Thursday, November 12, 2009

Horror stories from IIM-Shillong

Rashmi Bansal has a story in JAM about how this brand new institution under the IIM banner is being undermined from the top. The troubles appear to start almost right from the appointment of a non-academic as Director.

[ Aside: Just the other day, I linked to the first chapter (pdf) of Amanda Goodall's Socrates in the Boardroom: Why Research Universities Should be Led by Top Scholars. While academics are no angels, appointing a bureaucrat / businessman as the first director of an academic institution is pretty atrocious. ]

Back to IIM-Shillong. Here's some background on Director Ashoke Kumar Datta:

Dutta's profile includes 40 years of erratic corporate experience and does not list any academic credentials. Directors and faculty at IIMs are generally required to have a PhD in their subject.

Mr Dutta's biodata lists his qualification as PGDM from IIM Calcutta and 2 years on the doctoral program of Case Western University between 1971-73 (he left without receiving the degree).

At the time of his appointment Mr Ashoke Dutta was already past the age of 60, a fact which should have disqualified him from what is meant to be a five year term.

And here's a partial list of some of the shady things that an academic institution would be ashamed to put on its website:

a) Daily faculty meeting for 1 hour between 9 and 10 am with no specific agenda

b) Administrative staff being invited to attend faculty meetings where they have no locus standi

c) Administrative staff interrupting lectures on minor pretexts.

d) Officer on Special Duty (Finance) sending emails questioning professors on issues related to CAT interview selections

e) Professors being humiliated in faculty meetings, intimidated verbally and through memos; and being told by the director "you are welcome to leave" if they raised their voice on any issue, including issues like CPF (contributory provident fund) not being provided by IIM Shillong, as per prevailing laws of the land.

There's a lot more in that report, and all pretty shocking. Go read the whole thing.


  1. Anonymous said...

    But is IIM Shillong (or any other IIM for that matter) an academic institution?

  2. Anonymous said...

    This is not really very surprising.
    At least the point (e) is pretty common in one iit. There the director sends humiliating e-mail to faculty member (with copy to all faculty members). They also try to deny some part of CPF to the people who left before 7 years of service. Verbal abuse is also common.

    The bottom line is in Indian system, institute heads do have a lot of power. Often they have strong political connection. Individuals just can't fight against them.

  3. pradeepkumar said...

    Anonymous must spell out the name IIT directors, who do all sort of these things. Sine he or she is hiding identity, it shouldnt be a problem to do so. At least in IIT Bombay such things are not happening. Generalization is not always good.

  4. Anonymous said...

    In IIT too!!! I believe the IIT Director has a PhD degree and must be a faculty at some point of time to understand things better than IIM Shillong Director.

    Power corrupts....It corrupts even more in Indian system which lacks accountability.

  5. Anonymous said...

    I agree with Pradeepkumar. This would help lot of potential faculty who wants to join that IIT.

  6. Anonymous said...

    IIT Madras is (like IITB) good. No such practices.

  7. Anonymous said...

    True Story is here

  8. Anonymous said...

    Anonymous@Nov 12,7:38pm

    If you can not give the director or institute name, Please give us some hint. Is it a new IIT? Where is the IIT located... North, South, East or West ?

  9. Anonymous said...

    My guess: It is IIT Kgp/IITD/IITR.

  10. Ankur Kulkarni said...

    @Anonymous above: This is ridiculous. If anonymous(Nov 12,7:38PM) was simply loose talking, you have out done him by gossiping.

  11. Anonymous said...

    Sorry Ankur, you are right. I should not have made a guess. That leads to undesired gossip.

  12. Anonymous said...

    These are questions outside the scope of this ARTICLE

    Dear IIX Faculty,

    I will be obliged if you answer a few questions of mine

    1. How long does it it take the IIX to issue the offer letter (hard copy and soft copy) after the selection committee interview.

    2. How long does a candidate get to accept the offer.

    3. Does the offer letter contain information about the startup money, teaching load, travel funds and lab space. If not then how are those commitments usually made? verbal or in writing?


  13. Anonymous said...

    Dear Anon 7:52PM

    1 You should get a hard copy in a month or so. A soft is also sent by some IITs.

    2. Depends on the IIT. They say anywhere between two weeks to 6 weeks.

    3. Offer letter has the position you are selected to, you basic salary, a bunch of rules related to government job. Start up should be standard for everyone at each IIT.
    Verbal promises are made with regards to lab space. Travel money is standard. Teaching load is standard for each dept. You should talk to the HOD to know the real load.

    hope this helps.


  14. Anonymous said...

    Thanks K.
    For foreign candidates I guess this time can be more than 1 month due to the postal delay.

  15. Abi said...

    Just to add to what K said: You may also get an alert from the Department Chairman as and when he/she is sure that the appointment is *really* through.

    Each institute has a standard start-up grant, but has a provision for offering a bigger grant -- if you can convince them that the extra money is something that should come from the Institute right now, rather than from a funding agency N years from now.

    After you accept the offer, you will have to commit to joining your job by a certain date (which may also be mentioned in the offer letter), which could be about 6 months to a year from the offer date. Check with your Department Chairman.

  16. Anonymous said...

    Dear Abi and others,

    Things may vary a lot among even iitx. When I join IIT Guwahati 4-5 years back that time there was no start-up grant for each faculty. Rather HOD used to give the money from the money dept. had (which was not same for each faculty member). Now, they have changed for the better and give start-up grant for each faculty member.

    My point is it is hard to generalize everything. Do you people really know that all new iits give individual start-up grant?

    One caution to the person who asked this question - never ever believe verbal assurance. Ask for a signed letter.