The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Let-down’ IIM faculty takes on chairman

Calcutta, April 7: The faculty of the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta today expressed loss of confidence in chairman Y.C. Deveshwar as the two sides headed into a full-blown confrontation over the Centre’s fee cut order.

“We feel we have been let down,” Ashis Bhattacharyya, speaking for the faculty, said about Deveshwar’s resolution yesterday accepting the fee cut dictated by Murli Manohar Joshi’s human resource development ministry.

In a surprise news conference at noon, Deveshwar tried to explain that he had made such a decision after “assurances” from government representatives on the IIMC board and Joshi’s public utterances about meeting the financial shortfall a fee cut would cause and about protecting the institute’s autonomy.

A couple of hours later, the faculty spoke out in a scheduled interaction with the media, saying: “It is clear that the resolution was drafted under the influence of other commitments.”

Bhattacharyya, the spokesperson, did not clarify what he meant by “other commitments”, but it was an expression that popped up again in a release issued by the institute’s alumni association.

“The decision of the IIMC board chairman… had been influenced by other considerations,” a spokesperson for the alumni said after an emergency meeting of the association where a resolution was passed opposing the fee cut.

Deveshwar is also the chairman of ITC Ltd.

In a resolution, the IIMC faculty said: “Mr Deveshwar could have followed the example of Mr (.R.) Narayana Murthy, chairman, IIM Ahmedabad, who has shown wisdom in reconciling the concerns of different stakeholders in an exemplary manner.”

IIM Ahmedabad has been at the forefront of the opposition to the fee reduction and its chairman shares the faculty’s concern about the autonomy of the institute coming under threat from the ministry after a fee cut makes it almost entirely dependent on government subsidy.

The IIMA board, which met last week, held the fee at the current level. Bangalore will decide in a day or two.

Deveshwar, however, said: “The issue of fee and the question of subsidy are matters of public policy. I think expressing its view on public policy is outside the domain of IIM Calcutta.”

Speaking in Ranchi, Joshi defended his decision to cut the fee from Rs 1.5 lakh a year to Rs 30,000. “The decision is pro-people and in the larger interest of society.”

Deveshwar suggested that to make up the shortfallIIMs charge higher rates from companies when they come to the campus to recruit — the current fee is Rs 15,000 per student.

IIMC faculty members asked why the chairman had to rush the resolution before the Supreme Court tomorrow hears a challenge to the fee cut, which has been tied up with autonomy. Although they requested the chairman to reconsider the resolution, the faculty members said they were weighing various options, including mounting a legal contest.

They questioned how Deveshwar went public with the resolution without seeking the board’s endorsement. The board had authorised him to draft a resolution.

IIMC director Shekhar Chaudhury said the resolution was ambiguous. “We don’t have any clue whether we will have to implement it rightaway.”

A new session begins in a couple of months.

Deveshwar expressed willingness to meet the faculty members, but his intentions were under doubt.

“This institute has a healthy convention of regular interaction between the chairman and the faculty council. But despite repeated requests from us, the chairman didn’t meet the faculty council even once to discuss the issue. Still, we are hopeful and looking forward to meeting him,” Bhattacharyya said.

A meeting is scheduled for April 16.

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