A few weeks after the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta (IIM-C) board put out an advertisement for a new director, Anju Seth – whose term is expected to complete in February 2022 – has resigned from the post, the Indian Express reported.
According to the report, Seth’s resignation comes two days after she went on sick leave. With this, Prashant Mishra, dean (new initiatives and external relations), is now in charge as acting director.
As per the IIM Act, 2017, an institute’s board should initiate a new director’s appointment nine months ahead of the post falling vacant. The search for Seth’s successor, as per the Act, should have begun only in June.
In December 2020, more than 75% of the faculty members from the institute had written to the Union ministry of education accusing Seth of centralising powers, and consequently, usurping their administrative and decision-making powers.
Following this, Seth wrote to the ministry levelling allegations that the administration sidelined her in drafting new regulations under the amended IIM Act. She accused the chairman of the board of governors, Shrikrishna Kulkarni, of infringing on her executive powers. However, the board, in response, accused her of improper conduct.
In January, Seth, in an email to the Indian Express, dismissed the allegations as the work of “a small group of individuals”, upset with her efforts to foster a culture of transparency and accountability.
The board divested Seth of her powers for writing directly to the Central government. The newspaper learnt that the institute sought legal opinion on Seth’s allegation, to ascertain if the board is overstepping the mandate, and to interpret the IIM Act rules in connection with the institute’s autonomy.
According to the report, the faculty had earlier complained of staff shortage. Only one new faculty member had been hired in the past two years. This, despite the institute losing over 10 teachers on account of resignation, superannuation and voluntary retirement. Some of the exits, the teachers alleged, were due to “harassment”.
An alumnus of IIM-C, Seth was appointed as the institute’s first woman head in November 2018. She has previously worked at the University of Illinois and the University of Houston.
Featured image: Indian Institute of Management Calcutta director Anju Seth. Photo: IIMC website.