Thursday, September 24, 2009

Professors from my alma mater on strike (and other stories of the day)

Professors at IITs have decided to go on hunger strike, demanding more money. Professors at IITs make anywhere between 40k a month to 75k a month (the most senior of the lot). That's clearly a pittance - grad students in the US make the same amount (if one were to convert directly).

But a good way to compare pay is dividing the rupee amount by 10 rather than 50, for purhcasing power parity. (This is not perfect, because though a $2.00 loaf of bread in the US would cost Rs 20 in India, a $150 TV would cost closer to Rs 10k than Rs. 1500.). But dividing by 10 would be a good rule of thumb.

5 lakhs thus works out to $50k a year. Since assistant professors in the US earn about $70k, there might be some sense in asking for a 40% raise. But IIT professors get subsidized housing in probably the best area of the city - and some other perks. The money value of the subsidy will also have to be considered.

The problem with IITs is that they are run by the government. There are no nobel laureates at IITs. There is scanty industry sponsored research. There is no real incentive to work with the industry back there. Perhaps adopting an American (captialist) model of paying oneself from one's own research funds during summer could prove to be of value.


And in other news today, people have shown that a heat cannot travel from cold to hot areas; eggs don't unscramble and go back into their shell. Evolution is not reversible.


ansumali said...

This is pretty absurd way of conversion. First of all, division by 10 will work only for food item and may be transport etc. However, such expenditure are not more than 25% for a typical Indian middle class. Next, you say that housing is pretty good. Who want the crappy housing provided by IIT/IISc etc.
Come to reality, people want to buy a decent house. With a typical salary of 35-40 K offered to an IIT/IISc assistant prof., what kind of house they can afford.
Finally, why would someone return to India with 5+3 year experience to get a temp job of 35K INR?

Rap said...

Your points are well taken.

Division by 10 is a rule of thumb as far as food and other essentials are concerned. Not TVs and other consumer durables. So, you are right.

India's professors are paid less because they are a part of a massive government subsidy. IITs are not economically sustainable. American universities are sustaniable.

That is why most people do not return to India. But with the western economy going down the toilet, I suspect there will be more people who will be interested in coming back to India and working as professors (because they've invested too much of their life in doing technical stuff to switch to something else)