Board of governors had recommended the appointment of Prof. Errol D’Souza in October, but the appointment had been stuck in a logjam at the Centre.
New Delhi: A day before the IIM Act came into force on Wednesday and gave the institutes a higher level of autonomy, the Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry was caught in a last-minute scramble to appoint a new director of its choice to IIM-Ahmedabad (IIM-A).
This even though institute chairperson Kumar Mangalam Birla had weighed in favour of the freedom the law gave the institute.
In the end, as the clock ticked away towards midnight, the Appointments Committee of Cabinet went ahead and approved the name of the candidate picked by the institute — Prof. Errol D’Souza — if only to prevent the board of governors from changing its mind and asserting itself under the new law from Wednesday.
The appointment of D’Souza as IIM-A director will be the last such appointment by the government to any of these premier business schools.
Under the new law, the board of governors of each of the country’s premier management institutes has the power to appoint its own chairperson or director, instead of the earlier practise of sending names to the HRD ministry, which either agreed with one of the names or appointed its own choice.
IIM-A’s board of governors had recommended the appointment of D’Souza as its director in October 2017, but it got stuck in New Delhi.
Birla, chairperson of the IIM-A board of governors, intervened and wrote to the ministry, citing the provisions of the new law, ThePrint has learnt.
The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) added a twist to the process by raising some queries over the choice of D’Souza.
D’Souza was acting director at the institute, and his term in that capacity was to end on 1 March 2018. He had held the position since Prof. Ashish Nanda quit the institute in 2017 citing personal reasons.
While the IIM-A board of governors had forwarded D’Souza’s name along with two other candidates to the ministry, the queries only arose after the list went to the Appointments Committee of Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister for approval. These were followed by queries from the DoPT.
The DoPT is learnt to have asked for the criteria followed in the selection process and short-listing of candidates, as well as for the full minutes of the proceedings.
Birla, meanwhile, is learnt to have pointed out that Section 16(2) of the IIM Act clearly says that the director shall be appointed by the board on its terms and conditions.
D’Souza, who has a Ph.D from JNU, has earlier served as the IFCI Chair Professor at the Department of Economics, University of Mumbai, and was also a visiting scholar at Columbia University, New York, and a visiting senior fellow at the Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore. He was the India Chair Professor at Sciences Po in Paris in 2009, and a visiting professor at the Institute for Advanced Study, Shimla, in 2009. He joined IIM-A in 2001.
Other IIM appointments stuck
While the IIM-A top posting came through, the issue of finding a chairperson for IIM-Kozhikode has also been contentious over the choice of candidates.
The HRD ministry also recently rejected IIM-Bangalore’s choice of candidate to chair its board of governors.
Ahead of the full roll out of the IIM Act, the ministry also appointed Vinita Sahay as director of IIM-Gaya.