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10 IIM directors appointed, 1 lady

By Our Correspondent
: On February 10 the Human Resource Development Ministry named 10 persons who would head the various Indian Institutes of Management, leaving 10 IIM directors post still vacant.

Out of 10 persons named, one is a lady -- Neelu Rohmetra --  who would head the newly established IIM at Sirmaur.

Never since the first IIM was established in Calcutta in November 1961 has a woman become the executive head of any of the institutions that now number 20. Before Rohmetra, Keya Sengupta had helmed IIM Shillong briefly but as acting director.

Others IIM directors appointed on February 10 include G. Raghuram (Bangalore), Mahadeo Prasad Jaiswal (Sambalpur), Ganesan Kannabiran (Bodh Gaya), Chandrasekhar Mylavarapu (Visakhapatnam), Bhimaraya Metri (Tiruchirappalli), L.S. Murty (Nagpur), Bharat Bhasker (Raipur), Dheeraj Sharma (Rohtak) and Shailendra Singh (Ranchi), a MHRD order said.

Of the 20 IIMs, four -- Amritsar, Kozhikode, Jammu and Udaipur -- are still headless. Six of the IIMs were set up in the initial years, seven between 2007 and 2009 and another seven in the past two years.

G. Raghuram has been a faculty at IIM Ahemdabad since 1985 and currently professor and chairperson of the Public Systems Group at IIMA.

He first came into limelight in 2006, when he wrote a paper on the turnaround of Indian Railways under the then railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav. Following this, a Railway chair was established at the IIMA for research on the subject. Former rail minister Dinesh Trivedi too is learnt to have sought Raghuram's help in preparing his Railway budget.

"I earned the name of Rail Raghu as Railways has been my passion for over 30 years now. It rubbed off my father who was in Railways and IIMA helped me blossom. Even my projects at IIMA and thesis at PhD were on railways. I hope to keep my passion," he adds.

He was the Indian Railways Chair professor in Rail Transport and Infrastructure Management from January 2008 to August 2010. He specialises in infrastructure and transport systems, and logistics and supply chain management.

Cautious optimism over IIMs' autonomy
By Rama Bijapurkar
The statement by Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Prakash Javadekar about the Cabinet approving the Indian Institute of Management Bill, 2017, was truly astonishing. Not only was it a volte face from what his predecessors had said, cutting across party lines, but also because of the never-heard-before language he used. "We want to free the institutes of excellence from government's control and micro management". He also used the words "full autonomy" which we have never heard from the HRD ministry before.

The minister made a shell shocking statement: "the government also needs to learn to fund and not control". He said excellence deserves autonomy and other than CAG audits and annual reports in Parliament, there will be no more supervision from the government, and IIM boards would manage the institutions which are now to be recognised as "institutions of national excellence".

The mood in the larger IIM community is to welcome this with cautious optimism and a feeling of "let's wait till we see the actual bill". Why such scepticism to this landmark bill which will hopefully result in a landslide of autonomy for all educational institutions? The immediately previous version of the bill drafted in former HRD minister Smriti Irani's time said that boards could take decisions "subject to central government approval".

The fact is that IIM-A (which is the one I know well) has not taken any grants for operating expenditure for well over 10 years now and funded most of its own capex for almost a decade, except for the expansion of capacity that the additional reservation for OBC seats required. However, the oft expressed faculty view is that if financial self sufficiency does not guarantee government non-interference in the functioning of the institutions, then why bother, we may as well take grants. So understandably, the paradigm shift is mind boggling.

We have always hoped for a "1991" moment that liberalises and liberates education, especially for the older IITs and IIMs which have demonstrated a sound system of faculty governance and delivered high-quality teaching and social contribution. The moment appears to be here now. But we need to see the details. Key concerns are how the chairman and director are selected and what role the boards play in it. Also of concern is the bogey raised by the HRD ministry earlier that it would set up a "super board" for all the IIMs which it would populate through a process not discussed yet, which would take a set of decisions on behalf of all IIMs, bonsai-ing the existing IIM boards more formally than ever before. There was talk of forcing commonality across all IIMs, old and new, reducing them all to a common denominator, pursuing a common strategy and sharing a common faculty pool. This is of course patently stupid.

No spine

Let us assume that this bill is indeed a "1991" moment for the IIMs, and gives them everything that Javadekar promises. Are the IIMs ready? IIM boards typically comprise a majority of corporate sector or business people. They are notorious for their lack of spine and understanding of the how and why institutions of education are fundamentally different.

They don't "get" the idea of academic freedom and room to innovate. Or the idea of how institutions grow or how the director, unlike the CEO, cannot (and should not) be directive and prescriptive; that she should be a shaper through influence and persuasion rather than through clout of hierarchy. Boards will have to play a very critical role in managing the transition to a board and not government-controlled institution. They need to learn how to make a performance contract with the institution each year and what action to take if not adhered to. With autonomy comes accountability.

IIM boards will need to deliberate their new responsibilities and fashion their new role; build the requisite knowledge wisdom and emotional quotient to be able to get the faculty and the "management" to do more than be polytechnics churning out the same "me too" MBAs;

Are boards ready to give autonomy - true autonomy - to institutions? Will any of the chairpersons lead the way with a radical recast of board composition and governance practices as well as encourage bold moves? We hope the bill walks its minister's talk and that IIM boards acquire the humility to learn to rise to the change and build true institutions.
(The writer is an alumna, a visiting faculty and a former board member of IIM-Ahmedabad)


For details go to :

IIM, Ahemdabad
IIM, Bangalore
IIM, Calcutta
IIM, Lucknow
IIM, Indore
IIM, Kozhikode
IIM, Shillong


 Cabinet okays IIM Bill with enhanced autonomy

By Sanjiv Dube
On January 24 the Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Bill, 2017, that seeks to declare IIMs as Institutions of National Importance, granting them the authority to award degrees instead of diplomas.

Briefing reporters the following day Union Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar boasted of having given "complete autonomy" to the IIMs in the proposed bill and even went to the extent of saying that more ace institutions would get autonomy if they do well in future.

The minister however failed to answer a pointed question as to when the IIM Bill would be tabled and passed in Parliament. He said he "hoped that the proposed legislation will come up in the upcoming Budget Session of Parliament and would be passed soon. “If the House decides they can straight away discuss, or if it comes to a Standing Committee, I am still sure it will be passed soon,” he said.

There are already a number of MHRD bills pending in Parliament and this one may also meet the same fate, say experts in parliamentary affairs here.

The bills seeks to give IIMs freedom to be governed by their board of governors with the President having no direct role. In other institutions like the IITs and Central universities, the President is the Visitor who appoints directors, vice-chancellors and chairpersons on the recommendation of the ministry.

Similarly the HRD minister will also have no role in the affairs of the IIMs. At present, the ministry appoints the IIM board chairperson and director. Once  the bill is passed, the situation in the IIMs will be different from that of the IITs whose council is headed by the minister. In the case of Central universities, the minister summons meetings of the vice-chancellors.

Each IIM's board of governors will have a chairperson, director, four eminent persons from industry, social service and academia, five representatives from alumni and the IIM Society, two representatives of faculty and one representative each from the Centre and the state government where it is located.

Among the total 15 members, there should be at least three women, including one SC/ST. The chairperson of the board can invite any expert to attend its meetings. But the experts will not have voting rights.

The IIMs presently award postgraduate diplomas in business administration (PGDBA) which is technically equivalent to a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. However there have been many instances abroad were the PGDBA holders were denied higher education because all foreign universities award and recognise MBA degrees only. Once the bill is passed the IIMs will be able to award MBA degrees instead of the PGDBA.

The minister was not present when the cabinet approved the bill on January 24 because he was in Pune for his son's wedding.

The bill is understood to be silent on implementing reservations in faculty recruitment. The IIMs had earlier cited a 1975 government order giving them exemption. But in 2013, the HRD ministry requested the IIMs to implement the quota, which they are yet to do.

The following are the salient features of the Bill:

i. IIMs can grant degrees to their students

ii. The Bill provides for complete autonomy to the Institutions, combined with adequate accountability.

iii. Management of these Institutions would be Board driven, with the Chairperson and Director of an Institution which will be selected by the Board.

iv. A greater participation of experts and alumni in the Board is amongst other important features of the Bill.

v. Provision has also been made for inclusion of women and members from Scheduled Castes/Tribes in the Board.

vi. The Bill also provides for periodic review of the performance of Institutions by independent agencies, and placing the results of the same on public domain.

vii. The Annual Report of the Institutions will be placed in the Parliament and CAG will be auditing their accounts.

viii. There is also a provision of Coordination Forum of IIMs as an advisory body.

IIMs told to double their students' intake capacity

By Our News Desk
In an ambitious decision taken under the headship of Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar on September 20 the Indian Institutes of Management have been told to double their intake capacity so that the combined intake of all the IIMs could expand from 10,000 to 20,000.

Speaking to reporters at IIM, Shillong -- the venue of the crucial meeting -- a beaming minister said : "We had a very good, successful and productive meeting of all IIMs directors and chairmen. We met after two years and will now be meeting frequently to discuss specific issues."

"More students will now get the opportunity to study in the best institutes. The IIM directors will submit their action plans on the expansion of student intake capacity," he added.

The parliamentary standing committee on MHRD had, in its 274th report had recommended expansion of seats at the IIMs and Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), besides a periodical expansion of faculty. The Shillong decision is a sequel to that, the minister said.

The minister also announced expansion of doctoral (PhD) programme to address the shortage of faculty in IIMs. "We discussed expansion of PhD programme by offering more fellowships to students of IIMs. To students in IITs, we have decided to give Prime Minister's Research Fellowship. We will also take the government's approval to give PM scholarship to the best of PhD scholars in IIMs but the final decision will be taken by the cabinet."

The meeting also discussed the need for IIMs to participate in the government's new initiative to develop 20 world class universities/institutes. "We want to create 10 (world class institutes) from the government sector and 10 from the private sector. The IIMs should prepare themselves because world class institutes will be decided by a challenge mode," the HRD minister said.

The IIMs will also participate in the implementation of Swayam, a massive platform for open online courses proposed to be launched soon by the government, Javadekar said. The IIMs will be required to create the content for Swayam which will offer 2,000 courses from Class IX to the post-graduate level.

"The courses will be offered to students free of cost, online and through TV channels. They will comprise lecture materials, mid-exam, final exams and certificates," the minister said.

Replying to a question on reservation for scheduled tribe teachers in IIMs, he said reservation already exists. "I do not know who started all this. It's already in the Constitution and no one can bypass the Constitution," he said.

Earlier in the morning the Minister interacted with the students of IIMs. Remembering the great teacher Late A.P.J Abdul Kalam, the minister said that there is a need to inculcate the willingness for adopting teaching profession among students as the country requires 10 million good teachers to improve the quality of education from primary to higher education; and from higher education to research and innovation.

While reiterating the fact that India is the youngest nation with the youngest population, he said that unless there are good passionate teachers to educate these young minds they would not turn into be dividends. He ended his interaction with an appeal to the students to ponder upon the need for research and innovation for developing good quality education.