RELATIONS INSTITUTE (XLRI)
At XLRI, the students are taught that it is possible to serve
the nation, the employer and the environment without compromising
It's well past midnight, but the tempo
shows no sign of flagging. About 250-odd youngsters are jiving the
night away to the beat of foot stamping music in the largish hall.
Others are hanging around the makeshift bar and in small clusters
along the edge of the dance floor. Males outnumber females by at
least three to one, but no one seems to care.
Welcome to the Wet Night at Xavier Labour Relations Institute
(XLRI), Jamshedpur, the once-a-fortnight social at the institute's
Enright Hall when students chill out, would-be managers put on their
dancing shoes and the party animal in everyone comes out in the
open. The organisation committee is called, rather curiously, the
Old Monks' Association, possibly after a popular brand of rum. No
one is quite sure of the name's origin and no one is particularly
bothered about this gap in the collective knowledge base of XLers-as
students are called-so long as the drinks keep flowing and the good
times carry on till 6 am in the morning.
But if you thought life at XLRI was one long party, then perish
the thought. It's not. "We work seven days a week, often up
to 18-20 hours a day," says Sujan Gowda, a second-year student
of business management at the institute, "and this (the Wet
Night) is one of our few sources of recreation."
This seemingly indefatigable energy of his students never ceases
to amaze Father N. Casimir Raj, the director of XLRI. An early riser
and a compulsive morning walker, Raj often sees lights burning at
various windows of the three students' hostels on the campus when
he's out on his constitutional. "Initially I thought they were
early risers, but soon learnt that they'd been working through the
night," he says.
| Xtra Initiatives
XLRI, like most other institutes, encourages students to take
up extra-curricular activities. Following are some of the initiatives
in which XLers are involved.
| Sigma: This club
interacts with the social sector and does consultancy work for
NGOs. It recently did a project on school dropouts for Don Bosco
Self Employment Research Institute (DB Seri). Students conducted
a survey in Liluah, near Kolkata, to identify feasible trades
that these dropouts could gainfully engage in.
Socio-Economic & Education Development
Society (SEEDS): This group works with women's self-help
groups in Jharkhand. It is currently evaluating the cooperative
structure in the state and helping NGOs to formulate marketing
strategies that will help them market their products more
effectively. Besides helping underprivileged women and making
a difference to their lives, seeds members gain first-hand
knowledge and experience in rural marketing, which is considered
the Holy Grail of the Great Indian Retail Dream.
Marketing Association of XLRI (MAXI):
This students' club carries out market-related activities
at the institute. Typically, start-up entrepreneurs, with
sound technical knowledge, approach the club to help them
formulate a B-plan.
So when do they catch up on sleep? "When we get the time,"
explains Gaurav Kathotia, another second year business management
student and a member of the XLRI External Linkages Committee. "It
could be between classes, at lunchtime, in the evening when everyone's
playing basketball or, in extreme cases, not at all."
The course is tough enough: seven subjects, with three hours of
classes per week per subject. If that sounds simple, sample this:
"Each contact hour (hour spent in class) will require two hours
of private work," says Raj. That alone adds up to 63 hours
of study a week. Add to this the project work, community service
and student body duties that every student has to compulsorily undertake
and you are looking at something like an 80-90 hour work week for
So what's the big deal? This is pretty much the routine at all
good B-schools. What is it that makes XLRI different? Bijou Kurien,
coo of Titan Industries and a member of XLRI's Class of 81, is very
clear about this. "One of the attractions of XLRI was the size
of the batch, which in those days was 40 per class in each year.
The opportunity to learn, question and discover would be much greater
with the smaller numbers."
Ravi Mehrotra, CEO of Franklin Templeton Investments and an alumnus
from the Class of 85, concurs. "One of XLRI's clear advantages
as a business school is its relatively small batch size. In the
batch of 1983-85, for example, there were less that 30 students;
this fostered close interaction, discussion and debate both in and
out of the classroom. Most importantly, small batch sizes led to
a more personalised environment," he says.
Kurien points to another crucial difference: "The institute
was set up and run by Jesuit fathers and my perception was that
such an institute would adhere to a high value system."
|Besides these three, there are several other
committees and clubs that allow students to foster and harness
their creative and social skills.
"We lay great stress on accountability, transparency and democracy,"
says Raj. "We teach students that it is possible to serve the
nation, the employer and the environment without compromising on
This emphasis on value education is simultaneously a top-down
and bottom-up process. Faculty and seniors impart the spirit to
freshers and address their concerns. Father V.C. George conducts
a full-fledged course in ethics, concentrating on ethical dilemmas
that companies and managers face. "We analyse and dissect real-life
situations and case studies. The subject is all the more interesting
because there are no clear, straight answers to several of these
dilemmas," says Harshvardhan Singh, secretary of the XLRI Placement
Committee. "Besides, we even have a Bodhi tree, so called because
of its unofficial status as a hangout joint where dispersal and
dissemination of knowledge from seniors to juniors and from peer
to peer takes place," adds Gowda. Incidentally, the XLRI music
band is also called the Bodhi Tree.
The entire faculty, who live within the 40-acre campus, is also
available 24x7 to guide students. "If someone needs to consult
a teacher at midnight, he or she can do it without fear," informs
| XL-ENCE IN FACTS AND FIGURES
| NAME: Xavier
Labour Relations Institute (XLRI)
ESTABLISHED: 1949 (by the
Society of Jesus)
LOCATION: Jamshedpur, Jharkhand
COURSES OFFERED: Post-Graduate
Diploma in Business Management (two batches of 60 students
each); Post-Graduate Diploma in Personnel Management &
Industrial Relations (one batch of 60 students); and several
part-time and/or custom-designed courses for companies and
NUMBER OF STUDENTS: 360
FACULTY: 43 full-time professors
and 18 part-time (visiting) lecturers.
FACULTY-STUDENT RATIO: 1:6
AND INFRASTRUCTURE: 40-acre campus; every room/student
connected to the internet through 2Mbps optic fibre leased
line; LAN with 2 Gbps fibre optic backbone; three dedicated
ISDN lines for video conferencing, placements and lectures;
library with over 54,000 books, 13,000 periodicals and 12,000
project reports and dissertations.
This assimilation between teachers and students on the one hand
and within the student community on the other, fosters camaraderie,
team spirit and man management skills that no text book can impart.
"Our approach to management studies is focused on making students
more people-oriented," says the director, adding: "About
85 per cent of a manager's time is spent dealing with people, motivating
them and carrying them along as a team; only 15 per cent of his
time is spent on technical matters."
The bonding between students takes place primarily at Dadu's and
Bishuda's, the two snack bars and food joints within the campus.
"Generations of XLers owe a debt of gratitude to Dadu and Bishuda
for all the help and support they've provided in times of stress,"
But to come back to the campus itself, life really begins at 9
pm. From then to 4.30-5 am is the only unbroken stretch of time
that students get to catch up with their studies, project groups
get to meet, plan and work, and everyone has the time to download
stuff from the internet. And when it's finally lights out at the
hostels, it's almost time to get ready for another day of competition,
stress and camaraderie.
But does this stress on ethics and people pay off in the real
world? "I think XLRI delivers contemporary business education,
designed for the Indian business environment, tempered with strong
ethical values. As an institute, it believed that values and principles
drive individual behaviour and a strong foundation in ethical values
create desirable behaviour. The relevance of this philosophy is
now amply borne out by irresponsible corporate behaviour in India
and abroad," says Titan's Kurien, summing up, in a nutshell,
the key difference between XLRI and many of its peers.