The "critical appraisal" by the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, on the "turnaround" of Indian Railways, which sang paeans to Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav's "astute understanding of market reality," was paid for by the Railway Ministry.
The amount: Rs 4 lakh plus service tax plus "expenses of research assistance, computer usage and overheads at IIM-A/Ahmedabad." The author of the study, IIM-A professor G Raghuram, was also provided "rail travel (complimentary passes)/air travel, accommodation (rest house), local hospitality, data covering and analysis support."
This fact has been revealed by the Ministry in a reply to an application filed by The Sunday Express under the Right to Information Act this month. Raghuram's report doesn't mention this sponsorship.
The Ministry says that the Railway Staff College, with IIM-A, conducted the study and the "deliverable" is a "case study along with teaching note to be used as training material."
Significantly, this report was ready in September 2006 the study began in May that year and IIM-A rolled out the red carpet for Lalu on September 18 when he visited the campus, catapulted to the status of a "management guru."
It was after Lalu's appearance at IIM-Ahmedabad that delegations from Harvard Business School, Wharton University, Boston University, American Defense Institute, U.S. Financial Services Industry Study Group, MIT's Sloan business school visited Indian Railways to hear the "turnaround story."
"There are many studies we do at the institute where the subject pays for the cost," Raghuram told The Sunday Express. "The payments are made to cover the costs and the faculty's time. Even in this case, the payment made was not huge."
When asked about the propriety of asking a subject for funding when the study is a "critical appraisal" of
the subject, Raghuram said: "A study sponsored by a subject does not necessarily compromise its objectivity. As academics, we also don't want the objectivity of a study to be influenced. I had been wanting to see the new initiatives introduced in the Railways. For that, I proposed to the Railways that I wanted to conduct a study, to which they responded favourably."
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