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'Quotas in IIMs will be a disaster'

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April 03, 2006 20:50 IST

Tired of defending its autonomy time and again, the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad Monday said it really needs to use its resources for education than waste it on making the government see reason.

"Freedom and autonomy are the key elements necessary for the smooth functioning of educational institutions," IIM-A Director Bakul Dholakia said, adding that institutions like IIMs and IITs were, however, currently more pre-occupied with "managing governments" instead of focussing their resources on education.

"It is unfortunate. Managing governments should be our least concern," he added.

The outburst comes in the wake of the centre's proposed move to create quotas for recruitment of teachers and students in the IIMs and Indian Institutes of Technology.

"The government has so far not interfered in the selection of teachers. However, the new proposal for reservation in IITs and IIMs will inevitably bring that freedom to an end," said professor P V Indiresan, former director of IIT-Madras.

"Teachers are the seeds of intellectual crop of the future; they have to be the best," he said, adding that deciding the salaries and remuneration of the teachers was another area where educational institutions needed more autonomy.

Dholakia felt the representatives of the premier institutes could not argue beyond a point with the government on matters related to finance, autonomy, or others.

"Sometimes I feel there is a complete lack of rationality on the other (government's) side," Dholakia said.

Prof Indiresan was more vocal about the 'interference' of the government in the affairs of premier institutions.

"Senior political leaders have argued that the government had nurtured institutions like IITs and IIMs during their infancy; they have supported them for long years and hence they have the right of ownership," he said.

"However, that does not mean that we should be bound to the government forever," he added.

"IITs and IIMs have repaid investments the government has made in them. Now they have repaid their debt, they should be freed from their bondage, should be left free to grow as in the same way as we let our children to make their own life even though we nurtured them in their infancy," Indiresan, who was also a former faculty at IIT-Delhi, said.

He also expressed his distress at the new policy of having bureaucrats on the board of IITs.

"However competent or sincere they may be, bureaucrats are servants of the government and they are bound to take orders from their ministers which could subvert the welfare of the institutions," Inderesan said.

On the proposed reservation for students in IITs and IIMs, Indiresan said the move would be a "disaster".

"The proposed 49.5 per cent reservation for students in IITs and IIMs will be a disaster, because reservation at a late stage (in a student's life) is ineffective and inappropriate as these institutions cannot correct years of neglect and irreparable damage that has been done to the student," he said.

The government needs to adopt the UK-model and select students from backward classes when they are young and nuture them, instead of neglecting them at a primary stage and give them special privilege of reservation when it is too late, he remarked.

"Having caught the reservation bug, the central government will destroy the IITs and IIMs, the same way as the state governments had destroyed their own universities," he said while citing an example of Allahabad University.

"Once reservation is enforced at faculty level, communal canker will spread, political interference will become unmanageable and collapse is inevitable," the professor said.

"The politicians are able to gain an upper hand because IITs and IIMs have chinks in their armour- they have not done enough for the poor," Indiresan added.

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