Hundreds of teachers of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) went on hunger strike, without boycotting classes, on Thursday after the government rejected their demand for a higher salary package.
A Human Resources Ministry revision in pay scales proposes that associate professors at IITs will get a basic pay of Rs 9,500, Rs 500 less than the pay scale for the same rank in institutes affiliated with the University Grants Commission.
“About 1500 of the 3000-strong faculty across all IITs participated in the strike,” said M Thenmozhi of IIT-Chennai, president of the All IIT Faculty Federation. He said there were disparities in perks too in the revised pay structure.
Besides the pay scale, the tough criteria for selection of entry-level teachers have also angered the faculty.
“Despite a severe faculty crunch, mere academic brilliance and a doctorate would not be enough. The applicant will also need three years of experience. By that time students are already settled in life. Why would they go to an IIT if the pay is not attractive?” asked an IIT-Delhi professor.
More than 300 professors at IIT-Delhi took classes on empty stomach. “We went hungry but did not boycott classes,” said SS Murthy, president of IIT-Delhi faculty federation.
Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal said he was open to a dialogue with the professors, but ruled out world-class salaries citing lack of resources.
In the IIT-Kharagpur campus, more than 150 teachers took out a rally, while about 80 per cent of the 480-strong faculty at IIT-Bombay participated in the daylong fast.
“...Most teachers join the institutes because of the pride associated with them. Once that is gone, there will be a flight of talent,” said Kanchan Chowdhury, president of the IIT-Kharagpur Teachers Association.