‘IRMA’s Director is Unqualified for Job’, Alleges Former Professor

IRMA’s director Prof Hitesh Bhatt has a BTech & an MS degree but not a PhD as stipulated by the AICTE faculty norms.

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One of India’s premier business schools, Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA), in Gujarat, is currently embroiled in a controversy over its director’s appointment.

The B-school’s 64-year-old director, Professor Hitesh Bhatt, allegedly doesn’t meet the qualification criteria set by the institute. IRMA had released a recruitment advertisement on 12 August 2017 in the Economic and Political Weekly, seeking candidates for the post.

The advertisement stated that candidates looking to apply for the post of the director of IRMA should have a minimum qualification of a PhD or its equivalent, with 15 years’ experience of post-PhD teaching and/or research.

However, Professor Hitest Bhatt has a BTech degree from IIT Delhi and an MS in Industrial Management from Georgia Tech, Atlanta, USA.
IRMA’s director Prof Hitesh Bhatt has a BTech & an MS degree but not a PhD as stipulated by the AICTE faculty norms.
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Photo Credit: Ram Manohar Vikas

The issue was brought to light by Professor Ram Manohar Vikas, who was a teaching faculty at IRMA for four years, but was later terminated from service in June 2018.


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IRMA claims that Professor Ram was under probation and his overall performance was found to be unsatisfactory.

Meanwhile, Professor Ram has approached the Gujarat High Court to contest his alleged wrongful termination and has also approached the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) apprising them about the ‘wrong’ appointment for the director’s post.

Prof Bhatt Agrees He is Not Qualified, But...

As per the faculty norms prescribed by AICTE (vide Notification F.No.37-3/Legal/2010) for various programmes including MBA, the Director/Principal of an institute like IRMA should be a candidate who has a PhD and guides PhD students.

After the qualification of the current director of IRMA was referred to AICTE, the governing body called representatives from IRMA along with professor Ram on 22 May this year. Representatives from IRMA produced Professor Bhatt’s educational qualifications along with an experience certificate issued by IRMA.

However, AICTE referred the matter to its RIFD Bureau (Research, Institutional & Faculty Development Bureau) regarding the qualification for the director of IRMA.

IRMA’s director Prof Hitesh Bhatt has a BTech & an MS degree but not a PhD as stipulated by the AICTE faculty norms.
AICTE’s letter addressed to Director of IRMA stating that the matter has been referred to the RIFD Bureau.
(Photo Courtesy: Ram Manohar Vikas)

The next hearing in the matter will be held on 24 July.

Professor Hitesh Bhatt also spoke with The Quint at length about the case and the AICTE hearing. He said that the decision was unanimously taken by the board. He further added that he was approached twice for directorship, once in 2012 and again in 2017.

“In 2012, before my predecessor Mrs Jeemol Unni became the director, the board had written to me asking me to apply for the post as there was a positive response from the Alumni. But I wrote back saying that I am not an academician and turned down the offer; soon Mrs Unni took up the post. Five years later history repeated itself and the board again approached me and said, ‘We would like to have you as our Director since we are not able to find a suitable candidate’. I told them that I am not a PhD. Yet, they had faith in me and appointed me as the director.”
Professor Hitesh Bhatt, Director IRMA

Professor Bhatt further stated that IRMA has a history of appointing directors who do not hold a doctorate degree.

“This isn’t a recent phenomenon, this trend has been continuing from 1983-84. And it is not just IRMA, there are several top of the line B-schools across the world where professors and directors come from practise and are capable of running the organisation better,” Bhatt added.

According to Bhatt, IRMA had published the advertisement with the right intent as the institute is a not-for-profit organisation.

“The Board of IRMA will be appearing before the AICTE on 24 July along with the plaintiff Ram Manohar Vikas. Since AICTE is involved in this, let’s see how they respond to the matter at hand and I hope they arrive at the right decision,” Bhatt said.


Professor Ram’s Alleged Wrongful Termination of Services

Professor Ram Manohar Vikas had been teaching ‘Public Policy & Marketing’, along with ‘Informal Marketing & Market Place’ to management students for four years before his service was terminated on 7 June 2018.

“On that day, the director called me to his chamber and gave me my termination notice without offering any explanation. To make matters worse, as soon as I returned to my cabin I realised that I could not access my computer or the intranet to extract my files from the system. This was clearly an act of retribution, as I had raised my voice against Professor Bhatt’s appointment.”     
Ram Manohar Vikas, Former Faculty at IRMA

Ram has approached the Gujarat High Court (SCA/8721/2018) and the case is in its final hearing stage.

The Quint reached out to Professor Hitesh Bhatt and asked him about professor Ram’s alleged unlawful termination. Professor Bhatt responded through his official email.

“Prof Ram Manohar Vikas was on probation and since his overall performance was found to be not satisfactory, his service was put an end to. His termination as a probationer was in accordance with law.  However, the issue is presently sub judice before the High Court of Gujarat since June 2018. The High Court has not granted any interim relief to Prof Vikas. Hence the order of termination operates. Since the issue concerning legality and validity of termination is sub-judice before the High Court, it is not proper to offer any further comments.”
Professor Hitesh Bhatt, Director, IRMA

Professor Ram has maintained that his performance as faculty was was quite good and he received positive feedback from students. However, while talking with The Quint, Professor Bhatt spoke about what makes Ram a good professor and a rebel against the system.

“He is a brilliant professor, a very good teacher and good researcher but he is also a rabble rouser who doesn’t follow any rules which everyone else does. There is no way any organisation will tolerate such behaviour. However, he continues to live in the IRMA campus because IRMA is very kind to everyone, even the ones who are fighting cases against it. I would be happy to bring him back to the faculty, but let the high court say it.”
Professor Hitesh Bhatt, Director, IRMA

Bhatt further added, “ This matter is being heard in the court right now. So far ten hearings have been held, yet the judgement is not out, because the case has no merit.”

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Topics:  Director   Gujarat High Court   Anand 

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