A pan-IIM council created controversy, fuelled fury in premier institutions

Anubhuti Vishnoi Posted: Jan 29, 2013 at 0011 hrs
New Delhi Even as it is promising degree-granting powers to the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), the government has revived its controversial plan to create a pan IIM Council that will coordinate between all the 13 IIMs, review them, and submit actionable reports on them to the government. Upset at what is being viewed as an attempt to curtail their autonomy, many IIMs have indicated their opposition to the move.

The IIMs had shot down the proposal for the creation of a pan IIM Council in 2008 after the R C Bhargava committee report had first mooted it. The revival of the Council in the draft Indian Institutes of Management Bill has surprised the IIMs.

To be chaired by the Union HRD minister, the Council is envisaged as a body with over 50 members, packed with government officials, save three persons of eminence.

It proposes to “coordinate the activities of all institutes”, deliberate on matters of “common interest”, “review achievements” of policy objectives and make reports on each IIM and recommend appropriate actions that will be acted on by the government.

IIM-Ahmedabad director Samir Barua warns that setting up an overarching IIM Council will end up undermining the powers of the Board of each IIM and work against encouraging innovation and diversity in the IIMs.

“If an IIM Council frames policies and rules for IIMs, the Boards will be undermined. Instead, if need is felt, the Boards should be empowered and made more accountable. That apart, an IIM Act applied across all institutes — some five decades old and the other just a couple of years behind them — is in the danger of attempting to make all IIMs uniform in nature. Anything extremely uniform allows neither diversity nor innovation. Each IIM, depending on its tradition, has different requirements, and uniformity is definitely not the answer,” Barua told The Indian Express.

Most of the older IIMs echo Barua’s sentiments and while they have conveyed their views on the subject to a five-member committee appointed by the ministry to seek their views, they will soon send formal responses after taking up the issue at their next Board meetings.