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IIM swims with Delhi tide
- After agreeing to cut, Calcutta leaves tuition fee alone

Calcutta, June 18: The government changed in Delhi and the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta changed its stand.

“We will keep our fee structure for the current year as it was last year,” Y.C. Deveshwar, the chairman of the institute’s board of governors said after a meeting of the board.

IIMC was the first and the only one among the top three Indian institutes of management — the others being Ahmedabad and Bangalore — to have accepted Murli Manohar Joshi’s order to cut tuition fee, though under some duress.

With Arjun Singh having replaced Joshi in the human resource development ministry, IIMC today deviated from its earlier position announced by Deveshwar on April 6 to slash the annual fee from Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 30,000.

After a last-minute change of venue, the meeting was held at ITC Sonar Bangla hotel instead of the institute’s campus. Deveshwar also heads ITC Ltd, the tobacco-to-hotels group.

He said IIMC would make budgetary provisions to “render assistance to students with limited means” and incorporate bylaws to assist students with annual family income less than Rs 2 lakh before June 25.

The decision to maintain the current rates, according to Deveshwar, is in line with the agreement among the six IIM directors on moving towards a common fee structure. The board was “unanimous” on holding the fees and on extending financial help to needy students, he said.

On March 26, his statement was somewhat similar after the IIMC board met for the first time to discuss Joshi’s February 5 fee-cut order. “The board has unanimously given me the opportunity to draft a resolution keeping in mind the interest of all the stakeholders.”

In his April 6 resolution, Deveshwar accepted the government’s proposal on the understanding that the order was “binding” on the institute.

He had an explanation for the two apparently conflicting decisions — first accepting the fee cut and later deciding not to make any change. The ITC chairman said: “That (fee cut) was not the institute’s initiative and we accepted it on the basis of assurances of aid and assistance from the government… We had laid certain conditions, but the situation no more obtains.”

The mood at IIMC, following the board’s decision, was of relief. Faculty members were seen congratulating each other, maybe they should have congratulated the Indian voter.

A little over two months ago, Deveshwar's resolution triggered a war of words between him and the faculty members, which landed up at Calcutta High Court. Faculty members challenged the legality of the March 26 board meeting.

Last Saturday, the ministry replaced the six members, whose appointments were being questioned in court. Most of the new members attended today’s meeting.

Director Shekhar Chaudhury played safe. “We have always maintained that slashing fee was not the only way to reach the poor. This decision is a vindication of our stand.”

Other than the new stand on fees, Deveshwar said the institute was not dependent on funds from the government as it had enough money of its own. IIMC is weighing various options — like tapping the alumni association and overseas donors, conducting more management development programmes and charging a recruitment fee from companies that hire from the campus — for resource mobilisation.

In Joshi’s era, all these would have required approval from the government as the minister wanted the institutes to sign an annual memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the government and take clearance for accepting money as well as for spending.

“There is no need for the MoU as the institutes don’t need funds from the government,” Deveshwar said, signing off.

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