HRD ministry may allow IIMs a bigger say in selection of board chairman

The Prime Minister’s Office has favoured a bigger role for IIMs, though the HRD ministry under previous minister Smriti Irani was not convinced


The Prime Minister’s Office has favoured a bigger role for IIMs, but the HRD ministry under previous minister Smriti Irani was not convinced. 
Photo: Mint
The Prime Minister’s Office has favoured a bigger role for IIMs, but the HRD ministry under previous minister Smriti Irani was not convinced. Photo: Mint

New Delhi: The human resource development (HRD) ministry is set to allow Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) a bigger say in the selection of their governing board chairman, climbing down from its earlier stand where the ministry wanted to have a greater say, said two HRD ministry officials.

The Prime Minister’s Office has favoured a bigger role for IIMs, though the HRD ministry under previous minister Smriti Irani was not convinced.

Now, the HRD ministry has sent a reworked IIM Bill to the cabinet for approval. In the reworked IIM Bill, which has not been made public yet, the HRD ministry has deleted its earlier stand on a bigger say on IIM chairman selections.

“It’s not final yet and with PMO showing interest in the bill, it may undergo some more changes,” said the first HRD ministry official cited above, who declined to be named.

The Indian Express reported on Friday that the ministry has relinquished the government’s role in the selection process. However, authorities in the ministry said that it’s “not a complete give up” but retention of the “status quo” of what was prevalent before the controversy erupted a year ago.

The stated position for years was that the selection of board chairmen of IIMs, who are generally industry leaders or reputed academicians, will be done via a selection committee and the union HRD ministry will give its approval for one of the shortlisted members. But during the preparation of the IIM Bill, the ministry wanted a final say in the matter.

Matters took an ugly turn in May, when the ministry rejected three shortlisted names for the post of IIM Ahmedabad (IIM-A) chairman. The rejected names were R. Seshasayee, chairman of Infosys Ltd’s board of directors, HDFC Ltd chairman Deepak Parekh and Hero MotoCorp chief managing director Pawan Munjal.

IIM-A doesn’t have a full-time chairman since January 2016, after A.M. Naik, group executive chairman of Larsen & Toubro Ltd, resigned on 31 December, two years before the end of his tenure.

“The stated position of the new minister (Prakash Javadekar) is not to fiddle with well functioning establishments,” said the second HRD ministry official. The official said the IIM Bill will be a reality only when “concerned stake holders are on the same page”.

IIM-A, meanwhile, has restarted a fresh selection process for shortlisting candidates for the post of chairman.

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