The Teachers Day deadline of IITs mass hunger strike

Faculty across the IITs are threatening to go on mass hunger strike in an unprecedented showdown with the government unless it revises a new pay regime to address teachers’ concerns within 12 days. In a memorandum submitted to the human resource development ministry today, the All India IIT Faculty Federation, a body elected by teachers at the institutes, has given a deadline - September 5 - by when the government must withdraw the new pay regime it has notified, and replace it with a structure incorporating their demands.

The demands were placed before the ministry on a day IIM Calcutta became the first among the B-schools to officially register its protest against the new pay structure.

As reported first in The Telegraph on August 19, the new pay regime approved for teachers at the IITs and the IIMs by the cabinet snips effective salaries recommended by a central pay panel.

The new pay structure also omits other key incentives recommended by the panel under former Indian Institute of Science director Goverdhan Mehta to help battle the lure of better salaries from industry and foreign institutions.

Senior faculty members across the IITs for the past five days have been protesting the new pay regime, arguing that it varies with the government’s stated commitment to attract young teachers.

The IITs and the IIMs suffer from a faculty shortage between 20 and 30 per cent.

Teachers at IIT Madras, Bombay and Kharagpur boycotted classes - this has never happened before.

They will all return to classes tomorrow but have threatened to resume their protest if the government does not accept their demands.

The memorandum places a long list of demands that the faculty want the government to comply with. Some of these demands were cited by the faculty as the most important - which if not accepted, could prolong and intensify a protest already unparalleled in the five-decade history of the IITs. (See chart).

New pay scales notified by the UGC for assistant professors in universities boost their salaries into a higher pay range after three years of teaching. But the notified new regime for IITs and IIMs does not thrust assistant professor salaries to a higher pay range though faculty in these institutes start at a higher salary.

A university assistant professor could be earning more than an IIT or IIM assistant professor after teaching for three years - a situation unpalatable for faculty at the more-in-demand institutes.

The memorandum demands that assistant professors at the IITs should also be shifted to the higher pay band after three years.

The IIT faculty have also demanded a higher academic grade pay - a rank-based increment - for associate professors, as it will additionally entitle them to benefits allowed only to those above a certain salary.

The notified pay regime places a 40 per cent limit on the number of professors in each institute, who would be eligible for a higher grade pay.

The faculty have argued that the cap on higher-pay professorial posts will trigger bickering among professors for the higher pay and could lead to nepotism. The cap could also frustrate younger professors unable to move into the higher pay bracket because seniors have filled the 40 per cent quota.

Source : The Telegraph.

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