My Tryst with Entrepreneurship at Ashoka University: From scepticism to belief
Abhiir Bhalla retraces his journey from being sceptical about Entrepreneurship in a Liberal Education setup to staying back the fourth year to pursue a Minor in Entrepreneurship
I was first exposed to Entrepreneurship at Ashoka during our online classes, where I had signed up for a pair of 2-credit courses to see what all the hue and cry was about. Admittedly, I was initially unimpressed. Amusingly enough, my first impression, particularly after Pramod Bhasin’s first class in his course ‘Theory & Practice of Leadership’ was that practitioners should remain in the industry and leave the teaching to Professors. This hasty judgement was soon revised when I realised the insights and unique perspectives our distinguished Professors had to offer, backed up by anecdotes that would leave you hanging off the edge of your seat. Eventually, I gave up Bhasin’s course in favour of Yash Gupta’s course ‘Real Estate & Investments’ since I only had the bandwidth for one course at the time; nonetheless, it was far from an easy decision to make and I promised to take up the former course again at some point in the future.
Being a student of Political Science, I was very keen to get back in touch with the business and financial world, since I’d always loved Economics but chose against pursuing it in college due to my fear of Calculus. I also realised very quickly that I was disillusioned in believing that studying political science would prepare me for my grand aspirations for my longer-term goal of a career in politics. While this wasn’t entirely untrue, I might argue that I’ve learnt more crucial life skills and practical knowledge in the course of the past 6-10 months than I did in my three years of Political Science.
Having taken up courses like ‘Business Communication & Negotiation’ and ‘Entrepreneurial Marketing’, I learnt a lot about the real-world implications of individual and institutional decisions. Courses like ‘Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics’ and ‘Metaverse Decoded’ didn’t just provide me with an opportunity to learn new skills and actually understand so many ‘buzzwords’ that so many of us throw about without thinking, but also look at their practical applications – something which was a thorough miss for me in my three-years degree insofar.
That being said, me being the eternal sceptic that I am, I approached Entrepreneurship at Ashoka initially wondering what on Earth the university was up to by teaching business at a liberal arts school. My very first course with Professor Yash Gupta shattered this sceptical outlook – the man is nothing short of a genius. His course, along with Professor Jhangiani’s Marketing course, has to be, by far, amongst my top 5 courses at Ashoka across the four disciplines I’ve dabbled in. The cherry on the cake, of course, was the occasional glamour and glitz we were exposed to on our field trips – an integral part of almost every course.
Before I knew it, I had made up my mind to stay back for the fourth year and pursue a minor in Entrepreneurship (and no, it was not just for the fun beyond the classes). I did my major in Political Science, a minor in International Relations and a concentration in Media Studies – all in all, a diverse mix of disciplines. Surprisingly enough, it was Entrepreneurship courses that served as a silent and yet sturdy glue that bonded them together and created a complete picture for me.
I feel almost guilty to have once looked upon the department’s role at Ashoka with scepticism, given that the department almost feels like a third home for me at Ashoka now. The courses that have been offered (as well as the exciting upcoming line-up) have provided us with an opportunity that very few colleges in India – and perhaps even in Asia – would be able to offer. To learn from industry stalwarts and renowned academics such as Aditya Ghosh, Pramod Bhasin, Pawan Ahluwalia and Yash Gupta has been a privilege. I am eagerly waiting to don the hat of a UGTA and assist Prof. DVR Seshadri in the upcoming semester.
Abhiir Bhalla is an active youth environmentalist and freelance sustainability consultant. He is currently part of the Ashoka Scholars Programme at Ashoka University and is pursuing a minor in Entrepreneurship and Media Studies, after having completed a major in Political Science and a minor in International Relations.