New Delhi: A day after the Union cabinet approved the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Bill granting autonomy to the country’s premier business schools, the government caveated that the institutes need to reserve almost half the faculty positions for candidates from the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes.
“As far as reservations goes, the law of the land applies. There is no change in that,” human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar said, sticking to his ministry’s position—one that has been opposed by the IIMs that fear it will hurt the quality of instruction at the schools—that could take some of the sheen off what many see as a reformist move.
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The IIM Bill itself is silent on the issue.
The director of an IIM said that though the ministry had sounded administrators of the business schools out on hiring suitable candidates from underprivileged sections of society, there was no directive on this yet.
“The understanding at the IIMs is that it is not mandatory until we receive a formal communication stating otherwise,” the director said. “We are making efforts but are not finding enough suitable candidates,” he added.
On all other aspects, the IIM Bill does grant the IIMs significant autonomy.
The message the bill is sending is “we trust IIMs and we want to free the institutes of excellence from government’s control and micro-management,” Javadekar said. He added that he would also no longer chair the coordination forum where all IIMs gather.
Javadekar, who clarified that the government would continue to fund the IIMs, said he would like to see the IIM Bill passed in the second leg of the budget session.
T.V. Mohandas Pai, a former head of administration and HR at Infosys Ltd, termed the IIM Bill “a great move” and said “IITs and central universities need this (autonomy)”.
Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairman of IIM Bangalore and chairman and managing director of Biocon Ltd, said on the microblogging site Twitter that the bill was a “visionary move that will make IIMs world class”.
The Union cabinet on Tuesday cleared the IIM Bill that aims to grant “complete autonomy” to the elite B-schools and allows them to award degrees instead of diplomas, as is the case now. Under discussion for several years, the bill once passed by parliament will grant the IIMs freedom in terms of administration, recruitment and daily functioning.
Javadekar said the IIM Bill is just the beginning and that other higher education institutions would get similar autonomy if they proved their excellence.