New Delhi: The Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) are not the private property of a few, education minister Dharmendra Pradhan said in the Lok Sabha Friday while batting for a greater role for the central government in the administration of the country’s premier business schools.
Pradhan was speaking during the debate on the Indian Institutes of Management (IIM) (Amendment) Bill, 2023, which was passed by the Lok Sabha later.
The bill was passed amid a din, with the Opposition continuing to protest over the violence in Manipur. Right before this, defence minister Rajnath Singh had got up to present the Inter-Services Organisations (Command, Control and Discipline) Bill, 2023. But he could barely speak and had to move back among the treasury benches to be able to address the House.
The government had introduced the IIM (Amendment) Bill in the Lok Sabha last Friday. Amending the IIM Act, 2017, it proposes to appoint the President of India as the ‘Visitor’ of every IIM through a new section, (10 A), in the principal act. This would give the central government a say in the decision-making of the institutes.
Defending the amendments, Pradhan said, “We are not interested in taking away the academic autonomy of the IIMs — this is a promise of the government. However, over Rs 6,000 crore has been spent by the state and central governments to set up the IIMs. These institutions are not private property or private institutions. These changes are being brought about simply to bring management accountability.”
Jagdambika Pal, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from Uttar Pradesh, speaking in favour of the bill, said the IIMs had failed to be accountable ever since the government had designated them Institutes of National Importance through the 2017 act. Pal said, “The IIMs are supposed to submit review reports every three years. With the exception of IIM Bangalore, no other IIM has submitted its performance review over the last five years.”
Lavu Sri Krishna Devarayalu, a YSRCP MP from Andhra Pradesh, raised an objection to the inclusion of the President as ‘Visitor’ of the IIMs.
He said, “The National Education Policy, launched by the Narendra Modi government, promises autonomy to educational institutions. But this bill is going in the opposite way in the aspect of inclusion of the visitor. It removes the autonomy of the IIMs and they have been doing well for the last 30-40 years.”
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The bill, piloted by the Ministry of Education, would empower the President to appoint the chairperson of the board of governors (BoG) of each IIM. The BoG, the principal executive body of the IIMs, regulates the functioning of the institutes. Besides the chairperson, it includes one nominee each of the central government and the respective state governments.
Likewise, the bill would give the visitor the final say in the appointment of the directors of these institutes. This would be a major change vis-à-vis the 2017 Act, under which the director, who is the CEO of the institute, is appointed out of the panel of names recommended by a search & selection committee constituted by the BoG.
In another major change, the amended bill would do away with section 17 of the IIM act, which gives powers to the BoG to initiate an inquiry into the functioning of an IIM if required. Currently, a retired high court judge is to conduct this inquiry, based on which the board will make a decision. However, under the new bill, the Visitor would have the power to start an inquiry in case of suspected mismanagement.
(Edited by Smriti Sinha)
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