The NDA government's move to make the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), the country's best-known centres of excellence, to be part of its inclusive growth plans, has been fraught with the danger of degrading these institutes to the level of government departments.
IIMs across the country have spoken up against the Institutes of Management Bill, 2015, proposed by the human resource development ministry, for the ministry's overreach would take away the autonomy of India's best-known global centres of excellence by stripping them of their decision-making powers.
IIMs are registered as societies under the Indian Societies Registration Act. Each IIM is autonomous and exercises independent control over its day-to-day operations. However, the administration of all IIMs and the overall strategy of IIMs are overseen by the IIM council. The IIM Council is headed by the minister of human resource development.
The IIM Council consists of the chairpersons and directors of all IIMs and senior officials from the ministry of human resource development of the government of India.
Criticising the bill, Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) director Ashish Nanda said, ''In its current form, it will lead to a serious erosion of IIMs' autonomy.''
The Hindu quoted Nanda as saying said the bill would cause inefficiency, attenuation in the drive to excel, and dampen innovation in the IIMs.
Nanda said the proposed centralisation of power would vest bureaucrats with more powers in decision-making although they might not have the specific knowledge about each IIM.
On the other hand, those who are at the helm of the institutes feel disillusioned with the bill since most of the powers will be vested with the HRD ministry.
Also, according to the IIM-A director, under a centralised decision-making process institutional heads will end up wasting much of their time and energy on explaining to government functionaries why they must be supported and what was not working well.
The ''one-size-fits-all'' solutions that the government prescribes for all institutions will only lead to curtailing innovation, while the government officials risk becoming interventionist.
The government had, in October last year, agreed to keep the IIMs autonomous, but the proposed bill uses the word regulate once too often.
The regulatory move will impact the strategic and operational activities of the IIMs ranging from the fee structure to the teaching and faculty selection, it was pointed out.
As of now, the academic faculty of IIMs has the freedom to choose the academic board and this should aptly be left to the IIMs and not based on government rules. But once the bill to regulate IIMs is passed, this will all end.