Saturday, April 4, 2015

To save IIT Jodhpur

Undergraduate and postgraduate students and faculty of IIT Jodhpur, one of the several new IITs established by the UPA-II and current BJP administrations, seems to be bucking the general trend in just about every other institution of higher learning in India. While other institutions have been struggling to hire new faculty to meet the almost-crippling shortage, IITJ has set a record in firing faculty without tenure in large numbers, virtually halving its already small faculty strength since the new Director Dr. CVR Murthy took over.

No wonder then that they have put together a comprehensive declaration against the Director, which can be accessed here:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bx1GiU3rN1-6Y1lCMzlibEVUTTJacGpVN2g0bzBLNUhTUDlJ/view
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B70M5geczzp2WFZONXF2MWhFdzQ/view

While these accusations need to be verified, they are certainly very serious. An academic institution cannot be run as a fiefdom of an individual, and certainly not one that takes taxpayer money to run. It is nobody's case that faculty should not be subject to high standards for tenure, but the test of those standards need to be fair and transparent. Termination midway without any warning or justification is not fair - even if the faculty were below par, they deserve to have an exit interview and know exactly why they are being terminated.

Excessive centralization is a menace that has taken India backwards, something that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union, no less! The Director of IITJ seems to be going down that very unenviable path and taking his institution with him. Certainly, the Director has a right to know what's happening in his institution - but for something as petty as a leave application to have to go all the way up, for approval to use student Gymkhana funds, to have to go all the way to the highest authority makes a mockery of the system of deans and wardens that exist and shows a pathological need for excessive control.

What Dr. Murthy's personal problems are, are of no concern to anyone but himself and his family. But in so far as they damage IITJ's students and nascent faculty, they cannot be tolerated. He has clearly failed the institution and should resign for the good of everybody. 

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