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.