IIT’s Gurus Can Do Better

In this country believing in ‘bhukhe bhajan na hohin gopala’, it is not strange that teachers in IITs are also going for a hunger strike on Thursday. However, they have assured that it will not affect the students, and they will take their classes. Some call it Gandhigiri. But are they serious? Will they really not consume anything for a day? Will it be 12 hours- or 24 hours-day? How can a person like me check it? Should I get into touch with my friends in IITs to find the real story? Will the students show sympathetic gesture by not attending the class by a hungry teacher? Or will they also go for hunger strike to boost the morale of the teachers? As such, if the food has remained the same that we got served in 1957, it will not be difficult to skip it.

The remuneration is, perhaps, the main issues, but the list of demand might show many issues. Promotion is one. Perhaps, the autonomy of the institution and very rightly so may also be in the demand. However, as it appears from the media report, the directors of IITs differ and consider the misunderstanding as the reason of agitation. But will they agree that autonomy is not the issue?

Interestingly, Dr. M Thenmozhi, a professor in the department of management studies at IIT, Madras (Chennai), heads the IITs faculty federation. I would have loved if the autonomy of the institute would have been the main demand, as that could have automatically settled all these issues. Unfortunately, the government’s interference is killing IITs’ brand image. Reservations and the resulting increase intake without the necessary preparations of infrastructure and faculty are badly affecting the excellence standard.

The teachers must get united to press for autonomy, as many such as NR Narayana Murthy also advocate strongly for this. And the autonomy ‘is about the freedom to decide on selection criteria and the size of intake for students and for faculty, syllabi, fees and scholarships for students, compensation for faculty, interaction with the best scholars and leaders from all over the globe, plans for growth and plan for adapting to a changing environment.’ How can a small hostel room accommodate three students? Why can’t the facilities in class rooms be of the world class? Why did not any of the professors express their opposition to the decision of the apex court to take away the right of expelling the nonperforming students from IITs?

The country expects a better way of protesting and for more important issues of the country by the professors of IITs. Dr. M Thenmozhi has been perhaps researching and writing about organizational capability, will she and her colleagues in federation will change the course of their action plans a little and do something to take IITs to the brand image comparable to MIT and other top ranking educational institutes of the world.

With a huge number of resourceful alumni, it can be an easier task than what skeptics doubt. The alumni can help in building the best facilities as well as provide the practical knowledge to the newcomers to the institutes that other institutes may not even dream of.

PS: 24.09.2009Sibal is open to having any kind of dialogue with them to discuss their demands, but ruled out world-class salaries due to lack of resources.

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