The biggest challenge before the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) is to ensure that 22.5 per cent seats, reserved for students of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, is filled, said Milind Kamble, who was on Monday appointed as the chairperson of the board of governors of IIM, Jammu.
Kamble, also the founder chairperson of the Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said IIMs will give priority to bridging the gap between upgrading academics and providing human resources for industrial needs. Kamble told The Indian Express in Mumbai, “The appointment brings a greater challenge and responsibilities. Several critical issues are confronting the SC/STs in premier institutions, which will have to be relooked… affirmative action is needed to provide the necessary support system that can help to boost the confidence of such students.”
While 15 per cent seats for SCs and and 7.5 per cent for STs have been reserved, most seats remain vacant. There are multiple factors behind this, including students not being prepared to cope with the competition as well as failing to withstand the cultural divide, especially for those from rural and poor background, said Kamble.
While asserting that autonomy of IIMs is unlikely to be compromised, he said, “My endeavour will be bridge the gap between academic excellence and industrial requirement… Greater interface between existing faculty, which imparts academic excellence, and experts will be emphasised…”
Calling on SC/ST students to take advantage of the new opportunities, both academically and in the job sector, Kamble said: “They should should shed their age old mindset and focus on self-entrepreneurship… There have been some stray instances in some institutions or professional sectors, where SC/STs have been targeted… The appointment of SC/ST members on the board of governors in IIMs should be perceived as a big step towards affirmative action.”