Ahmedabad/New Delhi: The row over the controversial IIM draft bill escalated today with IIM Ahmedabad strongly opposing the measure, saying it will not only curtail autonomy but will reduce the premier B-school to a mere “operating centre” while arming the government with sweeping powers.
“There will be no autonomy left with us if this bill will be implemented,” Chairman of IIM-A Board of Governors, A M Naik told reporters in Ahmedabad, adding, “it is like operating here but the control is somewhere else”.
Naik said the Bill is having provisions which gives majority of powers to the government leaving almost nothing for the institute to decide.
“As per the provisions of the Bill, we need to take prior permission of government in matters related to admissions, courses, fee structure, establishment or maintenance of new building and regulating powers of academic council,” he said.
“Further, we will be required to take government’s permission if we want to form a new department in the interest of institution, as if expertise for this is available elsewhere rather than with the institute. Thus, nothing much is left for us. It is like operating here but the control is somewhere else,” Naik who is also the Executive Chairman of engineering and construction giant Larsen and Tubro said.
“The Bill gives sweeping powers with the government, making the institution only an operation centre, with all the major directions, diktats and approvals happening from Delhi. There will be no autonomy left with us if this bill will be implemented,” opined Naik.
His views were also endorsed by IIM-A Director Prof. Ashish Nanda. According to him, the government has proposed some kind of control in almost every decision that the institute takes.
“The draft bill proposes control of government in almost every matter, such as selection of chairman of board of Governors, fee structure, expenses, etc. They have covered almost everything from strategic to operational decisions,” said Nanda.
Besides IIM-A, directors of Kolkata, Lucknow, Bangalore, Kozhikode and Indore have opposed the bill while chiefs of some of the new IIMs have supported it.
The draft says the IIMs will be “bound” by government’s directions in policy matters.
“If the bill turns out to be that a lot of decisions by the boards are subject to government approval, and the government has uniform norms, then that may or may not be best thing for certain IIMs,” said IIM Bangalore Director Sushil Vachani.
Vachani said the perception was that the government was trying to “interfere” with IIMs when it is proposing a coordination forum, single tenure for a director and that HRD ministry’s decision will be final on policy directions.
Naik, who attended a meeting of IIM-A Board, lashed out at the Centre for keeping them in the dark about the new draft of the bill, which according to him, is not the one which was agreed upon two years back after so many discussions between all the IIMs and Ministry of Human Resource and Development
“After nine months of silence, government suddenly floated this new draft, which we saw just few weeks back. It really caught us by suprise. The original bill, which was approved by IIMs and Ministry of HRD, has been completely changed, and rather made even worse than the original draft,” said Naik.
He also raised questions about Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s vision of setting up at least 25 world class institutions in the wake of such adverse regulations proposed in the Bill.
“PM wishes to have at least 25 world class institutions. But, this kind of regulation will only take us in an opposite direction. We expected more freedom. But, the bill, in its current form, will take away lots of freedom of the institutions and they won’t be autonomous,” he said.
“Our main contention is autonomy and over-regulation. We told the Ministry that such regulations will affect our efforts in building a world class institution. If this Bill is implemented, none of the IIMs will be in the top-500 list of world’s best institutions, forget about getting space into top-100,” added Naik.
He hoped that some amicable solution will arrive in near future on this issue.
Nanda, who had criticised the bill, fearing it could be used as a tool to “micro-manage” the IIMs, warned that there could be an adverse fallout on IIM standards if certain freedom was not granted.
The bill said, “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.”
It also states that the IIMs will need the approval of the Ministry before notifying any changes in fee structure, salary and remuneration and admission criteria.
“To be globally excellent, you need to have a certain amount of autonomy—you need to have certain resources, support of the government and leadership.
The bill also provides for constitution of a coordination forum chaired by the HRD minister.
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