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IIM-Ahmedabad Alumni Write to Director, Compare Lack of Diversity in Faculty Bodies to Apartheid

File image of IIM Ahmedabad building. (Photo: iimahd.ernet.in)

File image of IIM Ahmedabad building. (Photo: iimahd.ernet.in)

The letter stated that less than 10% of social groups in India account for 90% of IIM faculty

New Delhi: At the time when there is a discussion on charting out ways to give 10% reservation to the Economically Weaker Sections in upper caste – the letter from the global IIM Network has put the spotlight on elite institutions questioning their role in maintaining diversity on campus.

Addressed to Indian Institute of Ahmedabad Professor Errol D'Souza the letter is a petition to IIM-A board for “affirmative action in FPM Program.”

Signed by prominent alumni, the letter recalls D’Souza’s speech on the convocation in 2018 – “We would like to bring to your attention the acute social diversity deficit in our beloved institute's faculty composition. World over, great institutions of higher learning recognize the value of social diversity in improving the learning experience for all students. Indeed, in your own memorable convocation address in 2018, you had declared that the “diversity fairy” has landed on our IIM-A campus. Alas, the fairy seems to have missed the most gaping diversity hole on campus,” said the letter.

The concerns expressed by the IIM-A PGP Alumni Group further state, “In 2019, it is unconscionable that IIM-A continues to defy constitutional and statutory mandates in its doctoral admissions.”

Several alumni previously argued that the current dismal social diversity among IIM faculty members is a direct consequence of negligence in social diversity within the IIMA (and other IIMs) fellow programs. These programs are the single biggest source of prospective IIM faculty.

“Alumni groups have indeed pointed out that the social composition of IIM faculty bodies is akin to Apartheid era of South Africa --- less than 10% of social groups in India account for over 90% of all faculty members at IIMs,” it said.

The group, taking a hit at D’Souza’s own words, lamented in the letter that there are no role models for the historically marginalized students, arguing that: “A diverse faculty body not only improves the learning of historically marginalized students in the PGP program, who currently do not have any role models in the classroom, but also the learning outcomes for all PGP students.”

In further emphasizing on the point of diversity, the letter said, “What is true for gender diversity is also true for social diversity.” This statement acknowledges caste as the most “pernicious heterogeneity axis in India”, to be engaged with openly in society.

As per the letter the alumni has been able to argue well in pursuing some IIMs to look into the problem. Informing the Director the alumni groups wrote, “Driven in large part by the arguments made by alumni organizations, our peer institutions have implemented affirmative action in their fellow programs.”

Some of them are: IIM-Calcutta, IIM-Bangalore, IIM-Tiruchirappali, IIM-Shillong, IIM-Raipur, IIM-Lucknow, IIM-Kashipur, IIM-Indore, IIM Vishakhapatnam, IIM-Rohtak, IIM-Kozhikode and IIM-Ranchi are some of them.

“Other six IIMs have no fellowship program as yet. We would love to see our beloved IIMA to regain its rightful leadership role on questions of diversity and inclusion,” said the letter.

The right place to begin is by unequivocally committing IIMA to meet or exceed constitutional mandates for the FPM program starting academic year 2019-20, signed off the IIM-A PGP Alumni Group.
first published:January 14, 2019, 12:36 IST