Elect Renu Bala as DUTA President
The DUTA elections are taking place at a time when the Central Government has accelerated its drive to change the landscape of higher education so that private profiteers, both domestic and foreign, can find a market free of hindrances to trade in education services.
What is planned is an expansion of higher education through private business, concentration of support for quality in a handful of “centres of excellence” and systematic withdrawal of state support from the vast majority of public funded universities and colleges. Reservation for the rich, denial of access to those without the means and exemption from the constitutional stipulations on reservations are to be the pillars of the growing private education sector.
The Delhi University too must be made to open its doors to this sector, therefore the rush for appropriate structural changes. The UGC, the Delhi Government and the DU Vice Chancellor are agents of the ruthless implementation of such changes sought to be made by the MHRD under Kapil Sibal. Mr. Sibal’s 100 days action programme includes both semester system and inter-institution credit transfers, the semester system as a means to carry out credit transfers.
Today we urgently need a collective body to resist this assault effectively through reasoned argument and mass action. It is no accident that Government agencies seek to curtail elected representation and cripple elected unions. Pushing through changes by diktats is the preferred mode of the authorities as we have repeatedly seen in recent times.
Unfortunately, the proud fighting tradition that once defined the DUTA and enabled it to defeat many such assaults has been severely eroded under the current DUTA leadership. With its affiliation to the Congress, this leadership has repeatedly shown its unwillingness to fight. Backdoor parleys and tokenism have replaced widely mobilised mass action, empty rhetoric has replaced reasoned critique. This has emboldened the Government, the VC and the principals.
The teaching community must reestablish the DUTA’s fighting tradition if we wish to resist disastrous systemic changes, assault on democratic participation in governance and adverse changes in our service andworking conditions. A DUTA led by the AAD (Congress) or dependent on the communal and divisive NDTF (BJP) will further embolden the authorities.
It is time for course correction. The history of the DUTA and its many struggles shows that only the DTF has the determination and the ability to organise the united mass struggles needed to fight back the ongoing policy assaults. We, therefore, appeal to teachers, younger and senior, in colleges and in the departments:
Revive the DUTA. Vote DTF.
Pay Revision & Downgrading of Teaching Profession
Pay revision took place just before the Parliament elections. By extending the retirement age of teachers andaccepting the Knowledge Commission report, the Government had acknowledged that the teaching profession is not attracting talent. The pressure on the Government to show sincerity in redressing the situationwas enormous. That is why in the statement to Parliament it emphasised that teachers were being given a higher entry pay than the IAS. A false impression was created that teachers had been given a higher pay.
Inaction by the DUTA leadership, worse still its active involvement in silencing criticism of the Government, itsdivisive tactics of threatening that any criticism on the negative aspects would lead to withdrawal of the positive provisions and its refusal to represent any demand on the issue helped the Government to limit the higher pay to a token sum at entry which lasts till the first promotion and the pay gets lower than the IAS thereafter. The AAD leadership of the DUTA found support from the NDTF in subverting the struggle on the issue.
The clever move to start with a downgraded proposal through the Chaddha Committee worked. What we have now is that Academic Grade Pay (AGP) means less in monetary terms than non-academic Grade Pay (GP). In terms of Pay in the Pay Band, 6000 AGP equals 5400 GP, 7000 AGP equals 6600 GP, 8000 AGP equals 7600 GP, 9000 AGP equals (with the fitment table, is less than) 8700 GP and 10000 AGP means less than 10000 GP.
More hierarchies and a quota based promotion system have been introduced to help empower authorities withinstruments to reward sycophancy and punish dissent. The first substantial promotion, from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor, has been delayed by three years. Existing Readers, appointed or promoted, will get further downgraded with the recruitment of Associate Professors. The payment for Guest lecturers has not been revised. The demand for grant of assured pension to those under the old CPF scheme and young teachers appointed since 1.1.2004 has once been rejected. The retirement age of librarians remains 62. The recommendation for academic allowance was rejected. Those who devoted a lifetime to teaching and retired before 1.1.2006 as Readers and Lecturers in Selection Grades, as almost all college teachers did, are being denied appropriate pension on the facile ground that they belong to the pre-Associate Professor days.
Dividing and demobilising teachers are sure recipes for inviting negative changes in service conditions and promotional avenues. We have already seen what is in the offing from the Draft UGC Notification. The fitment table approved by the Government gives a clear indication: Pay in the Pay Band appropriate to AGP of 6000, 7000 and 8000 has been refused; most Associate Professors have lost at least one increment with a huge loss of salary and arrears; existing Professors have been downgraded to 40890 Pay in the Pay Band while new recruits will start at 43000. The next move could be to make promotions difficult for teachers. We need to give a clear signal to the UGC that teachers’ unions will not acquiesce passively. We must rebuild the DUTA as our unifying collective weapon of resistance.
Serious setbacks in the past two years
- The imposition of the semester system on a system that is large and varied in terms of courses and students, with a rigidly defined high work-load norm of 18 periods a week, adverse teacher-student ratio andinadequate infrastructure is motivated solely to facilitate inter-institution credit transfer through bilateral exchanges with private players. The VC could push through the semester system given the ineffective form of opposition by the DUTA leadership.
The UGC had threatened the University to stop grants if semester system were not introduced. Mr. Sibal made it a prime item of his 100 days action. The lack of response by the DUTA leadership to the policy assault shows a lack of will to take on the Government. The VC had made his intention clear since October 2008. No attempt was made to organise informed debates and draw media attention. During the vacations alternative forms of protest such as relay hunger strikes were not considered. Repeatedly sending elected AC members to the well of the house without serious supporting action programme outside became increasingly ineffective and self-defeating. This allowed the VC to impose the semester system and get AC approval forthe PG syllabi.
- The Delhi University and its colleges have been threatened with stoppage of grants unless they get themselves assessed and rated by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council. Such a move any time in the past would have been met with immediate protest action by the DUTA.
- Taking away Delhi College of Engineering (DCE) from the Delhi University adversely affects the University. It is being done by the Delhi Government to commercialise the institution with only self-financing courses to be offered. The AAD leadership of the DUTA now blames the college staff association instead of fighting the Delhi Government. This will embolden it to renew its efforts to take away other twelve colleges fully financed by it.
- The VC denied the AC the right to discuss the examination reforms report and simply declared it as passed in principle. There was no movement by the DUTA against this, nor against the VC’s refusal to review the internal assessment system which in the present form is an overload on teachers and students alike. The present DUTA President had won an election promising that he would do away with internal assessment. The pre-election rhetoric was not matched by even a token post-election action programme. Moderation of internal assessment marks remains non-transparent and arbitrary leading to large-scale hardships faced by the students.
- The DUTA leadership showed extreme reluctance in opposing the imposition of compulsory central evaluation and the denigrating language used by the administration to threaten teachers with disciplinary action. The VC was unmindful of the hardship faced by teachers or of the quality of evaluation when teachers were made to sit for long hours to evaluate large numbers of scripts each day. Incredibly, the VC thinks he can conduct examinations efficiently under the semester system in this manner.
- There has been serious violation of rules and academic practices. Apart from the case of BA(Hons) Maths last year, there have been several instances of bypassing the Committees of Courses in revision of postgraduate courses. The syllabi prepared by a few handpicked teachers either did not go through the Committees or were placed on the table in the meetings. This underlines the need to make Departmental Councils statutory bodies. The practice of the administration operating only through HoDs and allowing HoDs to represent departments’ views without consulting teachers must stop.
- Denial of promotions under the MPS is on the rise. The rejection rate is extremely high for department teachers. The VC arbitrarily imposes more rigorous norms than required for direct recruitment at the same level. College teachers are also being increasingly targeted. In many cases, the venue of the interview is no longer the college. In the latest case, a teacher in Hindu College was denied promotion on the ground that she did not have publications. Teaching does not matter. The denial of promotions which were secured through prolonged struggles by the teaching community is a matter of serious concern. Such arbitrary and whimsical denials would allow the administration to misuse promotions to penalise dissent. Demoralisation of teachers will have adverse consequences.
- Young aspirants to the teaching profession are subjected to job uncertainty and harassment due to the failure of university and college authorities to fill up long-term vacancies through advertisement. They are being subjected to further harassment because of the complete silence and inaction by the DUTA leadership when the present policy for ad hoc appointments was adopted. The DUTA leadership did not take up the DUTA demand for appointment up to the end of the academic session.
- The UGC has an ugly record of alternately making NET compulsory and providing many exemptions. Till recently, exemption was provided for PhD and MPhil in recognition of the value of research. Suddenly, the UGC finds that the quality of research in the universities is dubious. While it does nothing about improving quality, it has chosen to withdraw exemption for MPhil and certain categories of PhD. Since the extant UGC policy provided exemption from NET, many aspirants either possessing or registered for MPhil / PhD have not taken the NET examination. Instead of continuing exemption for at least those who either possess or are already registered for these degrees, there is an unacceptable directive to stop recruitment for permanent positions. Such an action will only discourage talented young people from opting for teaching. The DUTA leadership showed complete lack of concern despite knowing that the withdrawal of exemption from NET was in the offing.
- An illegal provision for promotion of non-teaching staff to the posts of college librarian and assistant librarian introduced by the VC has been rightly struck down by the UGC. The VC, however, is not reversing the illegal promotions he has made. The DUTA President refuses to take up the issue since the top AAD leader is a beneficiary.
- The DUTA leadership has turned a blind eye to the systematic harassment of non-AAD members of the Dept. of Adult & Continuing Education by the illegally appointed HoD.
- Two and half years have passed and three Governing Bodies have gone by, but the VC is yet to give his decision on the suspension of the Principal of Sri Aurobindo College (Evening). The DUTA leadership is a partner to shielding the Principal from due inquiry.
- Teachers of Aditi Mahavidyalaya are teaching in the open as part of the struggle against the callousness of the Delhi Government in running the college in an old dilapidated and unsafe building. Roofs of two labs have collapsed. The DUTA President refuses to lend support for the struggle for shifting to a safe building.
- The blatant manipulations in the reservation roster in appointment by the university and the colleges have not been confronted by the DUTA leadership. Such manipulations are now extended to reservation for OBC students.
- Judicial interventions had to be made against the callous attitude of university and college authorities towards PH reservations. The DUTA leadership has not taken up the demands for appropriate working conditions for the differently abled.
- The University has advertised a large number of teaching posts without consulting the Departments about the required specialisations so that the authorities would exercise arbitrary powers in recruitment.
- The routine procedure laid down in the Ordinance XVD to investigate complaints of sexual harassment has been disregarded by the VC who refuses to place the inquiry reports in the EC, instead presenting summarised versions. The AAD leadership of the DUTA does not voice any criticism. What is worse is that it has participated in demeaning Ordinance XVD by making statements about which cases are genuine and which are not and who is guilty and who is not. Unions must desist from declaring individuals as guilty or innocent.
- The requirement of adequate and timely expansion of faculty and infrastructure in view of the ongoing expansion in intake due to OBC reservation has not been met by the Government and the university authorities. The DUTA leadership has not found it necessary to press for urgent steps.
- The DUTA leadership has made no effort to make the VC implement steps for accountability of authorities.
- Adhocism continues with regard to the structure and syllabi of the B.Sc Programme.
- Health care facilities have taken a beating with the near collapse of the direct payment system on account of non-payment by the University and increase in charges by hospitals since the introduction of the system. The state of the WUS Health Centre continues to be a matter of concern.
- The AICTE pay scales are yet to be revised. The DUTA leadership has not taken any action over it despite many DUTA members being denied revised pay for such a long time.
- Teachers in the RAK College of Nursing and Nehru College of Homeopathy still face the problems of designation, pay scales and promotions on par with university & college teachers. The only promotional avenue available is when higher posts, which are very few, fall vacant.
- Issues of autocratic governance, non-rotation of HoDs and daily harassment of teachers in most professional colleges are not taken up often due to the proximity of the DUTA leadership to the administration.