Friday, March 25, 2011

Privatisation of IIMs?

I had flagged this issue in an earlier post. Today, P K Sett of IIM Calcutta comments on the proposed changes in the governance structure of the IIMs. One proposal, made by a committee constituted by the HRD ministry, is for IIMs to sell seats in their Societies for Rs 20 crore (corporate) and Rs 5 crore (individual). This is intended to create 'ownership' in the IIMs. Sett rightly points out that this would mean a fundamental change in the character of the IIMs. I have two observations to make.

First, it's not clear yet that the ministry favours this proposal. Indeed, at a meeting between the minister and the IIM directors, it appears that the ministry had reservations about it. Two, it's not correct to blame the minister for this proposal or another proposal that would have faculty plans approved by the Board of Governors.

Both the proposals have emanated from committees on which the IIMs were represented. The Bhargava committee, which came up with the obtuse suggestion to sell seats to private donors, had the directors of IIM Bangalore, Calcutta (Sett's own boss) and Kozhikode as members. The Balakrishnan committee, which wanted the Board to approve faculty plans, had the director of IIMA as a member. All IIM directors were present at the meeting last October with the minister where the two reports were discussed.

Sett writes,'The public at large only has to stand and watch the demise of a great icon of modern India - if the HRD minister has his way.' Well, if the proposals go through, you can't blame the minister for that- the IIM directors are very much party to it. Why is it that we always end up making the government out to be the villain?


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