Jan 29, 2009

India - IIT faculty likely to be exempt from quota

Akshaya Mukul & Hemali Chappia

NEW DELHI: After resisting reservation in faculty for more than a year, IITs are likely to be exempted from it.

At the meeting of Council of IITs on Wednesday, IIT directors were informed that the `SCs and STs (Reservation in Posts and Services) Bill, 2008' had been passed in Lok Sabha and was awaiting the upper House's nod.

The legislation exempts 47 institutions, including IITs/IIMs and other institutes of excellence, from giving reservation in faculty.

While the directors are yet to examine this bill, IIT-Delhi director Surendra Prasad said it "reduces our concern quite a bit".

Last year, the HRD ministry had sent out a circular to all IITs asking them to implement reservation in faculty appointments, following which the directors took up the matter with the Prime Minister's Office.

Five years ago, at a meeting of the last council, members had altered the faculty to student ratio in tech colleges to 1:10. On Wednesday, directors suggested that the council revert to the old ratio of 1:9 to ensure academic excellence. While it may seem like a very small difference, a director said, "It does matter in various ways. It is something we want to strive for."

In the council meeting held after five years, HRD ministry dusted off a 1974 resolution of Council of IITs to justify appointing directors in the last five years without seeking the panel's approval.

The council said the 1974 resolution had empowered the panel's chairman, i.e. HRD minister, to make appointments on behalf of the council. Strangely, the IIT directors whose appointments were ratified were also part of the ratification process on Wednesday. In the process, the council had to ratify appointment of someone like Ashok Misra, former director of IIT-Bombay, who was appointed in 2005 and resigned last year.

Using the opportunity of the council meeting, appointment of directors in new IITs was also approved. Subject to presidential clearance, those appointed include U B Desai, IIT-Hyderabad; M K Surappa, IIT-Ropar; Sudhir Kumar Jain, IIT-Gandhinagar; Prem Kumar Kalra, IIT-Rajasthan; Madhusudan Chakraborty, IIT-Bhubaneswar and Anil K Bhowmick, IIT-Patna. However, the issue of setting up IIT in J&K didn't come up.

The meeting was held after five years and in the backdrop of Madras High Court terming the appointment of M S Ananth as director of IIT-Madras illegal.

The council also discussed dropouts in IITs. In three years (2005-08), in IIT-Delhi, 19 general, 21 SCs and five ST students have dropped out. In IIT-Madras, there were no dropouts. In IIT-Bombay, 27 general, 30 SCs and 13 ST students dropped out. In IIT-Kanpur, 14 general, 21 SCs and six ST students had to leave. In IIT-Kharagpur, two general and nine SC students dropped out.

The council decided that some sort of parity would have to be established to ensure that one IIT is not tougher than another. As of now, every IIT has different norms on which students are asked to leave or continue. "The directors have been asked to work out a common model that can be followed in all IITs," said a director.

Known to be against accreditation of their courses by National Bureau of Accreditation so that India gets full membership of Washington Accord, IIT directors have devised another method. A director said, "IIT Council will come up with a process that will be followed for accrediting their courses and suggest the same to the NBA."

There was a lot of discussion on converting IT-BHU into a fully fledged IIT but no decision was taken. "IT-BHU is an important part of the BHU system. There was discussion on how to empower IT-BHU without taking it out of the BHU system. But there is no clarity on that front yet," an official said.

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