First Woman Director Of IIM Calcutta Anju Seth Resigns Amid Controversy, Here's All You Need To Know

First Woman Director Of IIM Calcutta Anju Seth Resigns Amid Controversy, Here's All You Need To Know

by Swarajya Staff - Mar 24, 2021 05:26 PM +05:30 IST
First Woman Director Of IIM Calcutta Anju Seth Resigns Amid Controversy, Here's All You Need To KnowIIM-C Logo

Indian Institute of Management, IIM Calcutta director Anju Seth has sent a resignation letter to the Prime minister's office and board of governors.

Seth has cited numerous reasons for her resignation, such as; interference by the chairman, unchecked conflict-of-interest, and open breach of government guidelines in matters of procurement and personnel.

In her letter, she has also accused the chairman with the support of the board of starting a process of maligning and denigrating her publicly.

Addressed to PMO and the board, she wrote, "I am deeply anguished at not being able to fulfil this mandate and help turn around IIM-C to a world-class institution with a distinctive Indian heritage. This situation has arisen because of a breakdown in confidence escalating over the past four months between me as Director and CEO, and you as the chairperson of the board. To the best of my ability, I have been conducting my responsibilities as Director and CEO in the best long-run interests of the institute with a focus on urgent reforms, forward-looking decisions and the interests of all stakeholders", as reported by Economic Times.

Earlier this month, on 10 March, the board of governors had published an advertisement seeking applications for Director position.

Seth, who turns 65 next year, would have retired by February 2022. The board broke the tradition of setting up a search commit nine months before the end of the present Director's term by forming a selection panel earlier this month.

In December last year, IIM Calcutta Faculty Association (IIMCFA) had written a letter to Amit Khare, Secretary, Ministry of Education, MoE, expressing "grave concerns about the current state of affairs at the institute and its implications for the future."

The letter also stated that concerns have accumulated over the current Director's tenure, the result of a style of functioning that is arbitrary, discriminatory, and, having a very narrow vision".

Seth has a doctorate from the University of Michigan (1988). She joined Virginia Tech in 2008 and headed its department of management from 2008 to 2013, before being appointed as institute's first woman director in November 2018, She is also an alumna of the institute (1978).

In her resignation letter, Seth has stated, "Unlike other IIMs and renowned universities worldwide, no Code of Conduct existed at IIM-C. Commitments to donors were not met. An illustrative list of problems and issues applauded by many stakeholders (including numerous faculty members who were equally concerned about buttressing IIM-C's strong foundation for a sustainable future), this came in direct conflict with vested interests that resisted disruption of their legacy comfort levels".

She further writes that "Since the commencement of the CVC investigation into the College Builder software procurement case in mid-2020, there has been an escalation of resistance from some faculty members who wanted to maintain the status quo, with anonymous and misleading complaints disseminated via leaks to media, and letters to the MoE. Attempts at reform have been scuttled by obstructing the functioning of Academic Council."

Alleging the board of not taking responsibility or any action in the matter, she added that, "you [board] have chosen an appeasement policy with some faculty, rolling back reform attempts and attempting to downplay irregularities uncovered during my tenure. Since the start of my tenure, you have assumed executive powers to diminish the role of the Director and of the faculty by persistent intervention, although the post of the chairman is a non-executive part-time role".

In an earlier interview with Economic Times, Seth had said that "Being a woman and an 'outsider', it is easy to be a target for charges of autocratic or arbitrary behaviour".

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