The question of adhering to administrative requirements troubles a well-known management institute.
Unhappy over the transgression of its Statutes, Bharathidasan University finds itself pushed into a difficult situation of considering the takeover of the Bharathidasan Institute of Management (BIM), the university's first autonomous school of excellence known nation-wide as a premier business school.
This contemplation of the university comes amidst concerns prevailing among faculty and students that the BIM might have slipped from its top-notch national ranking in the recent years due to obvious shortcomings on the fronts of permanent infrastructure and permanency of faculty, and the apparent attempts being made by the BIM Society to extricate itself from the control of the university and the State Government.
Since its creation in 1983 by the first vice-chancellor P.S. Manisundaram for imparting quality management education on the lines of Indian Institutes of Management, the BIM has been functioning from the premises of Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, Tiruchi, under an agreement, with financial autonomy. A separate governing board was formed and rules of governance were framed and registered under Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act 1975. Yet, the Society was conceptualised to be under the overall purview of the State Government and the University.
The rules necessitated the approval of the Chancellor for making new rules or by-laws for the conduct of the affairs of the Society and to add to, amend, vary or rescind them from time to time. The university's approval was required for acquiring and holding immovable property. The Society was expected to make deposits or investments subject to the orders of the Government in respect of university funds. The rules warranted maintaining of accounts and preparing annual statement of accounts including the Balance Sheet of the Society in such form as may be prescribed by the University in its Statutes and Regulations in consultation with the Finance Committee of the University.
Under Rule 30, the Society had to submit to the university within six months after the close of every financial year a report on the working of the Institute in the previous year along with an audited statement of accounts showing income and expenditure. The Society also had to submit to the University the budget estimates for every financial year.
According to vice-chancellor M. Ponnavaikko, the BIM Society has complied with none of these rules since its formation. The Society, he said, had surprisingly flouted Rule 10 on composition of members. It consistently ignored the inclusion of a member representing Management Consultancy Service appointed by the vice-chancellor.
The university is upset by the element of “secrecy” in the functioning of the BIM Society. It was shocked to learn recently that the BIM Society had in its annual general meetings in 2003 and 2004 adopted resolutions amending those portions of the existing rules that make the Institute answerable. The Society got the amendments registered with “ulterior motive and malafide intention” of freeing itself from the control of the State Government and the university, the vice-chancellor pointed out. For instance, the rule 25 (ii) states thus: Without Prejudice to the general powers of the Society and the university, whenever it shall appear to the Committee that it is advisable to alter, extend or abridge the Memorandum of bye-laws framed thereunder, the Committee may submit the proposition to the members of the Society at the general meeting or by convening a special meeting for consideration thereof. In the amended version, the words “and the university” have been deleted and 'Committee' has been replaced with 'Board'.
The amendment made to Rule 28 (v) depicts the Society's inclination to free itself from the control of the State Government. Prior to the amendment, the rule read: To prescribe rules and regulations for the admission of students to the various courses of study in conformity with the policy approved in this behalf by the State and the Central Governments. In the amended version the words 'the State and the Central Governments' have been replaced with 'the Board after complying with the statutory legal formalities'.
The latest affront was the BIM Society's “unilateral” appointment of a new Director last week. Prior to the amendments, the propriety of which the university finds under cloud, the BIM Board had to appoint the Director of the Institute with the approval of the vice-chancellor of the university.
‘Save BIM Campaign'
Meanwhile, faculty and students of BIM are taken aback by the lack of enthusiasm on the part of the BIM Board to move out from the temporary campus at the BHEL premises despite the university's readiness to provide 12 acres of land at its city campus free of cost for a permanent facility. According to BIM faculty, the university has also promised a “hands-off” policy to safeguard autonomy. Eight faculty members and 104 students have signed a ‘Save BIM Campaign' memorandum and presented the same to the university for immediate action. In fact, it was only upon learning that the BHEL, which is on an expansion mode, expects BIM to vacate from its premises, that the Bharathidasan University alloted the 12-acre site in its capacity as a parent body and also took initiatives for preparation of a comprehensive construction plan.
As per available indications, the university is moving in the direction of exercising rule 33 in the original form. It states: In case, the university is satisfied that the Society/Institute is not functioning properly, the university/Government shall have the power to take over the administration and assets of the Institute with prior approval of the State Government.