सार्वजनिक शिक्षा के बचाव में
Elect Rajib Ray
as DUTA President
DU teachers have continued to repose faith in a DTF leadership through the most troubled period in the history of DUTA. For more than a decade, governments have adopted the mantra of Market Fundamentalism in directing Higher Education policy towards calibrated cost-cutting, pushing informalisation in employment, and Privatisation. DTF has not allowed the vital importance of DUTA as a leading teachers’ trade union to diminish while building collective struggles against every policy assault that undermines the livelihood prospects and professional opportunities of the teaching community. These struggles have been sustained against all odds; notwithstanding challenges from the Government and VCs, the DTF-led DUTA has significant achievements to its credit.
DUTA has thwarted major onslaughts & secured important demands
70:30 funding formula that would have made the implementation of 7th Pay impossible was withdrawn. The Govt. had to concede that API-PBAS is unacademic and inimical to quality, leading to its partial withdrawal from the current UGC Regulations. Options for teachers affected by the API-PBAS to avail promotion through non-API and relaxed API routes have been made. Promotion to Professor in colleges without any capping has been introduced. The Government had to backtrack on denying advance increment for MPhil & PhD. The UGC has had to consider the release of additional posts under the Second Tranche of the OBC Expansion Scheme withheld for long and provide grants under the EWS Scheme. The rollback of the mindless increase in workload that would have drastically reduced the number of teachers was achieved. The Autonomous Colleges Scheme was resisted. The University/ College-wise 200 pt. Roster was won back, ensuring that the Government remains accountable for social justice in academic institutions.
The threat of mass displacement of Ad Hoc teachers due to the Government’s prevarication on the Roster last year and the hurried imposition of EWS in appointments this year was averted through timely efforts. The VC has had to reconsider his insistence on adopting the clause on Contractual Appointment of the UGC Regulations. Through the DTF-led DUTA’s relentless efforts, release of pension for Category 3 non-litigants was expedited, and pension restored to option category after a five year gap. Physical education as a subject for appointment and promotion of teachers has been restored. The wrongful placement of librarians in the reservation roster for non-teaching staff has been stopped. The MHRD was forced to scuttle the attempt to stifle academic freedom and right to association and agitation through application of draconian ESMA and amendment to DU Act due to timely intervention and public exposure.
These achievements are not small when seen in the context of the relentless attacks on jobs, service conditions and career progression.
We can ignore Draft NEP at our peril
The Draft National Education Policy (DNEP) threatens complete overhauling of institutions, governance, service conditions, pay and promotion, and the principles of regulation, quality setting, accreditation and funding of education along market fundamentalist principles. Tasks imposed on institutions — FYUP, more choices, intake expansion — require huge expenditure; Government is to have no binding commitment to fund. Affiliation system including federal arrangements such as DU is to end. Regulations are not to specify input norms for doing business in education. Every institution is to be autonomous. Institutions will be certified through accreditation but ultimately judged by parents/ students as consumers. On this decentralised competitive market form is imposed an extremely centralised form of control under the executive authority of the Prime Minister.
To facilitate forging these institutions into efficient market players, an authoritarian corporate form of governance has been proposed. Every institution will be governed by a body (BoG) where teachers have no say and elected representation is prohibited. The BoG of each institution will have full powerover the institution and teachers’service conditions. It can determine, without any minimal norms from any regulating agency, norms for (differential) pay, and career progression for its teachers. It is to evaluate individual teachers and mete out reward and punishment. It, however, cannot appoint teachers without a 5-year probation period.
None of these unjust proposals are new; all of them are made to cohere in a policy document.Against the Government using its brute majority in the Parliament to get the NEP passed, the teachers’ movement has to play the role of the principal opposition. The task is to critique and agitate for public scrutiny to bear on the conjoint and inevitably relateddowngrading of the teaching profession and privatisation of education. That is the only way to escape the disaster that DNEP threatens. Hence, the DUTA has to retain its independent character and fighting spirit.
Pressure on the Government has to be sustained
Instead of considering our demand for one-time regulation on absorption, the Government has reduced the weightage for teaching experience and made questionable changes in the screening criteria. The screening criteria threaten to deny many working teachers the right to be considered for permanent appointment. Measures are yet to be taken on corrections of anomalies and amendments to unjust provisions in the Regulations.
The Government is yet to respond to the DUTA demands made over six months ago: (a) rectification of the error in the UGC regulations that has rendered relaxed API scheme ineffective; (b) removal of PhD as a condition for appointment to the Departments and for promotion to Associate Professor in colleges; (c) counting of study leave period. These are unjust and may devalue PhD just as the API-PBAS devalued publication. Most teachers penalised by irrational API-PBAS will not get relief under the two options of choosing the 2018 Regulations or relaxed API. We have succeeded in rectifying the error in the Regulations at the University level through a table that requires a minimum API score drawn from Research contribution and Contribution to Corporate Life without any required minimum from either. But that amended version of the relaxed API option requires UGC approval since the corresponding table in the Regulations stipulated the same minimum score to be acquired from Research contribution alone. The inaction on our demand for counting past services for promotions in all available schemes as well as at every stage of promotion confirm the overall anti-teacher attitude.
A large section of retired teachers continue to be denied pensions and harassed by the Government-prompted SLP against the High Court judgement.
Despite many a court order, the Government refuses to honour the principle of stepping up the pay of a teacher so that a senior does not receive lower pay than a junior with the same qualification.
While we have been pressing for regularisation of the existing self-financing courses, permission is being granted for new courses only if those are self-financing.
The Tripartite MoU imposed by the Government on Central Universities mandates continual increase in student intake and in financing expenditure through revenue generation, periodic hikes in student fees, and resort to self-financed courses and other commercial activities while tying them down to HEFAloans for infrastructure. The DUTA’s exposure of the dishonesty on the part of the Government while making grants towards EWS expansion has forced reconsideration of Second Tranche of posts sanctioned for OBC expansion. However, media reports suggest that not all pending second tranche posts may be released. The Government cannot be allowed to use tokenism to divert attention from the fact that the funds it has sanctioned for appointment of additional teachers and non-teaching staff is paltry permitting not more than six additional teachers per college for EWS expansion. It has used the EWS expansion to bind the university and its colleges to HEFA loan for the needed expansion of infrastructure. The demand for additional teaching posts for implementation of CBCS in keeping with the workload norms has found no response. These actions suggest a complete disregard for education.
A deliberate agenda to destroy public-funded universities by appointing unworthy and authoritarian vice-chancellors, and harass every section of the teaching community, including retired teachers, comes to us with the sole aim of pushing resources and academic talent towards the private sector. This challenge is neither innocuous nor easily overcome. It has prolonged the curse of adhocism, brought contractual appointments to our doorstep, and tried to weaken the DUTA by sowing the seeds of division between different sections of teachers who are targeted by the same overarching policy.
DU VC: Disregard for education & research and Disdain for teachers
The pain inflicted on teachers awaiting appointments, promotions and pensions has been exacerbated by a VC who is apathetic and disdainful. Contrary to widespread perception his inability to act is selective: issues affecting teachers remain pending or get embroiled in arbitrary and bureaucratic procedures; hostile diktats from the Government and the ruling party get implemented without going through statutory processes.
The issue of counting of ad hoc service for promotions under the pre- 2018 regulations remains pending. The issue of unfair demands for recovery from teachers remains unresolved. Whether it is appointment or processing of pension cases or adoption of UGC Regulations to provide whatever limited relief it provides, precious time is lost before action is initiated.
Not acting on promotion cases processed by colleges, and whimsically disallowing cases of promotion of all eligible teachers in Departments where the selection committees are scheduled for retiring teachers, has added to our woes. Mindless bureaucratic procedures laid down for promotion application are causing much harassment.
What the VC ought to do now is to notify the amended Statutes and Ordinances at once, get appropriate non-time-consuming application forms for promotion drawn up and constitute committees without delay. The DUTA will take up the responsibility to hold workshops on how to apply and which option to choose in this muddled state.
The changing of the date of promotion in Law Faculty an d CIE has once again shown that the VC is capable of abusing his powers and taking completely arbitrary actions which could have grave consequences for all teachers awaiting promotion. Selection committees cannot be allowed to determine the date of eligibility.
Ad hoc teachers working in the Departments are not paid their salaries till after several months. They have received neither revised salary nor arrears on account of pay revision. Teachers are often denied sabbatical while grant of other forms of leave to are delayed or denied.
One of the most insensitive inaction has been the case of maternity leave entitlement for ad hoc teachers. It is cruel that even after the VC agreed to put in place such a provision, he allowed the matter to vanish from records.
UCMS, VPCI and HealthCentre suffer from excessiveworkload due to non-filling up of posts, not even with ad hoc appointees. The stoppage of Research Grant to teachers is adversely affecting research work. The stoppage of subscription to several online Journals and other resources has had a crippling effect on research. Teaching and research in sciences has also been affected due to irrational financial procedures. To make matters worse, no effort has been made to expand infrastructure to meet the expansion of departments that has occurred in the recent past. Instead, moneyis being returned as grants are not unutilised.
The VC has abdicated his responsibility to ensure teaching by accepting the UGC circular on appointment of Guest Faculty, even though it is not mandatory. The circular stipulates the same procedures as for permanent appointment making guest appointments impossible.
The DU VC did nothing even as the Principals of Vivekananda College and Shyam Lal College arbitrarily and vindictively issued letters of retirement to 2 Associate Professors in Physical Education. The month long DUTA hunger strike outside his residence elicited no response. It was only the united efforts of teachers under the DUTA that the unjust orders issued by these Principals have been stayed by the High Court.
The DUTA’s extensive White Paper lays the grounds for the dismissal of the VC. It lists 30 instances of wrongdoing under the headings “Financial Mismanagement & Irregularities”, “Collapse in Functioning of Statutory Bodies”, “Administrative Malfunctioning, Delays Leading to Academic Collapse”, “Delays in Appointments, Promotions & Pensions for Employees”, and “Other Irregularities”.
VC carrying out ruling party agenda
In addition to appointing members of the NDTF to various committees and positions of power and allowing Pracharaks, Sanchalaks and Babas to vandalise Orientation Courses, Refresher Courses and FDPs, Prof. Tyagi has now shown his willingness to censor curricula to please the ruling dispensation.
The manner in which he allowed the ABVP to enter the Vice Regal building to intimidate HoDs and members of the AC who were defending the syllabi framed by their departments threatens the academic functioning of the University. He legitimised the intimidation by sending back ABVP-NDTF targeted syllabi and again allowed the ABVP a free run in the concerned departments. The Convenor, Oversight Committee made further demands from departments for inclusion and exclusion of topics and readings in their syllabi to please the intimidators.
The DUTA must not be a pocket organisation of the ruling party.
The NDTF’s double-speak has often undermined the tasks facing the DUTA. It describes the government notification of the 70:30 formula as fiction, hails the pitiful additional funds allocated towards salary and HEFA loan funding of infrastructure in view of EWS expansion, and even denied the existence of the Four Year Undergraduate Programme the Draft NEP (DNEP). The NDTF members did not attend a single meeting of the DUTA subcommittee that prepared the Feedback on Draft NEP. They offered no comments on the drafts and chose to leave the DUTA Executive meeting when feedback was being finalised. This was unprecedented in the history of DUTA. Neither the AAD nor the INTEC had kept away when critiques of policies and regulations during Congress Government were debated, refined and adopted.
The Government has already shown its determination to push through the operative parts of the DNEP by setting up a National Research Fund (NRF) in the present budget. The DNEP envisions the NRF as the sole channel for research funding to institutions, public and private on equal footing, doing away with block research funding of public institutions for carrying out research according to their choices much as the institution of HEFA has now been substituted for UGC grants for infrastructure. This centralisation of the power to decide which areas of research get funded allows for control over research by the Government, the ruling dispensation and corporates.
The DNEP seeks to dismember our university. Unfortunately, the NDTFpeddles a naive belief that DU colleges will not suffer dismemberment. It seems to suggest that the distinction made in our statutes between affiliated colleges and constituent colleges will let us escape. Forgetting that our Ordinances on teacher recruitment in colleges have applied the provisions for ‘affiliated’ colleges in the UGC Regulations – except for two colleges, UCMS and VPCI, where provisions for constituent colleges have been applied – is suicidal at this time. Moreover, the various Acts of Parliament under which universities were set up will be amended in line with NEP. Diverting attention from real dangers is the role of the apologists. In this role, the NDTF is forced to concoct many such stories.
The NDTF can neither be trusted on matters of service conditions nor on academic autonomy. In the last meeting of the AC, it opposed the right of departments to deviate from syllabi framed by the UGC. That the NDTF leaders joined the ABVP in branding teachers and supporting their intimidation does not augur well for academics in the university.
Vote for Rajib Ray and the DTF Panel to the DUTA
The existence of the DUTA stands threatened with the dismemberment of DU envisaged in the Draft NEP. We are also witness to the Government’s silence in the case of JNU where 48 teachers are charge-sheeted under CCS rules. The DTF believes that standing against destruction of education, for academic freedom and the right to associate, dissent and protest, is the need of the hour. We know that the nature of our education system directly affects our service conditions. We also know that our rights and benefits cannot be secured in isolation or by appeasing the powers that be. We have to broaden our struggles, seek alliances and take public opinion along to secure our demands. We have to draw public attention to disastrous consequences that adoption of the Draft NEP has for education. We ought not to forget that, during these difficult times, the Government has been forced to reverse many of its steps when teachers have succeeded in securing public attention with the support of students.