Vantage point

Friday, February 06, 2004


Murali Manohar Joshi's interview explaining his decision to slash the fees in IIMs by almost 80% is available here . Here is a point by point examination of Mad Max Joshi's claims.

MMJ says - "But we would also like to know what are their expansion plans because we need more managers and there are so many sectors in the country, which are still remain unmanaged."

Oh really? There are over 800 business schools in this country. Exactly which sector faces a shortfall of managers? Every university in the country has its own MBA program. Its fees are similar to what Joshi has "dictated" the IIMs to charge. But the quality of education in a Univ MBA is there for all to see. Which is why any student, rich or poor, would prefer going to an IIM rather than a univ MBA college, regardless of the fees.

MMJ says - "Earlier these institutions were asked to sign an MOA, they didn't sign. So therefore their grants were not released. So therefore you feel that there is a reduction in it. But the moment they have signed now these MOA and MOU, the grants will be increased again. There is no reason, there should be no worry about it. We have enough money."

We have enough money? Yeah, look, we have a fiscal surplus in the economy, don't we MMJ? Our primary schools are already flush with funds, our universities are up to the mark with Wrstern universities. Yeah, yeah, we have enough money to add Rs 50 crore to the government expenditure every year without rhyme or reason.

MMJ says - "This culture of making people dependent upon bank loans has to be examined very carefully. Is it necessary that only the person who can get a loan should come to the higher education? The State has a certain responsibility for meritorious and deserving students. We are fulfilling that."

Now look at this idiotic set of statements. What makes it even more idiotic is that this was said in response to the question - "Management education is one of the most bankable education programmes in this country and education loans are easily available. So what is the need to cut fees?". It means that any student in an IIM easily gets a loan. In all the IIMs, there is not a single person who was denied a loan by any bank. So the term "only a person who can get a loan", is weird, since EACH AND EVERY person gets a loan. Besides, 20-25% students in every IIM get a merit-cum-means scholarship. There are several other scholarships offered by many private organisations and individuals.

MMJ says - "No, this reduction of fees gives an opportunity to everybody, self-confidence in student, yes, I can afford Rs 30,000 a year. Otherwise you would say, ok Rs 1.5 lakh take a loan and then to repay it. "

On the contrary, the government should encourage the loan-for-education concept. Firstly, it reduces government spending, which is one of the if not the biggest impediments to a 10% GDP growth. Secondly, it makes a student more responsible. You have to repay the loan, so you need to work hard. I don't see how that is a burden. As it is, subsidies are a major headache. Subsidy where it is not required is stupid!

MMJ says - "Now the question generally said is, and the argument is said, that these people are getting higher salaries after completion of their education, so is IAS fellow. But IAS fellow gives only Rs 12 or Rs 18 fees in the university. So he also gets much more than his fees but IAS is now available to all. All meritorious students can compete and say yes I can go to MBA class. So, take a degree and go and compete. My point is that, the State has some responsibility to the society. We have to fulfil that."

This gets sillier and sillier. First of all, the quality of our universities which charge 12 or 18 rupees is pathetic. Secondly, MBA is already available to all. If MMJ produces 10 students who come on TV and tell us "I was selected to join an IIM, but I couldn't go because I couldn't afford the fees or get a loan", I will shut up. All selected students are already getting loans. Let me state my own example. When I got through to IIML, I was not in a position to pay 2.5 lakhs. But when I came to IIML, there were 4 banks falling over each other to give me a loan. It has been said time and again that a loan to an IIM student is a safe and bankable loan for any bank. And bankable loans are good for the economy as well. They represent the true free market economy, where you get a loan because you deserve it. This is the best meritocracy possible.
Is it the state's responsibility to increase the fiscal deficit, to interefere in administrations of the best institutions in the country and to solve fictitious problems?

MMJ says - "They are government institutions. They are created by government. I nominate the board. They are my creation. Creation of this government. So where is the question of autonomy?"

You blubbering megalomaniac!! How dare you say they are YOUR creation? IIMs and IITs have been around from ages. You or your government have no hand in creating the institutions. You dirty liar!! You became the HRD minister (this country's worst ever) half a decade back. They were NOT created by you. Sadly however, it seems like they will be destroyed by you.

This maniac has been the worst HRD minister ever.

First he re-writes history textbooks on the weirdest pretexts.

Then he decides that universities in this country should award BSc in astrology!! This is the very same government that announces a moon mission, mind you!

Then he says that IITs and IIMs have not contributed much to the Indian society. This in a year when the achievements of the IITs are being lauded by all and sundry, even by people like Bill Gates and Larry Ellison.

Then he designs and introduces the "Free and Compulsory Education bill", which turns the problem of poor primary education on its head. Rather than encouraging private schools to come up, in view of the fact that private schools are viewed as good quality schools, and government schools are considered useless, MMJ decides to introduce more red tape into the system.

And now he wants to solve a problem that does not exist. He basically wants more governmental control over IIMs. In an era where the government is disinvesting and looking to give up control of any sector that the bureaucracy has mismanaged, why is education, one of the worst managed sectors being strangulated with red tape? Ever since Narsimha Rao told the IIMs to raise funds on their own, they have flourished. In fact IITs and IIMs are rare examples in the education sector of success stories. Why is MMJ trying to fix something that is not broken? Rather, why is he trying to break something that is so well-oiled? Did some student come to him and complain that he couldn't get an MBA despite clearing CAT because of the high fees?

All over the world, MBA degrees are very expensive. They have to be because of the quality of education. And no one complains because they are worth it. In India, they are still reasonably cheap.

What is shocking is that the media is actually reporting this as "relief for students". Except for a couple of columnists, the media has taken a very soft line on this issue. It is one of the most colossal mistakes ever made in independent India.

What is even more baffling is that this is being done months after other colleges and universities in the country were given the autonomy to increase their fees.

One hopes that saner voices in the Vajpayee government will persist. But still, we need to do something. The government was forced to act on the Satyendra Dubey issue because online petitions forced it to the front pages of papers. Such petitions should be started to save the IIMs too.

If MMJ is really serious about "lessening the burden", he should announce that nationalised banks will have to provide loans to IIM students at 5-7%. This means that the government should provide loans at the same rate of interest that government securities yield. This means that ALL the meritorious students who are getting loans anyway, will get them at a lower rate of interest.

Any other decision is stupid and counter-productive.