Introduction There are very famous business daily newspapers in India. The major ones are in English. The Economic Times, The Hindu Businessline, the Business Standard, and the Financial Express are major business newspapers. These are very widely circulated and online versions are also available.
Similarly, Business Today, Business India, and Business World, among other publications are very famous business magazines. These magazines bring out various stories on the recent developments regarding specific industries such as Power, reports about specific companies and their strategies, Government Policies, and so on. They are so rich in content and the business publications are worth reading at any point in time. Many Management Consultants sometimes preserve the back copies for decades.
Be that as it may, effective learning for MBA students through these publications can occur through
a) Identifying different strands of thought on Government policies b) Enabling continuous learning about Corporate Strategies c) Analyzing dynamics of different markets d) Making Futuristic Predictions based on data and e) Being updated on a very regular basis.
Identifying different strands of thought on Government policies Whatever decisions a Government takes at a particular point in time, are based on some political philosophy. For example, the Modi Government is keen on partly privatization of the Indian Railways. While the manufacture of the Vande Bharat trains is now sought to be done only in the Government-owned Integral Coach Factory in Chennai, the operation and maintenance are sought to be done through the private IRCTC.
Such policies also need to be understood in detail by MBA students. For, the economy of any country is the cumulative effect of the management of financial and other resources through such policies. The Hindu Businessline, for example, carries a number of articles that reflect the Government's thinking on such policies.
Enabling continuous learning about Corporate Strategies In the 1970s, the only two cars that were still running on Indian roads were the Ambassador and the Fiet Brands. In came the small car called the Maruti, and this took the small car market by storm. Since the car was compact and totally new, the car became an instant hit. That was in the early 1980s. This change was piloted by the late Dr.V. Krishnamurthy, the turnaround man, who had worked on a total turnaround of both BHEL and SAIL as well.
These strategies have all been documented in business publications. The Economics Times, the business newspaper, in particular, had published a number of stories on such turnarounds. The Business Standard newspaper also published special issues on Total Quality Management and so on. The Business line, from The Hindu group of Chennai, had also published a number of articles on Strategy, particularly, those related to big conglomerates like the Aditya Birla group.
The MBA student will do well to do research into the facts and figures published from time to time about each group and then understand the context of the particular strategy at some point in time. The Mahindra&Mahindra group, for example, headed by Mr. Anand Mahendra, had invested a whooping sum of six hundred crore rupees in manufacturing and bringing to market the blockbuster SUV called the Scorpio. This turned out to be a stunning success, as it was fabulous on performance. When the customer discovers a product as value for money, an entirely new market opens up. These are facts of business, often highlighted by the magazines like Business Today.
The New Year Specials brought out by the Business Today magazine, are absolute treasures that should be preserved for decades. For example, it brought out a superb special issue on the various business families, back in the year 1995. Today, after nearly three decades, the MBA student will do well to research and find out, from the back issues of the various business magazines, how the groups have either survived or just gone to dust. The SPIC group of Chennai, for example, was once upon a time, a good group, making profits in the license raj, permit raj days. However, after a disastrous diversification into the manufacture of Pencillin-G, a bulk drug, at an investment of two hundred and ten crore rupees and a massive dose of restructuring done in its various businesses on a later date, the SPIC group is a shade of its former self today.
Business Strategies require a sound understanding of all concepts related to various functional areas of Management. Similarly, Business Today, Business India, and Business World, among other publications are very famous business magazines. These magazines bring out various stories on the recent developments regarding specific industries such as Power, reports about specific companies and their strategies, Government Policies, and so on. They are so rich in content and the business publications are worth reading at any point in time. Many Management Consultants sometimes preserve the back copies for decades. Similarly, the two major newspapers, Economic Times and The Hindu Businessline have published several special issues. These are superly informational issues that have in-depth information on various functional areas of Management. For example, Praxis, The Hindu Businessline's Quarterly Journal of Management, brought out three blockbuster issues on Management. They were: Volume 1, Issue No.2 October-December 1995, on "Do Indian Companies learn?". Similarly, the issue published in January 2003, Volume 4, issue 1, was a special issue on "The Future of Marketing" and the special issue published in October 2005, Volume 6, Issue 2, was on "India Inc&Employee Engagement".
The finer details of whatever happened have to be collected from the business publications and put in order of the date of such occurrences. Once this is done, the MBA student has to necessarily anchor the same in the context of the new concepts in say, Strategic Management. To give a simple example, the concept of Core Competencies in Strategic Management, brought to light the massive importance of being focused on learning across the organization and capturing knowledge for continuous improvement. It sought to emphasize that if the organization does not focus on advanced technology, the organization cannot provide the customers with unique experiences. This is exactly what has happened to Apple Computers. Its co-founder, the legendary Steve Jobs, simply focused on the most advanced technology and created premier products that now rule the world. Business Today has reported on this company in a number of issues.
Analyzing dynamics of different markets This is very much possible. For example, in numerous issues of Business Today, and Business India, the Organized retail industry has been discussed. In each of these articles, there has been a focus on the unorganized market as well. Take pickles, as a market for example. There are big brands such as Mamblam Iyers or Ruchi. These big brands face the toughest competition from the nimble-footed housewives, who also manufacture pickles and market them through the local retail stores, everywhere in the South of India. This is such a huge market.
Today, such players are increasing day after day. There are also the smaller regional brands, that are present only in one or two districts. They also have the appropriate registrations from the food authorities. Hence, there is a market for these small brands as well. Business magazines always update the readers with finer details of such markets. It is absolutely essential that MBA students are updated on the nuances of such markets as well.
Making Futuristic Predictions based on data Business publications enable MBA graduates to make use of the data to make predictions. For example, what will be the effect of the rural economy growing at a fast pace, on the two-wheeler industry? Today, thanks to the massive computerization of all bank records and operations, banks in rural areas are always ready to offer vehicle loans. In recent years, there has been a massive increase in the sanction of such loans. Based on data provided on such changes in the business publications, the MBA student can easily predict the growth of the two-wheeler market.
Being updated on a very regular basis This is also eminently possible through the business publications that help the MBA student be updated on the state of the economy, the state of the commodities markets like steel or power or sugar and so on, the policies of the different State Governments and so on. For example, the New Industrial Relations Code that has been passed by Parliament has met with severe opposition, even from trade unions of the right-wing parties. The State Governments are also pondering what to do and many have not firmed up their rules in this regard. Business publications always contain updates on such developments. Regularly reading such updates is absolutely essential for MBA students.
Conclusion Business publications need to be taken very seriously by every MBA student, irrespective of where they study. Even the IIM students cannot neglect the business publications, as they have very useful references to the various strands of knowledge discussed in the aforesaid paragraphs. MBA students should make serious efforts to document the data from business publications and learn the most comprehensive knowledge at all times.
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Business publications are very important not only for MBA students but also for every businessman, investor, and executive working in the industry. Business publications provide not only voluminous data but also analysis of various market trends and factors which affect the business environment. It is true that MBA students who have to occupy future business positions will be benefited from such a large volume of information and knowledge.
I remember, about 27 years back, when I was investing some of my savings in the share market, I was immensely benefited from some of the information in business publications that helped me very timely and I could make some good investment decisions.
The author has come out with a very good article in which he established the need and importance of business magazines to students doing their MBA.
The textbooks may be useful to understand the subject and the fundamentals required for a student who wants to manage a business. But the present trend and the issues going around will be known through these magazines only. Many specialists and professionals will be analyzing various issues and trends in detail, which will make the student know the methodology to analyse and put things in the right perspective. This will be useful, especially for students who want to become entrepreneurs in the near future.