When Professor Ashish Nanda — Robert Braucher Professor of Practice at Harvard Law School — agreed to take the top job at IIM-Ahmedabad recently, a critical factor that influenced his decision was the availability of a reasonably good job for his dentist wife in the city. Dr Shubha Nanda, a leading dentist at Brookline, Massachusetts, is learnt to have done the rounds of the city with Prof Nanda, till she found a suitable post in a Gandhinagar dental college.
The Nandas are not alone. Top institutes like IITs and IIMs are suddenly facing a new generation of faculty members who sign on the dotted line only after their spouses find a decent job in the same city. And there are others who are quitting their jobs at these institutes because of the lack of opportunities for their spouses.
For instance, a management professor from IIT-Kanpur recently quit his job to join IIM-Calcutta because his wife could not find a suitable job in Kanpur.
The situation has serious implications for the new IITs and IIMs in smaller cities. So much so, that the union human resource development ministry has sought data from all IITs on faculty attrition.
Take the case of IIT-Jodhpur, one of the eight new IITs set up by the UPA government. In the last three years, 23 faculty members have relocated to bigger cities. Trends show that most of the faculty members left for established IITs that offer better professional opportunities.
Prof Goverdhan Mehta, chairman, board of governors, IIT-Jodhpur, pointed to changing social dynamics and working couples increasingly becoming the norm. “Most of our young faculty members come with equally well-qualified working spouses, and they often fail to find a job suited to their qualifications in smaller cities. This is an issue we need to address,” he said.
“We have 55 faculty members at present — most of them are young people. In 50 per cent of the cases, they are looking for jobs for their spouses as well. Many spouses come with PhDs and so on, so we try to employ them whenever possible,” said Prof T A Gonsalves, IIT-Mandi director.