Lok Sabha passes IIM Bill that seeks to give more autonomy

At present, India has 20 Indian Institutes of Management. Photo: Mint

At present, India has 20 Indian Institutes of Management. Photo: Mint

The Lok Sabha on Friday approved the Indian Institutes of Management Bill 2017 that promises to grant administrative, academic and financial autonomy to the elite B-Schools and allow them to award degrees to their graduates.

The lower house passed the bill after a debate in which nearly two dozen parliamentarians participated. The bill is required to be passed by the Rajya Sabha and signed by the President to become law.

Although members of the Lok Sabha raised questions over complete financial autonomy, ambiguity in faculty reservations and even a proposal to change the name of Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Calcutta (IIM-C) to IIM, Kolkata (IIM-K)—which was dropped—they largely backed the legislation, saying it would improve the institutions’ global stature.

Human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar, defending the autonomy of educational institutions, said the government and lawmakers should “trust our institutions.”

“It is difficult to run IIMs from here (Delhi),” Javadekar said in the Lok Sabha.

“There is tremendous government interference and control (in these institutions)… We want to remove that. There would not be any government control… We have to trust the best brains, the best institutions,” Javadekar said.

India has 20 IIMs. The bill, which was approved by the cabinet in January, will grant greater autonomy to these schools and ensure they are “board-driven, with the chairperson and director selected by the board”.

This means neither the human resource development (HRD) ministry nor the president of India will have a say in the selection of top executives at these B-schools. The government will have no say on the appointments or fees at these institutes.

There will be a periodic, independent review of the IIMs, which would be allowed to award degrees once the law is in place. Until now, since they haven’t been governed by an act of Parliament nor overseen by the University Grants Commission (UGC), IIMs have been awarding students post-graduate diplomas.

The bill contains a provision for a “Coordination Forum of IIMs.” But it will have limited power and work as an advisory body, consisting of 33 members, and its chairman will be selected by a search-cum-selection committee. The HRD minister will not head it.

The bill says the central government may frame rules to give additional powers and duties to IIM boards and decide on the terms and condition of service of directors although the appointment will be made by the board. It will notify the IIM coordination forum to be headed by an eminent person.

Congress parliamentarian and former junior HRD minister Shashi Tharoor said the IIM bill was “silent on reservation” in faculty recruitment. He said he was also worried at the IIMs having “complete control over the fee structure.”

Tharoor also argued that the name of IIM-C name should not be changed to IIM-K as it will dilute the brand value of the institution and clash with IIM-Kozhikode. The government agreed not to change the name of IIM-C.