Considered one of the premier institutions in the country, the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), however, seriously lack in diversity and inclusion among its students and faculty.
Deepak Malghan and Siddharth Joshi, faculty member and doctoral student respectively at IIM Bangalore (IIM-B), have been highlighting this very issue, which has been plaguing the institution for several decades now.
Ahead of the director's meeting hosted by IIM-B on Monday, the duo has shot off an open letter which is addressed to the leadership of the 20 IIMs across India.
The duo write, "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. Fellow Program in Management (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."
In a paper released earlier this month, Malghan and Joshi point out that of the over 500 faculty members at the IIMs they could collect data on, only two are from the SC community.
It also found that a third of all current IIM faculty members received their doctoral training within the IIM system. Hence, IIMs are not only "consumers", but also "producers" of management faculty talent.
The results in the paper were obtained by studying several dozen RTI queries and appeals that the duo filed with various institutes as well as with the Ministry of Human Resource Department (MHRD) over the last year.
The letter, in which Malghan and Joshi seek to be granted 20 minutes to speak on the issue during the directors' meet, further states, "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."
Speaking to TNM, Malghan said that the first step towards looking for a solution is to acknowledge the problem unambiguously.
"One can start talking about solutions once we very clearly and unequivocally acknowledge that there is indeed a problem on our hands. What we are trying to do is to get people to recognise that the status quo is simply not legitimate as far as the public institutions go," he says.
He adds, "It has been an invisible elephant in the room for about three to four decades now. It's just that we haven't paid enough attention. We are here through a series of errors, both commission and omission, something that cumulatively added over the last four decades. What Siddharth and I have tried to do is essentially put this in the public domain and try and begin a conversation around."
Earlier this year, the HRD ministry, in a reproving letter to the IIMs, asked all the campuses to take steps to increase the representation from SC, ST and OBC community members in its faculty.
So is the leadership open for a conversation?
Malghan says they have to be. "IIMs are public institutions and it cannot shy away from a discussion. Do I have a majority of my faculty colleagues' support in this? Of course not. This is a really complex problem â€” one that afflicts many of our elite institutions. This is a problem that needs to be dealt with sensitively and over a long period of time through sustained engagement," he states.
The duo feels that the IIM Bill, when passed by the Parliament, will also help the institutions address the diversity deficit in its campuses.