Revive the DUTA – Vote DTF
Elect Amar Deo Sharma as DUTA President
On 25.8.2011 teachers will decide the future of the DUTA. As we look back on the past two years of bitter struggle and its fate, let us recall the significance of this collective body of teachers.
The DUTA, in its history of more than four decades, fought and won big battles to improve our service conditions and to democratise the functioning of the University and colleges. It won us the right to promotion, Staff Councils, rotation of Headship, elected representation in the AC, EC and governing bodies. It fought against harassment of temporary/ ad hoc teachers and for the dignity of senior teachers approaching retirement. And it firmly resisted many policy assaults by successive governments that threatened to erode our hard won rights and democratic academic environment.
Today such assaults are being intensified many times over. Six bills await approval of Parliament that aim at drastic changes in the landscape of universities and colleges through aggressive marketisation of higher education and authoritarian measures to overcome resistance (see next page). Semesterisation and the points based system of denying promotion are part and parcel of this policy assault. Shall we be cowed down or shall we fight back? And with what kind of DUTA leadership can we fight back?
Over the course of the past two years, we have seen an unprecedented united struggle by teachers on the issue of semester system, but under an unwilling DUTA leadership. With its Congress affiliation, this AAD-leadership had no will to fight. It tried to ward off the struggle until it was forced by the collective will of the teachers to play its role. And it withdrew into a shell using the Court order of November 2010 as a pretext. It’s withdrawal was so complete that it watched in silence as the new University administration outdid even its predecessor in disregarding statutory provisions, throwing all norms and propriety to the winds, and vindictively targeting teachers who were seen as part of the movement of resistance. The DUTA did not protest when some teachers of the Department of English were issued show cause notices as to why their resigning from sub-committees of the Departmental Council should not be considered as being on ‘strike’; it did not raise any question when intimidating orders were issued by the Registrar to Heads and Principals demanding their compliance in enforcing shocking measures against their own colleagues.
With the DUTA’s retreat from all responsibility, teachers felt compelled to keep resistance alive through the Joint Action Body (JAB), bringing with their untiring efforts public recognition in the media of the grave issues involved in semesterisation.
Emboldened by the DUTA’s silence, however, the University administration has made arbitrary diktats its preferred style of functioning. The admission fiasco with its grievous consequences for the teaching-learning process is only the most recent example. The administration’s arrogance has been doubly fortified by the concurrent silence of the Congress-led AAD and the BJP-led NDTF and their unwillingness to even express dissent in the AC/EC.
The DUTA leadership has been similarly unwilling to confront the Government on adverse changes in service conditions. If teachers are denied promotion through impassable, academically absurd hurdles (PBAS), then all claims by the Government of having improved the service conditions of the profession come to naught. These conditionalities, coming as part of the policy assault to facilitate the corporatisation of universities, cannot be resisted without the determination to fight this assault. The DUTA leadership with its rhetoric of negotiations has scorned all appeals to organise collective resistance. This was also its approach when the Delhi College of Engineering was rudely dismembered from the Delhi University. A similar fate can befall other colleges if the policy of autonomous colleges is not resisted.
The DTF has a long tradition of leading the DUTA in historic struggles. It has played its role when in leadership and when not, but the history of the DUTA shows that only the DTF has the will, commitment and ability to organise effective struggles to fight back such policy assaults. We appeal to teachers: Revive the DUTA – Vote DTF.
Six Bills on Higher Education before Parliament
- Foreign Educational Institutions Bill: allows foreign institutions to sell higher education degrees to those who pay the highest price (read fees) and minimise costs (e.g. teachers salaries).
- Prohibition of Unfair Practices Bill: without defining “unfair practice” aims to keep activities of private educational institutions (e.g teachers’ service conditions and promotions) outside the purview of judicial scrutiny
- Educational Tribunal Bill: denies all stakeholders (e.g. teachers, students, employees) the constitutional right to go to High courts or Supreme Court to seek justice and is thus tailored to private and foreign institutions
- Universities for Innovation Bill: allows the setting up of private universities with public funding in the name of “innovation” with absolute powers for private promoters without any government regulation
- Higher Education and Research Bill: replaces the UGC with the National Commission for Higher Education and Research with powers to decide every aspect of higher education – teaching, learning, curriculum, service conditions, funding, appointments, creation of universities – leaving educational institutions with no autonomy.
- National Accreditation Regulatory Authority Bill: provides for mandatory accreditation for Indian institutions and exemption from it to a class of institutions at the whims and fancies of central government.
All the six bills aim at making education into a commodity where the “usual rules of business” apply.
Adverse Changes in Service Conditions
- Just as semesterisation is the first step towards dismembering and corporatising the University, the Performance Based Appraisal System (PBAS) – with promotion made conditional to points accrued in API scores – paves the way for differential pay-scales linked to the market-value of each discipline: some disciplines will provide more opportunities to collect the required scores than others.
- This system aims at denying/ delaying promotion with its insistence on (i) a separate minimum score for research (publications, conferences, etc); (ii) a minimum score for the assessment period as well as a minimum annual score, which is not possible during any kind of long leave; (iii) at least 50% in the “expert assessment”. Promotion to Associate Professor has been made into a hurdle difficult for most teachers to cross.
- Promotion to Professor in colleges is made well-nigh impossible by the 10% quota (including 25% recruitment from outside) and enhanced API scores.
- The 10% quota at AGP 12000 and the fresh selection procedure is a similar hurdle introduced to deny upward movement to Professors.
- Parity of Librarians with teachers is denied in promotion and age of retirement. Disparities have also been created between directly recruited Deputy Librarians and College Librarians/ Asst Librarians in the University.
- The already deeply hierarchical conception of the new pay structure has been further compounded by arbitrariness in UGC fixation rules, for eg.: (i) Senior Lecturers promoted before 1.1.2006 were placed at 18600+AGP 7000, whereas those promoted from 1.1.2006 onwards have been placed at 15600+AGP 7000; (ii) fixation of incumbent Professors fell to more than Rs.2000 below the Rs.43000 starting pay for those recruited after 1.1.2006.
- The University has added to this arbitrariness by (i) downgrading appointments of Associate Professors to “Readers/Assistant Professors with AGP 8000”; (ii) appointing Assistant Professors from 2008 directly with AGP 7000 or 8000 while those appointed from 2006 to 2008 were placed at AGP 6000.
- Denial of Transport Allowance during Study and Sabbatical Leave defies all academic logic.
- For those who were Readers as on 1.1.2006, the required years of service for promotion to Professor should be six years including their past experience as Readers/ in Reader’s grade.
- The UGC Anomalies Committee report has been finally submitted but still not made public. It remains to be seen what amendments have been proposed.
Semester System and other ‘reforms’
The court orders since the PIL in October 2010 were used by the DU administration to implement the semester system in an unacademic manner.
In the AC meetings held on 25 April and 8 July 2011, ill-prepared and partial courses were passed without feedback from colleges or peer review. Important issues, raised by the Faculty of Social Sciences and other interventions, went unheard. Semesterisation and the New Admission Policy are aimed at showing that mismanagement is due to the size of University and that fragmentation is inevitable. Centralised evaluation and the proposed assembly line evaluation (one question per teacher) by a board of examiners are other such ‘reforms’.
We are not alone in facing such ‘reforms’ flowing from current neoliberal policies. Today resistance is increasing across the globe against such changes. The task ahead for a responsible teachers’ organisation is to organize collective resistance through reasoned argument and mass action. We must continue our fight against this ill-devised change which will downgrade the quality of teaching-learning and work against students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The DTF stands committed to reorganize resistance against the semester system through debate and discussion and by involving other sections of the universities and civil society.
The issue of the semester system is before the High Court in the form of two writ petitions, one filed by the DUTA and another by 9 teachers, and an intervention in support of these petitions filed by seven students. These are being argued by V. K. Rao, Colin Gonzalves and Prashant Bhushan respectively. Hearings took place on 12 and 19 July. The next hearing is on 1 August.
Other issues before us
- Accountability of Authorities: Mechanisms for accountability of authorities are urgently needed to check the growing arbitrary functioning and violations of due processes.
- Appointments: Though posts created on account of 54% OBC expansion are still lying vacant, the DU administration is refusing to fill them.
- Ad-hoc appointments: The provision of interview after every four months has added to teachers’ insecurity and adversely affected students through frequent changes in teachers. The semester system has resulted in loss of jobs and short-term vacanies.
- Pension: Teachers left under the CPF scheme must be allowed to switch to GPF. Those who opted only after 30.9.1987 should be deemed to be in GPF as directed as per the GOI order and directions by the High Court and Supreme Court.
- All teachers appointed since 1.1.2004 face a New Pension Scheme that does not assure pension. The DUTA must join all other unions in demanding an assured pension scheme and withdrawal of the PFRDA Bill.
- Ensure Parity: Librarians should be redesignated as Assistant Professors, Associate Professors and Professors in Library Education.
- Parity with teachers must be extended to Instructors, the academic staff of the Hindi Implementation Board and System Programmers.
- OBC expansion: Infrastructure needed to ensure quality teaching-learning processes is still not in place. A mechanism to ensure proper utilisation of funds is needed.
- Reservation: In violation of the constitutional provisions, the University has yet to implement the UGC guidelines on SC/ST reservation at all entry levels. Effective guidelines for reservation for OBCs and the differently-abled are also still not in place.
- Admission Policy: The University needs a transparent and rational and inclusive central admission policy, also sensitive to issues of capacity and infrastructure. The policy must also ensure filling of the OBC seats instead of excluding eligible candidates as has happened.
- Arbitrariness over NET: Those exempted under earlier provisions must remain exempted. The UGC PhD regulation should be implemented prospectively.
- Delhi Government Colleges: After taking away DCE from Delhi University, the Delhi Government is planning to take away colleges fully funded by it to a state university and has threatened not to pay the 10% employer’s contribution to PF.
- Professional Colleges: Teachers of the RAK College of Nursing and Nehru Homeopathy College have been denied parity in pay and designation. The rotational principle for headship is not respected in medical & other professional colleges. Autocratic functioning and arbitrariness mar the environment.
- School of Open Learning: While the number of students enrolled in the School has tripled, teachers have dwindled from 135 to 35. By raising fees the School is fleecing students to make a profit.
- Departmental Councils must be made statutory and the practice of HODs to bypass them in violation of long-standing practices must be resisted.
- Research Supervision: Discriminatory norms of the Science Faculty to restrict research supervision by college teachers must end.
- Action against erring Principals: Impartial inquiries must be instituted into the charges brought by the Staff Associations of Dyal Singh College and Ram Lal Anand College against their Principals.
- Attendance Register: In some colleges, teachers are being forced to mark attendance. This must stop.
- Leave Encashment & PF: The UGC regulations vide a clarification stipulate encashment of earned leave only for “non-vacation members of the teaching staff”, thereby denying this benefit to teachers. The 8% cap on interest on PF adhered to by the University and some colleges must be removed.
- Child Care Leave: The UGC has notified on 29 June 2011 that appointments may be made against vacancies arising from Child Care leave. This should be made immediately effective.
- Health Care Facilities: The restricted operation of the direct payment system and reimbursements only at CGHS rates even when hospitals charges are much higher are causing great hardship. A scheme of full reimbursement is needed. The hike in WUHS subscription rates must be rolled back.
- Housing Facilities: More housing should be provided in view of the general increase in numbers of teachers as well as the large number of single women and differently-abled teachers.
- Facilities for the differently-abled: Appropriate infrastructure and study materials must be provided. Teachers with visual disability must get assistance for evaluating answer scripts and written assignments.
Amar Deo Sharma
Dept of Hindi, Delhi College of Arts & Commerce
Ph: 9868173032, 9560826961
as the DUTA President
Abha Dev Habib
Dept of Physics, Miranda House
Dept of Hindi, Moti Lal Nehru College,
Dept of Political Science, Rajdhani College
Dept of English, SGTB Khalsa College
to the DUTA Executive