The government's decision to invite applications for the post of director in three Indian Institutes of Management has drawn a strong reaction from IIM-Ahmedabad Director Bakul Dholakia, who described it as an infringement of the autonomy of these institutions.
"In the 1970s and 1980s, the government played the role of a facilitator in educational institutions, particularly in institutions of higher learning," he said on Tuesday.
"For the last one decade, you find more and more instances of (government) interference in the operations and autonomy of these institutions," Dholakia said in his inaugural address at a two-day workshop organised by the Press Institute of India at the IIM in Bangalore.
"More significant is the (interference in) appointment of chairmen and directors of these institutes," he said, hitting out at the government's decision to invite applications for the post of director in the IIMs in Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Kolkata through an advertisement.
"Where is the freedom as far as educational institutions are concerned?" asked Dholakia, whose term ends in October. "Do they have freedom with regard to their administrative structures?" he said, adding about 60 to 70 per cent members on the board of institutions like the IIMs were government appointees.
Dholakia said institutions of higher learning did not have any say in fixing the pay of their faculties. Decisions on general heirarchy of the organisation and number and kind of cadres are taken by the government, he pointed out.
"The board will not have any say even in suggesting candidates for the position of chairman or director of the institute," Dholakia said.
"Where is the transparency on the criteria under which such decisions are taken? In most cases one does not know the basis on which these appp earlier by each IIM. These panels included the chairman of the board of governors of the IIMs, experts and eminent academics.
The committee, in consultation with the faculty, alumni and students, provided a list of names to the Union human resource development ministry, which in turn selected the director from the list.
"Today the heads of so-called autonomous institutions are more worried about managing the government," he said, without elaborating on instances where the government has interfered in the working of the premier business schools.
"Higher education is a sector which needs maximum attention in the nation's future growth strategy," Dholakia said.
"One of the most critical parameters in the higher education system is going to be the autonomy of higher education.
"If babus sitting out there think they know what is best for these organisations, then that is where you are going to run into a formidable hurdle," he said.