The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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IIM tap on Atal door

Calcutta, Feb. 14: N.R. Narayana Murthy, the chairman of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and M.S. Banga, a member of the B-school’s board of governors, today met the Prime Minister.

A spokesperson in the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed that the Infosys chief and the chairman of Hindustan Lever met Atal Bihari Vajpayee but refused to divulge details.

Narayana Murthy also refused comment when contacted. But from the statements both he and Banga made after the human resource development ministry ordered fee cuts at the IIMs, it can be inferred that they tried to impress upon Vajpayee that the institutes be left alone.

Banga and Narayana Murthy have opposed the February 5 order issued by Murli Manohar Joshi’s ministry that slashed annual fees at the premier B-schools from Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 30,000. Narayana Murthy has even said he would vote against the “ill-advised and unfortunate” order once the issue comes up for discussion at the institute’s April 3 board meeting.

According to the ministry, the order, aimed at making higher education affordable to meritorious students, was based on recommendations of the U.R. Rao committee, though the former head of the space programme has said he did not suggest any fee slash at the IIMs.

The IIMs are yet to take a stand and have left the matter to their respective boards, which will have to approve the slash before it is implemented. But the matter has already taken a legal turn with a student of IIM Ahmedabad and an IIM Bangalore alumnus filing a PIL in the Supreme Court.

Officials in the HRD ministry are, however, confident that the petition will not even be admitted for a hearing. They said there was no question of the court giving a stay on the order as it was related to a fee cut, not a hike.

While the IIMs are trying their best to keep the ministry at bay, Joshi is doing his bit to strengthen his case. The minister reportedly met Vajpayee on Friday and explained his logic behind the decision.

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