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Experts’ Global in Media

read full article by founderMayank Srivastava

Business World

Internet Neutrality Compromise: Oligarchy over Innovation!

The internet is neutral when data on all websites or applications are treated equally. When an Internet Service Provider (ISP) charges differently or gives a preferential/discriminatory treatment to data on different platforms, the Internet Neutrality is compromised. The ISPs are lobbying up the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to allow them the freedom to such discrimination. “Internet Neutrality” is a misnomer for the issue; the internet, barring a few exceptions, is already neutral. The recommendations by ISPs, if implemented, shall bereft the internet of its neutrality. Hence, the issue in hand is actually of “compromising internet neutrality”. The government needs to ensure that any regulatory steps it takes, lead to abrogation of the cases of exceptions to Internet Neutrality rather than their institutionalization.

The matter has already received passionate criticism from media and public at large, deservingly so. As an academician who believes in free, unbiased flow of information and an entrepreneur who has utilized the power and freedom of internet for going solo, I am perturbed by the self-indulgent approach of the ISPs. When I was asked for my views on this issue, the thought of uninterrupted castigation was tempting; however, to give the issue an analytical treatment rather than critical, I decided to give the counter opinion a fair chance. Here is an attempt to carry out a fair dialogue between the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and the general Internet user opposing the discriminatory stance.

The first argument by the ISPs is that certain services (referred to as Over the Top Services or OTT) by the websites consume greater bandwidth and thus, should be charged and treated differently; examples of OTT include playing videos, exchanging pictures, voice over internet etc. This argument remains the fundamental reasoning for the stance taken by ISPs but don’t such OTTs lead to higher data usage for the consumer, costing him more and thereby, commensurately benefiting the ISP? They do! For example, watching a 10 minutes video over YouTube leads to higher bandwidth consumption (than browsing a textual site, let’s say) for the ISP but it also costs more data to the consumer and thus, the consumer is penalized and the ISP is accordingly benefitted. Why mix this simple arithmetic with the need for compromising the Internet Neutrality? Why are ISPs demanding/expecting/lobbying for such extra preferential treatment?

The second argument is that the ISPs’ source of revenue remains the end users and they don’t get a share in the profits of website/app developers despite playing a medium in their business. This argument is analogous to the country expecting higher taxes from an entrepreneur for generating greater wealth while using the country’s resources; but this analogy is badly misplaced as the ISPs don’t own the internet- they purchased the license from the government for a limited period. While purchasing the license, the ISPs were aware of the norms and if they are not happy with their profits (leave alone the fact that most are highly profitable) they must blame themselves for not doing their business planning well enough rather than trying to patronize the internet traffic and envying the app developers for the money they are making. Further, this attitude “pay me as I play a role in your success” is unhealthy and contagious for a symbiotic business environment; what if a Facebook or WhatsApp starts demanding a share from ISPs as many users buy data plans for such services alone? What if they demand payments for using their names in the advertisements by ISPs? What if YouTube starts asking for a share on the argument that a significant portion of data usage happens on its platform and thus, ISPs benefit from it? There is no end to such transactional arguments and the businesses need to show a bigger heart to look beyond such self-indulgent practices for a mutually benefitting ecosystem!

The third main argument by ISPs is that websites and applications are eating on their pie, while using ISPs’ medium, the internet. There is truth is this argument; most ISPs in India are also the telecom service providers and the brutal fact of today is that the internet based applications are eating up on the revenues of the telecom based services. Examples include reduction in the use of SMSs due to applications such as WhatsApp and Viber, drop in ISD calls due to applications such as Skype and Viber, and various instances of calls being averted as text messages or live chats do the job. These are business related issues and the Internet and Telecom Service providers needs to come up with ethical, strategic solutions to these problems by reinventing themselves. In asking for a share in the pie of the website and app developers, the ISPs are looking for an answer at the wrong place. Further, it is not that the so called OTT providers have made the Internet/Telecom Service Providers fight for survival; the rates of services in India are competitive, apace with other prominent markets in the world and the number of users in India is only going to increase over the next several years. India is a flourishing market and such competition is eventually good for the end user, the country, and service providers themselves as they need to keep reinventing.

The fourth, and probably the last, main argument by COAI is that many applications proving Internet based calls are not legal as they do not have a Telecom license in India. Parrying the legal complexities, my short answer to this issue is that the law needs amendments; the relevant clause is governed by the Telegraph Act of 1885 when the world had not seen the advent of moving pictures, leave alone telecom or internet. The service providers must demand their right of an amendment and let the law take its own course rather than using this issue as an excuse for gaining control over the Internet traffic.

Above is my treatment to the arguments raised by the COAI. I will be happy if someone from COAI can give a fair, logical treatment to the concerns of a common Internet user. The concern is why should a service provider decide which website can a user visit, which website opens at what speed, among similar applications- which one to prefer? Business deals inside four walls? Only the rich can sign such deals and therefore aren’t we choosing oligarchy over innovation? And thus, are the riches signing such deals not reducing India’s chances of producing the next big thing in the world of Internet? Are we not giving a jolt to the SMEs? Why shouldn’t quality, rather than money, continue to drive traffic? Why not continue to let the users decide the quality? Are we going to discriminate against the free, non-commercial or non-profit, sources of information as they won’t have the financial muscle or ethical restrictions in signing such deals? For example, I don’t foresee Wikipedia, which can earn millions in ad revenues but chooses to raise limited donations and stay non-profit, sign such a deal with ISPs and thus, are we going to discriminate against the world’s biggest encyclopaedia? All in the name of revenue sharing?

The concerns of a regular internet user are innumerable. The answer is one: conserve Internet Neutrality. Internet represents the rare medley of freedom, fairness, and opportunity on a level playing field; let one of the greatest brainchild stay organic. Else, this will be a huge loss to India, if not the mankind!


Mr. Mayank Srivastava, Founder, Experts’ Global Training


by: engineeringwatch

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How to Smartly Fund a US MBA

The sheen of American MBA has attracted the students worldwide for several decades. These premiere programs, generally boasting a legacy of over a hundred years, confer an enviable amalgamation of academic rigor, collaborative team projects, live simulations, experiential learning, interactive case studies, multicultural exposure, vibrant campus life, robust global network, profound intellectual capital, strong brand value, erudite faculty, seasoned career services, versatile extra-curricular activities, brilliant networking opportunities, and access to a spectrum of potential recruiters. The once in a lifetime experience has its weight in gold but, rightly so, cost in hefty dollars; the huge sums of expected expenses discourage a big chunk of international students to give up on their plans for American MBAs. The situation is quite sorry because most students give up their dreams without fully exploring the possible ways of funding a US MBA. Here is a sincere attempt to inform the prospective candidates about various smart ways to fund a US MBA.

Scholarships

Up to 100% scholarships on tuition are available for MBA Programs. Personally, coming from a humble background and wanting to return to India to pursue my entrepreneurial plans, I could not have even thought of an American MBA if it were not for scholarships. A premiere American B school was very kind to offer me 100% scholarship and I, as a matter of personal choice, accepted to pursue a global MBA over the IIMs and ISB. Most MBA scholarships are merit-based and the very factors that decide one’s admission- work experience, academic record including the GMAT score, and co-curricular activities- decide the possibility and extent of scholarships. It is important to understand that not all schools are scholarship friendly and thus, a candidate must conduct adequate research upon the scholarship opportunities while short-listing the schools. Further, a candidate must research well and speak to the current students and recent alumni from the prospective schools about the competitiveness of profile and GMAT score of students who win scholarships; one must conduct thorough introspection and contemplation in finalizing the portfolio of schools. A few of the scholarship friendly prominent American Business Schools include- Goizueta, Olin, Carey, Boston University, Owen, Jones, Smeal, Kelley, Fisher, Smith, Broad, UIUC, Irvine, Krannert, Foster, and Tippie.

Collateral Free Loans

Most of the US top 20 B schools have the option of collateral free loans; this means that the schools have tie-ups with certain American financial institutions that give loans to admitted students, without any collateral or co-signer. Such loans cover the tuition as well as living expenses and come at very attractive rates- generally around 5%. For students wanting to work in the States for a few years after graduating, collateral free loans are wonderful options. Assuming a total expense of $100,000 in one’s education and the average starting salary of $130,000 (as is the case in the top 20 American MBA programs), one can comfortably pay back the loan in a few years. The learning, exposure, network, and brand of the premiere school shall remain for a lifetime! Very few schools have the option of collateral free loans and all such programs are extremely competitive- think, the financial institutions are trusting that the alumni will definitely have great job offers and will be able to pay the loans back. Hence, the prospective candidates, while short-listing schools, must research well over the availability of such loans and their chances of admission in such, premiere schools. A few American B schools with the option of collateral free loans include- Harvard, Wharton, Booth, Stanford, Sloan, Haas, Tuck Stern, Duke, Yale, and Cornell.

A US Based Co-signer

The citizens of USA or Green Card holders with robust credit history can sign education loans for international students. Hence, in case some of your relatives are in such positions and are willing to vouch for you, the options of cheap (~5%), convenient loan is easy for you. The Co-signed loans are very common and almost all of the US top 75 MBA programs have this option.

Economical Programs

While most US programs are quite expensive, there are a few economical options as well. With due deliberation and planning, one can attend a prominent yet economical program. Remember, it is not that the economical programs are low ranked and the costly ones are ranked high; the cost of the program depends on various factors- whether it has state funding, location, batch size etc. Many programs costing more may be relatively low in prestige and vice versa. For example, BYU Marriott, a school consistently ranked among the top 35, is very economical as the total expense for an international student is around $65,000; similarly, the UMass MBA, a decent option, costs as less as $40,000 despite the upbeat location in Massachusetts. The aspiring candidates are advised to use resources such as the US News Rakings for obtaining complete idea of the fee structure, employability, average starting salaries etc.

Loans from Indian Banks

A sum of up to INR 7.5 Lacs is available without any collateral and a sum of up to INR 30 Lacs is available on mortgages by certain public sector banks. Private financial institutions such as Credila provide loans for even higher amounts on commensurate mortgages. The option of loans from Indian banks is not my personal favourite as the interest rates are high and the paper work is cumbersome- often leading to a non approval despite serious investment of time and efforts. My recommendation is that this option be used only in case a student needs only a small sum.

Earn while you Work

International students, especially Indians, are the hardworking lot, willing to earn their ways as they learn. Thankfully, the ecosystem of American Universities and the program structure allow substantial leeway to earn. An international student is allowed to work for a maximum of 20 hours per week on campus; various Graduate Assistantship, Teaching Assistantship, and Campus jobs are available. Further, most MBA programs involve an internship period of around three months during which a candidate can earn as decently as $6,000 per month. Generally, the norm is that the Indian students earn almost all of their living expenses and it’s largely the tuition fee that one needs to arrange.
Overall, I wish to reinstate that there are multiple ways to fund a US MBA; the aspiring candidates must put their efforts on what is in their control- the GMAT, profile, and applications. For money- one, other, or a few together of the ways suggested above shall come to rescue. Personally, I completed my MBA, boosted my entrepreneurial venture alongside, and saved enough during those two years to return to India and start my first corporate office; all without giving any financial trouble to the elders in my family. I always tell my students, if I could fund a US MBA, anybody can!

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Full-time MBA Options after 30

For long, the trend in India has been to complete the education in one go and then, focus on the professional career. The idea of getting back to school after gaining substantial experience is relatively new but is fast gaining popularity in India; over the last 15 years, an increasing percentage of Indian corporate professionals have been aspiring to pursue MBA after gaining more than two years of experience; the trend is here to stay and grow- as is the case in the developed nations. However, a significant number of corporate professionals realize the need for an MBA after 30; they witness the growth curve plateau and thus, realize the need for getting back to school for enriching the skill-set, gaining greater credibility through a management degree, and leveraging a platform for interacting with the potential recruiters for assuming bigger roles for a renewed growth trajectory. There is every merit in realizing the need for an MBA, however late in one’s career, and taking the right steps. However, one needs to take well informed decisions as at this stage in one’s life, the opportunity cost is high, risk appetite is low, and personal responsibilities are on an increase. Here is an attempt to educate the 30+ MBA aspirants take wise, duly informed decisions. The order of options is in decreasing degree of recommendation…

One Year Indian MBA

Many IIMs and multiple other Indian programs offer one year, full-time residential programs. These programs require certain minimum years of experience for eligibility and boast a class of highly experienced candidates. An Indian MBA has its own benefits in that gaining employment is easier, the logistical hassle is marginal, education loans for good institutions are easily available, and, very importantly, the network one develops is easy to retain and leverage. This option is strongly recommended for candidates who wish to stay in India and avoid the heavy investments and uncertainty associated with global MBAs. Here is the statistics for the prominent one year Indian MBA programs…

School

Program

Eligibility (Work Ex)

Average

Experience

Average Age

AverageGMAT

Approx Fee

Average Salary

Class Size

Application Deadlines

Program Starts

Test(s)

IIM-A

PGP

6 Years

9.6 Years

33.8

706

24 Lacs

26.7 Lacs

85

August

April

GMAT

ISB

PGPX

2 Years

5 Years

27

711

26 Lacs

18.15 Lacs

763

Oct, Jan

April

GMAT

IIM-B

EPGP

5 Years

8.2 Years

30

695

23 Lacs

22.6 Lacs

58

August

April

GMAT

IIM-C

PGPEX

5 Years

7.6 Years

29.5

702

22 Lacs

18.49 Lacs

50

August

April

GMAT

IIM-L

IPMX

5 Years

8 Years

30

680

19 Lacs

Confidential

70

October

April

GMAT

IIM-I

EPGP

5 Years

~7 Years

29

~700

18 Lacs

18.6 Lacs

~30

December

May

GMAT/CAT

XLRI

GMP

5 Years

7.5 Years

29

686

15 Lacs

17.8 Lacs

119

Nov, Jan

May

GMAT/ XAT

Great Lakes

PGPM

2 Years

3.5 Years

25

300+

17 Lacs

12 Lacs

300+

Nov, Jan

April

GMAT/CAT/XAT/CMAT

SP Jain

PGPM

5 Years

7 Years

29

~690

12.7 Lacs

18.5 Lacs

108

July

January

GMAT/CAT/XAT

One Year Global MBA

Most European MBAs and a few American/Canadian/Asian MBAs are one year long. The average work experience in these programs is generally around 6-7 years and the average age of the class is around 29 years. The opportunity cost in these programs is less, the brand value of these programs is high worldwide, student body is global, the feel of these programs is quite international, and the ecosystem is truly intellectual owing to the long history of these programs and the universities they are associated with. One of the disadvantages of these programs is that most of the prominent ones are mainly in the Europe where the economy has been on a downturn for several years now and thus, employability is not certain- especially for international students, even if one graduates from the program in the geography. Further, one year is not long enough duration for building a case for a management career in an international location; a career switch is extremely difficult through these MBAs as assuming leadership positions without prior experience in a domain is a rarity and most one year MBAs don’t include internships. Overall, this option is recommended only if a candidate is not looking for a change in role and carries serious, tangible skills that boost one’s employability prospects on completing the MBA.

Two Years Global MBA

Almost all of the premiere MBA programs in USA, and many in rest of the world, are two years long; the average work experience of the class in most of these programs is around five years and thus, the average age of the class is generally around 27-28 years. These are the world’s most prestigious programs and bring along the highest brand value, strong global network, and a strong curriculum in general management with the flexibility to concentrate in 1-2 disciplines. Most of these programs are a bit reluctant to consider the 30+ candidates as 1) the candidates with 3-6 years of experience derive great benefit in their roles and salaries after their MBAs; such return for 30+ candidates is always difficult and 2) schools doubt whether a 30+ candidate will be able to face the academic rigor in a business school and compete with the 20 something classmates! Further, these programs are generally quite costly and a longer duration means higher opportunity cost. But then, those aspiring for the world’s best brands for their MBA, or wanting to shift their work location to USA, or considering a shift in career (for which a longer MBA is better) cannot overlook these options. While applying, the 30+ candidates must present solid reasons for the need of an MBA late in their career, portray well deliberated, meaningful career goals, and ensure very high GMAT scores to prove their academic abilities. Moreover, the candidates must conduct serious financial planning before treading this path. Recommended for candidates looking for a shift in role, relocation to USA, or strong brand value.

Part-Time/ Online/Correspondence/Weekend MBA

Various big brands have the option of such degrees and the idea of having such brands on Resume is enticing, especially when they come without the need for leaving one’s job, at a reasonable cost, and mostly without the appearing for GMAT or CAT. Things that come too easy are seldom worthy. Practically, these are not MBAs but merely certifications- nowhere close in value to a full-time MBA, and provide no assistance in placements. Through these programs, one keeps studying a few things over the weekends or after office, clears multiple exams, and eventually gets a degree one day; but the change on one’s profile or career trajectory is insignificant. Not recommended; pursue this option only if your circumstances do not allow the flexibility to take a sabbatical and study full-time. Expect dividends, marginal, only in the longer run.

Two Years Indian MBA

The conventional two years Indian MBA through CAT is the least recommended option for 30+ candidates. Most students in the two years Indian MBA class have 0-1 years experience and thus, the average age is around 23 years; a 30+ student is like a senior citizen in the class who finds it difficult to relate to the maturity level of most students and loses out on peer learning, an essential part of the MBA experience when one pursues the education from schools accepting only the experienced candidates. Further, the companies visiting campuses assume hiring candidates with no to little experience and thus, getting middle-management profiles (that one must expect at an MBA at 30+) is impossible after from campus and one needs to find a job oneself. Not recommended.

Verdict

It is a difficult decision to take a break from job and go back to school when you are over 30. It sounds that this education is going to be expensive; but as the saying goes, if education is expensive, try ignorance! If you feel that your career needs the push of an MBA, go for it and you shall never regret. However, don’t look for short cuts through cheap or easy options; score high on the GMAT, apply meticulously to only the esteemed programs, and go back to school to ‘experience’ your MBA in a vibrant setting with smart brains all around to enrich the skill-set and reinvent the charm. You shall then reap the benefits of a true MBA. Best wishes!

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