Autonomy of IIMs should not be diluted, says Kumar Mangalam Birla

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AHMEDABAD: Newly appointed chairman of the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) and chairman of Aditya Birla group, Kumar Mangalam Birla, on Friday declined to comment on recent allegations made by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi about Birla group having paid Rs 12 crore to then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in 2012.
“Let us talk about IIM-A because we are in IIM-A. I am not aware about it and I do not even want to talk about it,” Birla told journalists. Birla was on his maiden visit to IIM-A on Friday after his appointment as chairman of the institute in October by Union HRD Ministry. He was answering a query regarding Gandhi’s allegation at a public meeting in Mehsana recently that the Birla Group had paid Rs 12 crore to Modi. Birla also declined to comment on the demonetization move.
On the contentious issue of autonomy in the IIM bill, Birla said that autonomy to higher institutes like the IIMs should not be tempered with at any cost.
“I have not seen the new IIM-A bill because I am still new to this world. But I want to say that the autonomy of institutes like IIM-A is very crucial. These institutes have their own DNA, they have self-regulatory measures and a self-taught way which is reason of their success. Therefore, their autonomy should not be tempered with at any cost,” Birla said.
It may be recalled that a controversy had erupted when the previous IIM-A chairman and L&T CMD, AM Naik, had in June 2014 opposed the IIM bill introduced by the Union HRD ministry. “There will be no autonomy left with us if this bill is implemented,” Naik had said.
The newly appointed chairman of the IIM-A also stressed the need for creating linkages between industry and academia.
“A linkage between industry and academia, particularly IIM-A, has to be made stronger. My role would be to make this linkage even stronger so that academia and industry can connect with each other and learn from each other and get enriched,” he said.
On the question of faculty crunch in the IIM-A, Ashish Nanda, director of the institute, said that he had discussed it with the new chairman and they will focus on the issue.