Toughest case study yet for these premier institutes

For one of India’s best known global brands, the Indian Institutes of Management, a Bill framed by the Human Resource Development Ministry has brought in worries over their autonomy. The second oldest of these 13 institutes, the IIM-Ahmedabad, has expressed concern over some of the provisions of the Indian Institutes of Management Bill, 2015, which, it feels, will spell the end of autonomy.

After the treatment meted out to the directors and chairmen of the Indian Institutes of Technology, it appears that the IIMs are next on the block. The recommendations in the Bill, drafted by the Ministry headed by Smriti Irani, on display on, are at variance with the recommendations submitted by them last year. The Bill, they fear, carries the trademark signature of overreach as is evident in some of the clauses. For one, they say the government seeks to appropriate for itself the power to decide on academic posts other than the one of director, whereas the draft submitted by the IIM-Ahmedabad wants the institutes to take the decision.

Pankaj Chandra, former IIM-Bangalore Director, who was involved in recommending changes to the structure of the IIMs earlier, says the Bill should grant more autonomy to the institutes in deciding how they wish to structure themselves, as they are governed by societies.

Enabling clauses in IIM Bill offset by autonomy question

Though the Bill does have several enabling provisions in making them more accountable, it leaves the question of autonomy in doubt.

Earlier, in an interview to the Mint newspaper, IIM-Ahmedabad Director Ashish Nanda said: “If the proposed Bill on Indian Institutes of Management is used to bring about centralisation of key processes, it would be bad news for these institutions and their autonomy.”

Perhaps, he was hinting at the Centre’s design to assume control over the institutes.

The enabling clause of giving degrees to students instead of diplomas is a welcome move, Saibal Chattopadhyay, Director, IIM-Kolkata, says. “This is only a draft. It will go to Parliament,” he says.

“Previous discussions were about how to structure the degree in a management course, in place of the diploma awarded now,” Pankaj Chandra, former IIM-Bangalore Director, says.

The draft Bill seeks to do away with the special emphasis on the IIMs by seeking to declare certain institutes of management to be institutions of national importance to empower them to attain standards of global excellence in management, management research and allied areas of knowledge and to provide for certain other matters connected with such institutions or incidental thereto — the IIMs want the Bill to confine itself to them.

Also, the proposed Bill takes away the powers of the institutes to determine fees by making it subject to prior approval of the government. Lastly, the Bill states that in discharge of its functions, the IIM Board will be accountable to the government, whereas the IIMs envisaged accountability only with respect to legal compliance, financial stability and growth of the institutes.

Quite clearly, the last word is not out yet as public comments are still being sought before the government makes its next move.