IIT, IIM faculties reiterate demand for pay hike

To observe hunger strike on Thursday

Faculty members of the seven IITs, who met for a closed-door session at IIT-Kharagpur at Salt Lake, on Monday resolved to launch a hunger strike on September 24 and set a deadline of October 1 before the Centre to settle their demands.

Describing the autonomy conferred on them as an “infringement” of academic freedom, faculty members of IITs and IIMs have begun working on a joint charter of demands to be submitted to HRD Minister Kapil Sibal.

According to the plan of action, classes will be held, but professors at all IITs will observe a token hunger strike on Thursday.  “It is the first time IIT and IIM professors are sitting down together to discuss the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations, and how it is affecting us,” Dr Bharat Sheth of IIT Mumbai said.  The new rules stipulate that IITs and IIMs can recruit a professor only if the person has served for least four years as an associate professor in those institutions. This, the teachers claim, makes it impossible for the institutes to recruit qualified scientists from research laboratories and industries.

Secondly, the faculty members also want entry positions to be made more attractive to lure bright young talents.

Cent per cent

As for the pay reforms, the professors want a cent per cent raise. “We want an amicable solution. We want to re-emphasise our points. We are looking forward to a meeting of our directors with the HRD officials in the presence of teachers’ representatives,” M Thenmozhi of IIT Chennai said.

According to Dr Sheth, the issues confronting IITs and IIMs are not merely money and pay, but autonomy, flexibility and hiring. “Other Institutions like NITs and IISc have also been affected, and we are having discussions with them also,” he said.

Sheth added that the discontent at the Centrally Funded Technical Institutions (CFTIs) stemmed from the fact that the HRD Ministry was trying to micromanage such institutions.

The ministry recently came out with a fresh notification on the pay structure of CFTIs, which said the post of lecturer-cum-post-doctoral fellow would be re-designated as assistant professor. It added that the appointments would be made on contract basis.

The Centre also put a 40 pc cap on the promotion of professor to senior grade on the basis of performance, which resulted in resentment among the IIM-A faculty.

“The notification that prescribed limit to the number of professors (40 pc) that can exist as a proportion of a professor drawing the highest grade pay, is totally uncalled for,” a senior faculty council member said.

“Promotion of professors should be based only on academic merit. It should be regardless of how many professors already exist in any pay grade,” the member added.  Besides, the new order also imposes cap on the number of domestic and international conferences a professor can attend during a year.

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