Dr. Bakul Dholakia (born July 15, 1947) completed his education in Economics at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda. He worked at IIMA for 33 years. Dr. Dholakia took over at a time when the Institute had already taken some steps towards becoming more international in outlook, but had remained in a steady state with respect to its educational programmes.
The early part of Dr. Dholakia’s tenure was marked by a conflict with the government over the issue of a new MOU that would have curtailed operational autonomy significantly. IIMA, through financial prudence and ploughing back unspent annual grants into the corpus over the previous ten years, had accumulated sizeable reserves. A perception had emerged that greater government control on IIMA’s finances was necessary. The MoU would have made such control possible. Institutions receiving less than Rs. 50 million did not have to sign the MoU and IIMA offered to reduce its dependence to this amount. The government did not agree, and after protracted and unsuccessful negotiations, the IIMA Governing Body decided on December 27, 2003 to forego all government grants—thus making the MoU redundant. This controversy was linked to another disagreement on the independence of the IIMs in conducting the Common Admission Test; unfortunately, there was an alleged question paper leak in the November 2003 test. IIMA rose to the occasion and conducted a successful retest in February 2004. In February 2004, the government ordered that the PGP fee (all inclusive) should be only Rs. 30,000 per annum; the fee charged at that time was about Rs. 150,000 per annum. A PIL had been filed in the Supreme Court and IIMA was asked to respond; in March 2004 IIMA offered to charge the fee as usual but refund the excess amount if the decision went against it. The Court set a July 2004 date for the hearing, but before that the fee order was rolled back when a new government took over at the Centre.
Dr. Dholakia’s tenure was marked by significant expansion of the infrastructure and programmes. Two new dorms were ready by June 2003, and the PGP intake that year was increased from 180 to 250 (four sections); but the Agribusiness programme reverted to a common first year with the PGP—the 15-month model was scrapped. Housing on the old campus, and the International Management Development Centre, CIIE, dorms and married students housing on the new campus, were completed over a period of about three years. This expansion was funded by the reserves the Institute had built up. The government rules stipulated that the corpus could not exceed Rs. 250 million; any excess, which at that time amounted to approximately Rs. 730 million, had to be used to build infrastructure. The ceiling was raised to Rs. 500 million in 2005, with contributions from external non-government sources or internal surplus accruals being exempt from the ceiling. IIMA used these provisions to finance its expansion.
A new one-year PGP for executives (PGPX) was launched in 2006, a six-month programme for the Armed Forces in October 2006, and a one-year programme in public management and policy in 2007. Also, in August 2006 IIMA teamed up with NIIT to enter the area of technology-enabled executive education programmes. Between 2004 and 2006 new centres, in management of health systems, retail management, insurance and infrastructure policy and regulation, and gender resources, were set up. The first Double Degree Programme was launched in collaboration with ESSEC, France, in 2006. The new environment also made the Institute initiate affiliation with the European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS). In January 2007 IIMA became eligible to apply for EQUIS accreditation. On March 31, 2007, a special pictorial postal cover with permanent pictorial cancellation of the Institute’s logo was released, thus making IIMA the first educational institution in India to have its own pictorial cancellation. Dr. Dholakia was honoured with the Padma Shri in 2007.