Defeat 27th July Notification. Intensify Struggle for UGC Pay Scales
The notification of 27 July 1998 on revised pay scales issued by the HRD Ministry flies in the face of all democratic, legal and parliamentary norms of decision-making and demonstrates the utter apathy of the Government towards higher education. The Ministry has completely bypassed the statutory authority of the UGC, treated with contempt the opinion of the Delhi High Court, wilfully disregarded the recommendation of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education which had emphasised the statutory authority of the UGC in the matter, and humiliated the entire teaching community of the country which had in one voice demanded the implementation of the UGC recommendations.
Moreover, having rejected the well-considered UGC recommendations of December 1997 not only on pay scales but also on service conditions, the Government has announced that it will also dictate all service conditions including criteria for promotion. So much for the loud pronouncement made in Parliament by Murli Manohar Joshi of being the first minister to have de-linked pay revision from changes in service conditions!
The false claim that the Government’s decision is “closer to the UGC pay scales” exposes the terrible fraud sought to be perpetrated. Not only has the Government negated the UGC recommendations on pay scales, promotional avenues and other benefits, its decision regresses on several substantial counts even from the recommendations of the infamous Rastogi Committee:
- The Government has rejected the UGC recommendation for enhanced pay scales. Instead, the scales given in the notification are based almost entirely on the Rastogi Committee recommendations and hardly different from those announced in April 1998:
- The scales for Lecturers and Senior Lecturers are identical with the Rastogi scales, thus showing cynical unconcern for attracting the best talent to teaching;
- For Readers/Selection Grade teachers, the annual increment has been raised by a meagre Rs. 45 and the upper end of the scale by only Rs. 300 over the Rastogi recommendations;
- The scales of Professor and Senior Professor announced in April 1998 have merely been merged, with the increment in the ninth and tenth years of the scale reduced from Rs. 500 to Rs. 450;
- The UGC recommendation for three assured promotions up to Professorship within a reasonable time-span has been rejected. Instead, the notification does not even guarantee one promotion and no promotion has been provided beyond the Reader’s grade. Regressing even from what Rastogi had proposed, promotion to Professorship has been denied both in the university departments and in colleges.
- While the Rastogi Committee had proposed creation of open posts of Professors and Readers (apart from promotion) in the ratio 1:4:12 in all colleges and in the ratio 1:2:3 in the university departments, the Government has restricted the first to a minuscule number of exclusive “autonomous” colleges and ignored the second.
- The eligibility condition for appointment as Professor has been increased from 5 to 8 years as Reader. Furthermore, the notification re-introduces the discrimination between Professors through direct recruitment and through promotion, which had been struck down by the Supreme Court. Only directly recruited Professors will be eligible to become Professors of Eminence in a “super-time” scale of Rs 22000-500-24500, the upper part of the Professor’s scale assured to all teachers in the UGC recommendations.
- The Rastogi Committee had recommended the ridiculous sum of Rs.500 towards professional development (purchase of books, journals, etc.). The UGC had drastically revised this to recommend 100% Income Tax exemption on such costs and alternatively a professional allowance on par with IIT teachers. The Government has completely ignored any need for facilities for professional development.
- The UGC had recommended point-to-point fixation in due consideration of teachers’ longer and fewer scales, which resulted in excessive loss of seniority during all previous pay revisions. The Government has rejected this recommendation.
- The decision on two scales for principals, clearly a move to introduce two classes of colleges, regresses even on the earlier Government announcement of April 1998.
- The provision, that the revised pay scales will only be effective prospectively and that for the period from 1 Jan 96 the Rastogi replacement scales and the existing conditions for promotion will apply, is aimed at denying teachers even the minimal improvements of the revised pay scales.
Mr. Joshi has declared in the manner of a dictator that he will not hold any negotiations with teachers. This is a challenge to the teaching community of the entire country and leaves us with no choice but a co-ordinated all India struggle. The AIFUCTO has called for indefinite strike from 11 August. The FEDCUTA has initially called for strike from 17 to 22 August along with daily dharnas at the HRD Ministry. We urge teachers to successfully implement the FEDCUTA’s call and prepare for intensification of the struggle. We also urge the DUTA and FEDCUTA leadership to co-ordinate action on our common demands with the AIFUCTO so that teachers across the country can wage the battle against the Government unitedly.
Government usurps powers to decide teachers’ service conditions
The notification (as further clarified in the UGC circular of 30.7.98) states that guidelines for promotion “would be laid down by the UGC in consultation with the Government” and that “other terms and conditions of service … shall be notified by the UGC … with the approval of the Government”. This unprecedented move has the following dangerous consequences:
- The notification negates the detailed and long exercise conducted by the UGC in setting up the Rastogi Committee, holding wide consultations on its proposals, and finally preparing its own set of well-argued recommendations through several meetings of the full Commission. This process has to be begun afresh.
- By rejecting the UGC recommendations, the notification in effect declares that the Government will henceforth dictate teachers’ service conditions.
- The rejection of the UGC recommendation for three assured promotions in a lifetime suggests that the as yet unknown guidelines will be designed to deny promotion.
- Other service conditions to be prepared with the approval of the Government will most likely include a bureaucratic code of conduct, enhancement of the powers of principals and similar retrograde measures. Mr Joshi had already indicated this in the 25 April announcement of the HRD Ministry.