Academic Jobs in India, Part II

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This is the second of a two-part article on academic opportunities in India, prepared by Neelanjana Sengupta, a member of the Early Careers Committee. View Academic Jobs in India, Part I

Qualifications

Institutions and academic departments vary in their requirements for the basic qualification. In general, the basic qualification for a research or a teaching position is a PhD degree from an institute of repute, with a track record of publications in  renowned journals. Postdoctoral experience, though not compulsory, is an added qualification. Teaching experience, if any, is viewed as added merit.

Hiring Schemes

A candidate with a PhD degree followed by a few years of postdoctoral experience is usually hired as an assistant  professor in the universities, the IITs, the IISERs, the IISc and the TIFR. Research laboratories, such as those belonging to the CSIR, usually hire a similar person under the designated post of a “scientist” or a “fellow”. The positions are  generally associated with a two-year probationary period, at the end of which the candidate’s performance is evaluated and s/he is recommended for a permanent position. Some institutes, however, may offer an initial five-year contract.

The Application Process

Institutions normally advertise their requirements on their websites, in Indian newspapers, and in the weekly ‘Employment News’ bulletin. However, a candidate may forward his/her CV for informal consideration to the head of relevant relevant departments, and may be invited to give seminars and meet the current faculty. If you happen to be acquainted with a  faculty member, you may also forward your CV through him/her. Some institutions expect potential candidates to give two seminars, one on the research done thus far, and another on a proposal about future research plans. In these cases, the
research proposal should preferably not be a simple continuation of work done in the past. When contacting the institution, it is a good idea to specify a tentative schedule (ie., when the candidate can appear for seminars and a target date of  joining). If the institute is interested in hiring personnel with a candidate’s expertise, a corresponding post will be advertised
to ensure that all qualified people with similar expertise are given a chance. Short-listed candidates are then formally  requested to appear for an interview.

Time Taken for the Selection Process

The time taken for the selection process, starting from the time of sending the CV to the time you receive an offer letter, can often extend up to several months. It is therefore a good idea to start the application process about a year before you plan to start your job. Once you are selected, most institutes should be willing to negotiate the time of joining.

Fellowships and Other Opportunities

Since research institutions in India are government owned, positions are usually restricted to those who are citizens of the country. However, the DST and the DBT have recently instituted the Ramanujan fellowship and the Ramalingaswamy  fellowship, respectively, for distinguished scientists from all over the world. The CSIR’s schemes for distinguished and outstanding scientists are open to Indians as well as to people of Indian origin. These fellowships are associated with generous research funds and perks, and could be a viable option for those who wish to spend at least a few years doing research in India. See links in the last section for greater details.

Some Tips on Getting Informed

Unfortunately, many institutes do not update their websites frequently, and a candidate may face a lack of availability of  crucial information during the application process. It should be noted that advertisements in print media are an important platform for information dissipation in India. Information also appears in the Employment News bulletin (available online).
The following is a list of websites that a candidate might find useful.