August 28, 2009 12:15:39 am
The Indian Institutes of Technology are facing a major faculty crunch,their teachers have left their classrooms and have taken to the streets to register their protest against what they believe is an unfair deal as compared to other institutes and one that will fail to achieve the goal of attracting fresh teaching talent. Our Correspondent takes a look at the issues at hand:
Why the protest
The recently notified revised pay and perks for them announced by the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry have left the IIT faculty disappointed. While the hikes are slightly lower than what was recommended by the Prof Goverdhan Mehta Committee set up to suggest revised pay for staff at centrally funded educational institutes like IITs,IIMs,NITs,among others the IIT faculty also feels that their counterparts in central universities and scientific institutions are getting a far better deal.
Also,with most IITs facing a 20-30 per cent faculty shortage,rendered acute in the face of six new IITs that started functioning last year,IIT directors have also been demanding that faculty be paid better to retain the existing lot and draw young talent. An IIT director points out that while until the Fifth Pay Commission,the IIT faculty was one payscale up from the UGC,the gap has narrowed now,causing resentment among IIT teachers.
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The IITs view
Prof Bhartendu Seth,president,Faculty Forum,IIT-Bombay points out,We are demanding a pay structure to attract talented young teachers to IITs,which is not likely with the kind of pay and perks notified by the HRD ministry. A case in point,Seth elaborated,was that the ministrys new cadre of contract-basis lecturer in Pay Band (PB) 3 Rs 15,600-39,100 with an Academic Grade Pay (AGP) of Rs 6,000 will hardly attract youngsters. At assistant professor level,the ministry has notified that one must come with three years experience and a PhD. This means IITs will not be able to take fresh graduates or doctorates as permanent faculty members. That apart,our assistant professors cannot move to Pay Band 4 like their counterparts in the UGC scale, Seth said.
Prof K Rajagopal from IIT-Delhi explains further. Our main contention is that prior to the Sixth Pay Commission the IITs were among the few centres of excellence in the country like ISRO,DRDO,CSIR. But unlike us,our counterparts in these scientific organisations get a dual-level Performance Related Incentive Scheme (PRIS) which comprises 20 per cent of their basic pay as additional allowance and a Flexible Complementing Scheme which ensures time bound promotions irrespective of vacancies in the next grade. So IITs are not only brought down one level from the centre of excellence grouping but also denied scholastic equivalence, says Rajagopal. That apart,there are great disparities at entry-level between the UGC system and IITs. So while a BTech-level person starts at Pay Band 3 in a university/college as assistant professor,at IITs it is no less than a PhD who joins PB 3 as lecturer on a contract basis and has to work for three years to become associate professor, he added.
The All-India IIT Faculty Federation submitted a memorandum to the HRD Ministry demanding:
•The entry-level lecturer post should be abolished for IITs
•The ministry should allow recruitment of PhDs at assistant professor-level without three years of experience mandated by the notification
• An increase in AGP for associate professors and professors; a hike in Professional Development Allowance (PDA) from Rs 3 lakh to Rs 5 lakh for three years; a Scholastic/Special Allowance of Rs 15,000 per month to all faculty as given at ISRO/DRDO.
The All India IIT Faculty Federation has announced,meanwhile,that if the HRD ministry fails to address their concerns by September 5,a hunger strike will be launched.
HRD Ministrys response
HRD Minister Kapil Sibal will be meeting IIT directors on September 2 and this matter is likely to be on the agenda. The ministry,however,feels that the IIT faculty has little reason to complain as the notification has by and large adhered to the Committee recommendations. The new cadre of contract-basis lecturers,says the ministry,was also created to get fresh doctorates to join as faculty members.
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