Thursday, August 27, 2009

Seven new IIMs - Quality debate starts

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

The Union Government's proposal for setting up of seven new Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) in Tami Nadu, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan has met with mixed reactions from the people. Students and their parents are breathing a sigh of relief as there will be more IIM seats to grab a couple of years from now. But there are also those who feel the IIM brand is getting diluted with more seats up for grabs.

In a country where there is neck breaking competition for higher education this is a good move by the government as more students will not get a certificate from India's biggest B-School brand. Considering the number of CAT aspirants going up every year these new institutes will solve the demand and supply equation. More importantly they will take away some of the psychological pressure that students go through to enter these premier institutes.

The elites in the society especially who have gone to these institutions in the past would not enjoy seeing the opening of any more institutes because their exclusive IIM Tag looses some of its shine. But the same people opposed when the Government set up more IIT's a few years ago. True when the number of students go up there will certainly be some dilution in the brand but at the same time many deserving candidates who miss out by a fraction of cut-offs will also benefit from this expansion.

Can the people who are protesting against this expansion claim all deserving candidates get into the IITs and the IIMs? Behind the thousands who get in there are lakhs who are filtered. Are all of them undeserving? Can percentage and percentile difference of a fraction be the parameter to judge the intellect between students? More institutes do not solve these problems permanently but certainly bring in some relief to the students.

One of the primary objectives of the educational reforms in the country should be to reduce the level of stress that the students have to withstand. Any measure that helps in this regard should be welcome. Quality is a benchmark and can definitely be maintained when the Government plans to just double the number of institutes. All the IIMs together cater to less than 1% of the students studying management courses in India. Seven new institutions should be welcomed with both hands and not criticised.


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