Every mother is proud when the child outshines the parent,” says Father KS Casimir, with a twinkle in his eye. The Director of XLRI Delhi NCR feels that the young campus can, one day, be better known than its illustrious parent XLRI Jamshedpur, the oldest B-school in India, which is currently in the midst of its 75th anniversary celebrations.

Launched smack in the middle of the Covid year of 2020, the fledgling XLRI Delhi NCR campus at Jhajjhar, about 55 km from the Capital, is dreaming big. “We are not bound by the burdens of history which allows us to strike ahead in new directions,” says Fr Casimir, a PhD from NIT Warangal, who before taking over XLRI Delhi NCR was the Principal and head of Loyola Institutions, Secunderabad.

The new directions, he says, are entrepreneurship, sustainability and design. If XLRI Jamshedpur is formidable in the area of HRM, and considered the best for the subject, then the NCR Campus wants to become known for its innovation, entrepreneurship and venture creation programme. “It is a two-year MBA programme and a chance for us to develop a new area of expertise. There is a little more technology in this course than normally would be in a business curriculum,” says Dean Academics Rajeev Roy.

Father KS Casimir, Director of XLRI Delhi NCR 

He describes how in the first year, 700 students applied for the 40 seats in the programme. In the second year, 12,000 applied. This year, the institute got over 20,000 applications. “And it has been driven by students themselves. XlRI does not advertise. The students talk about the programme and are the best ambassadors,” says Fr Casimir.

Of course, despite being a new campus, XLRI Delhi NCR does not have some of the challenges that brand new institutes face as it leverages highly on Jamshedpur. The admission process is the same, there is a faculty exchange programme and the placement process is also one. “It is one XLRI,” says Fr Casimir.

He says the institute is also starting online courses in entrepreneurship and in course of time will add a course on family business. “Besides regular programmes, we will be launching many certificate and short-term programmes in areas like business analytics,” he says.

The campus spread over 48 acres will also host various centres. “We have already set up the Centre for Gender Equality and Inclusive Leadership. We have plans for more centres,” says Fr Casimir. Coming up next will be a design centre of which one vertical will be automotive design and restoration. “One of our old students Avik Chattopadhyaya is driving it. We want to give a new orientation to students and are roping in leading experts from across the world at the centre. Tata Motors will also be part of it,” says Fr Casimir.

The other centre will be around sustainability and climate leadership with focus on green finance. “We are going to have a big conference on the topic in the third week of February, which will pave the way for establishing of the centre,” reveals the director. The ambition is to roll out short programmes on sustainability for CEOs “because every leader today is grappling with actualisation of ESG,” he says.

Sweet Spot

When the Jesuits Society, that runs XLRI, first bought land in Jhajjar many years ago, the place was a barren landscape, and many questioned the wisdom of setting up the campus in the boondocks of Haryana. But fortune has smiled on the institute as the ambitious Reliance Model Economic Township (MET) has come up next door. The 8,000 acre integrated smart city has attracted a host of companies and real estate developers, giving the institute an opportunity for industry-academia collaborations, literally at its doorstep. XLRI is exploring collaborations with Reliance MET, says Fr Casimir.

Pointing at the vast expanse of land that the entirely residential institute has, Fr Casimir says, another hostel is being set up as they want to encourage a student exchange programme with Jamshedpur campus. “For that we need to build more rooms. We just have 500 here now,” he says. “In course of time, we believe students from there will die to visit us,” he says, the twinkle in evidence again.

Landscaping is still going on at the campus and the gleaming glass façade buildings stands out a bit conspicuously without green relief though plenty of fruiting trees have been planted, and marigolds and begonias are beginning to peep their heads, adding much needed colour. The administrators are also trying to get private café operators to come in and set up shop to give students and faculty an alternative from the uniform hostel canteen menu.

Internationalising the campus

The other big plan for the institute, discloses Fr Casimir, is to internationalise its programmes. “We have 28 different universities managed by the Society of Jesuits in the US. We are in talks with some of them as we want to offer our students a global experience. We are exploring dual degree, research collaboration and faculty exchange,” he says. Already, an MoU has been signed with Saint Joseph’s University at Philadelphia, while talks are on with Georgetown University, Washington and University of Antwerp in Belgium. “Kids want to be global citizens today. While staying local also, you have to have a global mindset,” he says.

XLRI also hopes to branch out into other cities. “We want to be in Mumbai and the South,” says Fr Casimir, disclosing how they had been allotted land in Amaravati in Andhra Pradesh, but are choosing to wait and watch given the change in plans of the capital. In Mumbai, the society has a parcel of land in Narel and hope to set up something there. “But first we have to stabilise XLRI Delhi NCR. It’s not enough to build the physical infrastructure — creating intellectual infrastructure takes time,” says Fr Casimir.

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