New Delhi: The stand-off between the government and the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) ended on Friday after both sides relented, paving the way for a compromise.
As a result, the IIMs will now be governed by an independent body constituted by the schools themselves and faculty members will now be eligible for additional performance-based incentives, human resource development (HRD) minister Kapil Sibal said.
The changes could make it easier for the IIMs to attract talent. It also means the schools have preserved their autonomy.
Directors of IIMs, the best- known business schools in the country, and members on their respective boards will now be appointed through an independent collegium, instead of a pan-IIM board suggested by a government-appointed panel last year, a move being seen as giving greater autonomy to the IIMs in their administrative affairs.
“The IIMs have agreed to this process. The boards have become too unwieldy. They will be reconstituted. The composition of the collegium will be restricted to 13 members,’’ Sibal said.
At the meeting of IIM directors with Sibal, the institutes also agreed to submit a five-year vision document by January.
The ministry has also asked the IIMs to expand the number of seats and forge partnerships with the private sector to set up hostels on their campuses. Sibal said the ministry was also not opposed to IIMs setting up campuses abroad. “Maybe not just one IIM, several IIMs should get together and draw a plan. We want IIMs to be a global brand,’’ he said.
IIM Bangalore had earlier evinced interest in setting up a campus in Singapore, but the IIMs have been unable to open campuses abroad as their memorandum of association with the government does not allow them to go overseas.
The creation of a pan-IIM board was recommended last year by a government-appointed committee headed by former Maruti Udyog (now Maruti Suzuki India Ltd) chairman R.C. Bhargava to review the functioning of the IIMs. The IIMs viewed the proposal as an infringement on their autonomy. The panel had also argued that the B-schools’ management development programmes were eroding the quality of their teaching and research.
Stressing that the autonomy of the IIMs would not be compromised, Sibal said the collegium would ensure a more broad-based selection procedure. “The Bhargava panel had suggested a pan-IIM board and none of the IIMs agreed to it. A collegium will address all those concerns,’’ he added.
Members of the boards of the IIMs and their directors have so far been appointed by the ministry on the recommendations of the respective boards, which include representation from the industry and academia. All the existing boards will, however, be reconstituted now, Sibal said.
The proposed collegium will comprise academicians and members from industry. While each IIM has its own board currently, the proposed collegium will be a single body for all the IIMs. “It is a good idea. We will see how it can be implemented,” IIM Bangalore director Pankaj Chandra said.
“A collegium sounds very similar (to a pan-IIM board) to me. The purpose of the board was also to help in running the IIMs and the constitution of the collegium is also the same as proposed by our panel. It’s a good decision in the sense that at least there will be a collegium now,’’ Bhargava said.
“As far as faculty recruitment is concerned, they (IIMs) have said that they are finding it difficult,’’ Sibal said, while stressing that the incentives would help the institutes tide over these difficulties.
Last month, faculty members at all the 13 Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) agitated over a government notification on their salaries, which they found inadequate, and regulations on faculty recruitment, which they said interfered with their autonomy. The IIMs too joined in, but later agreed to accept the circular.
The IIT professors agreed to call off their protest after the ministry stated that the notification was only a policy guideline.
However, the face-off with the government highlighted the difficulties faced by these premier institutes in attracting and retaining talent. The seven older IITs have an estimated cumulative shortage of at least 900 faculty. Among the IIMs, barring IIM Lucknow, each school faces a faculty shortage of 15 members or less, then HRD minister Arjun Singh had told the Rajya Sabha in 2007.