Teaching staff at IITs are on a war path. They are seeking more autonomy and better pay. Justification or otherwise for these demands depends on the eye of the beholder.
HRD Minister, Mr.Kapil Sibal has made two observations which are uncalled for. 1) We do not expect prospective Nobel laureates to go on hunger strike and 2) They get so much from consultancy that salary is only icing on the cake.
Observation 1 : Ridicule is implied in this statement. If the minister is convinced about the high academic standards of IIT faculty, he would not have made this comment. He also ought to know that the infrastructure made available in India can hardly enable anyone to get a Nobel prize. It was a miracle that Sir C.V.Raman could bag a Nobel. But those halcyon days are long past. If IIT faculty or for that matter any academician in India is not considered for Nobel prizes, it only reflects on the disabling environment provided by the government.
Hunger protest is a honourable practice sanctified by the Mahatma. Our minister would not have recommended Nobel peace prize for the Mahatma because he does not expect any honourable person to take to hunger protest.
Observation 2 : If IIT teachers are getting handsome income from consultancy, it is because they contribute. Does the minister propose that salary need not be paid to them for this reason? Also, not all IIT teachers are busy in consultancy. Those who do consult , become better teachers because of the experience they gain. Is the minister's statement a decent way of treating the faculty?
The demands of IIT faculty may or may not be met. But the faculty has a right to expect the HRD Minister to listen and respond without being sarcastic, insulting or patronising. An eminent lawyer need not continue his antagonistic approach after becoming a minister.