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Haste lands IIMs in admission muddle

New Delhi, April 12: IIMs, the iconic schools that produce the best managers in the country, have landed themselves in the middle of a poorly managed show.

The management schools today sent a letter to the Centre, requesting it to consider a proposal to remove the uncertainty surrounding the admission process that has been frozen in the wake of the quota case.

However, before the letter was despatched, IIM Ahmedabad declared that the results of the general category would be announced on April 21.

The content of the letter and the gist of IIMA director Bakul Dholakia’s announcement were more or less the same but his tone and timing created an impression that the institutes and the Centre are back on a collision course.

The human resource development ministry had asked the IIMs last week to keep in abeyance the results of both general and OBC categories. The Centre wanted the freeze to be in place till the Supreme Court cleared the air on an order that stayed the introduction of the OBC quota from this year. The Centre is expected to move the court any day.

In Delhi, Dholakia’s statement came to be seen as an ultimatum. “An order should be treated like an order,” a source said, making little effort to mask the anger in the ministry.

Both sides are now hoping that the court will lift the cloud fast, defusing a situation that could develop into a confrontation reminiscent of the autonomy battle when Murli Manohar Joshi headed the ministry.

Some officials in the other IIMs are questioning why Dholakia did not “consult” them before going public with information that was still to be communicated to the Centre.

Even as Dholakia was talking in Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore director Prakash Apte was busy putting final touches to a letter he had been authorised to write to the ministry on behalf of all six IIMs.

“All the six directors had a teleconference on April 10, where they expressed concern that top students would go to other B-schools if the IIMs did not release their final lists soon,” a director said.

It was decided that Apte — on behalf of all IIMs — would write to the ministry asking it to consider a proposal to declare general category seats on the basis of last year’s format.

“The seat increase planned would be kept on hold as per the court orders. That way, we would not be violating the orders, but would also be saving ourselves,” the director said.

According to an IIM Bangalore official who has seen Apte’s letter, the proposal mentions a plan. “After 10 days, we will go ahead” with the declaration of the general category lists, if the Centre did not get back by then.

“We had never discussed that anyone would go to the media like this,” said a furious Devi Singh of IIM Lucknow.

At IIM Calcutta and Bangalore, too, the sentiment was no different. First, they said, there was “no collective decision” to declare results without the ministry’s consent. “That was the very reason the letter was framed. Otherwise, we could have released the results straightaway,” an IIM Calcutta official said.

“Because of Dholakia’s comments, our proposal will be seen as a decision.”

Dholakia told The Telegraph that he was “not looking for a confrontation with the Centre at all. My statements are being misunderstood”.

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