By P.D. Rai
The struggle for autonomy has been going on within the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) from their inception.
The Indian Institutes of Management Bill, 2017 was passed by both houses of Parliament on December 19, 2017.
The bill witnessed unanimous support across the political spectrum. The bill recognises IIMs as Institutions of National Importance and aims to provide them an independent statutory status to ensure uniform governance. And yes, the IIMs will be able to award an MBA degree.
The passage of this bill will also stimulate India's research ecosystem. It is hoped that this legislation will play a pivotal role in improving the ranking of Indian educational institutions among higher education institutions globally. The IIMs must capitalise on this reform as it also gives individual IIMs primacy over their curriculum design.
As the only representative of the IIM community in Parliament, I understand it as a great privilege to be part of this landmark legislation.
The legislation will ensure that the IIM brand is re-established as a premier one the world over. This huge systemic reform will propel India's premier management institutions to greater heights nationally and indeed globally. These institutions, including the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), have served India well. They now deserve to be promoted through such legislation which will allow them to innovate and re-think and rebuild their institutional capacity.
The IIMs are built on the solid foundation of knowledge garnered through teaching, consulting and research. Faculty thus impart cutting-edge curriculum to young minds who are the leaders of tomorrow.
One important outcome of increased autonomy would be that, like the Ivy League institutions and other universities that offer management courses abroad, the IIMs will be able to propel themselves forward. This will also ensure that there are innovative means by which no student who is worthy of an IIM admission would be left behind.
The IIM alumni, who have become entrepreneurs in diverse streams, are today giving back to the society and India. They are doing this through building angel funds and by being a medium for more start-ups to thrive and succeed.
Today, the IITs are body corporates and are recognized as Institutions of National Importance. With the successful passage of the IIM bill, devolution of greater autonomy to these premier technical education institutions will now be addressed. The new act is being seen as the harbinger for the next generation of IIMs and IITs.
The next challenge would be knowledge generation for India by Indians. Investment on infrastructure and human capital to encourage research and development is essential to steer technical education in the right direction.
Keeping ahead in this global race is crucial for India strategically as also to solve the burden of poverty and disease.
This is truly the first significant reform in the higher education space that the NDA government has ushered in with the full and unstinting support of all the parties represented in Parliament. It is a fine example of bipartisanship.
(P.D. Rai, an alumnus of IIT and IIM, is an MP from Sikkim in the Lok Sabha. He can be contacted at email@example.com)