New Delhi: Human resource development minister Kapil Sibal on Tuesday asserted that his ministry would continue to regulate the pay structure at the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), shrugging aside a decision by the faculty to go on a hunger strike later this week.
Pay structure: Minister for human resource development Kapil Sibal. Subhav Shukla / PTI
Sibal asked the teachers to “rethink” their agitation planned for Thursday to protest a recent Union government notification on their salary structures.
“We always dream that the IITs should produce Nobel laureates. We do not expect our prospective Nobel laureates to go on (a) hunger strike. They should be hungry for knowledge,” Sibal said at a press meeting.
The government, in a 16 September notification, had redesignated the post of lecturers-cum-post-doctoral-fellows as assistant professors and made entry into teaching positions at the premium IITs and the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) more stringent.
It set a doctoral degree with a first class in the preceding degree as the required qualification for the posts of assistant professors, associate professors and professors.
It also says professors should have a minimum 10 years experience with four years as assistant professors at the IITs, IIMs, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), National Institute of Industrial Engineering (NITIE) or the Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISERs).
IIT faculty members say the enhanced eligibility criteria interfere with the institutes’ autonomy in hiring and promoting its own teachers. “The order doesn’t really do much for our autonomy,’’ said S.S. Murthy, chairman, IIT Delhi faculty association.
In addition to higher pay and allowances, the All India IIT Faculty Federation is demanding a flexible cadre system that would allow the institutes to promote and admit professors on the basis of merit.
The federation is against any restriction on the number of teachers in the categories of assistant professors, associate professors and professors, as envisaged in the new scheme.
So far, IITs, IIMs, IISc, IISERs and NITIE have followed a cadre system, which allows them to promote faculty based on performance, irrespective of their age and experience. “This allowed for several brilliant lecturers and PhDs to become professors by their early thirties,’’ said an IIT director, requesting anonymity.
Moreover, the hiring policy at these institutes allowed for lateral entry, so Indian professors at international institutes could join.
Sibal said the government has “never interfered” with the autonomy of IITs but the salary structures had to be regulated. “We have to have some eligibility condition for entry and promotion in faculty. They are opposed to eligibility. This is unfair,’’ he said.