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Teachers force IIMA quota meeting

Demand for caste reservation to be discussed today
IIM Ahmedabad launched its fellowship programme in 1971. Some 349 doctoral students have so far graduated from the institute.

Basant Kumar Mohanty   |   New Delhi   |   Published 14.01.19, 10:10 PM

Teachers at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, have joined former students in demanding that caste quotas be enforced during admissions to the Fellow Programme in Management, forcing authorities to schedule a meeting on the subject.

Institute director Errol D’Souza will meet more than a dozen teachers on Tuesday to discuss the demand, two faculty members confirmed, asking not to be quoted.

The premier B-schools do implement reservation during admissions to their postgraduate diploma or master’s courses but had till last year kept the fellowship programme — equivalent to a PhD course — outside the quota regime.

A campaign and a high court case by the B-schools’ global alumni body got them to relent — except for IIM Ahmedabad, which defended its stand before Gujarat High Court in an affidavit.

Recently, a group of former IIM Ahmedabad students wrote to the director in support of implementing reservation.

Now, for the first time, insiders at the institute have raised the matter with the B-school’s executive head.

“Admitting students from varying social backgrounds will bring diversity to the campus. It’s in the institute’s own interest to implement reservation,” a teacher said.

One point the reservation supporters make is that many of the fellows go on to become IIM teachers — so, denying reservation in fellowship admissions minimises social diversity among the faculty, particularly as the institutes do not implement quotas during teacher recruitment, either.

Sunil Rajak, a former IIM Ahmedabad student, told The Telegraph: “The failure to include Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and OBCs in the fellowship programme makes for a lopsided faculty. These teachers provide one-sided solutions to business problems.”

Rajak said that students from the villages with first-hand experience of the ground reality there are better equipped to provide business solutions relating to rural areas.

In their letter to D’Souza, the former IIM Ahmedabad students highlighted that everywhere in the world, the leading institutions of higher learning recognised the value of social diversity in improving students’ learning experience.

“Indeed, in your own memorable convocation address in 2018, you had declared that the ‘diversity fairy’ ha(d) landed on our IIMA campus,” the letter said.

“Alas, the fairy seems to have missed the most gaping diversity hole on campus. In 2019, it is unconscionable that IIMA continues to defy constitutional and statutory mandates in its doctoral admissions.”

The letter added: “Alumni groups have indeed pointed out that the social composition of IIM faculty bodies is akin to (the) apartheid era of South Africa — less than 10 per cent of social groups in India account for over 90 per cent of all faculty members at (the) IIMs.”

The Global IIM Alumni Network, a newly formed body championing the cause of social justice in the B-Schools, had filed the public interest plea in Gujarat High Court about a year ago.

In March, IIM Ahmedabad filed its affidavit arguing that its fellowship programme sought candidates with outstanding academic backgrounds, intellectual curiosity and the discipline necessary to make scholarly contributions.

IIM Ahmedabad launched its fellowship programme in 1971. Some 349 doctoral students have so far graduated from the institute.

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