PM man listening,autonomy debate rages at IIM-A

The government is not inclined to interfere with the institute’s working although policy decisions such as reservations would have to be followed,said C Rangarajan.

Written by Express News Service | Ahmedabad | Published: June 21, 2011 3:32:58 am

Book by ex-professor slams IIM-A for complaining about salaries,lack of autonomy

A book release at the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) on Monday once again turned the spotlight on the issue of the institute’s autonomy,with a prominent economic adviser to the Prime Minister saying the government is not inclined to interfere with the institute’s working although policy decisions such as reservations would have to be followed.

C Rangarajan,chairman of the PM’s Economic Advisory Council and a former IIM-A professor himself,said the government’s stand is not just confined to IIMs but also to other higher education institutions in the country.

“The government is not inclined to interfere too much with the higher education institutions,but there are some policy interventions that must be put in place,” Rangarajan said,referring to the recent enlargement of batch sizes to accommodate candidates belonging to Other Backward Classes (OBCs).

The book that was released — Brick by Red Brick: Ravi Mathai and the making of IIM-Ahmedabad — authored by finance and accounting professor T T Ram Mohan and published by Rupa,has also delved into the issue of autonomy,with the professor arguing at the release function that “you don’t go to the government and say ‘give me more autonomy and I will show you results’. You show results and you will get autonomy”.

In the book too,Mohan argues that IIM-A’s reluctance against the OBC quota is “truly bizarre”. OBC candidates normally score higher than STs/SCs in the entrance exams,and the latter two groups have enjoyed reserved seats at IIM-A for decades,he writes.

Citing an instance of political intervention in the institute’s affairs,Mohan writes,“A Union Cabinet minister,who intended to award large research projects in agricultural areas to at IIM-A demanded that his son be given a seat in the PGP (course). Mathai (the then director) told him politely but firmly that the necessary procedures would have to be followed. The minister’s offer of projects was promptly withdrawn.”

Ram Mohan also chides the IIM-A for its refrain that it is unable to pay salaries that are high enough to attract outstanding faculty. “To say that if only the IIMs are freed from government restrictions will they be able to offer salaries that are internationally competitive is nonsense.”

“IIM-A finds even the Sixth Pay Commission award more of a burden and has preferred not to implement some of its provisions,” he writes,adding “other IIMs (besides IIM-A and IIM-Bangalore) have seldom voiced concerns about lack of autonomy”.

The book release was attended by a cross-section of faculty,including those who have been vocal in their demands for more autonomy,like IIM-A director,Prof Samir K Barua.

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