Monday, September 21, 2009

Is this really Gandhigiri?

IIT faculty turn to 'Gandhigiri' for pay hike
"We are, in all of our intellectual capabilities, ahead of most scientists in the country. And the HRD ministry does not realise that the faculty at these institututions does not just teach, but also does work on a variety of platforms, including research and other avenues," said Chakravarthy.

Chakravarthy reiterates that the fight is not about money, but about losing integrity by being at par with the faculty of local universities under the University Grants Commission (UGC).

"It was a real shock to us when our salaries were expected to be as low as that of faculty from local colleges, when we are no less than any professor teaching in the universities of US. There are many like me who have left leading companies to work as a faculty at IIT because of the value attached to the institute,"he says.

Chakravarthy added that the IITs also do a lot of research work for the government without charging money. The demand is not money here, but prestige, which the hit rock bottom with the HRD's directive.

This is quite appalling as many of these people are supposed to be the 'gurus' of some of the most intellectually capable fellows in the country. Going by this definition, any place where you do not use the sword to get your work done is gandhigiri. Bollocks!!

A necessary condition for non-violent action to stem from someone is the total absence of ego and a clear understanding of unity of all life despite the apparent variations in form. The founding principle of non-violence is that all violence is at its root caused by some manifestation of ego. And, ego needs ego to sustain itself. So, a violent response to it feeds the original ego and adds fuel to the violence. A non-violent response on the other hand stumps the source of violence, ego. The source ego now has no material to continue its existence and will have to dissolve with time. Now, here, IIT profs are openly strutting out their egos by declaring themselves to be superior and claim injustice because their salaries are equal to professors in say universities like Anna University. Quite appalling behavior. In ancient days, if a student continues with his/her egoic ways, the student will get thrown out. Its a sign of our times that many of our supposedly best gurus are full of that!

Read below a beautiful email sent by a professor from IIT Madras to his colleagues, on teachers day, on why this is not a genuine cause that they are fighting for!
Judging by the current scenario, we are getting overwhelmingly agitated and are setting ourselves up for a future in which we are likely to remain dispirited (instead of inspired), with the permanent feeling "I deserve more". This does not augur well for us and all those around us. Surely, we are capable of a much better (inner) response. Surely, there are lessons to be learnt, and as teachers and researchers, we need to learn them. Perhaps, for this, we can look up to ancient wisdom, to our "gurus", especially on the occasion of Teachers' Day.

The first lesson we can learn from them is that this problem is not unique to us. It is everybody's story. And as long as we remain stuck in a depressed "in the box" state of mind, we will continue to suffer and continue to blame others (a few babus in MHRD, in this case) for our inner state of mind. We need to somehow get out of the box, and it gets increasingly difficult to do so when we cling to the box ("I deserve more" in this case) and provoke others (consciously and unconsciously) to do this. We need to create a healthy environment for our sake and for the sake of all others.

The second lesson we can learn is that all suffering is caused by inner resistance to whatever is happening in the present moment. What is happening is the resultant force of many vectors in time and space -- far too many for us to fathom -- although we tend to localise and pinpoint the blame on a few individuals. Yes, we need to "set right things", to the best of our understanding, by taking appropriate action. But our options increase enormously when we are able to stay out of the box, when we stop resisting mechanically, when our hearts are at peace, when we genuinely focus on the well-being of the overall 'system'. Wisdom can dawn only when our hearts are at peace. There is a quiet state of Being inherent in life, which is independent of all our actions and reactions, that we seem to be missing.

The third lesson we can learn is that we need to TRUST the Universe - or God, if you will. That our merits, if any, cannot go unrewarded, but events are unlikely to unfold exactly as we want them to unfold. That there is something higher than us, the IIT administrators and MHRD, that "knows" what is "right". Abiding by that implicit trust, we move on and do our best, with our spirits held high. We operate in love and abundance, rather than fear and lack.

Finally, true fulfillment does not generally come by the things we seem to believe will make us happy. A few thousand rupees per month are not going to make the tremendous difference we think it will make. Nor will it provide as great an incentive as we imagine, to attract young faculty to our institutions. The boundaries will keep shifting, and, "in the box", we will always find ourselves wanting more, ever living in fear and lack. Out of the box, we can always find creative and ethically sound solutions to making more money, if that is our need. As for our 'dignity' and 'self-respect', do we really believe that these are qualities that we can demand from others?

May we discover the "guru" latent in all of us!

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