Current DUTA and FEDCUTA (Federation of Central Universities Teachers’ Associations) President Rajib Ray (Dept. of Philosophy, Kirori Mal College) will contest the DUTA Elections on 29 August 2019, to seek a second term for the post of DUTA President. The Democratic Teachers’ Front (DTF), a leading teachers’ organisation at the forefront of struggles for the strengthening of public-funded education and social justice, decided to field Rajib Ray for a second time in the meeting of its General Body.
The DTF has also fielded a panel of four committed activists for the elections to the DUTA Executive. Featuring a mix of experienced and youthful activism, this panel fields former AC and EC member, Abha Dev Habib (Dept. of Physics, Miranda House), sitting DUTA Executive member Biswajit Mohanty (Dept. of Political Science, Deshbandhu College), young firebrand Jitender Meena (Dept. of History, Shyam Lal College) and former AC member V.S. Dixit (Dept. of Computer Science, ARSD College).
As DUTA President, Rajib Ray has led successful struggles to push back several Government moves to nudge universities and colleges towards the market. These moves include a 70:30 funding formula for pay revision requiring them to generate 30% of expenditure through commercial activities and to fracture the Delhi University by using the Autonomous Colleges Scheme to break its leading constituent colleges with a view to make them commercial entities, self-financing greater part of their activities. Under his leadership, the DUTA also spearheaded a sustained and successful nation-wide campaign to restore the College/University-wise 200-point Reservation Roster which was being a replaced by an unjust system. The breaking of deadlock over the reservation roster has reopened the possibility of permanent appointments.
Under his leadership, the protracted struggle by the DUTA against shameful Government assault on livelihood (pension) of the retired teachers and non-teaching employees. The DUTA has been instrumental in reversing many of the irrational and unjust features of the promotion scheme and continues to persistently seek remedy for the rest as it battles an insensitive university administration that deliberately delays promotion procedures arbitrarily changes the dates from which promotion should be effective.
Under his dynamic leadership the DUTA ensured the rejoining of ad hoc teachers in extremely adverse circumstances over the last two years – last year in the face of the sly imposition of a 13- point roster by vested interests, and this year in the face of the EWS reservation brought by government for faculty posts.
The DUTA Elections are being contested against the backdrop of massive cuts in Government spending on Higher Education. Universities are being forced to take loans and sign memoranda that will force them to raise fees and promote commercialisation through self-financing courses. The New Education Policy is designed to increase political interference, commercialise all higher educational institutions, centralise decision-making under the authority of the PM and the Union cabinet, and promote corporatisation of governance in universities. It is putting in place a structure where teachers’ remunerations and career progression will be wholly left to the discretion of the management and will be governed by commercial productivity as well as submissiveness to managements.
Grossly inadequate funds have been sanctioned for the required EWS expansion to meet the 25% increase in student-intake This scenario is combined with the growing number of permanent vacancies in teaching and non-teaching positions, threat of contractual employment, undue recoveries being demanded from teachers’ salaries, lack of promotions and non-payment of pensions.
The DTF seeks a mandate to intensify struggles against anti-education and anti-teacher policies as mass democratic assertion is the only way to overcome the challenges precipitated by such policies and administrative malpractices. Greater commercialisation / privatisation is antithetical to both excellence and equality in access.To break the unity of teachers and establish mafia patronage on appointments, the BJP-backed NDTF has consistently attacked democratic rights and academic freedom on campus, something lately evidenced in its connivance with the DU administration in censoring books, undermining syllabi and putting negative labels on the teachers who differ from the ruling party’s ideology. The DTF is the only force in DU that has actively supported the teachers’ collective efforts to expose these agents of a hostile Government and University Administration. The DTF is committed to the defence of academic freedom and unity of the teaching community, while being invested in building united struggles for absorption, fair reservation, fair service conditions, due payment of pensions to all categories of teachers and time-bound career progression for all teachers.
Nandita Narain Abha Dev Habib