Saturday, September 19, 2009

The one costly mistake IITs made ...

... was in not protesting against the clause on the lecturer-cum-post-doc position.

I mean, they did protest, but not on the really important issue of the salary for this position. The effect of this half-hearted and ineffective protest is that, in the revised notification, the MHRD was content with a cosmetic change: it re-named that position to "assistant professors hired on contract."

But, "on contract" assistant professors are not the same as "real" assistant professors; candidates with less than three years of post-doctoral experience are eligible -- going strictly by the text of the notifications -- to be hired only as "on contract" assistant professors, but not as real ones.

And here's the killer: the "on contract" kind will earn less than Rs. 25,000 [Rs. 15,600 + seven non-compounded increments (3276) + AGP of 6000], compared to Rs. 38,000 for their "real" siblings.

This clause is a killer for IITs because their biggest need is for engineering PhDs who are in short supply. For the sciences, on the other hand, this is not likely to pose a major problem because most of their faculty applicants already have 3+ post-doc years.

The IIT faculty associations were right to focus on the interests of the existing faculty. [Also, almost by definition, they are not geared to take care of their members-in-waiting!] So, I wouldn't blame them for not making a huge noise about this clause.

However, I would certainly blame the IIT directors for taking their eyes off this clause. This is going to hurt them.

Unless, of course, they have a secret -- or, unpublicized! -- agreement with MHRD that they will have the flexibility to offer "real" assistant professorships to engineering PhDs with less than 3 years of post-doc.

I wouldn't rule out this possibility.

In the absence of such an agreement, they will have to come up with ways of finding extra cash -- by dipping into their corpus, for example -- to sweeten the deal for their "on contract" assistant professors.


  1. Anonymous said...

    What happens to existing assistant professors at IITs who don't have 3yr post-phd experience? Will they be redesignated as 'assistant professors on contract'?


  2. Anonymous said...

    The rule applies to IISc as well. Why do you say that IITs made the costly mistake. They protested in some manner. IISc people were silent.


  3. Anonymous said...

    You use the generic term IIX in all your posts in matters related to IIT, IIM, IISc, IISER. Why not in this one?

  4. Ronnie Coleman said...

    Not just pay, people on contract are eligible only for OPD medical benefits.

    The IIT faculty associations were right to focus on the interests of the existing faculty.

    Actually, they tried to convince the minister regarding the contract issue. The reply they got was that a fresh PhD is not old enough to get a 30k salary.

    But I agree that the federations have now shifted their focus.

    However, I would certainly blame the IIT directors for taking their eyes off this clause. This is going to hurt them.

    In their "meeting" with Sibal, they were told (a) that IIT faculty are much better off than their UGC counterparts, and (b) to go back and control protests at their respective institutes. And they did just that, otherwise their dreams of becoming Scientific Advisor to the PM will not realize.

    Rather than representing the IIT Faculty to the ministry, these directors are representing the ministry to the faculty.

  5. Anonymous said...

    Hello All,

    Since the blogger iitsriram does not send message here, and this blog too has a large readership, I reproduce below what he has said in Prof. Giridhar's blog on final take home salary. As he puts, he was official representative of IITM at GM comm.



    It would be unfortunate if you or anyone else chose to skip IIX as a career choice becuase of incorrect information. Our 'host' here has posted details of entry level pay elsewhere, but let me summarise. I will give gross figures assuming 'metro' allowances (applicable to chennai, mumbai, delhi, bengalure etc) excluding house rent allowance. If you joined as entry level assistant professor three years ago, your starting gross salary at IIX would have been 22620. Lets leave aside higher joining pay for now since the same kind of allowance can be given in the old and new schemes. Perhaps many were getting 2-3 steps up this way which would have pushed this figure up to 25k. If you joined last year, the starting gross would have been 28k minimum. And if you joined today before the pay revision, the minimum gross would be almost 31k. If you joined today post-pay-revision as assistant professor on contract with fresh PhD and no experience, the minimum gross would be 37262. If you have three years experience, the pre-revised minimum pay as of today would be about 34k; post revision, the three years experience would qualify for appointment as regular assistant professor with a minimum gross of 52k. If anyone wants, I can break out the details; there are no mistakes in my calculations. I know what I am writing about. Lets just say, I appeared in front of the Goverdhan Mehta committee (which wrote the report on pay revision for IIT IIM IISc etc) as the official representative of IITM, representing the IITM director.

  6. Abi said...

    @Anon #3: The reason I mention IIT here is simple: It is only the IIT representatives -- directors and faculty association leaders -- who got a chance to meet the HRD Minister!

    In the context of this post, the directors' meeting with the minister was a missed opportunity. They should have pushed hard for flexibility in hiring 'real' assistant professors.

  7. Anonymous said...

    in response to your above comment...
    IITs are the only institutes doing something about the 6PC problem... IISc just wants to wait and reap the benefits if any (may come out of the IIT-MHRD stand-off) without getting its hands dirty...


  8. pradeepkumar pi said...

    Abi have you seen TIT Faculty Federation memorandum to the Minister? The entry level recruitment problem has been clearly highlighted there. Then another fact is that that Minister refused to listen to the faculty federation representatives. He was telling them that everything will be addressed in the new notification and the worries are misplaced. Apparently that meeting was a joke. Then the directors meeting with the ministers was a different ball game. The directors miserably failed to convince the minister about this issue.Instead they were brainwashed by MHRD officials with a PPT presentation which was filled with errors. So instead of blaming the IIT faculty federation you may want to blame the directors of IITs. The title your post should be the costly mistake IIT Directors made. In a recent conversation with one of my friend, IISc director mentioned that IISc wouldn't have any problem to hire Asst professors and he emphasized that the in IISc no one is no one is hired with a fresh Ph.D. So the message is clear from IISc side..

  9. Anonymous said...

    The poor pay and the inflexible requirements for a newly recruited Assistant Professor will make it worse to get good faculty for the new IITs. Already the location and lack of infrastructure for some of the new IITs make them unattractive for people with highly qualified spouses. Now this idiotic post of Assistant Professor on contract coupled with poor pay is a double whammy.

  10. Anonymous said...

    Taking a contrary view maybe the asst. prof on contract will become the indian style of "tenure track" to ensure some kind of quality barrier for getting into premier instis ? This maybe needed considering that there is a scarcity of faculty and glut of IIXs are coming up. But this is assuming that asst. prof on contract is a temporary position. Excepting for the temporary nature the postdoc period is a time for gaining valuable experience and networking into the community which is definitely useful especially when you are beginning ur acad career early.

  11. Ankur Kulkarni said...

    @anon: I don't think one should interpret the function or characteristics of the position "Asst prof on contract"(APoC) by the name of the position. The MHRD notification says nothing about APoCs being on a temporary position.

    The only inference one can draw is that the APoC is a fourth rung in the hierarchy with a lower pay than Asst Profs. Regardless of what name is assigned to the post, the question to be asked is: is the take home salary enough to attract a fresh PhD? From Abi's post it appears that the take home is 25k. From what iitsriram has said in anon's reply to Abi's post, the take home is 37k. Which is correct?

  12. Pratik Ray said...

    Regarding the assistant professor on contract position, can someone clarify whether -

    a) These contractual positions are expected to be merely teaching positions, or are these faculty expected to do research as well?

    b) After three years, are the contractual faculty going to be absorbed as regular Asst Prof (if so, this would most certainly be a 'sweetener' of sorts for this position).

    c) Do the Asst Prof on contracts also get a start-up grant like the regular Asst Prof.

    d) When is this system of hiring Asst Prof on contract gonna be implemented?

    IMO, this is a bad situation that has been created with regards to this post. However, this can still be salvaged now if the MHRD decides to make this analogous to "tenure track" hirings in US, and despite the low starting salaries, provide adequate start-up grants etc.

  13. Anonymous said...


    If you have one year of post Ph.D. experience and are applying, I would advice spending two more years in the industry or in a post-doc position abroad. In either case, you will get more money, and won't have to deal with this crap.

    When you have your three years, if you are still motivated to come to academia in India, by all means apply, and get into a proper position. Who knows, you might land a tenure-track job in a US university with your less than three years' postdoc experience.

    Believe me, you will be much better off than being "Assistant to the Delhi-Babu (under contract)".
    Ironically though, you will be teaching the Babus' kids in US universities, that is the reason they screw around with the Indian education system.

  14. Niket said...

    Hey Abi, come on! You can't blame IIT faculty association for the so-called costly mistake. One of the key points made by IIT fac association was that such conditions will make it difficult for us to hire good faculty.

    In fact, I know of a couple of colleagues who felt that the faculty association was making a big deal out of 6-PC are now shell-shocked, since this directly affects our hiring process.

  15. pradeepkumar pi said...

    Abi you can also check this news report:
    "The ministry’s notification announced a new cadre of contract basis lecturer in Pay Band 3 (Rs 15,600-39,100) with an academic grade pay (AGP) of Rs 6,000, which was strongly opposed by the IIT faculty members."

  16. Abi said...

    @Pradeepkumar, @Niket: Please read my post again. I have said clearly that I wouldn't blame the faculty federations on this issue. If anything, I would blame the IIT directors for not pushing hard on this issue and getting it removed. However, we really don't know what they pushed for and what they didn't. Which is why I hedged on placing all the blame on them (prematurely).

  17. Anonymous said...

    How about the government starting an endowment of 500 crores for each IIT and cutting them loose, as in making them autonomous, loosely on the lines of state univs in the US ? Would that be a disaster or do the opposite ?

  18. Dr. D.R.Kaushal said...

    I have just posted software to calculate the revised salary of existing faculty members in IIX on my homepage:

    Suggestions are welcome.


  19. iitmsriram said...

    Dear Ankur,

    Neither Abi nor myself have said what the take home pay would be. Abi had quoted the basic salary and I added the allowances to get the gross salary. Here are the details of what I had posted to work out the gross salary.

    "Assistant professor on contract: eligibility - fresh PhD, no experience required. Minimum pay 20140 pay + 6000 grade pay = 26140 basic (selection committee can up this by upto 23380 + 6000); dearness allowance @27% = 7058, transport allowance in metros = 3200 + da = 4064, giving gross = 37262.

    With one year experience (either on this job or from prior service), the above contractual appointment will yield a higher salary from 7000 grade pay and increments given for the prior service. As an example, with one year experience, the pay becomes 20140 + one increment at 3% + 7000 = 27790 + 27% da = 7503 + same transport allowance = 39357.

    With three years experience (not necessarily post-phd; it could be work experience one got by working before going to grad school to pick up the phd), one is eligible for regular (permanent) assistant professor appointment. Minimum pay for this is pay 30000 + grade pay 8000 = 38000 basic; da at 27% = 10260, transport allowance = 4064 giving gross = 52324.

    If one lives off campus, there will be 30% of basic given as house rent allowance; if one is actually paying rent, part of this allowance may be tax free depending on some other conditions."

    I have not tried to work out a take home since I think there are many variables in going from gross to take home.

  20. Anonymous said...

    I would like to know if a person with phd + 2 yrs postdoc experience (Asst. prof on contract) will be automatically moved into 30000+8000 (AGP) scale after 1 year and 37400 + 9000 (AGP) after another 3 years ?

    Will the movement from contract position to permanent asst. prof position require a fresh application and interview ?

    Any information on this will be helpful.

  21. Ankur Kulkarni said...

    Dear all,

    There is news of a performance based incentive scheme around. Here is one article mentioning it


  22. Anonymous said...

    Look at the salary spreadsheet at

    It is same as what iitmsriram says at Tuesday, September 22, 2009 12:54:00 PM