The period immediately following Independence of India in 1947 was witness to several new initiatives to build the fledgling independent nation into a model democratic state committed to growth with equity in the development of its people. The establishment of Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA) in 1961 was the result of such initiatives in the higher education sector.
The purpose of setting up a management institute was to professionalise management of organisations so as accelerate the economic growth and development of the newly independent nation. The founding fathers ably wove together a coalition of five forces — the central government, the state government, the local philanthropist industrialists, the Ford Foundation and the Harvard Business School, in a true spirit of public private partnership to establish IIMA.
To ensure that the new institution was not stymied by bureaucracy, the governance structure of IIMA was to be different from that for traditional universities. The institute would be managed by a society, the IIMA Society, created under the Societies Act, for the purpose. The institute would be run by a board of governors, constituted by the IIMA Society. The board would have wide representation from all the relevant constituencies to reflect the multifarious needs of a developing nation. IIMA was, therefore, conceived as an institute that would be a board-managed institution, in partnership with but free from control of the government. Thus, operational freedom is an inseparable part of the DNA of IIMA.
IIMA went on to become an iconic institution that is an inspiration to management schools in the country. Youngsters aspire to get educated at the institute. Practising managers from a variety of organisations look forward to attending the executive education programmes of the institute to sharpen their skills and knowledge to deal with the challenges of the real world.
The alumni of the institute have contributed significantly to nation building through leadership of a variety of organisations and as entrepreneurs who have set up organisations, including several organisations in the social sector.
The institute has made a seminal contribution to management thought by building an impressive array of academic material rooted in the Indian context. The faculty of the institute have contributed significantly to policy making in the country.
IIMA has achieved global recognition. It has global accreditation and its academic programmes are ranked high among academic programmes of the best business management schools in the world.
The achievements have been possible only because of the uncompromising drive towards excellence and the continuous innovation in the course curriculum that the institute engages in.
The faculty and the staff make sure that the academic requirements of programmes are delivered with care and effectiveness, day after day. There are no compromises when it comes to observing the academic schedule that would have been drawn up in advance. The process ensures that implicitly the students imbibe the discipline needed for achieving excellence.
Considerable focused research and other academic work in the institute is done by centres that have been created for the purpose. The existing centres include Centre for Management of Agriculture (CMA); Centre for Infrastructure Policy and Regulation (CIPR); Centre for Management of Health Systems (CMHS); IIMA IDEA Telecom Centre of Excellence (IITCOE); Gender Research Centre (GRC); Centre for Electronic Governance (CEG); Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE) and Centre for Retailing. These centres have contributed significantly to proposing new ideas and creating new frameworks.
The curricula of academic and executive education programmes are continually refurbished to reflect and sometimes anticipate the changing needs to the economy and the society. Some of the new courses include social entrepreneurship, contemporary film industry, issues in governance, issues relating to environment and GHG emissions, and ethics in business. These courses are offered on the basis of research done by individual faculty and the research centres.
The last two decades since economic liberalisation have witnessed a steady decline of the PSUs. The main reason for the decline has been the unwillingness of the government to let go of its control on the PSUs.
Given the proposal to open up the education sector to foreign universities, the time has come to give full operational freedom to the well-managed public academic institutions. Else, they would suffer a fate similar to that of the PSUs. Institutions such as IIMA that have demonstrated their ability to perform exceedingly well for over several decades, should be permitted to become entirely board managed entities. The performance of these entities may be examined periodically (say, every five years) by a committee of eminent persons with relevant credentials to ensure that they continue to meet the requirements of the nation and stay true to the purpose they were established for.
Saurabh P Singh, batch 2012, IIM Ranchi
I love this competitive spirit at IIMs
Studying 40 compulsory and elective subjects to cover all the dimensions of management education has been a great learning experience. The beauty of management education is that you learn about time management first. You start prioritising things in terms of their requirement and importance. You start working on your goals and focus on meeting deadlines keeping the quality of your deliverables above the benchmark. I love this competitive spirit among the management students at IIMs helps us to scale new heights of excellence. The flexibility and easy adaptability of the Indian education system has helped them immensely to keep abreast with the global standards. That’s why IIMs have become a global name today.
Pooja Batheja, batch 2012, IIM Shillong
We don’t remember days, we remember moments!
It’s a different world here at the IIMs. You unlearn, learn and relearn during these years and the process just becomes a part of your life thereafter. And the best part at IIM Shillong was that the learning was not restricted to only the classrooms. A large part of our learning constitutes from our peers, whether our batchmates, our juniors, our seniors or sometimes even the staff because they are the people who are well aware of the ground realities which needless to say are more applicable than some of the management fundamentals that we keep reading from our books. “We do not remember days, we remember moments!”
The author is director, IIMA (The views expressed in the article are personal)