MDI faculty members complain to Jaitley against chairman

Written by fe Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Oct 27 2014, 08:19am hrs
Senior faculty members of Management Development Institute (MDI) set up by Industrial Finance Corporation of India (IFCI) at the behest of the finance ministry have complained to finance minister Arun Jaitley after its director Mukul Gupta was allegedly "threatened" by the institute's chairman to resign or face termination following the report of a "much-disputed" probe committee. IFCI chief executive and MD Malay Mukherjee is also chairman of MDI, while two joint secretaries, one each from department of financial services in the finance ministry and department of personnel and training, are on its board. Gupta, who became director in early 2012 after spending around 12 years in the institute in various capacities, is the seventh director to have headed the institution since 2005.

Five of the six deans of the institute have rallied behind Gupta and jointly written to Jaitley, seeking his intervention in the matter. In the letter dated October 19, the deans say: "It is understood that the current director of the school has been threatened by the Board chairman to either resign within 2-3 days or face termination of employment, citing pressure from the ministry. He has been informed that there are no allegations on financial or moral grounds. But that such action is being taken on grounds of 'lack of leadership'." IFCI's Mukherjee wasn't immediately available for comment.

Pointing out achievements of MDI under Gupta, including elevation of its rank to number six among business schools in India this year by some publications, higher incomes than other years and establishment of the international summer university (the first in South East Asia), the letter adds: "It is, therefore, disconcerting that such action is being contemplated despite good performance of the institute under the leadership of Mukul Gupta. Barring a few disgruntled elements, the faculty, staff and students are supportive of the current director and his leadership."

Some faculty members questioned the chairman's move to appoint a panel with "disputed personalities" as members, especially when there was no formal complaint against Gupta. "Why were other board members, especially joint secretaries from the government, not included in the committee for a fair probe and their opinions taken The report smacks of politics and vested interests," one of them said.

Some faculty members complained that committee members SP Narang and Omprakash Mishra have "falsely" termed their own views in the report as those of the "overwhelming" faculty. Some major charges mentioned in the report were "lack of information flow and freedom of expression", "no faculty ownership" and "weak institutional leadership". Interestingly, after submission of report by the committee, 43 of the 66-odd permanent faculty members signed a letter, reposing faith in Gupta, but the panel refused to entertain it. In the letter, the faculty members said campus placements have been robust at MDI and the average package for students last year was 15% higher from a year before, despite the slowdown.