The controversial Indian Institute of Management (Amendment) Bill 2023 – that proposed the dilution of powers of the IIMs, with the Centre having a greater say in decision making of these B-schools – was passed in the Lok Sabha on Friday.

The Bill proposes to appoint the President of India as the ‘Visitor’ of every IIM through a new section, (10 A), in the principal Act. This would give the central government a say in the decision-making of the institutes.

The amendment says 20 IIMs across the country will be ‘institutions of national importance’.

The Bill introduced last week allowed the ‘Visitor’ to have powers to conduct audits, and even appoint or remove the chairpersons of the board of governors and directors.

Defending the amendments, Dharmendra Pradhan, Union Education Minister, said, “We are not interested in taking away the academic autonomy of the IIMs. These changes are being brought about simply to bring management accountability.”

One of the many proposals that have come under scrutiny states: “To amend section 10 of the (principal) Act to provide that the Chairperson of the Board of Governors shall be nominated by the visitor and to empower the Central government to constitute an interim Board in case of suspension or dissolution of the said Board of Governors”.

Arguments against the proposals hinge on the fact that a Board-run process has very few delays in decision-making.

Another major proposed change states, “to provide that the President of India shall be the visitor of every institute”.

The amendments also propose, the Director of the Institute shall be appointed out of the panel of names recommended by a search-cum-selection committee to be constituted by the Board.

Concerns raised

A senior corporate executive, on the board of an IIM, who did not wish to be named, said Board responsibility for chair and director appointment was a key part of the autonomy promised under the Act.

“Both provisions have now been removed and diluted,” the person said adding that: “The experience of the IITs is that all references to the Visitor cause long delays.”