The Telegraph
Tuesday , July 17 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Outsider set to head IIM
- Harvard teacher in the running for director’s post

Ahmedabad, July 16: The new director of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, may well be an “outsider”.

The five-member committee scouting for Samir Barua’s successor — his term ends on November 7 — has indicated that it has no objection to appointing a director from outside the institute.

If this happens, it might signal the end of the practice of an “insider” heading IIM-A. Such a thing has happened only once in the last five decades when I.G. Patel, then deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of India, headed the institute briefly in 1982.

But this time round, some members of the IIM-A faculty have pitched for Harvard professor Srikant Datar heading the institute. They say his global exposure and experience will come in handy when the top B-school competes with reputed foreign institutions.

Datar is an IIM-A alumnus and has been frequently been taking classes at the institute as visiting faculty. He is a close friend and a batch-mate of the outgoing director, Barua.

Sources said Barua had repeatedly urged the Centre to allow IIM-A more autonomy — his predecessor Bakul Dholakia too had a running battle with then HRD minister Murli Manohar Joshi — at a time when foreign varsities are being allowed to set up shop in India.

One of the measures Barua suggested, and the Centre accepted, was that the B-school should be allowed to select its own director.

Till last year, the government would advertise for the post of director whenever a vacancy arose. Most candidates who applied would be IIM-A faculty.

Earlier this year, however, the institute signed a memorandum of association with the government under which it was allowed to shortlist potential candidates through the board of governors and recommend them to the HRD ministry for the final selection/notification.

Accordingly, the search committee headed by L&T chief A.M. Naik — he is also the chairperson of the board of governors — interacted with faculty members for over five hours on Saturday.

Apart from Datar, two names that did the rounds for the top job were of Ravindra Dholakia and G. Raghuram. Both are faculty at the institute.

Ravindra Dholakia is the brother of Bakul Dholakia, Barua’s predecessor. Raghuram was a strong contender for director at the time Barua was appointed.

The three shortlisted names will be submitted to the board of governors in August to be forwarded to the HRD ministry. Sources said the ministry was likely to make its choice and issue a notification in the last week of October.

Amul Dhruv, a former president of the IIM-A alumni association, Ahmedabad chapter, said the only qualifications for director were that the aspirant should be a “proactive” and “open” person.

Whether the candidate was an “outsider” or whether he/she gelled with the IIM-A faculty were secondary, he said, although an “insider” would have the distinct advantage of knowing the institute, teachers and the system.

Dhruv said he was happy with all three candidates who appeared to be in the race. “They are all globally reputed in their areas of specialisation,” he said.