The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Design school dangles fat pay-packet bait

Ahmedabad, May 26: Pay packets slimmer than those at the IITs and IIMs have left the faculty at the National Institute of Design (NID) unhappy and made it difficult for India’s premier design school to attract talented teachers.

A senior faculty member said at least 10 per cent of the teachers have quit over the years for reasons that include low salary.

Three teachers superannuated recently, five are retiring this year and a couple of them have opted for the voluntary retirement scheme. Having lost some of its brightest instructors, the institute is finding it difficult to replace them, especially designers, with a-not-so attractive pay packet.

“When a fresh NID graduate gets a job, he/she earns much more than us,” said a frustrated senior faculty who has served the institute since 1966 and will be retiring in a few months.

To be fair to the faculty, most of them were so committed to the 42-year-old institute that few dreamt of quitting for money. But that has changed, and in a way, proved a blessing in disguise for the disgruntled faculty.

NID executive director Darlie . Koshy stressed that during his three-year tenure, he has lost only one teacher, who quit to take up a lucrative offer which, he feels, “is quite normal”.

The resignation of Tridep Suri, one of NID’s brightest instructors, to join the Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology in Gandhinagar, which offered him four times the salary he was getting in Ahmedabad, served as an eye-opener.

The governing council, the highest decision-making body of the institute, woke up to the fact that if the faculty is not handsomely compensated, more teachers might leave and that would adversely affect the institute’s reputation.

Koshy has now finalised a scheme to compensate the faculty and attract new talent. In the last governing body meeting, he persuaded the administrators that 33 per cent of the net income the institute generates by offering consultancy services would be distributed among the faculty and technical staff. The institute has about 50 teachers.

This new scheme, said the executive director, is going to be very attractive and “we need not depend on the government to increase salary’’. To bolster his claim, Koshy said that three years ago, when he took over as executive director, the institute’s annual income from consultancy services was Rs 1 crore. It has now gone up to Rs 7 crore, 33 per cent of which will be paid out from the current financial year.

The faculty’s unhappiness began in 1985 when the Fourth Pay Commission was implemented. NID lost parity in pay scale with the IITs and IIMs as the institute was treated on a par with a “technical institute”. The faculty opposed it, saying NID was not a technical institute, but a unique institute. The teachers refused to accept the new pay scale and said they would work on lower salary until the status of the institute was resolved.

A government committee, under the chairmanship of Hasmukh Shah, looked into the matter and endorsed the NID faculty’s claim. “But by that time, the Fifth Pay Commission was implemented and it was too late to undo the damage. We never got the scale of IIM/IIT professors,” said a senior faculty member, adding that even today “I get the salary of a junior-most faculty of IIM/IIT”.

Former NID director Ashoke Chatterjee, who was associated with the institute for about 25 years, said “it was really a disgrace that the government did not provide the faculty the kind of salary they should have got”.

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