Dog in the manger | india | Hindustan Times
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Dog in the manger

There?s no doubt that, like charity, providing world-class facilities begins at home. But governments in India have always hung on to this belief and used it to block any plans of utilising Indian excellence abroad.

india Updated: Jan 13, 2006 01:43 IST
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There’s no doubt that, like charity, providing world-class facilities begins at home. But governments in India have always hung on to this belief and used it to block any plans of utilising Indian excellence abroad. The Indian Institutes of Management, for instance, are world-class institutions and have developed into a premier brand. So one would have found IIM-Bangalore’s wish to set up a campus in Singapore not only eminently sensible but also a healthy step of leveraging one of India’s most famous brands outside its shores. The central government, however, finds such a move unnecessary and has denied IIM-B permission. This, to put it bluntly, is a stupid move that betrays the many complexes a 21st century Indian government still suffers from.

What makes chaining IIM-B to Indian soil even more myopic is the reason provided by the HRD Ministry. The government’s view is that although there is no policy decision on blocking an overseas campus, it would first “like to see [the IIMs] opening more centres within India”, given the “huge demand-supply gap in IIM seats”. This Soviet-style memo could jolly well be directed at Indian motorcycle exports — which, according to the logic, can be stopped until every Indian wishing to possess a motorcycle has parked at the back of his house.

A modern premier institution like IIM-B has, of course, just come in contact with the old, self-righteous, ‘official’ method of nation-building: until resources become available to all Indians, don’t even think about providing it abroad — even if that means the ‘export’ actually spurring such resources becoming more readily available to more people within India. The desire to wield some sort of governmental control over institutions like the IIMs — as has been evident during the tenure of this government as well as the previous one — is the other difficult habit to shake off. All in all, we have a government that is a dog in the manger. Someone ought to gently tell the HRD Ministry that opening an IIM campus in Singapore is not the beginning of IIMs packing their bags and leaving India’s management education in the hands of the venerable State.