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Malini has completed her Bsc (honours) in physics from Calcutta University with high first class marks. But if you tell her that she should now enrol for a postgraduate course in her subject and then prepare for a career in academics, she will say, "I don't see myself teaching or doing research even if I want to. The incentives are not exciting enough!"

We dont' really need statistics to show that this is what most graduate students feel, even if they have chosen to pursue higher studies in the core sciences or the humanities. In an increasingly competitive job market, industry is generally preferred to academics. Even the best brains are said to be giving the latter short shrift, thanks to the lure of corporate incentives, For many, teaching has become a 'last-resort' profession, and research a daunting proposition, thanks to the discrepancy between the hard work one has to put in and the returns it generates

Nevertheless, teaching still remains a coveted vocation and it certainly cab be a rewarding career. "It is quite correct that some of the best graduates today go for corporate or professional careers. Management is very popular and i Can imagine that such students who are taking up management courses are doing so far a whole range of jobs which usually does not include an academic career" say Uma Dasgupta, senior academician.
Like any other career, taking up teaching involves careful planning and preparation. For lectureship or research fellowship at colleges across the country, you have to clear the NET (National Eligibility Test), conducted by the UGC. For state level entry to colleges, you have to take the SLET (the State level Eligibility Test). Both tests are quite tough—only a handful can make it out of thousands of candidates who take the tests.
The NET, held twice every year in June and December, is conducted in humanities, social sciences, forensic science, environmental sciences, computer science and applications and electronics science. The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is responsible for the UGC-CSIR NET for other science subjects, including physical sciences and planetary sciences. The eligibility criterion is a minimum of 55 per cent marks in your postgraduate degree or an equivalent examination in humanities (including languages) and social sciences, computer applications, etc. The SLET for lectureship, based more or less on the pattern of the NET, is conducted by different states.
The starting salary for a lecturer is around Rs.14,000 (gross) per month.
For teaching in government or government-aided schools at the state level, you have to pass the School Service Commission tests. The starting salary at a government or aided school in around Rs. 12,000 per month (gross). The most popular route to taking up teaching posts at private institutions in through a bachelor of education (BEd) course, the minimum requirement of which is graduation. It's a one-year course, with academic session usually starting in July. After BEd, you can opt for MEd, which will ensure a higher scale at the entry level in schools. But a degree in teaching is not mandatory insofar as recruitment in private schools is concerned. "We try to look beyond paper qualifications. We do look for fresher who have excellent communication skill—absolutley vital for this profession—and who can think out of the box. However, we do ask for a teacher's training certificate for teaching at the primary level," says Devi Kar, Principal, Modern High School.
Academicians say research, particularly in the pure sciences, is a 'diminishing area' among students at present. But the situation is not as bleak as it is often made out to be. "I'd say the scope for research in India is reasonably on a par which that in the West," says professor Jayanta Bhattacharya of Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science, Calcutta. " In this field, salary increases with age and experience. The same goes for promotions. These might seem unacceptable to youngsters. So the method of assessing academic works and they pay structure need to be improved."
Dr. Samir Kumar Bandopadhyay, registrar, Calcutta University, Feels that more and more students, who have had a stint in the corporate world, are coming back to academics. He feels compared to students in sciences an commerce, arts students are in a better position today insofar as teaching is concerned because English is being given prominence as a communicative tool in industry. And students are keen to learn the language. Therefore, there would be an increase in teaching posts in this field soon. "Also, there are some arts subjects like mathematical philosophy which are generating a considerable amount of interest. And I personally feel the demand in the field of economics in going to grow immensely in the days to come."
But there's a note of caution. Securing high marks in your degree courses doesn't necessarily mean that you are made for a career in research. Experts say one of would be to opt for various talent hunt schemes, which give you an opportunity to test how good you are at original thinking. "You have to be focused. You have to know which topic in your subject interests you the most and then follow it up." says Anindya Mukherjee, researcher at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research.

Articles from a Career magazine

Where to Study
Tata Institute of Fundamental Research
Homi Bhabha Road, Mumbai-500005
Phone: 022 22782000
Website: www.tifr.res.in

Indian Institute of Science
Bangalore- 560012
Ph: 080 22932001
Website: www.iisc.ernet.in

Institute of Physics
Sachivalaya Marg,
Phone: 0674 2201058
Website: www.iopb.res.in

Raman Research Institute
C.V. Raman Avenue, Bangalore
Phone: 011 26717676
Website: www.jnu.ac.in

The Institute of Mathematical Sciences
C.I.T. Cmpus, Taramani, Chennai- 600113
Phone: 044 22541856
Website: www.imsc.res.in

bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, New Delhi-110002
Phone: 011 24115419
Website: www.ugc.ac.in

The West Bengal College Service Commission
6, Bhawani Dutta Lane
Calcutta- 700073
Phone: 033 22414679

Loreto College, B.Ed. Department
7, Middleton Row, Calcutta 700071
Phone : 033 22463444, 22296030


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