The IIT Council apparently has decided that one can stay as Director of an IIT till s/he reaches the age of 70 years. Two reasons have appeared in the media for this decision. One is that the sixth pay commission had already raised the retirement age of vice chancellors of central universities to 70, so why discriminate against IIT Directors. The second reason is the shortage of younger people (read 60 years old, inclusive) who have the right experience, energy, dynamism, vision and whatever else the current IIT Directors have.
The first reason is very interesting. We never stop shouting about the superiority of IITs over everything else in India. But when it comes to seeking benefits, we have absolutely no problem in comparing ourselves to the same institutions whom we besmirch so much.
Coming to the other reason. It is difficult to fathom. We have been able to find IIT Directors below the age of 60 for all IITs in the last 60 years. Each IIT has now grown much bigger than what it was a few decades ago. Which means that we are providing leadership experience to a much larger number of faculty members in each IIT. It should be easier to find younger Directors now than at any other time. It is very strange that the youngest nation on earth has the older leaders on earth. And the leaders are telling the younger ones - we are the leaders because all of you are quite incapable of leading, so even though we would rather enjoy our retirement and time with our great grand children, we are forced to do this duty of leading for your sake and the sake of the nation.
Don't get me wrong. I am not proposing age discrimination. I am not suggesting that everyone above a certain age loses ability to lead. I am only finding the arguments given by our leaders amusing. If there is lack of leadership talent, what is the government doing to tackle it. Or would there be another decision 5 years later that we still don't have sufficient leadership talent in the country, and therefore, the retirement age is increased further to 75 years.
Even in the current setup, the lack of leadership talent was being handled properly. While the preferred age was mentioned in the requirements for a post, the selection committee was empowered to recommend someone who did not meet those requirements, and in some cases, a genuine deserving older person has been given leadership roles.
Also, why is it that a 65-70 year old can only do academic administration or politics in this country. Why can't we have bureacrats in that age group. Why not judges, and we do have serious shortage of judges.
In the last 15 years, we have increased the retirement age of faculty members in IITs from 60 to 62 and then to 65. Has this helped. Hardly. We have not postponed retirement by doing this. Even earlier, good faculty members were able to get contractual positions in IITs or find a job outside the IIT system. So they were active earlier, and they continue to be active now. The only difference we have made is that now even non-performing faculty stays till 65.
The Assam Bengal Railway in 1929
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