Sunday, February 18, 2007

Wanted: top notch professors

This is how some of the premier institutes plan to retain and hire top professors. The report goes on to say "IIT Delhi is planning to “play on the emotions” of Indian scholars studying or working abroad. Faculty members travelling overseas have been told to seek out bright young Indians and encourage them to return."

Wonder whether they really believe it will work. I may be wrong, but it seems to me the two key reasons for Indian academics preferring greener pastures abroad is: 1) Better research facilities, and 2) Money (not necessarily in this order). There are other impediments as well, some of which has been listed nicely over here by Dr. Phanikumar.

Research facilities available in some of the universities abroad are still out of reach for Indian universities having a similar standing in India. So far as the salary differential goes, I guess the following set of figures might be interesting.

The avge starting salaries for undergrads from a good university in US - $60k p.a.. The avge starting salary for an Asst prof in US - $75k p.a. Compare this with Indian stats. The avge starting salaries for undergrads from a good university in India - Rs15-18k p.m. (IITians, BITSians and some of the NITians as well as a few other places like BHU, Jadavpur, etc have a better average). The avge starting salary for an Asst prof in India - Rs18K.

The avge grad student in US may end up with a stipend of $20k p.a. The Asst prof manages $75k p.a. Compare with Indian scenario. The PhD students get Rs 10k p.m. The Asst prof gets Rs 18k pm.

Then again, some of the developed countries have a large number of industries willing to engage academicians in consultancies. The apalling status (at least on the R&D front) of Indian industries preclude consultancies to some extent at least.

How much of these problems does IIT Delhi hope to overcome by "playing on emotions"?


Kaustubh said...

i dont know where you got the data frm..i dont know about other data but starting salary of an undergrad frm iit is more then 15-18 is much more

Ram Kumar said...

I found your article linked from Dr. Phanikumar's blog. I'd say your "current snapshot" could be pretty accurate. For any PhD looking comparing India vs. abroad, the pastures look greener outside. But I think there has to be a generation or two of academics who hopefully will forego the greener pastures of today and commit to establishing themselves in India so that in another couple of decades, Indian research capabilities start narrowing the gap.

I guess the question facing a lot of Indian PhDs will be whether to sacrifice some of the advanced research capabilities and standard of living found outside in the hope that their work will lead to such capabilities within India in a couple of decades.