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Perk damper for IITs and IIMs, faculty protest brews

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  • Published 19.08.09

New Delhi, Aug. 19: The new IIT and IIM faculty pay regime ignores incentives proposed by a central pay panel to counter better salaries offered by industry and foreign universities that have steadily bled these institutes of top teachers.

The new regime — notified today by the human resource development ministry — not only snips increments recommended for teachers but also ignores perks proposed to fuel research at these institutes.

It ignores a special research grant and a health and insurance scheme prescribed by a central pay panel under former Indian Institute of Science director Goverdhan Mehta, and dilutes a proposed allowance for attending conferences. The Telegraph has access to the notification.

The short shrift to incentives apart from salaries appears at variance with repeated claims by top government officials that they are concerned about the severe faculty shortage at India’s premier engineering and management schools.

“This notification does not address the real problem facing the IITs and IIMs — how to attract young teachers and retain current faculty. It doesn’t provide a solution to the faculty shortage problem,” a senior professor at IIM Calcutta said.

Late this evening, the faculty at IIT Kharagpur — the largest of the premier engineering schools — decided at a general body meeting to go on mass casual leave on August 21 to protest the new pay regime.

Senior faculty at IIT Madras, other IITs and at least two NITs indicated that they may follow suit.

The new pay structure sets annual increments at scales lower than those prescribed by the Mehta panel — as revealed by The Telegraph today.

The IITs and IIMs have between 20 and 30 per cent vacancies in faculty posts, cumulatively growing at an unprecedented rate over the past decade — since 1999 when pay was last revised.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, human resource development minister Kapil Sibal — and his predecessor Arjun Singh — have repeatedly termed faculty shortage the single biggest challenge in India’s ongoing higher education expansion.

Globally, top academic institutions compensate for lower salaries — compared to industry — to their faculty by providing a slew of perks related to personal development, research opportunities and amenities for family members.

Senior faculty members at the IITs and IIMs said the neglect of other incentives to teachers could hurt these premier institutions equally, if not more, in the long run.

They argue it is the “academic environment” conducive for research and personal development at the institutes that attracted them to, and keeps them at, the IIT and IIMs.