Watch Karan Thapar's Devil's Advocate interview of HRD Minister Kapil Sibal (or, read the transcript), where the minister is reported to have made several 'concessions'.
Without realizing what the 'concessions' mean, Thapar sounds very satisfied about his batting on behalf of IIT faculty. He has every right to be, I suppose; after all, he gets to condescend to the minister for the latter's "mature" responses in the interview! [You won't find that in the transcript, but watch Part 3 of the interview.]
You can read the interview to see for yourself how much the 'concessions' are really worth. I'll stick to what I think is the most important issue: OCAP. In the excerpt below, note how this issue has been framed as one of "10% minimum" (and hence, as something that intrudes into institutional autonomy), but not as a terrible deal -- for both individuals and institutions.
Karan Thapar: Let's then, to clarify the situation, go through the principal demands of the IIT faculty one by one so that you can explain what is your actual response to it.
To begin with, the IITs are a little perplexed, or perhaps I should put it a little strongly, concerned with your recent stipulation that at least 10 per cent of the entries into faculty should be by way of contracts. Let me begin by asking you, what's the purpose of this?
Kapil Sibal: The purpose is that normally, or rather that is a norm that when it is a person with a PhD without industrial, teaching or research experience (joins the IIT as faculty), he/she should be on a contract. But on a regular position, not ad-hoc.
On contract, if at the end of three years, the IIT people and the board feel that he should be absorbed, then he should be absorbed. However, this is the norm. If however in the course of these three years, the IIT Board or the Director recommends to the board that look, this man is outstanding; let's even waive the three year period, we would not interfere in that.
Karan Thapar: You said something really important. You are saying that although the 10 per cent requirement to the new entrants to the faculty that are to be taken on contract is the norm; and that the norm is designed to make sure that you get the best of people and not left out strata of people you do not want. Nonetheless, you have said to me that exceptional people at the discretion of IIT directors can be taken, on tenure from the outside.
Kapil Sibal: Absolutely, yes. Not only exceptional people, but people who have been taken on three-year-contract and who expect to be absorbed after three years; even their term can be reduced when the IIT Board says that look, here's a man who is exceptional, so let us waive the three-years (norm).
While I leave you to think about whether this is the victory you really wanted, let me put in my bits of snark. It's good to get the anger out of one's system ...
When you invent "autonomy" as a organizing theme for your protest action (just three days before the said action), you deserve anti-concessions, that actually raise the bar for you -- "Sure, we would love it if you waive the post-doc requirement for a C.N.R. Rao or a Stephen Hawking! [Implication: anyone less deserves just an OCAP]
When you use autonomy as a respectable cover for your piffling grievances, you deserve only meaningless platitudes on autonomy -- and nothing about your grievances.
When you sell autonomy-coated scrap metal as designer jewellery, you deserve sugar-coated non-concessions -- "IITs are precious!" and "IIT councils always had autonomy! Why would we mess with that?"
* * *
I became concerned (and very upset) when pay hike demands were hijacked by a silly debate on autonomy because I feared that the OCAP issue would be de-emphasized and misrepresented.
I can only hope I'm wrong in my assessment that these fears may just have come true.