The silent tussle between the HRD Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) over the IIM Bill has shown no signs of abating as the former sent the draft law for legal vetting last week without yielding on all the changes suggested by the PMO.
The HRD Ministry, sources said, is not willing to dilute the clause that empowers the President to review the work of any IIM in his capacity as the Visitor of the premier B-Schools. This, the government thinks, is needed for accountability. The PMO had suggested that the government remove the provision for ‘review’ in the Bill.
The ministry is also learnt to have retained the provision which makes the HRD Minister the head of the IIM Coordinating Forum on the ground that the IITs, too, are governed by a similar clause. The PMO was not in favour of this.
HRD Ministry spokesperson Ghanshyam Goel did not respond to the questions emailed by the The Indian Express.
On March 11, The Indian Express had reported about the disagreement between the PMO and the HRD Ministry over the degree of autonomy to be granted to IIMs. The former had suggested more than five changes to the IIM Bill. Officials of both departments met in March to sort out the differences and arrive at a consensus. The ministry has yielded on most recommendations, except for the ones mentioned above.
For instance, it has agreed to increase the number of alumni and female members on the Board of Governors (BoG) of every IIM from three to five and from one to three, respectively. It tweaked a clause to have an IIM director replace the government joint secretary-rank officer as the member-secretary of the IIM Coordinating Forum. The ministry also diluted the provision that made it mandatory for IIMs to inform the government of any fee hike before announcing the decision.
The IIM Bill is meant to empower the 19 management institutes to award degrees instead of diplomas for their two-year postgraduate programme. The draft law is modelled on the IIT Act.
The government has listed the Bill for introduction in the Budget session of Parliament after it redrafted the law to modify clauses that the IIMs alleged would curtail their autonomy. The ministry, for instance, modified Section 3 (k) of the Bill, which required any regulation made by the BoG to be approved by the government. The changed provision now gives the Board the final say.
The re-drafted Bill was circulated among different ministries for comments in December last year. But with the PMO requesting further changes in the revised Bill and the HRD Ministry disagreeing with some of the suggestions, the Bill’s introduction in the Budget session now seems less likely.