Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Clueless journalists of the day

The 'honor' goes to the editorial team at Mint for inserting this piece of cluelessness in its editorial on Liberating Our Universities:

... Professors [at IITs] cannot get more pay than bureaucrats. [...]


Go to any IIT / IIM, you'll hear stories about consulting superstars who bring in tons of money to the institution -- and to themselves. Legally.

The number of such superstars may be small -- and as a favour to the rest of us, they do maintain a modest lifestyle! But here's the thing: this route to the riches is available, not just to a chosen few, but to every faculty member.

The system has these superstars and allows them to flourish. Mint editorial is clueless in suggesting otherwise.


  1. Anonymous said...

    The statement is about PAY. OK?. "PAY". Consultancy is not PAY.

  2. Abi said...

    @Anon: Yeah, right. Same difference!

  3. Anonymous said...

    You seems to think that you are some superior authority who can say this guy is clueless or that guy is clueless. What is wrong in the mint article? This article is talking about pay not consultancy. This is something given to faculty all over world. Indian govt is not doing some sort of charity to IIT prof. by doing it.
    Also, your blog seems to suggest the pays are actually adequate and people are making noise about nothing. First of all, by any international standard, Indian faculty pay is pathetic. Don't give me that crap about purchasing power parity. No one makes decision based on purchasing power parity. The fact is people of our generation makes choice based on global opportunities. Yes! we do want to return to India. However, this should happen on basis of mutual respect only.

  4. Bruno said...

    For once, I think Anon is Right :) :)


    The main problem with Universities as well as Medical Colleges is that the Professor cannot get more pay than the Chief Secretary !!! (this is perhaps and un written rule I suppose)


    So Professor of Cardio thoracic Surgery, still gets PAY of 40,000 per month which he will get in one surgery if he practises outside !!!


    Consultancy, I suppose is not available in All places. Isn't it

  5. Anonymous said...

    Yes. Abi is quite off the mark on this one. It is about pay and any other option has a cost associated with it which is likely orthogonal to being a good researcher.

    The question really is why somebody cannot be an excellent researcher and be compensated for it?

    More troublesome is the tone and language of the title. It is one thing to be critical. But calling someone clueless just because they don't agree with oneself is, well, "clueless."

    I should mention in passing that the title has a missing apostrophe. After all, only one story is mentioned and there is no named journalist; and so what is "journalists" in plural doing here? Cluel... never mind!

  6. Abi said...

    @Bruno: I don't know what rules medical colleges / universities follow; but the UGC's Chadha Committee clearly states that university faculty can earn extra money through consultancy.

    @Anon (the most recent one): Editorial team = several journalists.

    As for good researchers getting just rewards, the link takes you the post that discusses one possibility: research grants allow faculty to earn some money (grants from industry allow this, btw). Yet another suggestion is to give a monetary reward for each publication. I'm all for it.

  7. Anonymous said...

    I've just found ur blog. ur blog is very informative abt lot of things happening in India. However regarding pay-hike for IIT faculty, I just cldn't refrain from leaving a comment.
    I guess issue is in attracting the new talented faculty. we all know very well that a person getting an offer from univ in USA has hardly chosen any of the IIX in the past. But things are getting changed now. Currently I am working as postdoc in a national lab in usa after getting PhD from top 3 univ in US. I know atleast 20 more Indians like me doing postdoc in national lab or MIT/Harvard in USA. We are applying for faculty position in univ in USA and getting offers. But you know what we are not in a state of mind to rule out completely about the possibility of joining any IITs/IISc. There was a buzz since last yr that salary of IIXs will go up significantly & we all were looking forward to that. I remember in the last MRS meeting we, bunch of people were having an encouraging chat with few eminent Indian Prof/Scientist in Boston. They all encouraged us and frankly speaking we all were impressed on the changing scenario esp. regarding the funding situation. Even just few days back one article in ACS nano(conversation with CNR Rao)has been circulated among the studnts and postdocs in USA ( So we are getting pretty rosy picture, although we don’t believe 100% of it, but To be honest, we need money..a decent amt, which may vary person to person, but shld be higher than what you guys are getting. Regarding the other ways one can earn money, u mentioned, well thats the one more reason we all are interested in going back. But still the regular salary should be higher. Your point about the performance based salary is valid and we hope someday it will happen. but please dont argue on increasing the salary...well, dont bring those issues of average Indians income and everything. Reality is its nice to hear those things in paper/Tv channels, but if you want to choose IITs over UC/CMU/Cornell then salary is what we bump into first.

  8. Anonymous said...

    The current situation is very tricky..People with gr8 CVs are not getting UCs/CMu/Cornell..bcoz of the economic slowdown and thats helping lot of indians to consider IIts over the B-grade institute in US and this buzz of salary-hike influencing a lot to make up our mind. Some people got offers from IIx and univ in USA/UK/AUS are seriously considering to go back India. And I know several others who are going to apply. But please dont argue on the fact if faculty salary needs to be increased.. We all know its the public money which Govt paying for IIx faculty...But atleast it will use for the good cause..even if 50% of the promising faculties i am talking about delivers in India, I am sure nobody will repent on the fact of raising faculty salary.The whole tech/ science has changed over the last 5 yrs. Imagine even if 20 good prof decide to come back India with the knowledge and ideas from USA and perform the cutting edge science, I am sure that will change the scenario..More and more people will be encouraged to go back. The bunch of people we are talking about, all did their phds from Berkeley/Stanford/MIT/Harvard etc..Believe me, each of us really influenced by the the recent change in funding situations and everything. Some of us have talked with companies like Intel, Dupont, Dow, 3M, GE who told us,that they are going to fund lots of project in India. they believe on us since many of us already delivered them with good results during our stint as postdoc or grad stdnts. As you mentioned we all know this alternative way of earning money.. We are seeing the shift of interest from Big companies to India for R&D investment. And we are sure that we can make money from that by doing cutting edge science..but still official pay scale matters..
    Its bit of Psychological or whatever u can say that influence a lot to make up someone's mind.

    We are really happy that Indian Media is playing a good role to help in raising faculty salaries..So please be supportive to them, dont criticize what they are doing.. Even though 100s of others ways for earning money, payscale is what matters most for stdnts to take the decision..Because simply because if we stay here we can earn lots and lots of money from those ways you mentioned than the amount of money u can make in India.
    payscale is what stdnt like us look for when we first consider of returning back to india. Believe me, once Indian Govt announce the increased pay-scale it will just be the final blow to decide people to come back India.
    I know my comments may be out of context..but just kept on writing this..Its really amusing to see from the comments on several blogs and website that people never think even to see stdnts from USA coming back to join IITS instead of choosing a good univ in USA.

  9. Anonymous said...

    I have nothing to say with respect to the pay hoopla but with respect to the previous two loooong comments:
    obviously, writing is not your strong point (ivy league PhD and national lab postdoc notwithstanding); maybe you ought to make an effort on your writing before you apply for faculty positions in the US or India..GOD!

  10. Kaushik said...


    "Yet another suggestion is to give a monetary reward for each publication. I'm all for it."

    I find that a pretty scary proposal, with potential for all kinds of abuse.

    If you provide the reward to all the authors of a paper, you'd have researchers adding people who make no contribution to the work as authors in order to maximize profits. If you restrict the monetary benefits to only the first author, I'd think that many advisers would insist on being first-authors on papers consisting of work primarily done by their graduate students.

    I think your proposal for having a "personal remuneration" component for all research grants is a very good one, but "Cash for papers" gives me the shivers. Maybe there's a way to make it work fairly well, but I can't think of one.

  11. Anonymous said...

    After having seen all the comments posted for this as well as related blogs, and in particular, their language, content, its logic, and the choice of words to address others, one might be tempted to think that IIX faculty (the existing and the prospective ones) should, in fact, get lower than what the government has proposed. The difference in the amount (what IIX want - 'new pay' that they deserve) could be spent on primary education ;)

  12. Anonymous said...

    Touche ....