Days after Congress VP General Secretary Rahul Gandhi made allegations about the Birla Group giving kickbacks to PM Narendra Modi when he was Gujarat CM, noted industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla sidestepped queries on the topic and restricted his responses to speaking on his new role as Chairman of the IIMA’s Board of Governors while on a 2 day visit to the institute, Friday.
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Birla who helms one of the biggest business conglomerates-Aditya Birla Group attended his first board meeting on Friday after being appointed as the Chairman of IIMA’s BoG earlier this year. At a press meet he refused to take queries on Gandhi’s allegations and said, “I don’t know. I don’t want to talk about it. We will speak only on IIMA today…The matter is subjudice so I won’t talk about it.” Incidentally, the industrialist had come a day ahead of the Board meeting at IIMA to acquaint himself with the IIMA faculty, Board members, alumni, staff and averred that he had last visited the campus 20 years ago to give a pre-placement talk.
The premier B-school that has had a legacy of leading industry titans leading its Governing Board in the past, saw Birla speak about being ‘inspired’ by the leadership of previous IIMA Chairman, co-founder of Infosys- Narayana Murthy and said that his leadership is relatable to the former.
Birla was also vociferous about ‘autonomy’ for IIMs and said that in his new role he would look to forge stronger links between industry-academia. He said,”I haven’t seen the new (IIM) Bill because I am still new to this world. But I would only like to say that the autonomy of institutes like IIMA should not get fettered in anyway and even to the slightest extent. I think that these organisations and institutes have their own DNA, they have grown up in a certain way , they have been self-regulated and self-taught over the years and I think that is a very important reason fro their success. And that should not be tampered with at any cost….”
Sharing notes on the discussion surrounding ‘reservation’ at the IIMs at the recently concluded PAN-IIMA conference at IIMA, institute’s Director Ashish Nanda shared that a few IIM’s were encouraging Ph.D candidates of ‘weaker communities’ into the doctoral programme and later training them to join as faculty.