The Ministry of Human Resource Development, under its new head Prakash Javadekar, has agreed to relinquish the government’s role in appointing the chairman of the Board of Governors (BoG) at all IIMs, just months after his predecessor Smriti Irani rejected a panel of corporate stalwarts recommended by IIM-Ahmedabad for the chairman’s post.
In May, the Ministry led by Irani, in an unprecedented move, had scrapped the shortlist sent by IIM-Ahmedabad — Chairman of Board of Directors of Infosys R Seshasayee, Chairman of HDFC Deepak Parekh, and Hero MotoCorp CMD Pawan Munjal — for appointment of a new BoG chairman after A M Naik, Group Executive Chairman of Larsen & Toubro Limited, resigned on December 31, 2015, two years before his term was to end. No reason was given for the rejection and the decision was seen as another attack on the autonomy of the premier B-schools.
But now, after the Cabinet reshuffle, the HRD Ministry is learnt to have accepted the PMO’s suggestion to empower the IIMs, under the IIM Bill, to appoint their own chairmen. The draft law was recently dispatched for Cabinet approval.
As per the previous version of the Bill finalised under Irani’s ministership, the chairman had to be appointed by the President in consultation with the BoG. In other words, the government would have had the last word on the final selection for the post. The government’s role, top sources said, has been deleted from this clause.
The Indian Express first reported on March 11 on the differences between the HRD Ministry and PMO 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. The HRD Ministry did not relent on all the suggested changes.
So 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 retained the provision which makes the HRD Minister the head of the IIM Coordinating Forum. The PMO was not in favour of the latter.
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 of the premier B-schools. The PMO then virtually blocked Cabinet approval for the Bill.
At a meeting held with the PMO last month, after Javadekar assumed charge, the Ministry agreed on relinquishing its role in the appointment of the BoG chairman.
However, the PMO is learnt to have accepted the Ministry’s reasons for not diluting the clauses which appoint its Minister as head of the Coordinating Forum and empower the President to review any IIM’s work.