Currently, all IIMs are separate bodies registered under the Societies Act. Since Societies are not authorised to award degrees, students admitted to their Master’s programme are given a postgraduate diploma in management or PDGM and those pursuing doctoral studies are awarded the title of a ‘Fellow’ at the end of their research.
The proposed law, once passed by Parliament, will make each of the 20 Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) an ‘Institution of National Importance’ like the IITs, NITs and AIIMS. In other words, they will be able to grant degrees to students.
Let’s look at the key features of the Bill and it’s implication:
- IIMs will now be able to grant degrees to their students.. Being societies, IIMs are not authorised to award degrees and, hence, they have been awarding postgraduate diploma and fellow programme in management. While these awards are recognised by the Association of Indian Universities and the HRD Ministry to being equivalent to an MBA and a Ph.D degree respectively, the equivalence is not universally accepted, especially for the Fellow programme. Once the Bill is passed, the degrees offered by the IIMS will have more global appeal and demand from countries outside India as well.
- The Bill provides for complete autonomy to the IIMs, combined with adequate accountability.. The Bill bestows more autonomy than what the IIMs currently enjoy. The IIMs will be the first set of ‘Institutions of National Importance’ in which the President will have no direct role (In other institutions such as the IITs and NITs, the President acts as the Visitor who appoints the directors and chairpersons on the advice of the HRD Ministry).
- The institutes will be managed by a Board, and each will have a chairperson and director which will be selected by the Board.. The Board of Governors (BOG) will be responsible for electing the chairperson and director of the Institute. Since, the Government cannot interfere in the decisions of the BOG, it will lead to better decisions based on merit and free from politics.
- There will be regular review of the performance of the IIMs by independent agencies.. The results will be put up in the public domain and the review will take into account the long-term strategy and five-year plan of the IIMs.
- The annual report of the IIMs will be placed in Parliament and Comptroller and Auditor General will audit their accounts.. This will bring in more transparency to the functioning of the IIMs. The report by CAG will include steps taken by the institute to fulfil its objectives and an outcome-based assessment of the research being undertaken the institutes.
- There is also a provision of Coordination Forum of IIMs as an advisory body.. The 33-member Forum of the IIMs will not be headed by the HRD Minister. Instead, “an eminent person” shortlisted by a search-cum-selection committee, will be appointed as the Forum’s chairperson for a term of two years.
All the recommendations are well aligned with the general interests of the IIMs. The new IIM Bill will not only give more global importance to the degrees offered by the IIMs but will also let the IIMs a free hand in deciding the best approach for their respective institutes. Minimum interference from the Government will go a long way in the transition of the IIMs to world class institutes.