Elect RENU BALA as DUTA President
The feeling on the eve of the forthcoming DUTA elections is one of bewilderment. There are so many issues that have gone unrepresented in the recent past. Major challenges on the horizon threaten to dismember ‘universities’ and recast them as entities that we do not want them to be. Higher education is being readied for full scale conversion into a service for free trade. The teaching profession is to become more hierarchical and pyramidical: 1) selective promotions to top positions of professors (HAG) in the departments and to posts of professors in colleges is part of the attempt to mould educational institutions after business enterprises; 2) making promotion more difficult and hence for very few is the next evident design. There is an all-round deterioration in the service and working conditions. Governance is becoming more arbitrary and autocratic; apprehensions about the future are unnerving.
The need to consistently challenge authority and policy direction, to question, to critique, to protest, to formulate alternatives and to agitate is far greater today. Yet, a growing sense of demoralisation and a tendency to accept adverse changes as inevitable is perceptible. Such a feeling has taken root under the present Congress leadership of the DUTA. The task, therefore, is to revive the DUTA, reorient it and dispel this feeling. We need to choose a leadership that can unite teachers for a struggle of ideas and of action.
Teachers are concerned about the DUTA. The list of issues circulated by each organisation appears to be more or less the same and even the critiques of Government policy are in similar language. However, the common critique often conflicts with the ideology of some of these organisations. Blatantly false claims of representing teachers unfettered by ideological allegiances are made only to hide the conflict between stated positions and actual practice. Since all groups have led the DUTA, it is not difficult to assess their roles and evaluate their suitability.
The present Congress (AAD-INTEC) leadership of the DUTA is unwilling to contest Government policy be it with regard to pay revision or service conditions or the semester system or the imposition NAAC or the conversion of DCE into a state university. The NDTF (BJP) pursues the same policies as the Congress: the neoliberal economic policy that grounds expansion of higher education in marketisation with restructuring of education and the teaching profession and the erosion of democratic processes and structures.
The BJP Government brought in the Birla-Ambani report and the Model Act to lay down rules for complete commercialisation and privatisation of education. The Congress led UPA Government formed in 2004 with Left support had to withdraw the latter. However, the Congress reintroduced the same provisions through the Foreign Educational Institutions Bill, proposals of the Commerce Ministry and the National Knowledge Commission. Now, free from its dependence on the Left, the Congress has renewed the policy offensive.
Have teachers’ organisations affiliated to the Congress taken an independent position in the DUTA? No. They have done something worse. They pitted one section of teachers against another and demobilised the DUTA. When the semester system was being imposed, the Congress leadership refused to organise any serious struggle despite the overwhelming mandate from teachers. The BJP also opposed any agitational action on pay revision and did precious little on the semester system except joining the “sit in the well” in the AC. The DTF alone has consistently pursued the issue, requisitioning a meeting of the DUTA Executive in November, responding to the VC’s letter in May (see https://dtfdu.wordpress.com/2009/05/25/letter-to-vc-25-5-09) and campaigning amongst teachers.
Moves to dismember the University have been pursued by the Delhi Govt under Congress and BJP regimes. In 1995-96, the DTF led DUTA thwarted the by the BJP Govt to take away the 12 fully funded colleges. The Congress Government has taken away DCE with the help of the BJP in the Delhi Assembly. The Congress leadership in the DUTA held back any protest and the NDTF (BJP) did not even mobilise BJP MLAs and leaders while criticising the DUTA leadership. Now the Congress Govt is renewing the old BJP plan to take away the twelve colleges.
The record of the Congress and the BJP on pay revision and service conditions is well-known. The NDTF leadership (DUTA President: Sri Ram Oberoi) tried to sabotage the struggle against the BJP Government in 1998 for the implementation of the UGC recommendations. The Congress leadership (DUTA President: Dr. S.S. Rathi) surrendered the provision for promotion to Professor in colleges in 2000 without a fight. During this pay revision the Congress leadership was helped by an equally willing BJP to scuttle any movement against the Government.
The only instance when the Congress and BJP groups stood against their party positions was when SC/ST reservation was introduced in teaching positions. After dividing the DUTA on this issue, they had to adopt it quietly. The Congress and the BJP that led the anti-Mandal agitation changed their positions when in power. The DTF stood by its support to reservation despite electoral unpopularity. The common agenda of the teaching profession as evident in various manifestos runs counter to the ideological beliefs of the Congress and the BJP and of those who switch from one to the other. To cover their own failures and unwillingness to fight government policies both the factions of the Congress – AAD and INTEC – and the NDTF (BJP) blame another teachers’ body, the AIFUCTO, from which the DUTA separated 22 years ago to form the FEDCUTA.
The DTF’s record of carrying out struggles during its leadership of the DUTA through arguments and action is well known. The struggles in the 80s that brought in and defended the principle of promotion, the actions during the Fifth Pay Revision in June-July 97 that forced the UGC to propose higher pay for teachers at all levels in comparison to the IAS and promotion for all to the level of professor, the struggle in 2002 that thwarted the UGC move to cut teaching positions by 35% are some of the landmarks of the DTF led DUTA. At a time that demands concerted struggle on serious policy matters, the DTF has the conviction and the credentials to unite the teaching community for successful action.