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Former students rally behind IIMs

Calcutta, Dec. 2: The alumni of the Indian institutes of management in Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Calcutta are putting their weight behind their alma mater dogged by the CAT controversy.

From conducting a campaign on the Internet to writing to people who matter, the former students are rallying behind the IIMs in their attempt to retain autonomy and carry on with the common admission test.

The human resource development ministry has made clear its intentions to replace CAT with a single admission test for all management institutes in the country. It has also asked the IIMs to sign an annual memorandum of understanding with the government, which the Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Calcutta units consider an infringement on their freedom.

Some former students of IIM Ahmedabad have written to Rashtrapati Bhavan and the Prime Minister’s Office seeking intervention, the IIM sources said.

Meeting Atal Bihari Vajpayee is the last – but not so distant -- option for the IIM fraternity. “No one, except the IIMs, has the capability to conduct a test like CAT. If the MHRD (ministry) doesn’t recognise this, we always have the option to rest our case before the Prime Minister’s Office,” IIM Bangalore director Prakash Apte said.

The alumni network is clearly one of the strengths the IIMs will be relying on. According to Ashok Banerjee, secretary, Calcutta chapter, IIM Calcutta Alumni Association, the past two weeks’ events — from the paper leak to exam cancellation and announcement of fresh February dates — are of “grave concern” to the former students, spread across the globe.

“Everyone was shocked following the incident. We got in touch with each other and discussed the implications of CAT being replaced with another test. We don’t support the government’s stand and want CAT to continue. And IIMs must remain autonomous to maintain their status of excellence,” Banerjee said. At a meeting of the association in the city last week, a resolution was passed in this regard.

In a bid to rope in the other IIMs, Banerjee has got in touch with his counterparts in Ahmedabad and Bangalore. For some of the best managers the country has churned out, this could be a strategic battle outside the boardroom.

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