The Union Ministry of Human Resource Development has killed hopes of an immediate pay rise for the faculty of centrally funded technical institutions like the Indian Institutes of Technology, Indian Institutes of Management and the Indian Institute of Science.
The Centre's modified order dated September 16 has only allowed for a pay increase for assistant professors after they complete three years of service but has ignored most other demands.
For the last few years, the IIT faculty associations have been disgruntled about their pay structures being too inadequate to attract quality faculty and had held protests earlier this month demanding higher compensation. The IITs had hoped that the Govardhan Committee report submitted this February -- which recommended higher salaries for all technical education teachers -- would help resolve the issue.
However the notified revised pay structure announced by HRD in early August was much lower than expectation. The remuneration for directors was fixed at Rs 80,000 for the IITs, IIMs, the Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISc) in Bangalore and the National Institute of Industrial Engineering, which did not go down well. For, unlike the IIM professors who earn through consulting assignments, salary is an IIT professor's only income.
Faculty associations were also unhappy with an HRD clause that said there would be a 40 per cent cap on professors who are eligible to receive higher pay after six years in the post. Also, at assistant professor level, the ministry had notified qualifications of a minimum three years work experience and a PhD.
This meant that IITs were not be able to take fresh graduates or doctorates as permanent faculty members.
The IITs also found disparities in the pay structure between the University Grants Committee (UGC) system and the IITs. While a BTech-level assistant professor could start on Pay Band 3 in a university, at the IITs only PhDs joined this band on a contract basis and had to work for three years to become an associate professor.
The institutes also protested that the Central Pay Commission had given all employees of the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), Defence Research and Development Organisation have been given special additional pay ranging from about Rs 2,000 per month to about 10 per cent of basic pay as a special grant for special achievements. Premier educational institutions, on the other hand, had not been granted any such special treatment for the highly-valued brands they have created, including mentoring new IITs.
Other demands included that the professional development allowance of Rs 300,000 (for international/national conferences, contingencies, membership fees) be increased to Rs 500,000 for a block of three years; that the 'lecturer' position be abolished and lecturers re-designated 'assistant professors' at an appropriate scale; and that the recruitment of faculty with PhD degrees with less than three years of experience start with a minimum pay of Rs 30,000 and academic grade pay of Rs 8,000.
The IITs had also demanded a scholastic pay of Rs 15,000 per month to attract fresh PhD scholars into the teaching profession. This special pay is expected to compensate the IIT faculty for the "notional" financial loss they incur compared to people of comparable qualifications in other sectors.
Discontent over pay packages have been building up for some weeks. In early September, faculty at some IITs staged protests -- including going on mass casual leave -- against the new pay regime passed by the Union Cabinet last month based on the recommendations of the Goverdhan Mehta Committee report which was submitted in February.
The All India IIT Faculty Federation (AIITFF) temporarily suspended its agitation on September 5 after a meeting with Union HRD Minister Kapil Sibal suggested that the issue would be resolved, though there were no assurances from ministry.
Faculty members of the institutions view the ministry's failure to consider lifting the 40 per cent cap on tenured faculty members as a major lapse.
"There has been hardly any modification in the current notification as none of our major demands have been met. At least the ministry should not have overlooked the pay rise for senior faculty members as they will eventually be at par with the faculty of other universities which fall under UGC," rued a senior faculty member at IIM-A, which had submitted a memorandum to the ministry earlier this month.
"We reiterate the fact that IIM and IIT professors spend more years working to get to these premier institutes and deserve a better pay based on their performance. This way, we will only lose better faculty to the industry," he added.
Today, the faculty association at IIT Madras held a meeting with its members to decide the next course of action. "We were a little relieved that the demand for the pay of assistant professors has but many other factors were not considered. After discussing with our faculty members we will speak to other IITs and take the necessary steps," said a faculty member at IIT Madras.
The IIMs, meanwhile, are yet to react, but the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore faculty association has decided to hold a meeting, probably on September 22, to discuss the issue. "We had submitted four or five major issues in our memorandum to the HRD ministry of which one has been tackled. We will take a decision on what to do next in consultation with our members," said J Nagaraju, president of the IISc faculty association.