Tuesday, September 30, 2008

NRI profs head for IITs

Outlook magazine has a story on how several NRI profs are beginning to take up jobs at the IITs. The numbers are impressive, very impressive indeed:

In Delhi's IIT, 25 of the 40 faculty members appointed in the last one year are foreign-returned. Mumbai has 40 and the others IITs are recording anywhere from 2-5 faculty members who have come back to serve in India.
What accounts for this sudden surge in interest on the part of NRIs? Outlook lists several reasons:
  • They feel culturally more comfortable to live and work in India
  • There are research opportunities comparable to the west
  • Greater involvement of industry in R&D means better funding
  • IITs have a research focus: encouraging environment, space and facilities
  • The NRIs fee being a part of brand IIT is creditworthy worldwide
Some of the profs interviewed in the story emphasise the facilities and funding for research. It does appear the IITs have done a commendable job on this front. I would that 'India Shining' is part of the motivation- the fact that things are looking up in India, that you no longer are in queue for years to get a telephone or gas connection and also serious consulting opportunities. The IITs' campus environment and decent housing must also count. I also think the salary revision that will happen consequent to the Sixth Pay Commission will make jobs in IITs/IIMs more attractive.

If this trend continues, the newer IITs may not find it that difficult to get faculty- the NRIs will join the established ones while entrants in the doctoral market will head for the newer IITs. The trend is interesting given that the government pay structure has long held to be a factor responsible for the faculty shortage at some of our better known institutions.

Some of the premier institutions have long insisted that as long as they are part of the government framework, along with the salary constraints, they cannot attract quality faculty. Prominent personalities have even contended that quality institutions can hereafter come up only under private aegis because the private sector can pay a lot more (and charge its students a lot more).

As readers of this blog would know, I have always been sceptical about these contentions. It is the overall ambience that counts- and the security, dignity and academic freedom that go with being part of the government framework far outweigh the supposed disadvantages.


Girish Mallapragada said...

>I also think the salary revision >that will happen consequent to the >Sixth Pay Commission will make jobs >in IITs/IIMs more attractive.

With all due respect Sir, I don't think it is true with respect to IIMs.

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