New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha on Tuesday passed the much-awaited Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Bill, effectively making the elite B-schools free of government interference and giving them the power to award full-fledged degrees.

The bill, which was passed by the Lok Sabha in the previous session of Parliament, now requires presidential assent to become law. It seeks to grant administrative, academic and financial autonomy to the IIMs.

The bill was passed unanimously in the Upper House of Parliament, where some opposition party members raised issues related to education reforms.

Naresh Agrawal, a member of the Samajwadi Party, said he supported autonomy for the IIMs, but demanded that similar independence from government control be offered to the Indian Institutes of Technology and other top schools. He also demanded reform of the technical education regulator.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh asked the government to spell out the process of appointing the board of governors that will helm IIMs now.

Human resource development (HRD) minister Prakash Javadekar defended the autonomy granted to IIMs.

“It is difficult to run IIMs from here (Delhi)," Javadekar had said in the Lok Sabha.

India has 20 IIMs. The bill, which was approved by the cabinet in January, will grant greater autonomy to these schools and ensure they are “board-driven, with the chairperson and director selected by the board".

To begin with, IIMs at Ahmedabad and Kozhikode that are running without full-time directors will appoint their own directors without seeking approval from the government.

It means neither the HRD ministry nor the President of India will have any say in the selection of top executives at these B-schools. The government will have no say in the appointments or fees charged at these institutes as well.

The bill proposes a periodic, independent review of the IIMs, which would be allowed to award degrees. Until now, since they haven’t been governed by an act of Parliament, nor overseen by the University Grants Commission (UGC), IIMs have been awarding students postgraduate diplomas.

The bill contains a provision for a “Coordination Forum of IIMs". But it will have limited power and work as an advisory body, consisting of 33 members, and its chairman will be selected by a search-cum-selection committee. The HRD minister will not head it.

The bill says the central government may frame rules to give additional powers and duties to IIM boards and decide on the terms and conditions of service of directors although the appointments will be made by the boards. It will notify the IIM coordination forum to be headed by an eminent person.

“The passage of the bill is a much awaited reform but we will desire that the government should not control the IIMs via the coordination forum," said an administrator of one of the older IIMs on condition of anonymity.

Harivansh Chaturvedi, director of the Birla Institute of Management and Technology in Greater Noida, on the outskirts of Delhi, said the HRD ministry should push ahead with education reforms and grant autonomy to all top management schools, both in the government and private sector.

On Sunday, during an event, finance minister Arun Jaitley had alluded to delayed reforms in the education sector and urged an acceleration of the process.

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