Friday, October 2, 2009

Sibal lines up concessions for IIT faculty : PAY DISPUTE

New Delhi, Oct. 1: Education minister Kapil Sibal is likely to declare tomorrow a series of specific concessions to protesting IIT faculty to end a protracted pay dispute that has mired the premier engineering schools for over a month.

The IITs can absorb bright young teachers into their regular faculty even before they complete a stipulated three-year contract period, the human resource development minister is expected to concede on Friday.

The institutes can also tweak two other controversial norms without officially approaching the HRD ministry if these rules hamper efforts to hire or retain the best teachers, Sibal is expected to tell faculty representatives.

The minister is meeting select representatives of the All India IIT Faculty Federation at his residence tomorrow, a day before he leaves for Paris to attend a Unesco meeting.

The contractual period for fresh teachers can be shortened by individual IIT boards for bright faculty members, the HRD minister is expected to tell the faculty representatives, sources said.

So, if a young teacher is bright enough in the estimation of an IIT, the board of this institute can absorb him into the regular faculty without waiting for a stipulated three-year contract period to end.

The faculty are concerned that the three-year contract period, laid down in a controversial pay regime first notified on September 18 — and reported by The Telegraph — may deter bright prospective teachers.

The controversial notification also required that the IITs, at any point of time, hire at least 10 per cent of their total faculty on contract.

This regulation, the faculty fear, could lead to vacancies in teaching posts because qualified aspirants may not wish to join on contract.

But Sibal is expected to tell the IIT faculty that the 10 per cent norm is merely an “advisory” from the HRD ministry that each institute’s board can bend if recruitment is hampered.

The IIT faculty have also protested against a 40 per cent cap on professors eligible for a rank-based increment known as academic grade pay.

The faculty have argued that the cap may kill progress opportunities for young professors as seniors would have already filled the number of slots allowed the higher pay.

They have also contended that the cap could give rise to favouritism in determining which professors receive the higher salary.

Sibal is expected to tell the faculty that the IIT council — the highest decision-making body of the IITs that the HRD minister heads — is ready to raise the cap if needed.

According to the sources, Sibal is expected to say that if, in the coming years, the IITs experience the problems the faculty have envisaged because of the 40 per cent cap, the IIT council will “favourably” raise the cap.

Sibal will also repeat an assurance he earlier gave the IIT directors and faculty — that the government has agreed to introduce a performance-related incentive scheme for faculty at the IITs.

The scheme — being drafted by IIT directors — will augment teachers’ salaries on the basis of their performance measured by parameters in teaching, research, technology development, institution-related work and other professional contributions.

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