IIMs sharply divided over draft bill that grants greater say to govt

IIMs sharply divided over draft bill that grants greater say to govt

IIMs sharply divided over draft bill that grants greater say to govt

The draft IIM bill, which seeks to give seeping powers to HRD ministry in the functioning of the B-schools, including policy matters like deciding fees, emoluments and service conditions of the faculty, has left the prestigious institutes sharply divided.

While the view in the older six IIMs is that an attempt is being made at "micro-managing" them, something that would infringe upon their autonomy, those in the eight new premier institutes feel the apprehension is misplaced.

IIM-Ahmedabad director Ashish Nanda said the proposed legislation would be used as a tool to "micro-manage" the institutes, known the world over for academic excellence.

"Micro-management is never good. If that is done, people working in institutions may feel less empowered," he said, speaking about the bill which provides for IIM Boards deciding matters like fees, emoluments and service conditions of the faculty but only with the Centre's approval.

The bill also provides for constitution of a coordination forum chaired by the HRD minister.
An IIM professor, who was involved in drafting the bill, voiced surprise at the final draft as the earlier document did not contain any clause that gave "overwhelming authority" to the government in running the institutes.

"In its original form, the bill was rather egalitarian and took the views of all stakeholders.  But it has had last minute changes. Now, for everything if we have to go back to the government for permission which has the powers to say yes or no, we can't be competitive enough," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"If centralisation is the goal, autonomy is going to suffer. This is not the original intention of the bill. This is not acceptable. In the last meeting, there was nothing to suggest IIMs will have to go to the government for permission. We will be caught in procedural trap," he said.

"The bill, if implemented (enacted) in its present avatar, will undermine the autonomous status enjoyed by the IIMs. At a time when we are looking at a global footing, the bill could prove to be retrograde," said another IIM director, pleading anonymity.

The draft says the IIMs will be "bound" by government's directions in policy matters.
"Without prejudice to the foregoing provisions of this Act, the Institute (IIMs) shall, for efficient administration of this Act, be bound by such directions on questions of policy, as the Central Government may give in writing to it from time to time," the draft bill says.

Director of IIM Rohtak P Rameshan, however, dismissed suggestions about the prestigious institutes losing their autonomy and contended that "some element of public discipline" is needed as "inefficiency" had crept in.

"IIMs are public institutions where the government should have a fair degree of say in the overall interest of all," he said, adding "some element of public discipline is needed as there is a lot of inefficiency happening in IIMs".

Supporting the bill, the director of another new IIM trashed fears about autonomy of the IIMs getting compromised. "The government is well aware that if anything goes wrong today, it will create a hype in media, which does not augur well for it," he said, wishing not to be named.
Most IIMs would be sending their response to the draft, uploaded on the HRD ministry's website, over the next few days.

The controversy comes at a time when HRD ministry has been accused of interfering in the functioning of institutes of higher learning including the IITs.

IIT-Delhi director R Shevgaonkar resigned in December last year amid reports that he was under pressure from the Ministry to act on certain issues.

Eminent nuclear scientist Anil Kakodkar, former chairman of IIT-Bombay's board of governors, recently assailed the HRD ministry over the manner in which directors of three IITs had been selected.

The bill seeks to declare the IIMs 'Institutes of National Importance'.
DUTA President Nandita Narain said she was against any provision which erodes the autonomy of IIMs which they should have in academic issues, and in deciding courses and matters relating to faculty members.

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