By Zoya Sham:
The Indian Institutes of Management draft Bill 2015 proposed by the HRD Ministry has been the subject of many debates, most of which determined that its cons outweigh its pros. As the Modi government’s first substantial legislation in terms of education, it is vastly contrary to the PM’s goals of ‘Minimum Government, Maximum Governance‘ and enhancing India’s image in the field of business and free market.
With the aim to make IIMs ‘institutions of national importance, and empower them to attain standards of global excellence in management and management research’, the bill is seen by administrators as a bureaucratic exercise to micro-manage the institutes. It gives the government sweeping powers in the operation of the IIMs and threatens their autonomy by reducing them to mere government departments. A.M. Naik, chairman of IIM-Ahmedabad, told the Indian Express, “With the government holding sweeping powers, the bill will make the institution only an operational centre, with all the major diktats, directions and approvals happening from Delhi… There is nothing much left in the institute to do. It is like operating here, but the control is somewhere else.”
The issues in the bill that could be potentially problematic are:
• Institutions have to seek approval from the government before making any decisions on the fees charged by them. This is likely to affect the admission process and the institutes’ dependence on government funding.
• The government will appoint Directors for the institutes. This opens up some of the prime positions in the Indian education sector to government misuse.
• The institutions are bound by policies made by the government for their operations, giving officials major administrative control over them. This may be injurious as policies may change with changes in government, leading to inconsistencies in the operation of IIMs.
• The bill asks for the formation of a Coordination Forum of IIMs headed by the HRD Minister. This forum of IIM directors will include a number of government officials that are likely to skew opinion in the favor of politics rather than for the development of the institutes.
• The institutes have to take government permission to make regulations on the tenure, remuneration and terms and conditions of employees. The faculties of these institutions are large contributors to their reputation and excellence. This threatens the leaders of the business world who take the time to mold the minds of future leaders.
The provision of the bill that is considered its major strength is, it would enable IIMs to grant degrees instead of a postgraduate diploma and fellowship programmes. Currently, an IIM alumnus has to request his or her respective institute to provide a certificate saying that the diploma is equivalent to an MBA degree in India. This step will also help IIMs gain global recognition and attract more foreign students. However, administrators of the IIMs contest that the institutions have already achieved a reputation and standard of excellence as dispensers of education and knowledge that is recognized around the world, regardless of the certificate they award.
IIMs have produced numerous leaders of the Indian and international business world, all great assets to the nation. They have maintained their standard and position of excellence in the global arena of B-schools. As these institutions have been established by the government, they must be accountable to it, but not at the expense of their autonomy. Politicians should oversee operations but shouldn’t take policy and administrative decisions of IIMs. Those decisions should be taken by people who have vast knowledge and experience in the fields of management, business and education; people who have made IIM the prestigious institution they are today.