While commenting on an earlier post about recruitment troubles at IITs, Sudeep asked how the "whole process of becoming a professor at IISc/IIT" works. Since the topic is of more general interest -- it applies to academic institutions in general -- I just decided to do a regular post on it.
The short answer to Sudeep's query is that it works the same way it works with any other university anywhere in the world; we are truly globalized! For the long answer, read on ...
Typically, sometime during your post-doctoral stint, you write -- by e-mail or snail mail -- to the Chairman of the Department you wish to join: send your CV and a covering letter. You may also send a statement of research and teaching interests. Timing your application is not critical; you can send it in at any time of the year. Our Institute, for example, keeps an open advertisement on its website all through the year. It mentions typical requirements for an Assistant Professorship: Ph.D followed by three years of post-doctoral experience (relaxable in exceptional cases), and preferably less than 35 years of age. See this advertisement from IIT-M, which just states they want someone with an "established record of independent, high quality research and commitment to teaching and research". Don't even ask me what constitutes an exceptional case or high quality research. While we emphasize the value of precision in our students' term papers, we academics prefer to be coy in our recruitment ads ;-)
It would help a great deal if you also visit the Department to (a) give a seminar, (b) get to know people, and allow them to get to know you, and (c) personally experience what the Department, its people, students, policies and culture are really like. A visit is almost always mandatory if you are currently working in India.
A committee will consider (about once a year or so) all the applications, and will select the candidate(s) for appointment. If you are lucky to have applied just before the meeting of this "selection committee", you will know the decision soon; otherwise, the delay could be as much as a year. During this period, the Department Chairman may keep you informed about the status of your application. In the absence of such feedback, all you can do is just wait!
This general procedure is probably valid for all academic institutions which, like the IITs, have -- and exercise -- a nebulous quality called autonomy. On the other hand, many Indian universities consider only those applications that are filed in response to their recruitment ads. One also sees IITs' ads in the newspapers; I don't know if their timing signifies anything. Perhaps someone from the IITs could comment.
There you have it! I can't believe it took five paragraphs ...