The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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IIMs brace for battle against Joshi order

Calcutta, Feb. 6: The Indian institutes of management are not going to take Murli Manohar Joshi’s diktat to slash fees lying down.

First, the directive — issued by the human resource development ministry yesterday — has to be approved by the boards of the six IIMs before it can be implemented.

There are questions if the order, cutting fees from Rs 150,000 to Rs 30,000 a year for each student from the 2004-05 academic session, will be cleared by the boards of at least three of the institutes — Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Calcutta, known as the ABC of management education in India.

“I informed the chairman about the order today. The issue will be taken up at the board of governors’ meeting scheduled for the first week of April,” said Bakul Dholakia, the director of IIM Ahmedabad.

Infosys chief .R. Narayana Murthy chairs the board.

“We got in touch with the chairman’s office to fix an early date for our next board meeting,” said Shekhar Choudhury, the director of IIM Calcutta. ITC chairman Y.C. Deveshwar heads the Calcutta board.

Sources said Choudhury, who is now in Ahmedabad, had a long meeting with Dholakia this morning, where they discussed various options. Prakash Apte, the director of IIM Bangalore, was in constant touch with the duo.

Under the memorandum of association of the IIMs, the boards have the final say on fees which account for around 50 per cent of the institutes’ earnings.

“I think the step is both unnecessary and going backwards in time. I don’t understand the rationale behind the move… No meritorious student to my knowledge has been unable to study at the IIMs for want of funds,” said Hindustan Lever chairman M.S. Banga, who is on the board of IIM Ahmedabad.

The announcement of the fee cut was preceded by a long struggle over control of IIMs, with the institutes seeing in various Joshi moves an attempt to turn them into puppets of the ministry.

Joshi, however, denies having any such intention.

Behind the move to cut fees the institutes smell a plot to snap a channel of independent earning, making them reliant on government handouts.

Banga said: “Before passing the (fee cut) order, it has to be thoroughly debated and discussed. The financial consequence of the fee cut has to be worked out.”

As the boards gather to consider the issue, the off-the-record buzz on the three campuses, over electronic mail and telephones, ranged from seeking legal recourse to open defiance of the order.

“We are thinking of international standards at the IIMs. Suddenly, our financial autonomy is taken away. We expect the boards to defy the order. But in case they give in to the ministry pressure, we will do our bit to stall the cut,” said a professor, indicating legal action and adding that the teaching community will no longer remain “passive”.

The ministry today decided to set up a one-man committee to work out the additional fund requirement for the IIMs following the fee slash.

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