The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Revealed: Joshi heavy hand

Calcutta, March 29: The faculty members of the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad today brought out a paper to highlight how Murli Manohar Joshi’s ministry was interfering with the internal processes of the country’s best business schools.

The instances the paper has cited are violation of the norms for appointment of directors on the boards of IIMs, unilateral decision to cancel the common admission test for students and ordering a fee cut without consultation with the institutes.

“We stress that we seek to protect the autonomy of the institute in all aspects: academic, administrative, institutional and financial,” it said.

Echoing the view, IIM Ahmedabad chairman .R. Narayana Murthy emphasised that the issue at stake is autonomy.

“The whole issue is about autonomy.... It is not about a fee cut. Let’s be very, very clear. If you want to reduce the fee by 80 per cent, then there is a certain way to do it. Involve all the stakeholders, make an analysis, find out the impact of it and then take a decision,” Narayana Murthy, who is also the Infosys chairman, said.

He added that Joshi, the human resource development minister, had been “misled” and “misadvised”.

Narayana Murthy, who — unlike the chairmen of the Bangalore and Calcutta IIMs — has been outspoken about his opposition to the move to cut the fee, said whether the Ahmedabad institute would join the public interest litigation filed in the Supreme Court was expected to be decided by the weekend.

He kept the door to negotiations with the ministry open. “I think Dr Joshi is a very good man.... He has been a professor, an academician.… It is just that he has been misled and misadvised. I have no doubt at all that he would realise it soon.”

The faculty’s paper was blunt. “Once financial autonomy is compromised, it is only a matter of time before the other types of autonomies are also compromised.”

It said none of the established norms was followed while ordering the fee cut from Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 30,000 a year. The paper pointed out that despite the periodic revisions of the fee over the past two decades, the income profile of families of students joining the institute has not changed much.

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