The stand-off between the AIITFF and the HRD Ministry continues and intensifies, with around 1500 professors in IITs all over the country taking to stage a hunger strike on Thursday. The strike began on Thursday morning and, in IIT-M, culminated with all the professors involved meeting outside CLT to break their fast. Said Professor Jain, Secretary of the Faculty Association, IIT-M, “Classes will go on. However, as a form of protest, we have fasted through the day. The fast will be broken at 5 pm.” The press was also present, with the NDTV and NineX press vans being in attendance, along with some journalists from other media houses.
However, not all the faculty is united in their stand against the HRD Ministry. Professor Ashok Jhunjhunwala, an electrical engineering professor at IIT-M and a Padma Shri awardee, has opposed the hunger strike in an open letter to federation president M Thenmozhi, which said, “I am certainly not proud of this. This is not what IITs should be known for. Today IIT faculty members are reduced to the level of others, who with their unions, will go on fast and strike. It brings down the stature of IITs and IIT faculty, something that I at least would not be proud of.”
As a response to the strike, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal expressed surprise at the sudden announcement of the IIT faculty to go on hunger strike on Thursday as the directors of the institutes had already expressed satisfaction at the revised terms and conditions of service in a recent meeting. He said, “They are not trade unionists. They are teachers, and we respect them. I am deeply pained by this agitation as nothing unfair has been done to them.”
With many varying viewpoints all around, it remains to be seen how this issue will resolve itself.