Re your ‘Epic Lessons’, Mint, 24 April 2007. I remember the time when the NDA minister for human resource development, M.M. Joshi talked about ‘reducing’ fees in IIMs, which are cash-rich institutions with crores of funds lying in the banks and can easily afford to charge less fee from its students. There was such uproar from these institutions, media, intelligentsia and general public that no one heard the aam aadmi. Standing against Joshi was Dholakia, the head of IIM-A, boasting about the autonomy and excellence of IIMs. Yes, the same Dholakia and his clan of IIM directors now have their tails between their legs as the UPA government, Arjun Singh and the babus arm-twist them to ‘wait for a fresh directive’ to go ahead with the admission process.
Wat’er battleground’ by Abhishek Bhati in Yourviews, Mint, 25 April was welcome and informative.
However, the solutions suggested in the article for conserving rainwater would involve substantial capital investment and the use of power as well as a certain level of technology.
Therefore, most of the suggestions would be beyond the capabilities of small and marginal farmers in the rainfed areas, as no bank would lend them money for such purposes on grounds of non-viability—even though these very farmers are the most vulnerable to agrarian distress, and currently constitute the majority engaged in farming activities in India.
A simpler intervention for conserving rainwater, and consequently ground water, without recourse to sprinklers, levelling, bunding, etc., would be to seed the soil with silica-gel granules. Silica gel is an inexpensive, hydrophilic substance that is easily available. It can be applied simultaneously with sowing operations, in the same ratio as the quantity of seeds by weight, per acre.
The rainfall would be captured near the ground surface, near the seeds, and provide moisture gradually for the seed to grow into a plant. A seed to silica gel ratio of 1:2 would provide moisture for a longer period, depending upon the harvest cycle of a particular crop. Our agriculture administrators as well as commercial banks could try this out, for starters.
This refers to your edit, Epic lessons, Mint, 24 April. I think the IIMs’ stand-off with the government happens because the IIMs still depend financially on the government. The fees charged by the IIMs do not cover even their cost of operations. This brings forth a huge distortion in the system as a whole.
What would happen if the IIMs, instead of charging Rs1.75 lakh fees per annum, would now charge Rs6 lakh per annum?
First, the IIMs could independently use the money, instead of depending on government largesse (and having to adhere to the government’s ad-hoc dictate and mood swings in return). Second, IIM professors could be paid a corporate salary (rather than what they are being paid at the moment).
Third, the infrastructure in the IIMs could be upgraded to ISB levels.
Fourth, IIM students get an average package of Rs10-14 lakh per annum (leaving aside the salary outliers to the tune of Rs1 crore-plus); they can easily pay off the fees through an education loan, and students opting out of the placement process can be refunded their fees via a scholarship scheme.
Then why should the IIMs depend on taxpayer largesse and on the government? Is that a legacy of India’s socialist system?
Remember the IIMs are no longer a socialist institution. They provide raw material (human resources) to capitalist institutions and, therefore, the IIMs should now adopt a capitalist image and shed their current socialist flavour of existence.
–Naresh N. Nayak