Taking Stock of Our Struggle
On 5 September 98 the AIFUCTO withdrew its strike after arriving at an understanding with the Government. On 6 September, the FEDCUTA decided not to extend the strike and to consider other modes of agitation. It reiterated its demand for the UGC pay scales and its stand on the statutory authority of the UGC. The FEDCUTA protested against being kept out of the process of negotiations.
The teachers of Delhi University have stood resolutely in the struggle for the implementation of the UGC recommendations in the face of calculated disruption within the DUTA, bitter experiences of the struggles during the last year, deliberate confusion over demands created by the DUTA President in the FEDCUTA, unreliability of their own leadership in negotiations with the Government, and lack of effective co-ordination between the two all-India federations agitating over common demands. That the Delhi University teachers firmly refused to be despondent or to be used against other agitating teachers is a tribute to the role played by them during the course of the present struggle.
The countrywide movement brought to the fore the plight of higher education as well as the open hostility of the Government toward proposals to redress the crisis in higher education. The Government has remained adamant in denying teachers the UGC recommended pay scales. It still refuses to recognise the need for a professional allowance as a necessary input for teaching. While it has been forced to make certain concessions on promotions, the regulations governing promotions and other service conditions are yet unknown.
Nevertheless, under the pressure of the countrywide movement and despite the stubbornly anti-teacher and anti-education attitude of a Government that resorts to lies, manipulations and political gimmicks, certain significant concessions have been wrested:
- a)The principle of a professional development incentive in the form of cash allowance or assistance in kind or both for lecturers registered for M.Phil/Ph.D.
- b)The provision that Readers will be eligible for promotion to Professorship after 8 years. (This provision is stated in the Counter-Affidavit submitted by the Government at the High Court hearing on 2 September 98 in reply to the Civil Writ Petition No. 2613 of 1998 filed by 32 teachers of Delhi University).
- c)Under the clause for a scheme “to reward and recognise meritorious teachers who may not be M.Phil or Ph.D.” the possibility of an upward movement for Selection Grade Lecturers. (A scheme in this respect was discussed between the UGC, the AIFUCTO and the FEDCUTA on 19.8.98 as per which Selection Grade Lecturers could be placed in a super-time scale of Rs. 16,400 – Rs. 20,900. The Government has agreed to clear the scheme within four weeks of receiving the proposal for the scheme as finally formulated by the UGC.)
- d)The provision for fixation at the minimum of Rs.14,940 for all those who were in position as Selection Grade Lecturers/Readers on 1.1.96 as and when they complete 5 years in the grade.
- e)The principle of adjusting total length of service along with service in the immediate feeder grade for promotion.
- f)Implementation of the revised pay scales w.e.f. 1.1.96.
It was the pressure of the countrywide teachers’ movement, culminating in the historic demonstration and court arrest by over 30,000 teachers on 4 September, the eve of Teachers’ Day, that forced the HRD Minister down from his high horse. Though the concessions wrested from the Government do not fulfil all the provisions of the UGC recommendations, they must function as footholds in our struggle to ensure the eventual implementation of these recommendations.
We must ensure that the UGC quickly translates the provisions accepted by the Government into modalities that reflect the UGC’s vision of a better future for the teaching profession. The modalities for promotion must incorporate the primary role of teaching and assure rather than deny promotion. We must fight for the elimination of the discriminatory distinction in promotion between the professor’s grade and the proposed super-time scale. We must demand that professional development incentives should not remain limited for degree-oriented research (M.Phil/Ph.D.) but are extended to all teachers for purposes of improving both teaching and research. The provision for higher fixation for Selection Grade Lecturers/Readers should also be extended to all other categories of teachers.
While the HRD Minister has claimed to have de-linked service conditions from revision of pay scales, the hypocrisy of the Government is exposed in its repeated insistence that all modalities and conditions will be decided in “consultation with the Government”. The UGC recommendations had reflected a respect for the autonomy of universities. Our efforts should be directed to ensure that the UGC regulations under preparation do not move away from this position.
The DTF salutes teachers everywhere for their resolve and countrywide unity in the face of an utterly irrational Government determined to deny teachers their due. Given the Government’s record, the DTF calls upon teachers to be vigilant to ensure that it does not renege on its commitments.