Wednesday, December 27, 2006

More on the PanIIT meet

After President Kalam's verbal whacking, there's more coming PanIIT's way. First, Mumbai's Daily News and Analysis (DNA) chose to write an editorial underlining the President's points. And the students and faculty of IITs have flayed the PanIIT organizers for not doing a good job of projecting the IITs' contribution to nation building. They did get some comic relief when Sam Pitroda, the Chairman of the National Knowledge Commission, suggested that IIT-B should introduce a masters course in film technology because of "the growing convergence of various media."

The IIT directors have used the occasion to put forward their views on the problems faced by the IITs.

One of the things that comes out from their sob stories is the faculty crunch. DNA's editorial says that the IITs need to recruit 1200 to 1500 new faculty members over the next three years. The Business Standard, on the other hand, quotes a McKinsey study "initiated in 2001" as emphasizing that "the IITs and regional engineering colleges (RECs) would require another 5,000 faculty over the next five years." It goes on to quote the IIT-D director who said, "We need to recruit at least 70 faculty members every year but we are not able to do so due to the shortage of quality faculty.” To put these numbers in perspective, India produces about 700 PhD's in engineering every year; its science PhD output is about 5000 per year.

Another interesting thing in that report is the research funding of about 10 million rupees (about $200,000) per faculty member per year at places like MIT and Stanford (these figures are probably from 2001); the corresponding figure for the IITs is Rs. 1.5 million (about $30,000).

During the PanIIT Meet, the women graduates of IITs had a chance to meet up; they "vowed to address gender inequity at the IITs. As a first step, they are starting a mentoring programme for female students and alumni." The Hindustan Times reports that they plan to "mentor girls on issues they could face in the professional sphere, how to proceed with research, how to strike the right balance between work and family life." It goes on to add:

“The fact that there are not enough women in the IITs even today is a reflection of the inequality in society,” said Susheela Venkatraman, a business partner at IBM, Bangalore. She was one of just 11 girls in a batch of 250 when she graduated from IIT Delhi in 1981. A recent study in IIT, Bombay showed the number of women obtaining Bachelor of Technology degrees each year has ranged between 1.8 to 7.9 per cent.


  1. tilotamma said...

    Hi Abi,

    I need to talk to you some more about this Indian women in sciences issue with you.

    Guess, I will send you an email sometime.

  2. Abi said...

    Welcome back, Tilo. I look forward to your views on the issue of women in science.