Governing bodies of the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) may yet retain their autonomy as the controversial IIM bill has been redrafted to modify certain clauses that the boards argued would curtail their powers.
Doing away with contentious issues like seeking the Centre’s approval on a range of functions, including increasing of the fee structures and changes in regulations, the new draft comes as a huge relief for the IIMs. The bill has now been listed for the ongoing session of Parliament.
The revised draft of the bill — which was circulated among different ministries for comments this week — also retains with the governing bodies the power to make crucial decisions on appointment of academic and administrative staff as well as manner of formation of academic departments.
The revisions were made to three key sections of the bill.
In section 36 (1) of the proposed bill, it stated that approval of the central government would be required for making rules on matters such as deciding remunerations of employees, the fee structure, and even construction of the new building blocks. The clause — ‘with the approval of the central government’ — has been scrapped.
Section 21 which gave the government power to issue any policy direction has also been scrapped.
Section 3 (k), which required any regulation made by the board to be approved by the government, has been modified to give the board the final say.
Both sections 3 (k) and 36 (1) drew severe criticism from the institutes who said the proposal would give sweeping powers to the government.
“By virtue of these clauses, essentially the decision making power on virtually all issues would rest with the central government and the IIM boards would become recommendatory, not executive bodies,” read a letter addressed to human resource development (HRD) minister Smriti Irani from IIM-Ahmedabad’s board chairperson, AM Naik.
The letter was in response to the HRD ministry putting up the IIM bill in public domain, inviting comments from all stakeholders in June. IIM-Lucknow and IIM-Bangalore had earlier written similar letters asking the ministry to re-draft the bill in consultation with the IIMs.
The draft bill was initially conceived to give IIMs the power to award degrees instead of a post graduate diploma, thus making the management studies certificate recognizable abroad. It was also meant to give the IIMs flexibility to explore areas of study beyond management.
Following the uproar, the HRD ministry held several rounds of discussion with various IIM directors to address their concerns.