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IIM-B chairman faces flak from board members

Our Bureau  |  Bangalore 

SM Dutta, chairman of the Board of Governors of the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, (IIM-Bangalore) has angered other board members by taking certain crucial decisions without the consent of the board.
Today, IIM-Bangalore filed an affidavit before the apex court, in which it said of the total fee of Rs 1.52 lakh charged from each student, it would appropriate Rs 30,000 and keep the rest in a separate non-lien account till the court decides on the issue raised by a PIL.
Business Standard has learnt that the chairman completely ignored the majority opinion of the board before taking decisions like filing the affidavit or asking the IIM-Bangalore Society to take a final decision on the fee issue.
A majority of the board members are irked by the fact that the chairman has completely misinterpreted the decision of the board taken at its March 27 meeting.
Apparently, a majority of those present at that meeting had been in favour of the fee cut. The understanding was that the institute would not oppose the fee cut if the government gave a written undertaking that it would make good the shortfall incurred due to the fee cut in the beginning of the year by making an upfront payment.
It would also have to give an assurance that it would not interfere with the autonomy of the institute and work jointly towards its excellence.
Interestingly, this was also agreed to by the representatives of the state government as well as Central government present at the meeting.
According to well-informed sources, the faculty of IIM-Bangalore, the director and the chairman were against the fee cut. However, their's was not the majority opinion. When the resolution was drafted, the chairman had pointed out certain "gaps" in it, and was asked to "tighten" the draft, taking into consideration the opinion of those who opposed the fee cut.
It was also decided that the chairman would convey this to the media. However, when the chairman met the media, he said he had been authorised to take a final call on the fee cut. This, when a majority had already consented to the fee cut.
Dutta, who is also the chairman of the IIM-Bangalore Society, had on Monday said the society would take a final decision on the issue of a fee cut in early May.
While the decision of the IIM-Bangalore Society now seems to be a formality, it has become apparent that the chairman and his followers had decided to oppose the fee cut, despite stiff opposition within the board.
In a note to the board members on his decision to refer this issue to the society, Dutta has actually highlighted his stand on how the fee cut could jeopardise the functioning of the institution.
Towards the end of the note, Dutta says, "A substantial body of members are agreeable to the fee cut with required assurances by the Central government." However, later the note says, "A smaller group of people feel that the issue of fee cut is acceptable." The two statements clearly contradict each other.
The annoyed board members have also pointed out that that since IIM-Bangalore comes under the purview of the Centre, the decision of the ministry should be considered final.
Also, according to the Memorandum of Association, the function of the society is to make by-laws for the conduct of affairs with the approval of the Centre. The MoA also states that the Centre has complete power to take over the administration and assets of the institute, if the latter is not functioning properly.

First Published: Fri, April 16 2004. 00:00 IST