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when not to join as faculty in India

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when not to join as faculty in India
Here is a collection of tips that I gathered from my friends’ and even my own experiences. It is important to know the real situation on ground before taking the most important decision of one’s life. It is now clear from the various news items that India needs a large number of quality engineering faculty to take up positions in India. The vacancies are all out there. If you have the right degree and the desire to work and live in India then what stops you from taking the plunge? Well, take a while to look at some issues to be well prepared.

When you are in India looking for a job.
Call it the white man’s stamp syndrome or paranoia or plain politics, there are reasons to believe that your chances of getting into top places are best if you apply from abroad. The organizations are sometimes unsure of their ability to spot fresh and bright people that they leave the task to others. Also, if you are abroad, you are exempt from attending the interview in person. That takes care of lot of prejudices that could arise from your appearance and presentation and keep the focus on your CV. All in all, it is a sound idea to pick a nice post-doc position abroad and then apply from there.
When you are on your own for money and have little or no bank balance.
Academic organizations in India do not take care of your initial establishment costs like many IT firms do. If you were a student till you started looking for a faculty position, chances are that you were staying in a hostel room and have no possessions apart from a suitcase of clothes and few trunks of books. Take a look at the cost of starting off life:
Two cots with beds (15K), DiningTable+Chairs(15K), Typical Indian Kitchen (20K), Bike(40K), TV (10K), Fridge (7K), Almera(8K), Washing machine (20K), AC (20K), Sofa (20K), Vacuum Cleaner (10K), Home PC (20K) etc., all this easily comes to about 200K. You may not need them all on the first day you land the job but once you start living at home independently, you will need them one after the other. If you are married, then you will need more things and more urgently.
The reason I mentioned the cost of establishing a comfortable home is because you could experience a financial shock if you have to pay for all that from your salary. And that is because your salary is going to be sooooooo small. Whatever people may say about pay commissions or purchase parity blah blah, after taxes and compulsory deductions you will have a maximum of 18K in hand at the end of each month as an assistant professor. If you got the arithmetic right and take power/phone/taxes etc., in to account, you will notice that you cannot setup home and still eat during the first one year of your job.
The solution is simple. Work abroad as postdoc till you have reasonable savings that will see you through these financial shocks. Remember that every new faculty has an initial phase of frustration (new environment, things not as good as dreamt etc,). Adding a financial frustration to it is only going to make things worse.
When you already are married and your spouse wants to work.
Not every city where a decent academic institute is located can offer opportunities for your spouse to work. Apparently spouse factor is one of the major reasons why many people are unwilling to take up positions at certain institites in India. Take a good look at that issue before taking the plunge.
When you desire to own an independent house of your own.
Forget it. Faculty position is not to make the kind of money that will get you an independent house in the kind of cities where desirable institutes exist. If you are kanjus over an extended period of time, you could perhaps own a flat in some nook of the city. Thats about it.
Till you retire, most institutes insulate you from the need to find housing by providing one on campus. That is only a temporary solution.
When you have financial responsibilities at home.
Again, faculty position in India and money donot go together. There are exceptional situations where consultancy or honorary chair position could fetch a little more money but the majority take home only peanuts as their salary. Academic job needs peace of mind to do good research work. If you are going to be bothered about other issues, however important they could be, you are going to be suboptimal in your output.

To summarize, you don’t have to be an ascetic to be a happy faculty but it helps.

Written by Bhushan Kulkarni

December 28, 2006 at 11:29 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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