Tuesday, October 27, 2009
In IISc, the normal period of promotion is 6 years from assistant professor to associate professor and 6 years from associate professor to full professor. At the end of 5.5 years, the section will ask you to file your papers. The format of the details to be filed are given here. You suggest 8 referees (4 Indian and 4 foreign) and the department will suggest 8 referees (4 Indian and 4 foreign) and this list is sent to the divisional chairman. [In IISc, we have six divisions and departments belong to a particular division. Each division has a divisional chairman.] He will pick up 8 names from this and send your details to these referees. Once the comments are received, these will be discussed by a promotion and assessment committee. This committee consists of all six divisional chairmen, the associate director, director and 8-12 very eminent scientists from India, who do not belong to IISc. The case will be considered by this committee and you will be promoted. Cases are also considered for early promotion (and termed as "out-of-turn"). These are not frequent and, as far as I know, only ten faculty have been promoted out of turn in the last ten years.
IITMSriram, a frequent commentator on the posts here, has written about the promotions in IITs as follows. This is different from how 'promotions' happen at IITM (generally similar in other IITs also). IITM does not have 'promotion' but actually recruitment to higher posts. So, every 2-3 years or so, an advertisement is put out calling for applications for asso and/or full profs (and also asst profs). Every department has its own norms for shortlisting and the institute also has some overall norms - in the form of x publications, y MS / PhD graduates, z volume of sponsored projects and some norms for teaching activity (new courses introduced, new labs, new teaching methods, tools, aids etc and also feedback from students on effectiveness of teaching). The applications received in response to the advertisement (will include local 'promotion' candidates and also external applicants) are scrutinized by a department level committee for shortlisting. The report of this committee is sent to central administration which then arranges for interviews by a selection committee. The selection committee consists of the Director, subject experts nominated by the department (through senate) and the board of governors and also one of the members of the board of governors (often one of the faculty representative on the board). In the case of professors, there is also an expert nominated by the Visitor (the President of India) whereas for assistant and associate professors, the Head of the Department takes this slot. Candidates called for interview usually make a presentation in the department; the feedback from the department from this presentation, the report of the departmental shortlisting committee and the application package are all presented to the selection committee which then interviews the candidates. Now-a-days, candidates who are not able to be physically present are interviewed over the phone by the selection committee. It is entirely upto this selection committee to decide on appointment and initial salary. Obviously, the subject experts in the selection committee play a crucial role.
It is important to realize that promotions yield hardly any monetary benefits. Continuous increment of 3% of Basic+AGP will ensure that one will reach the end of the scale of 67,000 at the end of 23 years, if never promoted (see orange columns). If promoted to professor under the IISc scheme of 6 years as assistant professor followed by six years as associate professor (see green columns), one will reach the end of the scale at the end of 21 years. The only difference will be in the grade pay.
Please do NOT post individual grievances in response to this post. This post is only meant to provide the norms and guidelines that exist in these places. Exceptions of either kind (early/late promotions) exist in all places. IIT-M recently promoted a faculty in chemical engineering directly from assistant professor to full professor. Similarly, IISc has offered associate professorship to a faculty who had only three years after his Ph.D etc.
Monday, October 26, 2009
I had started an initiative where one can commute by electric vehicles, which was successfully employed during the centenary conference but that plan never materialized. But, I think this is even better.
PS: I do not own a motor vehicle and prefer to commute by either bicycle or walk.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
This year’s awards had a special significance in India. Venki Ramakrishnan’s Indian origins, catalysed a remarkable outpouring of public interest, after the Nobel announcement; even the reflected glory of a Nobel prize can be dazzling, at times. The adulation suddenly dissolved into controversy; the rapid transformation demonstrated the power of the media to influence opinion. Ramakrishnan’s understandable discomfort at the deluge of e-mails and phone calls from India and his characterization of his Indian origins as an ‘accident of history’ have been widely reported and discussed.
But even as I write, an extraordinary piece of invective has appeared. While such pieces normally deserve to be ignored, the fact that the author happens to be an articulate Member of Parliament and a ‘spokesman of the Congress party’ suggest that a comment may be merited. Abhishek Singhvi writing in the Times of India (20 October 2009) argues that Ramakrishnan’s somewhat plaintive request to be spared the excessive adulation, suggests that he is in some way insensitive to the ‘patriotic’ urges that come to the fore, when an Indian (or one of Indian origin) gets a major international award. Curiously, Singhvi is aware, as he should undoubtedly be, that patriotism can be ‘the refuge of the scoundrel’. He notes that patriotism ‘has an intersection of noble values which in this case, appear to have completely escaped the mind of a brilliant Nobel laureate’. Singhvi adds that ‘success has many fathers while failure is an orphan’, a phenomenon that is also widely observed in the West. Singhvi’s diatribe is both distasteful and inappropriate, coming as it does from one who is distinguished in public life. He would do well to remember that scientific success can sometimes be an orphan in India.
Ironically, one of the founders of the field of structural biology, an area recognized by this year’s Chemistry prize, was an Indian; G. N. Ramachandran who determined the structure of collagen in the 1950s and developed the conformational analysis of protein chains in the 1960s, at Madras University. Ramachandran died in 2001, unhonoured by the Government of India even in the annual Republic Day awards, which are given by the dozen every year. Cholera researchers also celebrate the 50th anniversary of Sambhu Nath De’s famous work on cholera toxin this month. De died in 1985 unhonoured even by the Indian scientific community. The fact that Ramachandran and De did not get the call from Stockholm may only be an ‘accident of history’. Patriotism can often be misplaced. Our reactions to this year’s Nobel prize in chemistry are undoubtedly an example.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
In GATE, I had mentioned that "There should be a common section on mathematics, analytical ability (similar to the old analytical section of GRE) and English comprehension that would involve reading a technical paragraph and answering questions on that. This section would be of 50 marks and would be common to all technical papers in GATE." Well, effective GATE 2010, 15 marks each will be for mathematics and general ability with the latter being common for all papers. Also, GATE will conduct online exam for two of its small papers.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Some of you have succeeded in hitting a raw nerve in me :-). Directors are being seen as spineless in not opposing OCAP. What is the origin of OCAP? It seems to come out of IISc! Please consider the following: Appointment at the entry level on contract: How did this clause come up? This came up because it was a recommendation of the Goverdhan Mehta Committee. In fact. Prof. Mehta has been quoted by Business Standard in a recent interview as follows:
Was there anything in the IIT wishlist which could not be accommodated?
Yes. There was one point of disagreement. The IIT directors wanted fresh PhDs as assistant professors and we did not allow that. We wanted PhDs with some research experience in the industry so that they can launch themselves into research immediately. Experienced PhDs have a sufficient level of maturity and independently do research and that is when they imbibe the attributes of a mentor. This could be one reason why the IITs have established themselves as premier institutes for undergraduate studies but are not known for their research.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
The admission procedure has not been decided yet. But I am suggesting that the admission be through KVPY because IISc has been conducting KVPY exams for a long time. Further, qualification in KVPY ensures a scholarship of Rs. 80,000 per year till the student completes the study.
Two days back, when I was travelling to Pune, I was asked by a fellow passenger, "Aren't you glad that your colleague got the Nobel Prize in Chemistry?" The reason was that the hindustan times had a front page article titled, "IISc prof wins the Nobel prize." Though the online version of the paper has now changed the title (keeping the content the same), I have the printed copy of the newspaper with me.
The message is that newspapers may create news to attract your attention. Do not believe it in entirety.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Existing lecturers will be placed at a minimum of 20,140+6000 (grade pay).
Existing assistant professors will be placed at a minimum of 30,000+8,000
Existing associate professors will be placed at a minimum of 42800 + 9,500
Existing professors will be placed at a minimum of 48000 + 10,500
Existing senior professors will be placed in the HAG scale at the minimum of 67,000 (no grade pay).
In all scales, you have to add 27% as DA and 4064 as TA.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
The need of it arose because a good science program that includes engineering and biology components. No institution in India including IITs/IISERs offers such a program. While engineering students have exposure to science in their first year of engineering degree, the students pursuing a science degree have limited exposure to engineering. This program will provide a unique mix of science and engineering thus enabling the integration of these subjects either in research or industry. The frontiers of research are essentially interdisciplinary. The changing environment of industry also requires that a mix of science and engineering. The UG program will be started in many streams e.g. Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and a few interdisciplinary engineering streams but NOT in conventional branches like electrical, civil, electronics etc. Students will have the flexibility to choose the majors and minors after three semesters.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
"The Institutes need not "fight" with MHRD on the issue of assistant professor on contract, the 10% cap on this cadre, the 40% cap on the promotion of professors etc. All they need to do is to tell MHRD to change the wording to "It is suggested that assistant professors that are recruited have three years experience.." "
Subsequently, yesterday, the minister has apparently "agreed" to this. Well, what did the meeting finally do? Ashok Jhunjhunwala, the eminent professor from IIT-M, puts it correctly, "The teachers were looking for an escape route to wriggle out of this situation, which Sibal provided" However, I had no doubt in my mind earlier that the selection committee will ultimately decide who will be placed in which scale when recruited. As the minister said, "If in a particular discipline faculty is not available as per the existing norms, the IITs can relax the norms to absorb any person." Currently, in IISc, we recruit an assistant professor in chemistry only with three years of postdoc experience while we recruit an assistant professor in electrical engineering with one year of postdoc experience. Therefore, both of them will be placed at 30,000 and moved to PB-4 after 4 years. We might even place a senior professor (currently at the 22,400- scale) in the HAG scale.
Let me repeat, IISc/IIT always had the flexibility to admit students and recruit, promote faculty based on what an admission or a selection or promotion committee or BoG/council decides. This is the reason why we have 15 year olds doing Ph.Ds, a 27-year old recruited as an associate professor or a 38 year old being promoted to professor in IISc. In IIT-M, one of my colleagues was promoted to professor directly from assistant professor.
For those who have referred me to my colleague's, Abi, post calling the above as a major victory for IITs, I have only thing to say to Abi, "The emoticon for sarcasm is :d or :-J" Please put the emoticon in your posts (this one and the earlier post) because no one (except me!) is able to figure out that you are being sarcastic !
Friday, October 2, 2009
Mine is a life full of joy in the midst of incessant work. In not wanting to think of what tomorrow will bring for me I feel as free as a bird... The thought that I am ceaselessly and honestly struggling against the requirements of the flesh sustains me. The spirit in me pulls one way, the flesh in me pulls in the opposite direction. There is freedom from the action of these two forces, but that freedom is attainable only by slow and painful stages.
I cannot attain freedom by a mechanical refusal to act, but only by intelligent action in a detached manner. This struggle resolves itself into an incessant crucifixion of the flesh so that the spirit may become entirely free. This is the maxim of life which I have accepted, namely, that no work done by any man, no matter how great he is, will really prosper unless he has religious backing. But what is religion?…. I for one would answer : Not the religion which you will get after reading all the scriptures of the world; it is not really a grasp by the brain, but it is a heart-grasp. It is a thing which is not alien to us but it is a thing which has to be evolved out of us. It is always within us : with some consciously so; with the other quite unconsciously. But it is [always] there; and whether we wake up this religious instinct in us through outside assistance or by inward growth, no matter how it is done, it has got to be done if we want to do anything in the right manner and anything that is going to persist.
The incessant search for material comforts and their multiplication is such an evil, and I am bold to say that the Europeans themselves have to remodel their outlook. Let us engrave on our hearts ‘Plain Living and high thinking.’ Today it is certain that millions cannot have high living and we the few who profess to do the thinking for the masses run the risk, in a vain search after high living, of missing high thinking.