Thursday, September 03, 2009

So, what happened in yesterday's meeting?

I'm referring, of course, to the meeting our HRD Minister, Mr. Kapil Sibal, had with IIT directors. Looks like a lot of things were discussed, but on the issue of pay hike demands from IIT faculty, no one appears willing to talk. The only substantive stuff we have is about the assistant professors getting placed in Pay Band 4 directly (which, if true, would actually exceed the current demand of the IIT faculty associations; it was something that they demanded over nine months ago when they met the Goverdhan Mehta committee).

After reporting on this yesterday, this is what The Telegraph had to say today:

... Kapil Sibal today indicated to IIT directors the ministry’s plans to hike the pay of assistant professors — the lowest rung in the permanent faculty structure at the IITs, top officials said.

In the absence of details, all we have are these quotes from two IIT directors::

"The minister has agreed to some changes and we are hopeful they will be acceptable to the faculty," said IIT Guwahati director Gautam Barua. "The final package will be quite good for the faculty," added IIT Bombay director Devang Khakhar. The directors, however, refused to divulge any details.

Then, there is this not-so-positive note in one report:

HRD minister Kapil Sibal's meeting with IIT directors on Wednesday resolved the salary imbroglio ... A detailed presentation by the ministry-showing that IIT faculty after revision got more than UGC scale and even DRDO scientists-seems to have done the trick.[Source: ToI]

So, what else did they talk about? Quite a lot, apparently:

  1. Though a final decision has not been taken, there is a possibility that common counselling for AIEEE and JEE could be held for successful candidates of both entrance tests from 2010. However, a decision on merging IIT-JEE and AIEEE to become a common entrance test for entry to the country's tech schools will be taken later.

  2. [The meeting] also saw the minister assuring the directors that a special cell would be set up in the ministry to facilitate entry of foreign faculty in IITs. The meeting also discussed the need to create, subject to ministry's approval, an international pool of faculty for IITs.

  3. To deal with faculty shortage, IIT directors have been told to double PhD intake and prepare a list of students who were awarded PhD degrees this year. The list may be exchanged with directors of other IITs who can consider them for appointment as faculty.

  4. The ministry told IIT directors about the SC order that asked IITs and other educational institutions to help SC/ST students at each stage.


  1. Anonymous said...

    I have been following your informative and thoughtful blog for a long time. I thought I would express some of my views (from a science faculty perspective) on the faculty salary issue. (Full disclosure: I belong to a science faculty of a central university). All the blogs, including yours, start with the premise that the salary differentials between UGC or DAE and IIX's should always be maintained if not enhanced. Is this necessarily a reasonable starting assumption ?

    In Science and humanities, IIX's are not necessarily better than some well regarded research institutes and central universities in terms of research output and quality of publications. As an ex-IITian myself I know of many IIT faculty whose research as well as teaching track records are appalling. So Aditya Mittal's audacious claim of universal excellence of IIT faculty is certainly not backed up by evidence.

    I am also quite concerned about the effect of large salary differentials on "real" universities of which (like you) I am a strong proponent of. I strongly feel a complete undergrad education should include appreciation of (through courses) not only science and engineering but also economics and the humanities. The large salary differentials have more or less sounded the death knell on the science faculties of "real" universities. Under the current structure, an associate prof. entering a univ. requires 5 years of post-phd experience and even then he/she is placed in PB3. If the demand of IIX's to place Assistant prof's in PB4 is met (likely) then an assoc. prof. in a central university will get a salary equivalent to a beginning assistant prof. in IIX's only after 8 years of post-phd experience out of which the last 3 yrs must be at the assoc prof level in PB3. For good young researchers in science looking for faculty positions, the choice between central univs. (the closest thing to "real" univs. we have in india now) and IIX's is a no brainer because of such large salary differentials. So central univs. and maybe even some DAE institutes will not be able to compete with IIX's when it comes to hiring new science faculty.

    I do feel however that the IIX's deserve larger starting slaries than UGC funded institutions to take into account their undergrad programs which translate to larger teaching loads (in IIT's and IISER's). Also since IIT's are technical institutions with a major focus on engineering rather than sciences, it is imperative that they offer higher salaries to attract engineering faculty many of whom have several lucrative options to choose from.

    Ultimately however, large salary differentials between equivalently qualified personnel even within a single institution can only be justified on the basis of differentials in quality of teaching and research. Good teachers and researchers should be adequately rewarded for their efforts through higher increments and other incentives no matter where they are.

    The problem with universities in India is that their quality varies over a very large range. So is there a way to improve the quality of research and teaching in universities without forever relegating them to the bottom of the academic institutional hierarchy ? Unfortunately, i feel the answer is to create another hierarchy within univs. that distinguishes between good and bad univs.