About 150 faculty members at IIT-Madras held a black-badge protest meeting on Thursday afternoon, to protest the revised pay scales proposed by the Union Government.

A large section of the protestors were Assistant Professors, who will be worst hit by the new pay scales. “We will get Rs. 9,000 less than someone in a similar post at any other educational institution following UGC pay scales. What is the use of teaching at IIT then?” asked one assistant professor with more than three years of experience. Of IIT-M’s total faculty strength of 450, about 200 are young assistant professors hired in the last five years.

“The notified pay scales will not be able to attract fresh PhDs, nor are they attractive to existing faculty,” said Faculty Association president M. Thenmozhi.

The most extreme difference would occur in the case of an assistant professor with a basic salary of Rs. 15,780 under the Fifth Pay Commission norms. In an institution following UGC pay scales, her total salary would now become Rs. 48,690. At an IIT, the same person would get just Rs. 38,000, according to the Faculty Association. Other objections include the lower academic grade pay for associate professors and professors, the lack of incentives for professors with experience and the introduction of a lecturer cadre.

The Association is preparing a memorandum to present its grievances to the Prime Minister and the Minister for Human Resource Development. “We are asking them to reinforce their commitment to quality in higher education?not just talking about it, but showing it in action,” said Dr. Thenmozhi.

IIT-M deputy director V.G. Idichandy, who is acting-director this month, says that the IIT leadership has noticed the “anomalies” as well, and will take them up with the MHRD. In fact, all the IIT directors will meet at IIT-M on Saturday to review the joint admission process, and the issue of the pay scales is also expected to be discussed there.

Faculty at some other IITs have decided on stronger action: resignation from administrative duties, halting the mentoring of new IITs and possible teaching strikes. The IIT-M faculty, however, are still discussing these more dramatic measures.

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Teaching & LearningSeptember 24, 2010