IITians wake up, your profs are on street

IITians wake up, your profs are on street

By Zoya Anna Thomas   |   Wednesday, 26 August 2009, 10:55 Hrs
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IITians wake up, your profs are on street
Bangalore: Nationally, the average annual pay for professors in U.S. public universities is $115,509. Compare this to what Indian professors of the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) get annually - a paltry $12,000. Although the cost of living in the U.S. is higher, the gap in the salaries of the professors needs correction. Is this what the nation builders get in return for putting in years of hard work into educating and mentoring the future of the nation?

Ever heard of Naveen Jain, the CEO and Co-founder of Intelius? He graduated from IIT Roorkee in 1979. Vinod Khosla? The Co-founder of Sun Microsystems graduated from IIT Delhi in 1976. Bharat Desai, Chairman and CEO of Syntel graduated from IIT Bombay. Arun Sarin, former CEO of Vodafone graduated from IIT Kharagpur. The list goes on. In 2006, two final year students of IIT Bombay landed a job with New York based software group, Lime for $80,000 per year, with a $10,000 signing bonus. The question is, why is the government paying so less to the very people who play such an important role in educating the brightest minds in the country.

Hundreds of faculty members of IIT Bombay and Roorkee went on mass casual leave on Monday to protest disparities in pay package approved by the Ministry of Human Resources Development (HRD) under the Sixth Pay Commission. Over 200 professors of IIT-Bombay held a silent march on the Powai campus. Over 400 professors of IIT Delhi followed suit. IIT-Madras and IIT Kharagpur professors had gone on leave, on Friday.

"The pay hike given by the government is at least 30 percent less at the lower level (of faculties) and at higher level it is 40 percent less than what we had asked for. It will be difficult for us to attract good faculty members," said Saumya Mukherjee, Professor at IIT Bombay.

The professors have alleged that the HRD ministry has sidelined the Goverdhan Mehta Committee report which had recommended better pay structure for IIT professors. The demand of scholastic pay in monthly installments of 15000 has been overlooked. "The ministry of human resources development is the real villain," said Hem Chandra Gupta, Professor of Physics at IIT-Delhi.

Pay scales of 15, 600- 39,100 for lecturers or lecturer-cum-post-doctoral fellow, 30, 000 (minimum fixed) for assistant professors, 37, 400-67,000, 42, 800 (minimum fixed) for associate professors and 37, 400-67,000, Rs 48,000 (minimum fixed) for professors has been decided.

"If you compare the difference between the stipend of a PhD student and the working salary in a government science lab over, say, six years, the loss is 23 lakh. Our demand of scholastic pay in monthly installments of 15, 000 has been overlooked though the committee had taken inputs from IIT Faculty Forum Federations and IIT directors," Mukherjee said.

The IITs have been facing an increasing shortage in faculty for over five years now. Add to that, as per government recommendations, eight new IITs are to be set up. This will need at least 8000 new professors. With pay packages this low, how the government hopes to attract the best is an issue that needs immediate attention.

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