Indian Bureaucracy Shows its Face

Recent differences between the IIMs and the Ministry of Human Resources are just shocking. Why shouldn’t the bureaucrats behave rationally? Why should they think that they are the only preservers of the interest of the country’s interest?

The prestigious older IIMs- Ahmedabad, Calcutta, and Bangalore are trying to go global. IIM-B wished to open a campus in Singapore. As Singapore is better placed globally in education sector, it would have got an exposure of global business issues- problems, solutions, and practices through interactions with the participants in its courses and the institute’s faculty. It could have judged its performance among the best schools of the world that are opening education centers in Singapore. That would help them in training successful global managers of tomorrow because of the fast moving globalisation drive in every sector. That will also assist in becoming one in top few management schools of the world. It was planning to start with the short-term executive education courses. But bureaucracy will not allow it. They want to keep these institutes of importance under their thumbs.

On one hand the government talks of allowing full autonomy to these institutes, on the other they want them not to go ahead with their expansion plans to have its bases in countries abroad. The same government branded the policy of reduction of fee wished by now infamous former NDA minister MM Joshi in larger interest of the Indian middle class students as authoritarian. As first thing after coming in power, it allowed these institutes to keep the fee as they wanted. IIMs felt elated as the government openly talked of full autonomy of these institutes, based on the images and brands that they have created globally. And any good and sensible government would have done that. After all, the best managerial brains of the country head these institutes. They know what will be good for the institute and the country and its people. How and why do these bureaucrats backed by the politicians think that they are only nationalist and others are anti-nationals in their actions?

However, as reported on JANUARY 11 in media, the Centre denied permission to IIM-Bangalore for a campus in Singapore. With the premises chosen, IIM-B had already announced a string of programmes for its Singapore Research and Management Education Center. But it can’t proceed. And to the global management community, it will be a case of India’s still remaining a close country. Human Resource Development Ministry officials are showing the way they work. As per the existing Memorandum of Association (MoA) of IIMs, overseas branches are not allowed. The Ministry wants IIMs to first cater to the demand at home, given the huge demand-supply gap in IIM seats. “We would like to see them opening more centres within India first.”

IIM-B was all set to start its campus in Singapore. It hired a place at Bhavan’s India International School Campus, Mei Chin, Singapore- comprising lecture halls, seminar and conference rooms, a library and a computer centre. Courses were to start next session. Similar plans were at hand by IIM- A too. But all that will be dropped or at least postponed till the government permits.
The remarks of a senior minister of Singapore, Goh Chok Tong, on Sunday January 15, 2005 summarises the effects of this decision. “Singapore is a hub for education and the institute (IIM-B) has a good reputation, so we are happy to welcome the institute. It is their (India’s) loss. They could have made some money as well.”

I feel India, time and again, misses the bus to go ahead as global leader in many areas because of government interference based on some old and obsolete policies and thinking. Why can’t the government allow the institutes to be free? After all, unlike politicians and bureaucrats, the institute heads don’t have any vested interest in setting the campuses abroad?

However, can’t these institutes of importance go and expand in both the ways- increasing the capacity in the domestic campuses and also establishing campuses in strategically global locations simultaneously?

Surprisingly, we have over 700 management schools in India. However, only 10-12 of them beside IIMs are the darlings of the corporate houses when they select for employment. And the main deficiency in the large number of B-schools is that of good teaching faculty. Perhaps, India needs one or more world class Management Teachers Training Institute on priority.
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