Friday, April 8, 2011

Overseas talent

Professor Balaram writes on attracting overseas talent for faculty positions in India.

Strangely, while schemes for attracting overseas talent are enthusiastically administered in the funding agencies, initiatives that promote local talent are invariably run with limited interest and efficiency. Looking outward may be attractive and fashionable. Looking inward may be desirable and essential.

The other issue that should be discussed is why faculty recruitment takes so much time. It is not unlikely that a candidate hears from an IIT one year after the application. Unless processes are sped up, it is not easy to recruit scientists at any level.


Anonymous said...

There must be a way when more flexible arrangements can be done by any university or institute. This will be highly beneficial for smaller places. Right now they don't have flexibility or vision for such arrangements.

I have a faculty position in USA and don't want to return permanently, however like most of the Indians, I want to contribute back to my country, and specially to my local University which doesn't have resources like IIXs. I am open for visiting positions so I can contribute something, but it's not possible at the moment.

Anonymous said...

I fully agree. The lack of promptness in recruitment is possibly going to take me to the west now.

iitmsriram said...

The "one year after the application" does happen, but there are quicker processes too. Visiting appointments can be issued in about two weeks, if the department is interested. It takes maybe 10% more effort to process ten visiting appointments instead of one, so we often end up waiting for a couple of months to get a few that can be processed together. IITM currently has an ad out for entry level appointments. The ad came out March 16; interviews are planned for May and I expect appointment orders to go out in June. Is that not speedy enough?

Anonymous said...

As always, Prof. Balram provides a balanced view of the situation, and his writing is excellent. But, I think most of his article is an academic exercise and an intellectual commentary with little practical consequence.

I was disappointed that he did not write about the "economics" of hiring at all, other than making what seems to be a disparaging remark about the Chinese trying to "buy" Nobel laureates.

The Indian educational system does not comprehend "free-market compensation for faculty". Any fresh PhD in engineering (that is what the IITs need to hire) easily makes 12 lakhs a year in the Indian private sector. The IITs will hardly pay half of that amount to the same person and attach an "on-contract" tag to him. After three years, this person will make about 8.5 lakhs per year in academia, but in the private sector in India, he or she can make more than 15 lakhs a year. The compensation for such a person in US, Singapore or even China, is in the range of USD 100,000 a year on the lower end!

The benefits of a "permanent" job in a government entity no longer exist since there are no guaranteed retirement benefits (pension) any more, and the substitute is inferior to what the private sector offers in quality and substance. On-campus housing, usually touted as a big benefit, is seniority based, and while the director and a few senior professors in most IITs and IISc enjoy "plush" housing, new faculty is usually condemned to leaking roofs, broken plumbing and flooded floors in monsoon, with unresponsive maintenance staff.

These problems can only be addressed by moving to a free market compensation structure, based on the prevailing market wages for engineers in IITs. It is a big joke that a professor of English in an IIT makes much more than a newly hired Asst. Professor of Computer Science, whereas, in the free market, the reversal in their wages would be substantial.

I still believe that one phrase adequately describes the hiring situation in academia in India. If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

Anonymous said...

It may be true in IITM but I had applied to IIT-KGP in November. They are yet to even acknowledge the application despite numerous reminders. The situation in IISc is not very different. My close friend in chemical engineering applied to the department in IISc. After 3 months, he is yet to hear any other than, "we are considering your application"


Anonymous said...

To Anon April 9, 2011 5:30 PM:

Remember IIT/IISc is a government job? Why should you expect high salaries and efficiency. It provides the best security and reasonable pay without much work. You can become a full professor with less than 10 papers and generally enjoy life in the campus. Such opportunities do not exist if you work in industry.

If you do a ratio of salary earned per working hour, then IIT is much better than private industries

Anonymous said...

Anon above:

So, you are suggesting that if I want to be a lazy slacker with no ambition in life, I should join an IIT as a professor?

Thanks for the great career advice!

Anonymous said...

No, I am saying if you want to make a lot of money, do not join a government job (like IIT). If you want to have a balance of job, family and money, security, IIT is a good option.

Anonymous said...

>No, I am saying if you want to make a lot of money,
>do not join a government job (like IIT). If you want to
>have a balance of job, family and money, security, IIT
>is a good option.

I really hope you are not currently in a senior management position (or god forbid an HOD) at one of the IITs. An IIT faculty position should be "marketed" as a career option for the finest minds and not a retirement home where academics can rust in peace!

Anonymous said...

Free-market-ing the higher education system can lead to a drastic change in the hiring and compensation process, but it has its own downsides too. The concept of profit in the educational system is quite different from that of, say, finance or manufacturing. But again, I am not a proponent of the stagnant system like ours that behaves as if it's doing a favour by recruiting faculty members. I like to see a balance between the two systems.

"Accountability is the key". Creating competition between the private and public sector, while making them partners, is the best way to achieve this goal. They want to do their best not because they will be fired otherwise, but because it gives them rewards, financial as well as emotional.

There is no one system that works, otherwise we humans would have invented it a long time ago. What works changes, from time to time and from space to space. So, I hope that something will change to a system that works, at least for now. I really don't want to see a revolution in 5 or 10 years time when most of the young people of my beloved country are up in arms because they have nothing better to do. Or, may be we need a revolution now, a peaceful one, that will teach one of the most corrupt countries in the world how to become a global power rather than talking about becoming one all the time.


Anonymous said...

IITs can not be projected as a career option. This is simply because the pay scales are the same as any other university or NIT, where minimal research is required. One can teach for 2-3 hours a day and get paid the same.

There is no career growth. Almost everyone who joins IITs as assistant professor will become a full professor in 8-10 years (can not be done earlier either) and the pay increases are negligible.

IITs are government organizations. Thus the highest pay that can be given is the secretary of the government, which is the pay given to the director of IITs. All pay scales are then scaled based on this amount with only yearly increment of 3%, irrespective of whether one performs or not.

Researchers don't live by research alone. Families of these researchers can not understand why you earn so less when vastly inferior people are minting cash in the private sector.

That's why IITs do not and never will attract the best talent.

Anonymous said...

Things that usually bog down people in IIXs are

1. Remarkably lousy, inefficient, irrepairable purchase procedure. Can one imagine that it takes more than 1.5 years sometimes from the date of initiation of an order to the actual receipt. Needless to say what happens to one's research

2. Pathetic housing. these are ill maintained, shoddy.

3. Lack of any flexibility in offering competent, performing faculties any additional money. however some IITs are offering some additional remuneration to some faculty.

there are more controversial things as well which hurt Indian education making it totally stagnant.

Anonymous said...

I like the fact that the govt is encouraging people to return back using the schemes which Prof Balaram describes. If not for any other reason, hopefully this brings some fresh blood into the system. Indians educated elsewhere brings fresh perspective and training that is different and hopefully useful to Indian science, specially in terms of teaching skills. Like any other program I hope these programs are improved upon with time.


Anonymous said...

@anonymous(April 9, 2011 9:32 PM)

well most of the profs(atleast in iisc) end up becoming lazy slacks, who don't have much ambition. just ask any PhD student here.

Anonymous said...

what these foolish policy makers fail to realize is that india cannot have much of a research output with just 4/5 working institutes(iix). we need 50+/100+ working institutes engaged in research or maybe even more. once the funding/administrative process is set up,the research output will automatically develop

frustratedprospective said...

I found that much of the so called fellowships to attract foreign trained Indian talent back to home are largely unattractive. Take for instance Ramanujan fellowship: It provides a salary of 75k per month slightly better than a regular assistant professor would get (71k per month) plus an annual contingency grant of 5 lacs (which is great), but there is no assured annual increment, medical benefits, retirement benefits, start up grant, etc. Although DST allows one to negotiate these extra benefits that a regular faculty gets, many institutes have no reasonable policy on them. I had to struggle writing so many emails figuring out details of these schemes, and how iix's treats them. No one seemed be clear! Is this really attractive? I don't think so.

Also, at the end of 5 yrs, will you be considered for tenure review? Rather than risking that for few extra bucks, isn't is much safer to accept a tenure track position, knowing that there is effectively no one who has been fired in India (barring few exceptions).

Anonymous said...

IISc, TIFR and many other research institutes ask prospective faculty to visit for a couple of days (NCBS asks for a week), give talk(s) and interact with a good many people in the department. If they like the candidate, then the department forwards the application to the institute to consider. But there is no formal interview, so each application can be considered separately. I think this makes he hiring process at these institutes faster. Also, they can hire throughout the year.

On the other hand, IITs do have open adverts and often candidates are asked to visit to give a talk. But at the end of the day they still have to wait for the formal interview (usually once a year after consolidating all applications, once in two years for some departments) to take place. Of course, the candidate can appear for the interview through skype. I can see that it will a logistical nightmare for the IITs to conduct interviews this way more frequently. But it also means that a candidate applying for an open position might have to wait a year to get an offer. Is there any particular reason why IITs have stuck with this hiring model?

iitmsriram said...

"Is there any particular reason why IITs have stuck with this hiring model?" Well, because that is what is pretty much dictated by the IIT statutes. IISc and TIFR obviously dont have to follow IIT statutes. IITs can offer visiting appointments without going through the selection committee process. Incidentally, (in response to frustratedprospective) there is no such thing as tenure or tenure track in IIXs. The positions (except visiting and contract) are all permanent after a one year probationary period. Also, the entry level assistant professor pay is more like 60k (assuming one has 3 years experience), it goes up to 71k only with house rent allowance. The 5 lakhs a year over 5 years adds up to more than any research initiation grant I know of, so the Ramanujam fellowship is not bad at all, I think.

frustratedprospective said...

@iitsriram: I am aware that fellowships can in principle offer better benefits. If you go by the intent of the fellowship, which is to "attract talented scientists back home", I am afriad it fails because those who want to return will be exposed to a solid pack of red-tape in India even before they arrive :-). Not that I don't have a strong cv or like that, it is just that even faculty at the institute where I am offerred the job seem a bit unclear as how to get this done. My experience may be an outlier.

Giri@iisc said...

In IISc also, one has to appear for a formal interview (through skype etc.) before an appointment is made. Appointments are not made throughout the year but once in three months, just before the council. If the department forwards the application, an external selection committee is formed, the candidate is asked to appear before this committee that includes the chairman of the department and the director of IISc. Then appointments are made.

Regarding Ramanujam fellowship, all faculty who are already offered a position in IISc can apply for it. They can take 75 K from DST and in addition avail campus housing and medical facility. Thus, Ramanujam fellowship is beneficial and there are at least two faculty in IISc who applied for it after they joined here and got it.

Regarding the comment that "most of the iisc profs become lazy slacks (just ask any PhD student here)," I do not think that is correct at all.



iitmsriram said...

Dear frustratedprospective,

It is not just solid red tape. The Ramanujan fellowship is a fairly new program and most organizations have not yet figured out how to deal with it. IITM has not had any yet, I believe, so if a Ramanujan fellow wants to join IITM, I would have to scramble and figure out how to handle it. We may have a few misfires along the way, but that is all it is. Say, if we need to provide medical coverage; our current health insurance requires participants to be regular employees. Now, a Ramnanujam fellow is not going to be a regular employee, so what do I do? Getting campus hospital services is easy since that is a local resource, so an appropriate office order will do. But the insurance is not as easily done. And so on.

Anonymous said...

Dear prof Giri and iitmsriram,

Could you throw some light on the Pandit jawaharlal Nehru fellowship for new PhDs? what is your opinion on working in one of the national labs like NCL and NPL?

frustratedprospective said...

@iitsriram and giridhar

Thank you both for your responses. It helps to know what other IIXs are doing and I will point this information from you guys to my host institute. It is really people like you who have provided all these information and made it easier for those who really want to come to India. I wonder what was the scenario 10 years ago when there was none of this!

But my larger point still remains valid -- let us say there is a scheme to attract some X to my workplace. When that X asks me for details and I struggle to answer questions and am myself confused how it works, I may very well fail to attract X -- unless that X would want to join anyway!

Anonymous said...

@frustratedprospective: It is my understanding that all fellowships including Ramanujan are tax-free, so the difference is far greater than is evident.

Giri@iisc said...

No, fellowships are not tax free. I am the recipient of Swarnajayanthi fellowship and my friends are recipients of the JC Bose fellowships. They are not tax free. I doubt that Ramanujam fellowship is tax free.


fp said...

My posts does not seem to get accepted. Trying again.

Thanks to both iitsriram and giridhar for clarifications. Information provided by people like you is really the saviour for many who apply for faculty positions in India. I will check with my host and will inform them of what is happening at different institutes.

But my point remains valid -- information about schemes meant to attract people back home should be readily available to both candidates and host institues; at least, it should not take 2-3 yrs from the date of announcement of fellowships for some established palce like IITs to figure out. Also, let us be honest: I dont think these fellowships will attract a whole bunch of people who would otherwise have remained in the US. Its pretty much meant for best of those would anyway return to India. If they annoy even those people, can it really succeed in its intent?

Giri@iisc said...

I think some established faculty has to take interest in getting the details for the scheme. Normally, whenever a scheme is brought to my attention, I write to the concerned person in DST. If I do not hear from him, I will write to the DST secretary, who usually replies within 24 hours. He will provide all details of the scheme and I will forward it to our director and the administrator (finance, recruitment etc.) and get the institute side sorted out.

However, this will only work if a candidate who has applied for a fellowship is serious about joining IISc. The number of Ramanujam fellowship applicants and Swarnajayanthi fellowship applicants who applied from abroad before joining IISc is 1+1. In most cases, the fellowships are given only to people who are already holding or have a firm offer from IISc. Even these numbers are very small. The numbers of Swarnajayanthi fellowship holders and Ramanujam fellowship holders are really small. In IIT-M, I can count only two fellowship holders and there are many IITs, where there are none.

Therefore, it is unreasonable to assume that the admin of IITs will spend enormous time to sort things out for 1 to 2 candidates. Just my opinion.



Anonymous said...

Ramanujn Fellowship is a new scheme. I wonder why it is not given to people who are already working here from 1-3 years time after returning from abroad. Looking at the selection list (2010), it seems the selection committe only worring about attracting new talent (??) from outside, and not worrying about stopping the talent (returned from abroad) from going abroad again due to frustration.

Anonymous said...

Looking at the selection list (2010), it seems the selection committe only worring about attracting new talent (??) from outside, and not worrying about stopping the talent (returned from abroad) from going abroad again due to frustration.

What? You must be kidding! No one leaves the IITs/IISc after they join. As the Persians poets used to say about IISc:

Agar Ferdows dar jahan ast hamin ast o hamin ast o hamin ast"; - 'If there is a paradise on earth it is here it is here it is here.'

On a more practical note, the babus cannot keep track of the people on the current payroll, who do you think will keep track of how many left since they were frustrated...

Anonymous said...

Fortunately, I am not working in IITs and IISc, since everyone is now taking about the poor performance displayed by these so-called Elite Institutions. I don't want to be part of them. The only way to stop this degradation of research quality is stopping the in-breeding. In particular, stop hiring internationally substandard candidates as faculty from IITs. Hiring (mostly) candidates educated abroad with new ideas is the only way to clean the system (learning from China. If you really find a local talent hire them. Do not hire some one since his boss is BIG locally. Look at IIT and IISc how many of the locally trained people (from young to old, with the exception of a few) performing good and internationally recognized. Go to Europe and USA and ask them about these locally famous guys, you will know the result!

Anonymous said...

Ramanujan Fellowship is taxable similar to other fellowships mentioned by Prof. Giridhar.

Sri said...

I am wondering about the credentials of the 'overseas talents' returning home (say, IISc). I understand they have good no. and quality of publications (well, who doesn't have in the west?). But, I am curious if anyone who has a tenure-track (or tenured) position in the US and a grant from Federal agencies (NSF or NIH) has returned to IISc? My guess is NO. I am sure they would never go to IITs.

Does it mean that so called 'talents' who fail to embark a successful academic career in US return home? This situation certainly will not improve India's competitiveness in the 21st century.

Additionally, these scholarships may be lucrative in terms of academics (one may disagree though), but they can't change the 'internal politics' by senior faculty some of them have always evaluated juniors but never got evaluated by their juniors.

Giri@iisc said...

your guess is wrong. There are tenured faculty from ivy league schools who have joined iisc as associate professors.

However, your questions reeks of western superiority. Many of us came back as assistant professors and joined iisc not because we were incapable of embarking on an academic career in the west. Many of IISc faculty records are comparable with the faculty of top 30-40 schools in US.

Sri said...

I am really happy that my guess is apparently wrong. However, a close examination of your statement (There are tenured faculty from ivy league schools who have joined iisc as associate professors) indicates otherwise. A few (rather a handful) of 'tenured' faculty from ivy league (or top 50 schools) have joined IISc. These exceptions are NOT the norms.

"Many of us.... in the west". Surely, but the right word may be 'A FEW'.

With regard to "my QN reeks of western superiority", well, that was least of my intentions. I can only say, please donot over-interpret.

I am certain about it (Many of IISc faculty 30-40 schools in US/EU) at least in terms of no. of publications, though federal funding cannot be compared with Indian funding (no way). This actually pose a crucial QN, given such qualities, why IISc has consistently been ranked (overall) between 301-400 (by several agencies)? I understand the methods may have flaws, but all schools (including tier-2 US/EU) are evaluted on the same criteria.

P.S. I am patriotic (like many of us) but I also want to see the reality.

Anonymous said...


The issue here is about the quality of the re-entry schemes and we can all agree that like any scheme it can be improved.

But you seem to be threadcrapping here. The fellowships aim, in principle, to make it easier for one to take up a position in India. When people decide to return they do so based on different reasons, to each their own. It is unfair to try to judge the success of the program solely based on the return of tenured faculty or imply that Indian academics are losers because if they were any good they would be in the west !

You comments about seniors not being judged by junior faculty is again irrelevant to these fellowships.

"I am patriotic (like many of us) but I also want to see the reality."

Who said you were unpatriotic ?

Giri@iisc said...

Dear Sri,

There are only a few tenured faculty from usa who have joined iisc because iisc (or iits) recruit very rarely at the associate professor level.

If you compare the publication per faculty per year from iisc in a particular discipline, it will be comparable to the 50th ranked school in usa.
If you really want to compare publications or citations per faculty, then read my paper

Regarding rankings by agencies, they do not reflect the true picture. The rankings (60% of the marks) depend on noble prize winners on roll, alumni who are noble prize winners and publications in nature/science. Further, they do not consider number of faculty. A midsize university is bigger than all IITs put together.

IISc/IITs are not great but it is not junk, as you seem to imply by saying "I am curious if anyone who has a tenure-track (or tenured) position in the US and a grant from Federal agencies (NSF or NIH) has returned to IISc? My guess is NO. I am sure they would never go to IITs. " What makes you so sure that no one will go to IITs? Even now, at least a few faculty in IITs will get tenured positions in the top 25 schools in the US.


Giri@iisc said...

This year's ramanujam fellowship was given entirely to people outside India but in the last two years, people working in IISc/JNCASR/NCBS etc have got that fellowship.

Another reason could be that Indian scientists who are approaching 40 apply for Swarnajayanthi and who are approaching 50 apply for JC Bose. Therefore, Indian scientists who apply for Ramanujam are mainly people between 30 and 36.

Sri said...

With regard to rankings, while I understand the methods and weightage on nobel or other prizes, this cannot explain the overall ranking (301-400) of IISc. For instance, there are several Universities they have scored 0 on these aspects but have found a place in top-100 (pick any ranking agency or any year you may wish). The methods are same for all the institutions but not flawless. The paper (on current sc.) that discusses about methods is well thought, but is in a journal that’s impact factor is not even 1. That does not mean that the paper is does not make a point, but not widely critiqued outside Indian academia.

I understand that there are several reasons why someone wants to go back to home. But my point is only in the context of ‘academic pursuit’. One will NOT choose IITs (older ones, newer ones to be watched) because none of these (except, KGP) has ever made to the list of 500s: consistent in their performance. So, I see there is no academic reason for someone with tenure-track (or tenurable) credentials moving to IIT. It boils down to one simple QN, will any faculty working at IISc/IIT will ever go to a state university in India for academic reasons?

I guess I should put a stop on MY comments on this post.

Giri@iisc said...

Your comment about impact factor. The best journals in scientometrics will not have impact factors greater than two.

As I said, IISc would compare well with RPI, SUNY, Clemson, Drexel etc, all of which would be in the top 100 of US and around 300 in the world. Look up the rankings of these universities and IISc in something like ARWU rankings-- they might be comparable.

Yes, we do not make decisions based purely on academic merit or pursuit. Yes, there are faculty who have moved from IISc/IIT to central universities because of personal reasons. If you start start a state/central university in my village, I will move but it will not be due to academic reasons alone. But life is not just academic reasons alone. It is a combination of academic pursuit and personal reasons.

Moving to IISc/IIT from Drexel university to take care of your parents will not result in academic output go to zero.

Anyway, as you say, let us put a stop to this discussion.


Anonymous said...

Sri I joined IISc last year leaving a tenure track position in the US. And I also had NSF, US Army grants and quite a few publications.
So there are people who join IISC leaving academic positions abroad. And as Giridhar said there are quite a few Associate profs also who have joined from ivy-league schools. Look at Prof. ananthasuresh in ME dept.

Anonymous said...

I am a tenured associate professor at a University which comfortably sits in the top-20 world rankings. I currently lead a very well-funded large research group. I plan to move to IISc in the next few years if they offer me a position.

Due to various reasons, I will only be applying after I get promoted to full Professor at my current Institution. From what I have seen and heard, IISc is one of those Indian institutions who will consider offering me a full Professor position only if my current University thinks I am at the right stage of my career for this promotion.

I couldn't agree more with Professor Madras's statement "But life is not just academic reasons alone. It is a combination of academic pursuit and personal reasons."

At the end of the day, I believe that each academic is personally responsible for his/her own success or failure. I know that my research will carry on smoothly irrespective of where I go. Before I took up my current position in a top-ranked University I have worked at several other Institutions that were not that well-ranked. But as far as my personal research was concerned, this never made a big difference. I know of several individuals in the Indian system (including our host) who are doing as well as their compatriots in top-ranked Universities. In my experience, if you have the academic drive, you will find a way to make things work. Of course, it is far easier to whine and moan and blame it all on the system.

Anonymous said...

We had lengthy discussions on Universities rankings in previous posts. For example, UCSB is a very large university, which counts with the UC system support, ranks around top 20. In my opinion their ranking (compared with those that come next) would be quite surprising if I did not know they got several Nobel prize winners (I think all are emeritus) and S. Nakamura.

Besides, rankings are made for specific purposes, which serve well to get funding (one can always claim to be top 10 somewhere) and students (undergrads are most universities bread and butter).

Anyway, most people who come to IISc and IITs from US do so because of family reasons. There will always be a lot of discussion about their qualifications, some justified, others (from rancorous people) not.

vishu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

As a professor, who left the US tenured position, to join IIT, I can even modify the statement to read

"Moving to IISc/IIT from Drexel university to take care of your parents will not result in academic output go to zero."


Moving to IISc/IIT from universities like Drexel university will not result in a reduction of academic output.

The key, I think, is happiness. I am much more happy in IIT than the US because my academic output has almost remained the same but my social circle has gone up and is more fulfulling.

vishu said...

@Sri, Keeping aside personal considerations, your definition of "academic pursuit" is narrowly based on popular numbers such as h-index, funding, etc. There are other factors even academically, and this is what S Chandrashekar, a Nobel Laureate in Physics, had to say during later parts of his life (Excerpt from Kameswar C. Wali, "Chandra: A Biography of S. Chandrashekar", Penguin, 1991):

Kameshwar C Wali: I know it is not an easy question to answer, but let me ask you anyway. On the whole, are you happy with your life in this country?

SC: Well, one has to consider both one's personal contribution to science and one's contribution to scientific community. There's no doubt that living here made it enormously easy for my own work on the whole. But when I think, for example, that I had fifty Ph.D. students and ran the Astrophysical Journal for twenty years-that is as much service to the scientific community as one normally makes or can make in one's lifetime. But I don't think these kinds of services either make or destroy sciences in this country. On the other hand, suppose I had stayed in India and had not fifty Ph.D.'s but half that number of students. and ran a journal, creating a kind of stanards I did with the Astrophysical Journal. Suppose that it had not become as eminent as the Astrophysical Journal. I think relative to India that would have been a far greater contribution. How does one evaluates the relative contributions? But I think I would have been satisfied with half my scientific work if I could have served the Indian scientific community at least to half the extent that I have served the American scientific community. Because in total terms for the future, it would have meant far more for the Indian science than in fact it has to American science."

Note: I dont own the book but this part was sent to me by a friend.

Anonymous said...

Well, looks like someone touched a raw nerve here. Never -NEVER!!!- compare an IISc professor's standing to others in similar ranks in the international community.

We sit in a "sandalwood tower", and don't like too much criticism. Before the government got too fond of elephants, it it used to be an ivory tower. But, it's the same concept, pretty much. Up high and mighty we are.

But, jokes aside, I agree with Giridhar that the International ranking system is not fair. It does give non-US universities a raw deal. Giridhar has done a lot of work on research-metrics and I think his (and similar) work shows the research from IIXs much more realistically. Don't doubt it, IISc research from many faculty is truly world class, but we just need more output at similar quality levels.

Another problem I see is that there is some reluctance in engineering faculty
in commercializing their research. I don't see too-many start-ups from IISc, perhaps Giridhar can comment.

Also, a lot of people move for family, it is indeed a blessing to be a short drive/flight away from your folks as opposed to a long international flight. I primarily moved for the Masala Dosa in Malleshwaram, and I have not been disappointed on that front :-)

Soliloquy... said...

Dear Prof. Madras,

First I would like to thank you sincerely on the commendable blog site. It has definitely been very helpful to me.

Second, I have an Asst. Professor offer at one of the IIT's and was wondering if I could at this point apply for the Ramanujan fellowship at this point to add to my current Asst. Professor salary.


Anonymous said...

Dear Prof. Madras,

I have an assistant professor offer from one of IITs where I want to join.

I also got selected for Ramanujan fellowship through the nomination from an institute X. But I personally rank the IIT better than this institute X.

Can I join the IIT while availing the Ramanujan fellowship as well?

Anonymous said...

Although it is almost 9 months after this post, I feel tempted to comment about my personal experience. I just read this post a few days back.

Firstly, I should say that the experience I had with recruitment at IITX (one of the established IITs) has been not better than terrific!.. This was the ONLY place I had applied properly.

I applied for the position for assistant professor in January 2011, quite disgruntled with my post doc situation at the most reputed university in US..Although I had a really tough post doc advisor situation, my Phd was at a top 10 school with one of the most renowned names in the area, with a bunch of well cited papers.

With not much thinking I just wanted to return to India, so I applied to the IIT department which had the best faculty in my area of expertise, along with a few positions in EU. I DID NOT want to be in US and didnt even bother to put a post doc application there...

With the above background let me quickly summarize my experience.

1) the interview call was prompt, in less than 2 weeks of recieving my application packet (only via email to the head).. this constituted a research statement (3 pages), teaching statement (2 pages), a cover letter and details of publications, and CV.

2) On site interview experience was very well co-ordinated and all arrangements were nothing short of professional.

3) In two months turnaround time, I got a call for a second interview with the director and other external examiners.

4) Five weeks later I got my job offer in early.

5) I had in the meanwhile found a good position with variable contract time in the EU, which was unlike my first US post doc.

6) I informed IIT about close to a year delay in joining although in my interview I may have quoted that I can join soon. (The EU offers came a month or so after my IIT interview)

The department with a little or no hesitation offered to give me close to a year extension to join the position..

Now, I have gained one of the best post doc experience in EU (I regret taking the US position and wasting 2 years in the name of the top institute!) and am all set to join IITX in the next few months.

I know this may have been a unique experience, but I do feel that if the department has faculty working in your related area and want to expand they would be ready to unfetter the buereucracy!.

I hope overseas talents get the good treatment and prompt response like what was meted to me.