The appointment of directors for three Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) has again found itself in controversy, this time over the hurried way in which the appointments were made.
Dheeraj Sanghi, former dean of academics at IIT Kanpur has questioned the arbitrary process of selection. “The current selection process reduces the prestige and respect of the director. It is clear to all stakeholders that the selection as directors is partly a lottery, and partly a result of connections,” Sanghi said in a blog post. Sanghi is presently a professor of computer science at IIT Kanpur. He, however, clarified that he is not questioning the credentials of the people appointed but the process.
Human resource department minister Smriti Irani conducted a fresh round of interviews of 36 candidates for the post of directors on Thursday and appointed RV Raja Kumar as director of IIT Bhubaneswar, Sarit Kumar Das for Ropar and Pushpak Bhattacharyya for the post of director of Patna.
According to Sanghi, during the first round of interviews conducted last month, one of the candidates was given five minutes to make a presentation and another five minutes to answer questions. “How are ten minutes enough to select people for such a crucial post?” he asked.
Ministry sources confirmed that the fresh interviews also lasted for only ten minutes or less for all candidates, leading academicians to question the process.
Eminent nuclear scientist Anil Kakodar had resigned from the post of board of governors of IIT Bombay last month citing similar issues of “casual approach towards appointments.”
While these appointments have left out the names that had caused the rift between the ministry and Kakodkar, he refused to comment on the subject. A former dean of academics at IIT Bombay, on condition of anonymity, said that both governments, UPA and the current one, did not pay much heed to IIT directors selections.
“It has been taken too casually for too long, the results of which will be reflected in the performance of the institutions. The IIMs on the other hand have a better selection process, which should also be extended to the IITs.”
For the selection of IIMs, the governing boards of each IIM select three names and send them to the HRD ministry for a final selection. The name is then forwarded to an ‘appointments committee’ for approval.