International Institute of Tamil Studies (located in Taramani, Chennai) was founded in 1970 and was a joint initiative of UNESCO and the TamilNadu government. Since its inception it has been a renowned institute for Tamil studies. Since 2005, the institute initiated Ph.D. and M.Phil study Programs in Tamil studies under the appropriate UGC norms.
The members who were so far engaged only in research also started taking classes for students. However the UGC norms under which a permanent member of the institute is classified as assistant Prof., associate Prof. or Professor has not been implemented consistently in the institute.
Under UGC guidelines, an SRF is a fellow who holds only masters degree and is engaged in research. However IITS seems to have found a new interpretation of this position and is even calling many of it’s permanent members (who hold Ph.D degrees) SRF. Some of these professors who have had teaching experiences in various colleges for over 10 years and have worked in this institute for over 5 years.The institute claims that according to their by-laws an SRF can apply for promotion to associate professorship 5 years after joining the institute, Not discounting the fact that this law itself sounds dubious as permanent members with Ph.D. degrees who engage in *teaching* and research can not be called SRFs, even these rules have not been implemented consistently.As a result of this, several of these SRFs who should at the very least be assistant professors have got tired of false promises made by the director for last few years and started protesting in the month of August. They made it clear that they will refuse to teach classes until they are made assistant professors.
It is clear to them (as a result of an RTI response) that if they were to transfer to a different university which came under UGC norms, their work experience will not count as that of an assistant professor.
We should also note here that the faculty members are shown as assistant professors in the Institute’s website –http://www.ulakaththamizh.
The institute has quelled the protests by taking away the rights of these professors to teach and to mentor, and allowing them to only do research there in an attempt to somehow justify the SRF status aposteriori. Circulars have been issued prohibiting members of the institute from participating in any peaceful protest against the Director. Academics for Democracy members tried to meet the director to hear his version of events but he said he had no time to talk to.