The Human Resource Development Ministry, under its new head Prakash Javadekar, has conceded to all the changes proposed to the IIM Bill by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). This would give the premier B-Schools sweeping autonomy — even more than they currently enjoy. As reported by The Indian Express on August 12, Javadekar had first agreed to relinquish the government’s role in appointing the chairman of the Board of Governors (BoG) at all IIMs. But the Bill has undergone a second makeover since he took charge from Smriti Irani in July.
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According to sources in the Law Ministry, the HRD Ministry has now moved a supplementary Cabinet note proposing three more changes to the Bill.
The institutes, under the latest version of the draft law, are free to appoint their own directors. Currently, a selection committee shortlists the panel of names, from which a director is appointed by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet. Javadekar has agreed to empower the BoG of an IIM to appoint its director from the shortlist.
The new draft has also dropped all references to the President, who is the Visitor of all IIMs. This means that the President will no longer have the power to review their work.
Further, Javadekar has also relinquished the HRD Minister’s role as the head of the IIM Coordination Forum, aimed at helping IIMs leverage each other’s resources and give them policy direction. Now, an “eminent person” will head this body.
The Indian Express had on March 11 reported on the differences between the PMO and the HRD Ministry under Irani over the IIM Bill. The PMO had recommended more than five changes to the draft law — which aims to empower the premier B-schools to award degrees instead of diplomas — to dilute the scope of government control over the institutes.
But the HRD Ministry under Irani’s leadership had not accepted all the suggested changes. While it agreed to increase the number of alumni and female members on the BoG of every IIM from three to five and from one to three, respectively, the ministry had retained the provision which makes the HRD Minister the head of the IIM Coordinating Forum. The PMO was not in favour of this.
The HRD Ministry was also not willing to dilute the clause that empowered the President to review the work of any IIM in his capacity as Visitor. The PMO then virtually blocked Cabinet approval for the Bill and the matter was escalated to Nripendra Misra, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister.
At a meeting held with the PMO in July, after Javadekar assumed charge, the ministry agreed on relinquishing its role in the appointment of the BoG chairman. After this, a supplementary Cabinet note was moved. Now, a second supplementary Cabinet note has been moved, accepting all changes proposed by the PMO.
For more news on HRD Ministry’s plans for higher education in India, click here