Tuesday, June 30, 2015

MHRD holds fresh talks on IIM bill

The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) on Monday restarted the negotiations with the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) to build a consensus on the controversial IIM Bill, which the B-schools say will undermine their autonomy and vest sweeping powers with the ministry. Starting with IIM-Ahmedabad (IIM-A), which has been the most forceful in its opposition to the bill, the ministry is looking to consult all 13 IIMs.

IIM-A Director Ashish Nanda, who held a about 90-minute meeting on Monday with MHRD officials in New Delhi, sounded a conciliatory note after the meeting. “There was a bump in between...but the ministry believes in the consultations,” Nanda said after the meeting. The meeting holds significance as it is seen as a sign of the ministry climbing down and a possible prelude to a redrafting of the IIM Bill. Although Nanda did not divulge details of his meeting, he cited news reports that the ministry was planning to rework the bill, terming it a good move.

Mint reported on Monday that the MHRD was likely to redraft the controversial draft legislation to include changes suggested by some of the premier business schools. With the bill likely to go back to the drafting stage, it is unlikely to be tabled in the monsoon session of Parliament that begins 21 July.

A MHRD official, requesting anonymity, said that the ministry is considering all options and redrafting the bill cannot be ruled out. The ministry may drop some contentious clauses, especially from Section 35 and Section 36, which were added without discussions with the IIMs and which empower the Union government to set rules for the elite B-schools.

Section 36 states, “The (IIM) board may, with the approval of the central government, by notification, make regulations not inconsistent with this Act and the rules made thereunder to carry out the provisions of this Act.” Section 35 empowers the central government, among other things, to “make rules, for carrying out the provisions of this Act”, ranging from the appointment of the IIM chairpersons to terms and conditions of their service.

The official cited above said any decision to this effect can only be taken after consultations with HRD minister Smriti Irani, who is travelling and expected in office only next week. IIM-A has been vehement in its resistance to the legislation, which it said last week would vest “sweeping centralization of authority” in the government. IIM-A Chairman A.M. Naik asked the ministry to take a fresh look at the bill and extend the deadline for public discourse on it up to 31 July, instead of the 24 June deadline set by the ministry. IIM-Lucknow Chairman J.J. Irani warned last week: “If the bill is passed in the current format, then there will be a revolt in the IIM system.”

IIMs have fiercely guarded their autonomy over the years. In 2012-13, when the bill was initially talked about, these B-schools opposed provisions like the formation of an IIM Council to oversee the functioning of the institutions.

India has 13 IIMs and six more will open in the current academic year. The existing 13 IIMs have an intake capacity of about 3,500 students. Nearly 200,000 aspirants vie for these seats through the Common Admission Test (CAT) every year.

Source: Mint, June 30, 2015

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