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Update on the UGC Faculty recharge programme

December 3, 2011 1 comment

Update on my previous post:

On their homepage, the UGC FRP makes an announcement :

We are currently processing applications, batch wise, with 30th June, 2011 and 30th September, 2011 as application cut-off dates. And, we hope to be able to complete the process by the close of the year.

It is bad manners to pick on typos, but I wish the UGC, being the highest body overseeing our Universities, could be more careful about typing albeit or remember that wise (adverb) is combined with the preceding noun to make one word.

But of course, the bigger problem here is that they haven’t finished making a short list for the applications made before 30th June, 2011. And it’s already December, they have another set of applications made before 30th September, and will have a third set by 31st December. At this rate, how are they going to call people for interviews, how will they make the selection, and when will they appoint/place the selected candidates?

And will they manage to send the salaries in time? They are known to be quite notorious about sending the money for research fellowships — the JRFs and SRFs have to wait several months before their money starts coming in. Will the universities pay the faculty in advance, in anticipation of the money to be remitted by UGC?

From an academic point of view the programme is poorly thought out, as I mentioned elsewhere. If the administration is worse, as it seems to be, this  will turn into a grand joke like so many other grand plans of the higher education department (who cannot even correctly spell the name of their ministry).

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Women are property

June 9, 2011 Leave a comment

After the khap panchayats, it was the turn of the Karnataka high court to demand an amendment in the Hindu Marriage act. Both demands are based on the belief that women cannot decide what is good for themselves, and need to be guided by their elders. To be precise, the High Court sets an age limit of 21 after which women may be allowed to choose their partners, but “Parents should choose the boy for a girl aged below 21”. So For women between 18 and 21, the Karnataka High Court views them in the same way as khap panchayats, namely the property of their `parents’ or `elders’. (They are `property’ because they may be given away, not because they are to be protected, although the latter one is the argument given by both parties.)

For the specific case mentioned in the news report, the girl in question was reported missing some days before she turned 18 and she turned up after she turned 18 and got married (so that it would not be an underage marriage). It strikes me that a case of kidnapping could have been established without too much difficulty as she went away with the accused before she was 18. Surely there are statutory provisions for this in criminal law, without requiring amendments in the apparently unrelated marriage laws?

UGC Faculty recharge programme: much ado about nothing

May 28, 2011 35 comments

I was going to title this post `What were they thinking?’ but then decided against that because I could use that title so often that it should really be a category or a tag.

The UGC has come out with a programme called the Faculty Recharge Programme, which was advertised in national newspapers yesterday, and has appeared on a dedicated website here. They plan to appoint assistant professors, associate professors, and full professors in Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Biology and `Engineering and Earth Sciences’. The new appointees are expected to be at the forefront of research, and be willing to teach six hours a week — presumably at both undergraduate and post-graduate levels. The expressed hope is that this will raise the level of scientific research at the universities with the side effect of attracting students to a career of research.

In order to attract `talent, the new appointees are promised salary at par with the central universities no matter where they are. But they can be posted at any university in the country, although they do say that the location of the new faculty will be through `harmonization of their own preference, response of the host Institution and availability of infrastructure’.

On the face of it, this sounds like the seed of a new IES — Indian Educational Service, which was originally instituted during British rule (J.C. Bose, P.C.Ray and P.C.Mahalanobis had been members), but is this really going to attract people?

What I find disturbing is the sentence Initial appointments at each level shall be for a period of 5 years, extendible through peer evaluation by successive 5-year terms. This is understandable for Assistant Professors, who are at the beginning of their careers, but Associate Professors and Professors are going to be people who are required to have done a reasonable amount of research and publish regularly, so these people already hold jobs at research institutions or at teaching institutions with some freedom to do research. But those jobs are permanent jobs, not five year positions. And they are also likely to be of an age where stability is important. They are likely to have families, who are settled down, or settling down, working, going to school, wherever they are. So why will they up everything and (very likely) go to a different part of the country, in a job which,   following a peer review, […] may be terminated, extended or elevated to the next higher level. Associate professors have a chance of being `elevated’ to the next higher level, but professors do not have even that. So why would anyone sensible, anyone who is doing some research and some teaching, be interested in a Professor’s position?

Any of the research laboratories pay allowances etc at the same rates as the central universities, and at the levels corresponding to associate professor and professor, pretty much the same salary. People already at universities, even if they are not central universities, get the same salaries, possibly with some lower allowances. But universities give their faculty time to do research, and the stability of a permanent job. There is no real incentive for any of these people to move to a five-year position, which is very likely in a different part of the country.

Then the only people who will apply for these positions are those in colleges where they are unable to do good research, or people in post-doc positions. While there are admittedly some people in colleges who could do better research at universities than what they are doing now, such people are not many in number. And even then, would they opt for the instability of a five-year position, unless they are at the very beginning of their career?

If they really want good people to join, they should remove the 5 year stipulation, at least from the higher positions. Otherwise this service will be filled with only those who cannot get a permanent university/research institute position.