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Thinking beyond IIMs

By GovernanceToday
In Education
March 7, 2016
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Management education in India has established itself as a powerful force

IIMManagement education in India has traversed a long distance over the years and has established itself as a powerful force capable of bringing about the manufacturing revolution in India as envisaged by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It provides the foundation to young managers to be a part of the desired paradigm shift in the Indian growth trajectory. At present, management education is imparted by universities, Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) and numerous private institutes. These train future managers and global leaders.

The Indian Institutes of Management Bill 2015 if enacted by the Indian Parliament would “declare certain institutes of management to be institutions of national importance with the view to empower these institutions to attain standards of global excellence in management, management research and allied areas of knowledge and to provide for certain other matters connected with such institutions or incidental thereto”. Though this move could mark the beginning of a new golden era of Indian management education, concerns have been raised against the Bill by the established IIMs and the private players, the latter resenting the unfair treatment being meted out to them. The proposed Bill also contains provisions seeking to vest power in the government to take all decisions thus diluting the autonomy of the IIMs.

Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry has put up a draft bill seeking to form a ‘coordination forum’ for the 19 IIMs across the country that has sparked a debate over the contents of the draft bill. The ongoing debate is being led by three major players in the management education in India, namely, old reputed IIMs (IIM-A, IIM-B and IIM-C), new IIMs and private institutes. The draft bill proposes to allow the IIMs to grant degrees instead of diplomas. As a result, programs offered by the IIMs would be called MBA (in place of PGDM) and Ph.D. (in place of fellowship). This proposal is being appreciated by the new IIMs as they feel that granting of degree would help in building their brand in the market and would make their courses more attractive to students. On the other hand, the reputed IIMs are opposing this move as they believe that they already have an excellent brand due to better quality and thus, granting of degree or diploma has no relevance for them

In a bid to put to rest the concerns raised by the established IIMs, government has entered into a ‘discussion and consultation mode’ in order to arrive at a consensus. Unfortunately, no one is looking at the situation of the private B-schools that have been offering PGDM diplomas and have been creating a large pool of managers since many decades. Moreover, the proposal to allow IIMs to grant degrees instead of diplomas would drastically skew the scale against the private players. These institutes like FORE, IMI, MDI, SPJIMR, NMIMS, SIBM etc have been the forerunner in imparting management education in India. Such institutes are no less than many of the IIMs in terms of knowledge, skills, training and employability of their PGDM graduates. In view of the globalized markets, these private players have acquired additional significance and this ‘kill-bill’ would prove fatal to their existence.

At least two points stand out strongly in this entire debate revolving around the IIM Bill that needs some clarity. First, the need to ‘regulate’ through this Bill is not clear. Generally, the rationale for regulation is either economic or social. As far as the IIMs especially the older and the renowned ones are concerned, they are characterized by innovative faculty that is self-motivated, have super state-of-the-art infrastructure facilities, extremely strong alumna, abundant funds and are accepted centers of knowledge. Autonomy has played a pivotal role in taking the IIMs to such commanding heights. Regulation would in no way improve the economic or social efficiency of these institutes. Then why is the government putting stress on regulation? In fact, regulation brings with it ‘political inefficiency’. Second, connotation of ‘certain’ in “to declare certain institutes of management ….. incidental thereto” is ambiguous. Does it mean that only some IIMs would be falling under the ambit of the Act?

The IIM Bill is undesirable in its current form and ambiguities and confusion needs to be addressed before such a ‘regulatory policy’ is put in place. A ‘Management Education Bill’ ought to be designed rather than an ‘IIM Bill’ to recognize all management institutes, be it government, autonomous or private on the basis of their excellence. The future agenda of management education in the country should focus on re-orienting itself to meet the increasing demand for professional managers through a fresh framework with a realistic model to rejuvenate the Indian management education system, rather than only focusing on IIMs.

Hitesh Arora | Prof. Arora is a faculty with FORE School of Management, New Delhi