify this word.

Ans: Jugaad

 Q5: Name this co founder of Microsoft who has sued companies like Google, Amazon, Apple etc. for patent violation?

Ans: Paul Allen

Q6: Who is the long standing engine supplier of Boeing, delays from his side is delaying the 787 project?

Ans: Rolls Royce

Q7: In which TV ad you will see a clone of Yuvraj Singh huff and puff on a treadmill, taking a dig at REVITAL?

Ans: Supractiv

Q8: Starting today what is the new name of State Bank of Indore?

Ans: State Bank of  India

Q9 : In trucks you will often find “OK TATA’ painted , a free ad for TATA trucks. A new brand of truck has been launched that says ‘OK is no longer OK’. Name it.

Ans: Mahindra Navistar

Q10: ‘Exhaled Air’ of which celebrity couple was sold on ebay for $523 ?

Ans: Brangelina

Q11: Name this hottest social gaming co founded by Mark Pincus. The co is named after his dog. Clue- Farmville

Ans: Zynga

Q12: With which brand of sportswear has the world record holder sprinter Usain Bolt signed up making him the richest athlete ever?

Ans: Puma

– G. Mohan








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