The Government of India has proposed the state governments to increase the retirement age of professors at state universities to 65 years. Education being in their concurrent list, the state governments now has to decide upon the issue as the centre has already increased the retirement age of professors in all the central universities to 65 years, two years back. The Centre has also decided to help the state governments in clearing out the arrears to implement the sixth pay commission.
Even before the Centre came out with this proposal, Maharashtra had increased the retirement age of its state professors last year to 62 years; Punjab had raised the bar to 62 years for teachers teaching in medical colleges and Madhya Pradesh being the only state which has increased it to 65 years in line with Central Universities. In Tamil Nadu, the Teachers Association has been demanding the retirement age to be increased to 62 from 58 years while there are several other state governments who have also increased the retirement age but in most of the states it is still 58 years.
The teaching community feels that it is not only good the teaching community but for the entire higher education sector, as there is huge shortage of faculty in state universities. On the other hand there is a section of people who believe that it would mar the prospects of young and talented people from entering the profession.
Is raising the bar a solution:
S.K. Singh, Professor, A.N. College, Patna, speaking on the issue, said, âAll of us are aware of the fact that there is acute shortage of qualified and experienced faculty in the country which is almost close to 40-50 per cent. There are proven record of experienced faculty members being capable of delivering with commitment even at the age of 65-70 barring very few, hence the age of retirement for teaching community should be 65 years.â
S.S. Yadav, Professor, Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapith, said, âThe people in this profession who attain the age of 60 or 58 years have been working here for at least three decades and they should be retained as they are people with experience, knowledge and wisdom. We should let them continue with their mission of teaching and research if India has developed as a knowledge society. There are people whose knowledge and energy are similar to a young person of 30 years of age so there is no point in retiring them at 58 or 60 and the state governments should immediately implement it.â
M. Panigrahi, Professor at N O University, was of the view that, âIt is matter of quality not the quantity and the people who are in the profession of teaching should get the extension as they certainly gain knowledge and become experts of their subject. The university and state government should also appoint young people and the older ones will be certainly of use in helping the young people learn the nuances of teaching and research from them. The state governments are not implementing it because they do not have adequate money for education and the central government should help them in this as it is a matter of the future of nation.â
A threat to prospects of young talent:
Dr. A. Jayakumar, Associate Professor, Dept. of Commerce, Periyar University, says, âIncreasing retirement age is not a positive move since it will affect the chances of youngsters entering the profession. However the senior professorsâ services may be utilised by seeking their services on hourly basis and a decent honorarium may be worked out with the help of educationist.â
Dr. K. Sreeramulu, Professor of Biochemistry, Gulbarga University, said, âI totally oppose to increase the retirement age of teachers under the existing conditions. The existing system does not discriminate productive and unproductive teachers; hence it is not worth to increase the age to 65. Any attempt to increase the retirement age will further boost the unproductive teachers. In the present system quality is neither given importance nor recognised. We manipulate any kind of system and unproductive teachers will be at the forefront. If you introduce any rigorous assessment system, it would be diluted either by authorities through corruption or politics. Self evaluation is required for anything to success; mere increase of age will not at all help to improve our teaching and research at the universities and colleges.â
One of the Professors associated with University of Kerala, on condition of anonymity, opined, âOne who joins the University service, does not want to leave the service. There exist many who are qualified in the society and want to come to the University service. Allow a teacher to continue in the service up to the age he prefer if and only he is producing at least two to three articles in referred journal or books by reputed publishers. But, do not allow anyone to continue in the service without minimum output after 50s. Majority of the teachers in India, Professorship is a termination point, where the productivity ends.â
The issue is no doubt debatable and it would be more appropriate if the retirement age is uniform across the states as there is no logic behind respective state deciding on the age limit for the retirement. A few argue whether there should at all be an age limit to retire, while others argue that retirement age limit ensures that that qualified get employed and promoted. People also believe that age limit for retirement should be left to the respective universities, which would decide looking at the pros and cons. As once the age limit is fixed by the respective university, it cannot be changed very frequently.