Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pay package woes: IIT faculty to go on hunger strike

Nearly 1,500 faculty members, including professors, at the premier Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) will go on a hunger strike on September 24 to protest against the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) pay structure for centrally-funded technical institutions (CFTIs). The HRD ministry had notified the pay structure for CFTIs, including IITs and IIMs, on August 18. But IIT faculty opposed certain provisions, including 40% cap on promotion of professors to senior grade. MHRD had agreed to all their demands, including removing cap on promotions.

The IIT Faculty Federation is of the view that the government’s move would impact the autonomy and flexibility of IITs. Besides the hunger strike, the federation plans to meet with IIT directors and hold another meeting with alumni to decide on the course of action. “We will observe strike on September 24. But we will not boycott work. Classes will go on. We will protest against the pay structure that puts a number of curbs on the IIT system,” Prof. M. Thenmozhi, President of the Federation, said. The faculty federation argues that the new structure puts restriction on promotions and lacks performance-based incentives.

In the meantime, Indian Institute of Management (IIM)-Ahmedabad Board has decided to meet on September 25 to deal with the situation arising out of faculty members rejecting the MHRD's latest order on pay structure of CFTIs. Sources in the ministry argue that all the demands made by the faculty have been addressed. “IIT directors met with the HRD Minister and expressed their satisfaction. All their demands were met,” a senior official said.

The ministry has dismissed the charge that there was an attempt at interference. “IITs and IIMs have a much better deal than their UGC counterparts. They will get in six years what a UGC appointee would in 15 years. Is it wrong to want the best as faculty,” a senior member of the ministry asked. Prof. Thenmozhi said that the federation would seek an appointment with HRD minister Kapil Sibal on the issue and submit a fresh memorandum on their demands.

Source: The Economic Times

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