Callous Irresponsibility of DUTA Leadership on Pay Revision
During the last four and half months, since the NDTF(BJP) took over the leadership of the DUTA, our worst fears have come true. Abuse of elected office for petty gains and making DUTA a tool at the hands of the GBs of Delhi Govt Colleges has rendered the DUTA leadership unreliable in struggles, irresponsible in pursuing collective de-mands – most importantly, that of pay revision -, and it is pitted against the struggles by the teachers of several Delhi Govt colleges. It is necessary, therefore, that we should carry out an informed review of the situation.
The complete failure to intensify the pressure coupled with the disarray in the DUTA caused by the deplorable handling of the strike on the S.N. Singh issue have allowed the UGC and the Central Government to get away with delaying the process of pay revision though it has long been implemented for all Central Government employees. The Empowered Committee of Secretaries (of various Ministries) met only on 1 January to consider the recommendations made by the UGC but deferred any decision pending the submission of the U.R. Rao Committee on revised pay scales for IIT teachers. Thereafter the HRD Ministry has written to the Election Commission to ask whether the revised pay scales for university and college teachers may be implemented before the elections. The Empowered Committee of Secre-taries will only meet before the elections if the Election Commission gives the go-ahead.
Instead of taking forward the all-India mobilisation initiated by the previous DUTA leadership for speedy implemen-tation of better pay scales and service conditions, the current leadership has squandered away time and dissipated the struggle. The co-ordination with other teachers’ associations, painstakingly built up in June-August 97, and so essential for success when there is no single unifying all-India teachers’ organisation, has been allowed to collapse.
So, while the UGC conceded ground under pressure of the initial mobilisation and of the arguments in the July 1997 DUTA Newsletter, the failure of the current DUTA leadership to generate follow-up actions and the visible demobilisation of the organisation have resulted in an inordinate delay in the process of pay revision.
In June, the DUTA obtained a copy of the Rastogi Committee report and immediately launched an offensive: scathing criticism of the recommendations through public media, seminars, circulating its newsletter in several universi-ties, protest action (9 July 1997) and the All-India Teachers’ Convention (25 July 1997). The Convention resolved to observe a one-day all-India protest strike on 12 August and to hold demonstrations at the UGC and the Ministry of HRD on 1 and 5 September.
The current DUTA leadership did not find it necessary to submit any memoranda on behalf of all the teachers’ asso-ciations represented at the Convention, nor for that matter to submit one on behalf of the DUTA! No appointment was sought for the Convention participants either on 1 September with the UGC Chairperson or on 5 September with the Minister of HRD. On 1 September, Mr. S.R. Oberoi briefly met the UGC Chairperson alone, without any representatives of other teachers’ associations, without any memorandum and before the demonstration. On 3 Sep-tember, at a UGC meeting with representatives of central universities’ teachers’ associations, Mr. Oberoi used only half the time allotted to him and left two hours early. The next action, nearly three months later, the 4 December demonstration at the HRD Ministry called by the FEDCUTA (Federation of Central Universities’ Teachers’ Asso-ciations) was noteworthy for inadequate publicity and poor mobilisation by the DUTA. The DUTA President left the demonstration to write a press statement instead of meeting the HRD Secretary! Personal publicity was clearly more important for him than negotiations with authorities, which were left to the office-bearers of other central universities’ teachers’ associations. The latest action called for by the FEDCUTA on 15 January – courting arrest at PM’s residence – fortunately met with massive spontaneous response, though DUTA President S.R. Oberoi was holidaying in Pondicherry. The Teachers’ Associations which are not part of the DUTA and had come together un-der one banner – over 100 of them observed 12 August Strike called by the 25 July Convention – were not con-tacted by the DUTA President despite our repeated requests. However, in his absence we persuaded the DUTA Vice-President and Secretary to send information about the proposed action on 15 January to the 35 Teachers’ As-sociations which had participated in the 25 July Convention. As a result, on 15 January 7000 teachers courted arrest in Andhra Pradesh!
Under pressure from the all-India protest mobilised by the DUTA in July and August 1997, the UGC was compelled to rethink several of the negative recommendations of the Rastogi Committee. The Commission members meeting on 9 July were caught off-guard by the analysis in the DUTA Newsletter on the Rastogi Committee Report showing through a graph and a table that teachers were being down-graded even below the Group B Services of the Central Govt. The UGC, in that meeting, conceded our demands for parity with IAS, up-grading the pay-scales proposed by the Rastogi Committee, reducing the time-span for promotion to Reader and Professor, rejecting ex-ternal reference of cases of promotion to the UGC, withdrawal of negative changes in study leave rules and for HRA and CCA to be paid while on leave.
DUTA being made instrument of the GBs of Delhi Govt Colleges
While it lacks the will to take up collective issues, the NDTF spares no effort in using the DUTA as a tool in the hands of the GBs of Delhi Govt. colleges to violate University rules, and victimise teachers.
Working Group on Governance of Colleges: Oberoi against DUTA’s Charter of Demands
In the meeting of the P N Srivastava Working Group on Governance of Colleges on 28 November 1997, S.R. Oberoi and Rajvir Sharma behaved not as teacher representatives but as bargainers on behalf of the BJP-controlled governing bodies. They were led by S.S.Rana, Dean Of Colleges, to argue for strengthening the GB-dominated non-academic component in selection committees. Dean Rana acted as the chief spokesperson and the DUTA Presi-dent played the bully, shouting down other opinion. Nandita Narain was shouted down for raising DUTA’s demand for centralised selection with open interview! The DUTA President even suggested that the GB Chairmen be allowed two votes, one as a member and a casting vote in case of a tie! As a result of this open collusion between the DUTA President and the authorities, the Working Group upheld the illegal provision which allows the GB Chair-man to nominate the subject expert, the provision used by the BJP to vandalise the selection process! Further, the following proposals, which had been unanimously adopted earlier, were reversed: 1) 50% of the experts should be from other Delhi-based academic institutions; 2) No expert should be repeated until the entire list is exhausted; 3) If a GB refuses to implement the recommendations of a selection committee, the matter should be referred to the VC.
Its disdain for and attempt to scuttle the Laxmibai College teachers’ struggle against their principal is reminiscent of how the DUTA under N K Kakkar dealt with the Vivekanand College agitation. During the two-month long strike in the college, the DUTA leadership repeatedly sabotaged discussion in the DUTA executive. It preferred to side with the GB Chairman and the Principal. S R Oberoi presented and argued BJP administration’s point of view in the executive. In the so-called negotiations with the college authorities, they explicitly refused to associate the college staff association! Though the enquiry committee set up by the GB under pressure of the agitation found it difficult to absolve the principals of the charges, the NDTF and AAD opposed the demand for the principal to be sent on leave during the special audit of accounts instituted by the GB. Mr. Oberoi specially went to plead with the GB not to send her on leave. In the meeting of the GB he shouted down the teacher representative who tried to intervene on behalf of the teachers. EC member Nandita Narain, who was also present, had to restrain him and argue the case for the teachers.
Despite the ongoing sabotage by the DUTA leadership, the Laxmibai College teachers are resolutely carrying on their struggle and deserve our congratulations and support.
Deen Dayal Upadhaya College
The GB Chairman of DDU, a BJP stalwart, issued threatening letters to 16 teachers for representing to the VC and drawing his attention to the violations of university norms by the College in admissions, appointments, etc. The DUTA President assured the teachers in a DUTA Executive meeting that he would get the letters withdrawn. How-ever, his claims to have met the GB Chairman Nand Kishore Garg (that too, alone) have expectedly not led to the withdrawal of the letters. Instead, an emboldened GB in its next meeting passed strictures against one teacher rep-resentative for having dared to sign the representation, and the Chairman threatened to teach the other signatories a lesson!
Indira Gandhi Institute of Physical Education and Sports Sciences
At the last DUTA Executive meeting held on 16 January, the teachers of the Indira Gandhi Institute (a 100% Delhi Govt. financed college) had to face similar treatment at the hands of the DUTA President. The teachers had come in large numbers with a Staff Association resolution demanding removal of their principal for grave financial irregulari-ties, illegal appointments, tampering with records, etc. Fearing that this time the DUTA Executive would pass a resolution by majority in support of the agitating teachers, the DUTA President adjourned the meeting mid-way. The teachers of the Institute along with members of the DUTA Executive from the DTF, AAD and INTEC and in-cluding the DUTA Vice-President and Secretary were forced to sit on dharna at the entrance to the DUTA commit-tee room till 11 p.m. at night. Since the DUTA President refused to see reason and reconvene the meeting, 12 members of the Executive signed a resolution demanding a comprehensive enquiry into all charges (for some of which the Principal had already been indicted by the Nargis Panchapakesan enquiry committee). The resolution fur-ther demanded that the Principal be sent on leave pending the enquiry.
Teachers suffer humiliation after deal between VC and DUTA President
After the humiliating surrender on the S.N. Singh issue, the DUTA President called a General Body meeting which reiterated that the fight for the removal of the VC should continue, a detailed charge-sheet against the VC be pre-pared and the memorandum signed by hundreds of teachers during the strike demanding removal of the VC be submitted to the Visitor. These decisions have not been implemented in the last three months despite repeated re-minders by DUTA Executive members. Clearly, this inaction was part of the secret deal struck with the VC, as was the unprecedented 3-month extension granted by the VC to the governing bodies of Delhi Govt. run colleges with-out the approval of the EC.
The consequences of this deal are the humiliating academic rescheduling by the University, the reprehensible scheme to award non-striking teachers with additional earned leave and, most recently, the VC’s letter of thanks to the UGC for the latter’s ‘co-operation’ in implementing `no work, no pay’. In response to this letter, an embold-ened UGC has written to all colleges and to the University that salaries for March and April would be released only after verification of compensation in the case of each teacher. Not only this, the UGC has instructed that henceforth even a one-day strike would invite the ‘no work, no pay’ provision.
Lacking the courage to stand up against such illegitimate actions by the VC, the DUTA leadership resorts to moti-vated lies and uses the DUTA Newsletter for factional ends. In the last DUTA Newsletter, it was claimed that, un-like in 1987, the DUTA this time has lodged strong protests against the VC’s academic rescheduling and extra earned leave. This is a blatant lie, since the DUTA protested both under M.M.P.Singh’s presidentship and under S.S. Rathi, who took over in November 1987. In fact, the DUTA held a demonstration outside the meeting of the AC. Moreover, it is conveniently forgotten that the compensatory earned leave scheme was introduced during the 1987 strike with a view to break the strike! Also, the 1987 strike was withdrawn by the General Body without any agreement with the authorities. This time, the strike was withdrawn as a part of a package deal of “mutual trust” and “understanding” with the VC.