By Yatharth Mishra (Jaipur)
Recently, Chairman of IIT Bombay’s Board of Governors Anil Kakodkar said he had resigned because he did not want to be part of the selection process of IIT directors which was “too casual” and like “running a lottery”. He didn’t name but we all know HRD Minister Mrs. Smriti Irani was his target.
Indian Institute of Technology, commonly known as IITs are India’s finest technical institutions but these days, they are in news for wrong reasons. One of the recently opened among 15 IITs, IIT Jodhpur is facing the heat these days, as the students and the faculty members are demanding institute’s Director Prof. C.V.R. Murty resignation accusing him of dictatorship, egotism, autocracy, and favoritism.
For the last 1.5 years, Indian Institute of Jodhpur (IIT) Jodhpur has not seen even single permanent faculty recruitment while as many as 16 faculty members have been sacked. IIT-J students are protesting against the dismal situation of the institute and are demanding termination of the ‘Dictator’ Director. IIT Jodhpur has a faculty-student ratio of 1:18 as against the IIT requirement of 1:8.
IIT Jodhpur has witnessed 4 student protests during the tenure of the current director. A dialogue was initiated for negotiations where minutes of the meetings were not recorded even after repeated requests. Moreover, the dialogue concluded with promises being made that were never fulfilled.
Competent and faculty members conducting phenomenal research are terminated and their places are not filled in for. Moreover, the faculty members are subjected to mental harassment and such in hostile circumstances have been are created that the faculties are left with no option but to resign. It is needless to say, that research cannot be carried out in such a non-conducive environment where the scientists of the institute have to undergo a tremendous and constant emotional trauma, mental stress. They are blatantly disrespected and their research is termed as unnecessary and inconsequential by the director himself.
Director has exhibited several instances of taking out personal vengeance on the students and faculty who have raised their voice. For instance, Ranveer, A PhD student was not given who was the Secretary, Student’s Gymkhana the requisite NoC for continuing his research work under the faculty who resigned and joined IIT Kharagpur (Dr. Bibhas; refer to 1.2). In another case a student could not pursue his internship in a prestigious company because he was not given his NoC for reasons unknown.
Two most ingenious hardware labs at IIT Jodhpur were closed down; the guides of the PhD students have been recklessly terminated. Their years of research were discredited and they were asked to change their domain of research and a new PhD guide within a week. It is common knowledge that the PhD is pursued in a very niche / exclusive domain and more often than not, the guide cannot be replaced for, leaving the students helpless and highly uncertain about the future direction of their research. Some students have had to change their guides 3-4 times. There is another case wherein a PhD student who went to Japan for an internship was kept in dark about the specifics of the guidelines regarding the internship and was eventually terminated for no fault of his.
Even for tiniest of issues, direct approval from the director is necessary. For instance, arranging local transport for a guest speaker under the Gymkhana and its budget. Even the Coordinator, Student’s Affairs does not have the authority to make the approval. Moreover, when and if the document does reach the directorate; grammatical, indentation and formatting errors are pointed out and permission letters are sent back for redrafting, even 20 times in some cases. As a consequence, several workshops / lectures were canceled because budget and (or) permissions for them could not be obtained at the required time.
The System Science program at IIT Jodhpur was established in 2011, under the leadership of the then Director, Prof. PK Kalra. With a sanctioned strength of 40. The first batch, which will be graduating in May 2015, has performed exceptionally well on all fronts. In the ongoing placement season, 70% of the students have already been placed, in renowned companies. Several other students, have also obtained admits for MS from prominent universities around the world. However, Prof. Murty’s taking over has proved a death-blow to the program. With 20 faculty members, Center of Excellence in Systems Science was the largest faculty group in IIT Jodhpur, but today, it has become 4 faculty members only, due to the frequent terminations, and resignations by faculty members citing harassment by Prof. Murty had proposed the closure of the center in early 2014, and stopping intake to the programs, which was opposed by the then Academic Senate. However, he managed to get a reduction in its strength and send a negative word to the public about the program. However, in November 2014, the Board of Governors, on Prof. Murty’s suggestions, chose to close the center, which was communicated to the stakeholder as late as February 2015.
Prof. P.K. Kalra took steps right in 2011 to establish an incubator for startups and
to promote entrepreneurship. But Prof. Murty closed down the incubator, which was inaugurated by the Hon. President of India and the former Education Minister. He never gave any public statement as to why, or that he is closing it down. Instead, the companies which were being incubated there were not given the entire funding that they were promised. And also, any money spent on these companies has been deducted from salaries of the staff, which were responsible for the incubator.
When contacted, Students of IIT Jodhpur complained that there have been repeated successful attempts to curb their freedom and suppress their protests. Following a student protest a “code of conduct” was introduced that violates an individual’s right to speech and association. Students were made to end their protests by making promises that have not yet been fulfilled. As an attempt to curb the social media buzz against the current protests, the “higher authorities” blocked access to twitter and facebook on the institute network on April 3, 2015.
Agitating students of IIT Jodhpur have appealed to President Pranab Mukherjee and the HRD Ministry to remove Director CVR Murti for his “dictatorial attitude” to ensure the growth of the institute and putting the academics and research back on track. After lot of consultations, HRD ministry tried to sort out the matter by sending a 3 member committee to IIT Jodhpur but that too went in vain. Anger among agitating students are still high and they are not ready for any compromise.
NOTE: Views expressed are the author’s own. Janta Ka Reporter does not endorse any of the views, facts, incidents mentioned in this piece.