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IIM autonomy should not be fettered: Kumar Mangalam Birla (livemint)

Ahmedabad: Industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla, who is chairman of the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A), said on Friday that the autonomy of the IIMs should be preserved by a law that will govern the elite business schools.

“I haven’t seen the draft bill yet as I am new to this world. But I would only like to say that autonomy of institutes like IIM-A should not be fettered to even the slightest extent,” the chairman of Aditya Birla Group said after attending his first meeting of the IIM-A board. Birla was appointed chairman of the institute in October.

The proposed Indian Institute of Management Bill, 2015, has raised some concerns that it may erode the autonomy of the premier schools. The selection of IIM board chairmen, composition of the boards and fee structure are some of the areas of concern raised by the institutes with the human resource development (HRD) ministry.

“These institutes (IIMs) have their own DNA and have grown up in a certain way where they have been self-regulative, which is a very important reason for their success. These should not be tampered with in any way,” Birla said.

According to an 18 August report in Mint, the HRD ministry had agreed to most of the demands on autonomy made by the IIMs. The proposed bill may be tabled in the next Parliament session.

IIM-A has consistently ranked among the top B-schools for its two-year postgraduate programme in management.

According to the Financial Times (FT) Masters in Management 2016 rankings released in September, IIM-A fell one place from 15 last year to 16 this year, although it continued to be the top-ranked Indian B-school, followed by IIM-Bangalore and IIM-Calcutta.

The ranking is based on a relative assessment of the world’s top pre-experience degrees in general management, calculated according to data provided by schools and their alumni.

Birla said rankings have many components which all Indian institutes may not necessarily want to score high on. “One element of rankings is the number of global students one has on campus. My own belief is when you have such a dearth of quality management education in our country and when you have the youngest working population in our country as compared to anywhere else in the world, as an Indian, I would feel proud to head an institution that imparts knowledge to our own youths so that we can reap a demographic dividend advantage,” he said.

Stressing that his views on rankings were his own, Birla said doing things just to move up in the rankings doesn’t make an institution great.

The IIM chairmanship is a non-executive post and the role primarily involves presiding over board meetings and also taking up issues faced by the institutes with the central government.

Birla called for stronger links between industry and academia. “My role in this position (as chairman) is to create an even stronger bond so that both academia and industry can connect and learn from one other,” he said.

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