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“IIMs, Other Premier Institutes, To Get Autonomy They Deserve”

In a conversation with Suman K. Jha, Javadekar says he, and the Narendra Modi government, are committed to providing autonomy to quality institutions

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Photo Credit : Ritesh Sharma,

When Prakash Javadekar  was made the Union HRD minister, many felt an ideologically-aligned leader had been entrusted with this crucial portfolio. There were many bottlenecks, especially related to government interference in institutions of higher learning. Javadekar however, has taken on the bull by its horns. In a conversation with Suman K. Jha, Javadekar says he, and the Narendra Modi government, are committed to providing autonomy to quality institutions. The IIM Bill, expected to be passed by the Rajya Sabha this winter session, is a step in this direction.


Edited excerpts:


What is the current status of the much talked about IIM Bill?

I am very hopeful and sure that Rajya Sabha will also pass the IIM Bill because this is the new beginning of giving freedom to our good and premier institutes. If you can’t trust your best institutes, you can’t trust nobody. Modi government has taken the lead on having this IIM Bill passed, which will give the IIMs plus 20 other world-class institutes greater autonomy, where the regulator’s role will be nothing. They will be (able to) independently carry out their expansion plans, decide their roles, etc.

At the same time, we are also considering to give greater autonomy to quality institutes. World-class institutes will be independent. Together, with the IIMs, there are 42 such world-class institutes. We want to give freedom to other institutes too that are raising the bar, and excelling in their given areas.

 

When can IIMs start appointing directors on their own? Do you have a date in mind?

IIMs can appoint directors immediately after this Bill is passed. Unless the Rajya Sabha passes it, it’s not possible. The date is not in my hand. I hope the Rajya Sabha passes this bill during the winter session, then from January, they can (appoint directors).  


 Why is employability such a major issue when it comes to B-school graduates?

There are always cyclical patterns emerging. But that is a challenge you need to address. You should calibrate your study courses in such a fashion that your products become relevant in the future and become employable based on their capacities developed. I think it is a good thing that there are new challenges such as artificial intelligence, business and industry 4.0, and new culture coming in. So there will always be scope for improvement.


There are a number of issues between private B-schools and the regulator (AICTE). Do you have a role to play there?

You are talking about post-graduate diploma colleges. I think the AICTE would be in a better position to explain this. We are conducting inspections and giving permissions liberally. So there is no issue (from our side).


Do you think B-schools shutting down is a challenge?

No, no. If someone wants to close, we are giving permissions. Hundred to 150 engineering colleges are getting closed every year for the last four to five years. Why? Because there is no demand. Why? Because students are empowered now. They go to college websites and see their placement records.  Also, they are to a large extent guided by the peer review. If students don’t take admissions, colleges will close down.  This is the closure not forced by the government, but by students. I think this is good for quality education.



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