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IIM Directors Meeting, 28th August 2017: An Open Letter to the IIM Leadership regarding Dalit representation in IIM faculty

Dear IIM Directors:

RE: IIM Directors Meeting, 28th August 2017: An Open Letter

We would like to introduce ourselves as Siddharth Joshi and Deepak Malghan. Joshi is a Fellow of IIM Bangalore (2017) and Malghan is on the faculty at IIM Bangalore. However, we write this to you in our personal capacities.

As part of your packed agenda for the IIM Directors meeting on August 28th 2017, you are also slated to discuss the doctoral programmes at IIMs (currently called the Fellow Program in Management, or the FPM). We want to bring to your attention years of willful circumvention of constitutional mandates and statutory provisions governing admissions at public institutions such as IIMs. FPM admissions have for a number of years turned a blind eye to questions of diversity and social inclusion. One direct consequence of the IIM FPM programmes not making a concerted effort to recruit a socially diverse doctoral student body is the utter lack of diversity on the faculty bodies at various IIMs. Of the over five hundred faculty members at IIMs where data is available, only two are from the SC group, and reportedly IIMs currently do not have any representation from the ST group on its faculty. IIMs are not only “consumers,” but also “producers” of management faculty. A third of all current IIM faculty members received their doctoral training within the IIM system. This proportion of IIM-trained faculty will only go up in the next several years as newer IIMs expand their faculty and the FPM programmes themselves expand (as discussed in the IIM Directors meeting with the HRD Minister, Shillong, September 2016). Had IIMs paid attention to questions of diversity and inclusion in the FPM programme, the acute diversity deficit on the faculty bodies would have been surely less stark.

In order to break the decades of deafening silence on diversity and inclusion within the IIM FPM programmes, the collective leadership at IIMs must initiate a serious introspective dialogue. While such dialogues can serve as the basis for a long-term programme that takes inclusion and diversity seriously, we urge you to initiate immediate ameliorative, if not corrective actions. The IIM Bill when passed by the parliament will offer unparalleled autonomy in crafting creative solutions to address the extant diversity deficit. The normative underpinnings of the new legislation assumes that IIMs can fulfill their role as exemplary public institutions without the overbearing weight of state-designed straitjacket solutions. A continued silence on diversity and inclusion will constitute a direct betrayal of this trust reposed in IIMs by the Indian society.

Given IIMs’ shameful record on diversity and inclusion in their doctoral programmes, a proper place to begin is by acknowledging past omissions and commissions. As a public institution, IIMs are in clear breach of their implicit social contract. An unequivocal acknowledgement of past lapses can clear the deck for a constructive future agenda that puts diversity and inclusion at its centre. We sincerely hope that your meeting on the 28th of August is able to take this first baby step in correcting decades of unconscionable neglect.

Sincerely,
Siddharth Joshi & Deepak Malghan
Bengaluru, 24th August, 2017

P.S: We have attached a recent article on the subject with this letter. This article carefully documents how the FPM programmes at IIMs have contributed to the acute social diversity deficit at IIMs.

Article: WORKING PAPER NO: 554, Missing Scholars: Social Exclusion at the Indian Institutes of Management