Wednesday, June 10, 2015

IIM bill proposes coordination forum, not IIT Council-type body

Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), the country’s premier business schools, may be guided by a coordination forum led by the Union human resource development (HRD) minister if legislation proposed by the Union government takes effect. The forum is aimed at helping IIMs leverage each other’s resources and give policy direction to these institutes without creating a body like the IIT Council.

The Ministry of HRD on Tuesday put up the draft of the proposed law on IIMs for comments and public opinion, taking forward a proposal initiated by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government.

Four ministers in charge of technical education from governments in states where the institutes are located will be members of the forum by rotation each year. The draft bill proposes to cover all aspects of the functioning of IIMs. “This Act may be called the Indian Institutes of Management Act, 2015,” the draft bill said. It also permits IIMs to award degrees instead of diplomas as is the current practice.

On the coordination forum, the draft bill said it shall consist of the minister in charge of the ministry or department of the central government having administrative control of the technical education and shall function as ex-officio chairperson. The technical education secretary of the government of India, the chairperson of the board of each IIMs and director of each IIM shall complete the forum. 

But other than policy direction, it shall not have the power to fix fee, a demand made by IIMs during discussion rounds. The IIT Council, also headed by the HRD minister, is the final authority on all matters — from fee determination to key administrative matters at IITs.

The draft bill, however, has empowered the board of governors of each IIM to review the performance of the directors of the institute at regular intervals. “The board shall conduct an annual review of the performance of the director, in the context of the achievements of objects of the institute,” the draft bill said.

“The board shall, within seven years from the incorporation of the institute, and thereafter at the end of every fifth year, evaluate and review the performance of the institutes on the parameters such as long-term strategy and five-year rolling plan of the institutes,” the draft bill said.

A professor at an IIM said that the bill is fine in intention, but the forum should not flex its muscles and start interfering in the matters of the IIMs as the autonomy of these institutions are key to its quality so far. “There are too many government officials in the forum and hope they stick to just advisory role,” the professor added, asking not to be named.

India has 13 IIMs and six more are in the pipeline. Each IIM is structured as a society and governed by its own board of directors. Once the law is drafted and passed, IIMs will cease to be societies and become institutions created by statute.

Source: Mint, June 10, 2015

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