Sunday, March 15, 2009

One more on how our institutions (and government) treat academics ...

Long ago, I was invited as an expert for a selection by a Central Government Ministry. There was no honorarium; even the actual taxi fare was not paid. I was told that I would be paid road mileage allowance in due course. And to make things worse, an amount less than one-fourth of the actual taxi fare was sent to me by money order and the postal commission was deducted from the computed amount! I refused to accept the money order and wrote a letter to the concerned official in not too sweet a language. As usual, there was no reaction.

From this letter in Current Science [pdf] by Prof. S.C. Dutta Roy from IIT-D. The good professor urges Indian scientists to show some spine in their dealings with government agencies:

...[W]hile the scientists have to survive with whatever scale the Government prescribes, they can at least demand a respectable honorarium for every additional job they are requested to undertake. By refusing to do such a job for free or for a pittance would not make them poorer; on the other hand, the message will be clear that they need to be taken more seriously and more respectfully. It is important for a scientist to live with dignity; one who does not care for it does positive disservice to himself and to the whole scientific community.

Thanks to Seema Singh for the pointer.