It’s good business sense and no sacrifice: Why Puja Mishra of IIM Calcutta is no martyr for chucking that “plum job”

Either the Indian media are dumb or the PR cell of Indian Institutes of Management rather astute. Whatever the case, this time of the year, amidst reports of uber inflated starting salary figures, are also these isolated reports of the “real heroes” who give up “plum jobs” to “serve the society”. Puja Mishra of Indian Instute of Management Calcutta, latest demigod of the kind .

As I read the provocative headline, I became interested in reading further. The first half of the story, does not even get to the point and is only devoted at making Puja an infallible Hero, painting her move as a triumph of devotion to serve mankind over the lure of the lucre. However, 2 paragraphs later we learn that the sacrifice made by this lady is to use her Father’s land to start a private school and college in Rae Barelli District.

Anyone vaguely aware of Indian economy and business environment will realize that an enterprise in education, such as the one Ms Mishra has joined her family in, has huge money spinning potential. One does not need the McKinseys and KPMGs of the world to reiterate this, although the latter themselves are making a lot of money advising businesses precisely this, to enter India’s undeserved yet highly lucrative higher education sector. The quality and output of these enterprises so far has been far from impressive.

Returning to Ms Mishra’s case, it turns out ( as written later in the story) the husband had already started the business, and she is joining in to grow the business as I see it. Further more he is off to Kennedy School (Harvard University) for an MPA degree, as she is now available to run the shop. Aren’t these ‘I sacrificed a lucrative job to teach rural kids’ kinds of stories the perfect recipes for fat fellowships? And did you notice how a high court lawyer ( the father) is the perfect pillar of support the couple needs to get many otherwise onerous bureaucratic hurdles overcome their way.

The idea here is not to spew venom on MS Mishra and to criticize her best laid plans. What concerns me is that why does this newspaper and one of the world’s most coveted place to study business management, not frame this move as a wise business decision. The couple at IIMC and at Kennedy are merely gaining access to superior networks, that will help them grow this business only taller. She is no martyr as media make her out to be.


11 thoughts on “It’s good business sense and no sacrifice: Why Puja Mishra of IIM Calcutta is no martyr for chucking that “plum job”

  1. absolutely agree. but hey we love our rona dhona kahaanis and our heroes. the media learns a lot from Karan Johar 🙂

    really, if we had as many heroes as the media seems to think we do, we’d be in a totally different state and you’d be doing your Phd in a college of equal repute in India.

  2. Right now there is a need of best enterpreuner in our society. If “Ms Pooja ” or other IIM’s or IIt’s graduate wants to run a business and wants to serve the country is a good thing. Just think about that JEE exam has been over now. One side GOvt is boosting the innovation programmes throughout the country and one side GOvt. are finishing most competitive exam. Is it good for the society? Even if she is doing a business in schooling there is no harm of our talented graduates. Only thing is that her intention would be good for the society. After 50 years of independence if we see the percentage of literacy still it has not been improving. According to “Right to education Act” each and every child has a right to get free education. But Govt is capable of providing the free education but ….. not a quality education. WE guys should come up some ideas and try to provide the best and quality education. Ms Pooja’s career plan would be really appreciable if and olnly if she would’t take the education as a business…..

  3. These are certain sterotypes loved by media.
    MBA students — even if one commits a murder to start something on his own, they’re standard MBA students who’re painted with this one brush of prosperity and super salaries.

    So going off the beaten track has all the makings of an Oscar winning movie.. Someone who flouted traditions and didn’t follow the regular and emerged successful.. doesn’t matter

    Absolutely fair point Harsh, just that Puja’s followers might be a little miffed…

  4. Welll said Harsht. I am from IIM-A, worked for 5 years and then quit my job to do something similar as Ms. Mishra. I will not mince words and admit that money is also a motive for me. And while I read all the newspaper reports on Mishra, I developed thoughts very similar to yours. When I read the fact that her father is a High Court lawyer, I almost turned jealous; “if only my father was also a high serving official, I would have also found the going so much easier” 🙂

    1. Abhishek, aren’t you Abhijit dutta’s friend? What educational venture are you into? Would love to discuss more. Let me know the best way to contact you –

  5. Wen i read it d Mrs Mishra,a gush rushed in n i was like i should leave my government job n go n make her noble venture a gr8 thing bt den i read urs…never thought dis way though once it came to my mind dat hw easily she got approvals.
    the thoughts bt working n orienting village ppl is hard unless u offer free goodies..
    so might she get d sucess

  6. Martyr its just a marketing word. One chooses ones options to give the happiest life path possible. Its more the need of colleges to market such decisions than the people who make them.

    1. Well Said Ram. As my post makes clear, my grudge was against the college’s way of marketing this and the newspaper buying into it. What is problematic is that people get swayed by it rather easily. TOI shared this on their facebook page, and oh my god. Puja Mishra is some goddess if you look at the comments. Apparently all politicans, NGOs and others need to learn from her. Which is why I try to at least generate a alternative hypothesis to interpret the situation.

  7. Media truly governs the sentiments of common man. I was impressed by your prospective and did a little search on Purasi Village. Its a small town with population of 1744 and is strategically located 9 kms from the Rae Bareli , this means cheap land near a big city.Secondly the school opened has hostel facility confirms my fears of large land requirement confirms why they choose a small place to open their school.
    To end, I will say it could be a money munching venture but its a win win situation for the owners and the students.

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