Instead of holding protests, taking casual leave or going on a strike again, the staff has decided to draw inspiration from the movie Munnabhai MBBS and send a mail to the HRD ministry every day, outlining the work it does, including research, teaching and industry work. Occasional videos will also be part of this exercise.
"We have decided not to accept the latest amendments. We are asking for small things which are minimum for an education institution. We will write again to the HRD ministy to reiterate our needs," said M Thenmozhi, president, IIT-M Faculty Association. She added that once other institutes held their internal discussions, a joint meeting comprising IITs, IIMs and other institutes would be held over the next few days to decide the course of action.
"We have to establish the fact that the faculty has exemplary capabilities," said B K Chakravarthy, professor at IIT-Bombay, adding that there is a communication gap between the institutes and the HRD ministry which needs to be bridged to reach a consensus. "We are, in all of our intellectual capabilities, ahead of most scientists in the country. And the HRD ministry does not realise that the faculty at these institututions does not just teach, but also does work on a variety of platforms, including research and other avenues," said Chakravarthy.
Chakravarthy reiterates that the fight is not about money, but about losing integrity by being at par with the faculty of local universities under the University Grants Commission (UGC).
"It was a real shock to us when our salaries were expected to be as low as that of faculty from local colleges, when we are no less than any professor teaching in the universities of US. There are many like me who have left leading companies to work as a faculty at IIT because of the value attached to the institute,"he says.
Chakravarthy added that the IITs also do a lot of research work for the government without charging money. The demand is not money here, but prestige, which the hit rock bottom with the HRD's directive.
The Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) have expressed similar sentiments but are yet to decide on a course of action.
"The only issue that has been sorted has been of the assistant professors who will be allowed a pay increase after they complete three years of service. Other than that, the ministry has done nothing about the requirements raised by IIM-A, IIM-Calcutta and other IIMs. We are yet to take a view on what to do about it now," said IIM Ahmedabad, Director Samir Barua.
Meanwhile, the HRD ministry has issued a directive asking all the IITs, central universities and IIMs to generate additional revenue by increasing fees. Central universities and institutes have been asked to revise the fee structure, reduce costs related to infrastructure, seminars, travel and even purchase of chemicals for labs and books for the library, advertising and publicity, to name a few.
The ministry's directive also asks universities to make a 10 per cent cut in plan expenditure in current financial year. The remaining portion of non-plan expenditure excluding salary and pension will be subjected to a mandatory 5 per cent cut.