IIT Teachers’ Demands-My Views

Pandey and I were in IIT, Kharagpur on the same day in 1957 for final interview to get the department of our choice. While I was with my grandfather, Pandey was with his father. Both the elderly persons were in teaching profession. It was a chance meeting with Pandey, as we both were staying in Rajendra Prasad Hall that night. Pandey is the only with whom I am still in communication. He was till last month in Kharagpur as faculty in civil engineering.

After graduation, Pandey decided to remain in teaching. He joined Patna Engineering College (now NIT, Patna) as lecturer, and then shifted to IIT, Kharagpur. He kept on adding qualifications, Master, and then Ph.D. He published papers, addressed conferences, and also kept on working on some innovations in road construction that got him patent too. He was Emeritus professor in IIT when I had asked him last time.

What should I write about myself? I joined industry and went up to a level in the company I worked. I knew Pandey might have been earning less as remuneration. He had some grievances too. But I had a lot of respect for him. I remember one incident that he narrated. When he went to his native village in Bihar, the neighbours were surprised that he decided to be teacher as his father was also the same. They had dreamt that Pandey would earn a lot of money from all the sources quite usual for a civil engineer in Bihar in PWD or irrigation and in turn he would also be of some help to them or their children too. Pandey didn’t do that. I respect his decision and dedication for teaching. In 1992, I had met Dr. Kamal Dutt, our senior of Presidency College in Delhi University, where he was a professor. Kamal da was all along rank holder in all examinations and so respected among us during the college days. He was also in Eden Hindu Hostel in 1955-57. I found Kamal pretty happy and satisfied as teacher in DU.

I don’t know if Pandey or Kamal da went for any agitation for better salary during their time.

Recently I read about the agitation of the teachers of IITs for getting higher remuneration/ compensation based on certain rationales. One of the arguments appeared very interesting to me. As reported, some leaders of the agitation, must be out of the IIT faculty, “calculated Rs 23,80,321 as the total financial loss of a student who today decides to pursue higher studies necessary to teach at an IIT in six years based on present government salaries. Spread over 35 years – the average career span of a teacher at an IIT – this amounts to Rs 12,114 a month, which the faculty argue should be paid in addition to the IIT teacher’s salary.”

Let me assure the faculty that I am for a higher salary and incentive for the community. I know the salary and perks of the teachers in the institutes for higher professional education are pretty low when it is compared with the faculty in the developed countries. As reported, “The average annual pay for professors in U.S. public universities is $115,509. The professors of the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) get annually – a paltry $12,000.” However, I disagree with the industry’s trade union style of their agitation such as mass casual leave and the rational for the higher pay as compensation to the years for getting master and PhDs. There can’t be sillier argument than that. Perhaps the amount of research done for this argument would have gone for some better national problems.

I and many have some distorted perception and related questions about those who are today in teaching profession and particularly for those in IITs.

Were they the best of the students at the undergraduate level when they selected to join teaching? Was it not that they went for masters and then PH.Ds as they couldn’t get entry into industry?

How much are the contributions of the teachers of IITs in the success stories of the IITians who were the cream out of a big mass of students trying to get entry into IITs? If the teachers do contribute significantly, then the teachers in IITs must not complain against the poor performance of the students taking entry in IITs through reservation.

I wonder if IITs are having some reliable system to keep a watch on the performances of its teachers and the proper incentive or disincentive based on some periodical appraisals. I wish the IITs would have been letting the people know about it. The system must stand robust with regular external appraisals of the performances of the teachers.

Let me confess I and many have not very high opinion about most of the teachers that taught us. Many still keep on teaching something that is obsolete in industry since long time. I wonder if the things have changed. The professors of engineering must be as good as those in medical professions where each professor is a good doctor too.

IIT professors must take initiative to let the people at large and those in industry know more about their achievements to clear many perceived misconceptions.

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