THE GOVERNMENT has called a meeting of all 20 IIM directors next week to discuss the concerns flagged by them with regard to the rules being drafted under the IIM Act.
The IIM directors will meet HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar on April 11 to discuss, among other things, their suggestion to have either the President, Vice President, or the minister head the IIM Coordination Forum — the IIM equivalent of the IIT Council, which is the highest decision-making body of the IITs.
The first draft of the IIM Bill had the HRD Minister as the head of the Coordination Forum, but this was dropped at the behest of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), which wanted the body to be chaired by an eminent person.
IIM directors, The Indian Express has learnt, also want the committee drafting the IIM rules to lay down the eligibility criteria for appointment of members to the Board of Governors (BoG). “Just like how the eligibility criteria are defined at the time of appointment of a director,” said an institute head on condition of anonymity. That apart, the directors also want the rules to define their powers and autonomy vis-à-vis the Board.
As first reported by The Indian Express on February 5, at least six directors of new IIMs had expressed concern that relinquishing government control could undermine the accountability of the institute’s leadership. The new law grants statutory powers to all IIMs, including appointment of directors and chairpersons.
Under the new IIM Act, an institute director, who will also act as Chief Executive Officer, will be selected by the BoG of the institute from a panel of names recommended by the search-cum-selection committee, also constituted by the BoG. Earlier, the director was appointed by the Board, but with prior approval of the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) headed by the Prime Minister. At least half of the 13 new IIMs set up in the last decade are of the view that the ACC should continue to remain involved even under the new law to ensure accountability.
The degree of autonomy to be granted to the 20 premier B-schools under the IIM Act was the source of some friction between the PMO and the HRD Ministry in 2016, then under Smriti Irani. While Irani had advocated retaining some form of government control over the institutes, the PMO pushed for complete autonomy. Ironically, the new institutes are now worried if this freedom will be “abused” by the Board.
The HRD Ministry has set up a committee, headed by IIM-Sirmaur chairman Ajay Shriram, to draft rules under the IIM Act. HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar has already met all IIM chairmen to seek their suggestions on the rules.