Newsletter, August 2008

Whatever happened to the Agnihotri Committee Report?

The DTF welcomes the decision of the University administration to accede to the demand that all adhoc teachers appointed against vacancies that existed prior to the adoption of the new set of rules be reappointed with effect from 16 July 2008. This solution is, however, a temporary one. A long term solution has to focus on minimising ad hoc appointment so that fresh entrants to the teaching profession are not subjected to extremely uncertain and exploitative service and working conditions and this form of appointment does not become a means of backdoor entry at the hands of unscrupulous administration. It is unfortunate that the DUTA leadership has chosen to forget the DUTA demands in this regard.

Teachers may recall that ad hoc teachers first started to avail summer salary after the DUTA leadership (during 1995-97 when Vijender Sharma and Shaswati Mazumdar of the DTF were the President and the Secretary of the DUTA) took up the issue and got the University administration to amend the Ordinances. It was again the DTF led DUTA with Shaswati Mazumdar as the President during 2001-03 which systematically argued the issue and compelled the University Administration to set up a Committee with Prof. Agnihotri as its Chairperson. The DUTA leadership had focussed on the various court judgements which had held as illegal the arbitrary practice by governments and college administration in the country of enforcing a day’s break in service of ad hoc teachers. The Courts had also pointed out that it was the employer’s duty to fill vacancies through due advertisement and the employees working in ad hoc capacity should neither be given any break nor be terminated till such time that the vacancies were either duly filled or ceased to exist. The Courts had pointed out that the erring employer and not the ad hoc teacher be penalised for not filling posts year after year through the due process and deprecated the practice of opening a channel for backdoor entry.

The Agnihotri Committee Report was not acceptable to the University administration that had constituted the Committee but the teaching community kept the issue alive. Finally, the administration was forced to bring a new draft and accept amendments to the draft argued by the DTF during an AC meeting in the summer of 2005. The amended proposals included the following: (1) no ad hoc appointment against long term vacancies (with a one-time waiver wherby the proposal would have come into effect after a specified time period during which the colleges were required to make temporary and permanent appointments to fill the huge number of vacancies that existed) and not subject those wishing to enter the teaching profession to long years of short term contractual service; (2) no guest appointment against full-time posts in order to stop an even more pernicious form of contractualisation of the teaching profession; and (3) the tenure of ad hoc appointment to be extended till the end of the academic year in which the appointment is made ending the practice of giving breaks and ending uncertainties both for teachers and the students taught by such teachers.

Given that the then DUTA leadership (the current President of the DUTA happened to be the President at that time) opposed any decision, good or bad, the DTF sought time and commitment from the Academic Council. The VC agreed in the Academic Council to meet the DUTA for discussion and promised to bring the matter back to the AC after negotiations with the DUTA. The DUTA leadership refused to negotiate on the issue, maintaining that either every word of the Agnihotri Committee Report be accepted or nothing. It deliberately ignored the requisition for a DUTA Executive meeting by the DTF and only held the meeting some time after the then VC completed his tenure and left. The irresponsible argument it peddled was that it would not accept any good to be done by Deepak Nayyar. In December 2007, a worse set of proposals was legislated by the current administration and not a word was said by the DUTA leadership led by the same person and the same group. The Agnihotri Committee report was forgotten. Serious doubts have been raised and not without reason about whether the collective issues concerning the teachers are pursued in earnest by the DUTA leadership.

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