A revolt of sorts is brewing within the imposing corridors of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A). Even as a search committee is still divided over a potential candidate for the post of director, 30 faculty members have said they do not want a second term for the incumbent director, Samir Barua.
A third of the faculty members have written to A M Naik, chairman of the board of governors, asking him to advise “the present director to hand over charge to the dean (faculty) or the senior-most full professor” if a new director does not take charge within three months.
At the end of Barua’s five-year term on November 7, 2012, the board had offered him a three-month extension, hoping to finalise his successor in the interim. However, several faculty members believe the board had the option to hand over charge to any full-time dean.
When contacted, Naik said: “We have replied to the faculty that we had no choice but to extend the director’s term since the search committee was yet to come up with names.”
The deadline expires on February 7 and the committee’s failure to find Barua’s successor so close to the deadline has led to a growing buzz that the incumbent director might be given a second term.
In a letter, the subject of which says ‘Managing transition during selection of next director’, the faculty members have said: “IIM-A has, over the past 50 years, evolved certain values and principles… and one principle regarded sacrosanct and inviolable is that of a single term for a director.”
Asked if the board had asked Barua to hand over charge, Naik did not comment. Barua did not respond to phone calls and an emailed query.
Citing the example of IIM-A’s first director, Ravi J Matthai, who established the single-term principle by voluntarily stepping down after seven years, though his contract did not require him to do so, the faculty said some directors had overstayed due to inefficiencies in the system.
Confirming the letter, one of the faculty members said the letter was significant in the wake of reports that Barua might be interested in a second term.
Naik, however, said Barua had not applied for a second term. He also denied any discussion in the board meeting regarding a possible hike in compensation package to Rs 1 crore for the director’s post to attract global candidates.
The search committee, comprising Hasit Joshipura of GSK Pharma, Arvind Group CMD Sanjay Lalbhai, Rama Bijapurkar and Mastek’s Ashank Desai, besides Naik, has received 60 applications, some from candidates with international experience. However, the committee is learnt to be divided over external candidates with global experience versus candidates from within the campus.