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New Delhi: The human resource development (HRD) ministry has decided against creating a council to bring all Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) under one management body in the face of opposition from top business schools that fear this could erode their autonomy.

The ministry’s change of heart came after the elite business schools raised concerns, said two government officials, who didn’t want to be identified. “The ministry has spoken to all stakeholders to clear its stand that it does not want to interfere. One can call it a climb down, but the path is practical," said one of the two officials.

Each of the IIMs is structured as a society and governed by its own board of directors.

The government initially planned to create an IIM Council, headed by the HRD minister along the lines of the Indian Institutes of Technology council that takes key decisions for the premier engineering schools. This was supposed to be part of the IIM bill.

Once the law is drafted and passed, IIMs will cease to be societies and become institutions created by statute.

However, they will still be governed by their respective boards.

Older IIMs—including the top three business schools at Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Bengaluru—were of the opinion that an IIM Council would mean the ministry “may try to control IIMs from the back door", the first official said.

The law will not undermine the boards, the first official added. Undermining the board would mean the ministry ends up taking all calls related to the IIMs and apart from it not having the capacity to do so, such a move “will only lead to criticism", this person said.

The second official listed the other changes the bill will bring about: one, it will allow IIMs to offer MBA degrees (they currently offer postgraduate diplomas) and PhDs; two, it will make the board of governors stronger; and three, it will ensure there is better coordination between the newer IIMs (many of whom are still finding their feet) and the older ones.

Bakul Dholakia, a former director of IIM Ahmedabad, said in an email that if IIMs start giving master’s degrees, there will be a “situation of dichotomy" for the master’s degree offered by them and the PGDM (Post Graduate Diploma in Management) offered by the top institutes of India. “The PGDM as a qualification will stand at a disadvantage," said Dholakia, who is currently the director general of R.P. Goenka Group-promoted International Management Institute, New Delhi.

Harivansh Chaturvedi, director of Birla Institute of Management Technology in Greater Noida, said that he has written to the top 30 private B-schools in India to come together and seek degree-granting status from the HRD ministry. “We are ready to talk to the ministry and abide by some rules, but quality private players should be allowed to grant degrees too," he said.

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