Human Resources Development Minister Prakash Javadekar described the IIM Bill 2017 as "historic" and expressed confidence that it will enable the IIMs as well as the education system to prosper.
Autonomy, The Direction
"It is greater autonomy and in that direction we want to go," the HRD minister said while replying to a debate on the IIM Bill 2017.
As a justification to the decision to restrict the involvement of government in the IIMs, Prakash Javadekar said institutes like Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard are big and world class because they are free and autonomous.
He appreciated the fact that 22 members from various political parties spoke in favour of autonomy for the 20 IIMs and said it showed that the country is changing, reported PTI.
"After the bill is passed, there will be no government role in the appointment of Board of Directors in IIMs. Let the government come out of it. It will be for the betterment of our higher institutions," Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar said while summing up the discussion in the house.
The minister also said that the government is giving real freedom to our institutions. "We must trust our best brains," the minister added.
He also said Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision is also to give real autonomy to higher institutions.
IIMs as Institutions of National Importance
The bill -- which declares 20 existing IIMs as Institutions of National Importance -- was later passed after all amendments moved by some members were rejected.
He said it is already established that the IIMs are the institutions of excellence and "we must accord them the status of national importance".
There will be parliamentary accountability, he said, adding, "I told all the IIM directors in my recent meeting that this will be our last meeting as a (minister being the) chairman."
IIM Degrees and Doctorates
With regard to the provision that will enable the IIMs to grant degrees and doctorates, Javadekar said a fellow of the IIM is not regarded as PhD and needs to go to foreigncountries to do research.
"Now they will do research in India...To all IIMs inIndia, I can now say that it is your's. Let us make a definitive change," he said.
Support for the bill
During the debate in Lok Sabha, members cutting across political divide supported the bill and welcomed enhanced autonomy for the IIMs.
They, however, raised concerns about reservation for teaching staff and student placement, vacant posts of directors in these institutes and other teaching staff, need to control fees, need to encourage research in management studies, and other such issues.
Congress member Shashi Tharoor welcomed the bill and congratulated the Centre for relinquishing power vis-a-vis these institutes, adding he was concerned over government giving up control on fee structure. He said the bill did not address the reservation issue either.
At present, he said, of the total IIM teachers, only two were from the Scheduled Castes and none from the Scheduled Tribes.
Trinamool Congress leader Sougata Roy also praised the government for bringing the bill, saying it will further improve the functioning of the IIMs.
M B Rajesh (CPI-M) also raised the issue of high fees in IIMs, saying the autonomous status should not lead to money- making by these institutions.
IIM Board of Governors
According to the new bill, the Board of Governors of each IIM comprises up to 19 members. The executive body will nominate 17 members, including eminent persons, faculty and alumni. The remaining two will be nominees of the central and state governments respectively, reported IANS.
The board will appoint its own Chairperson and Director. A search committee will recommend names for the post of Director who is eligible for variable pay, to be determined by the board.
The direction is, while responding to the reservation issues raised during the debate, the minister said that "we must make positive and affirmative action and positive efforts to fill up SC and ST and other reservations in faculties is very important. ..we have lined up 5-10 methods of how we can do it. It will be walk in interview, 24 hours advertisement on display.".
He said the "best of the best" SC and ST students get so many offers elsewhere also and then they compare packages. "Naturally anybody will do that, he added.
The minister expressed confidence that after the passage of the bill, more and more students from the SC and ST communities would join as faculty "because I am of the belief that wisdom is not confined to any particular caste."
When IUML leader E T Mohammad Basheer suggested that there should be reservation for minorities in the IIMs, the minister said: "We have a dichotomy... Basheer ji talked about minority reservation and referred to Sachar committee. But there is no reservation in minority institutes. This also has to be taken into account. This is small but important issue."
(with Inputs from PTI and IANS)
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