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'Fee cut will harm IIM prestige'

Last updated on: February 11, 2004 16:08 IST

Ravi Miglani, an alumnus of IIM-Ahmedabad and currently the Managing Director, NFO WorldGroup, Egypt and North Africa, speaks about the IIM fee-cut row.

I believe that reducing fees is going to do serious harm to the quality of education as well as to the status and prestige of the IIMs. The IIMs are among the best management schools in the world.

To maintain that level, they, by definition, will have to be somewhat exclusive. They cannot be for all. There are hundreds of management institutes in India, with a wide range of fee levels to suit all affordability brackets.

We cannot start reducing the best institutes to the lowest common denominator.

This is analogous to asking BMW to sell their cars at the same price as the Maruti 800, in order to make them accessible to the common man. To sell at that price, BMW will be reduced to the quality equivalent to that price.

Nothing is free in life. Low price goes hand in hand with low quality. Selling at Maruti prices will destroy the quality of BMW cars and will destroy the status associated with a BMW.

There are people in India who can afford a BMW and there are those who can afford a Maruti. And of course, there are lots of people who cannot afford either! Each person buys a product that suits his affordability level.

The fee reduction smacks of archaic socialistic principles of the 1960s. These principles have been shown to have been completely ineffective in achieving their acclaimed social objectives.

Reducing the price of IIMs will not make IIMs more accessible. They will destroy the brand IIM and will reduce it to just another of the hundreds of management institutes.

Of course, it will become accessible, but it will not be IIM any more. Just as a BMW at a Maruti price will not be a BMW any more.

Morever, fee reduction means that the IIMs will become completely dependent on government funding for meeting their expenses. This will give the government the control to interfere with the running of the IIMs.

We all know that funding and interference go together.

Mr Joshi keeps saying that the interference will be restricted to administrative and financial matters and that the IIMs will continue to be independent on academic matters.

But, history does not support his claim. Every university in India that succumbed to government interference in finance, ended up losing its academic independence as well.

- As told to Priya Ganapati