Thursday, June 30, 2011

Home ministry blocks IIT foreign faculty move

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has stalled appointments of foreign teachers by Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT-D), despite the nod of Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) — the roadblock hitting plans to globalise faculty at the IITs. The IITs, India’s premier engineering schools, will now need to wait longer to hire foreign teachers even if they hold Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards that give them most economic rights available to Indian citizens.

Hiring even OCI card holders — as IIT, Delhi, was doing — is against the Citizenship Act of 1955, in the absence of a special government order, the home ministry has said, sources said. “It is a setback…and although we expect to sort this out within the government, it has embarrassed IIT, Delhi. It could also end up hurting all the other IITs since foreign faculty — already wary of Indian bureaucracy — may now rethink whether they want to come to the IITs,” a senior official said.

The concerns were raised at a recent meeting between IIT directors and senior MHRD officials, sources said. The MHRD will now approach the MHA and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to try and obtain an in-principle approval from them for the appointment of foreign faculty at the IITs, the sources added.

“Instead of case-by-case approvals, we want to try and get the MHA and the MEA agree to our plan as a general principle, to avoid repeated embarrassments of this nature,” a source said. HT was the first to report — on September 2, 2010 — the proposal by the IITs to allow them to hire foreign faculty on a permanent basis.

The IIT Council — the highest decision making body of the IITs — headed by HRD minister Kapil Sibal agreed to the proposal and decided to allow the Institutes to fill up to 10 % of their permanent teaching posts with foreign faculty. But early in 2011, the MEA raised the first of objections — refusing to liberalise visa norms to allow foreigners to hold permanent jobs in India. It however allowed faculty to be hired on a five-year contract which can be renewed.

Source: Hindustan Times, June 30, 2011
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