The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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ABC vs HRD, pick the winner

Calcutta, Nov. 23: Who will benefit from the leak of the CAT (common admission test) question paper'

The ministry of human resource development (HRD).

In the last week of October, the ministry had summoned the directors of the Indian institutes of management in Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Calcutta individually in a last-minute attempt to stop CAT.

“The directors were asked to scrap this year’s CAT,” said a source in IIM Calcutta.

They did not agree and the test, which IIMs conduct, was held, as scheduled, today.

“Ministry officials tried to sort of force the directors not to conduct the test from this year. All of them made it clear that cancelling the examination at the last moment was not possible,” added the source.

Murli Manohar Joshi’s ministry has drawn up plans to replace CAT and other similar tests conducted by various business schools with a single national admission test. The ABC — Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Calcutta — of Indian management education have been resisting the move, which they see as an infringement on their autonomous status.

A directive was issued in September where the government said it would shift to a single-test regime from the 2005-06 session.

With the revelation now that the ministry had wanted to scrap CAT this year itself, it appears its intention was to switch to a test that it would control from the 2004-05 session.

After the question paper leak, a single national test under the ministry has gatecrashed into the realm of possibility from the coming session itself. A discredited CAT will be difficult to defend and easy to replace.

A ministry-appointed committee is already working on the format of a uniform test.

Behind the proposed shift to a single test lurks a money monster. “On an average, each IIM earns Rs 1 crore from the test, which alone can take care of the salary expenses,” said the source.

Each CAT form costs Rs 1,000 and there were 1.27 lakh candidates this time.

At a recent meeting with state education secretaries, the government mooted a proposal to stop interviews — after the written test — for admission to IIMs.

The ABC versus HRD battle has been raging also over signing a proposed annual memorandum of understanding, under which the institutes will have to give a detailed account of their plans. Once they sign up, IIMs will not be able to maintain more than Rs 25 crore in their corpus. The Big Three have more than Rs 100 crore and have declined to fall in line.

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