Sibal decries IIT faculty hunger strike plans

No infringement of autonomy of prestigious institutions, says minister

Kapil Sibal

He also asked them to “rethink” their proposed hunger strike. “We always dream that IITs should produce Nobel laureates. We do not expect our prospective Nobel laureates to go on hunger strike. They should be hungry for knowledge,” the minister told reporters here on Tuesday.

“They are not trade unionists. They are teachers, and we respect them. I am deeply pained by this agitation as nothing unfair has been done to them,” Sibal said. He expressed surprise at the sudden announcement of the IIT faculty to go on hunger strike on Thursday as the directors of the institutes had already expressed satisfaction at the revised terms and conditions of service in a recent meeting.

Reports from Kanpur said the IIT chiefs had appealed to the faculty federation not to go on hunger strike and to resolve their grievances through dialogue. “No issue can be resolved by going on hunger strike. The faculty members should first convey their grievances to their respective directors, who would in turn forward their genuine demands to the HRD Ministry,” said Sanjay Dhande, Director, IIT Kanpur.

Sibal said the government had “never interfered” with the autonomy of IITs, “but the pay system has to be regulated, because we are answerable to Parliament. So we have to have some eligibility condition for the entry and promotion of faculty. They are opposed to such conditions. This is unfair.”

Responding to the issue of faculty members of the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) joining hands with their counterparts in the IITs, Sibal said he would hold a separate meeting with the IIM directors soon.

Professors at IITs were earlier in the grade of Rs 18,400-22,400, and the equivalent posts in this grade included inspector general of police and chief conservator of forests.
“The entry scale for these posts has been prescribed as Rs 43,000 with a grade pay of Rs 10,000. As against this, professors at IITs are given an entry pay of Rs 48,000 with a grade pay of Rs 10,000. So it is clear that we have not followed rules of austerity insofar as their salary is concerned,” he said. The ministry has also decided to introduce performance-related-incentive scheme, and the directors of IITs have been asked to submit proposals in this regard.

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