Skip to main content
xYOU DESERVE INDEPENDENT, CRITICAL MEDIA. We want readers like you. Support independent critical media.

DU: ‘Could not Tell Families That we Lost Jobs After Decades of Teaching,’ says Displaced ad hoc Teacher

The spectacle of mass displacements of ad hoc teachers seems similar across colleges under Delhi University.
Delhi University

Delhi: Priyamvada Bharadwaj feels distraught as she receives calls from her colleagues about the anxiety over losing their jobs. Bharadwaj, who has been teaching Physics at Ramjas College for 18 years, was among the many displaced in the ongoing recruitment interviews for permanent positions at Delhi University’s colleges. As many as 13 other colleagues of hers from the same department were also shown the door. 

However, the spectacle of mass displacements seems similar across colleges under Delhi University, with teachers alleging favouritism and nepotism being prime factors in appointments. The data collated by the teachers’ organisations suggest that a total of 304 serving teachers were displaced till January 16 this month, with the largest share coming from Laxmibai College, Hansraj College and Ramjas College, respectively. While Laxmibai College and Hansraj College witnessed 58 and 49 displacements, Ramjas College saw the exit of 38 serving teachers.

The present crisis at Delhi University is rooted in the flawed practice of colleges and departments in employing ad hoc teachers to meet the needs arising from abrupt leaves, maternity leaves and untimely death. 

Resolution no. 120 (8) of the Executive Council on December 27, 2007, maintained that the university should only make ad hoc appointments for a tenure of more than a month and less than four months. If the vacancy demands services for more than four months, the selection committee should make temporary appointments later to be converted into permanent positions. However, the college administrations made appointments, then gave a break of a day and made the teachers rejoin to skip any commitment for permanent appointment as mandated by the statutes of the university. While the ad hoc teachers shared much of the workload, they say they were denied essential leaves like maternity and sick leaves.

Speaking to NewsClick, Bharadwaj said, “I do not know if the administration of Delhi University is watching the conduct of the principals. After throwing us out of our jobs, our principal is saying everywhere that the teachers were not working. It’s a plain lie which has no foundation. Our colleagues and students can give their testimonies about how much effort we put into our teaching and other administrative work.” She continued, “I did every work assigned to me. I never let my teaching be disturbed due to administrative work pressure, but he wanted to make his favourites permanent. When I went to other colleges for interviews, I was told that Ramjas College has a lot of vacancies and I should be patient, as I would serve as a permanent teacher sooner or later. It was usually not the norm that Electronics teachers would be given appointments at the Physics department, but if favourites were to be made permanent faculty, some people have to be sacrificed.”

Recalling her struggle, she said, “I belong to a family of teachers and they supported me tremendously. I was admitted to St. Stephens College, then did my Master’s in Physics with a good academic record. I was expecting to dedicate myself to teaching, but interviews hardly took place at Delhi University. Even though uncertainty surrounded my job, I was dedicated to it wholeheartedly. Even teachers in the Physics departments of other colleges too can tell you about this. Now, wherever I appear for interviews, I have to explain everything about how candidates from Electronics were given special permission to appear for interviews in the Physics department. Right now, I am contemplating if I should move to coaching centres for a livelihood!”

Sharing a similar ordeal, a teacher who did not wish to be named, told NewsClick that the History department at Ramjas College had ten posts against which eight teachers were teaching and two posts were vacant. The college retained only three teachers, and five others were shown the door. She said, “The teachers gave the prime of their life, and after extracting much of their labour, the colleges are dumping them as if they do not exist. Everything aside, after showing the door to us, the principals did not even think to at least say ‘thank you’ for our decade-long services. Is it our fault that despite repeated invitations, the colleges did not recruit? All these years, we worked diligently without reclaiming any benefit- neither maternity nor sick leaves. Just to remind you, if any department has 27 positions and only 18 teachers are serving, they share the workload, be it academic or administrative. Yet, it was the permanent faculty who got all the credit.”

The teacher emphasised that women in this profession faced a double whammy in the forms of sexism and mental harassment. She said, “I know a colleague in the science department who had to come to job a day after her caesarean surgery because she did not want to lose her job. The women teachers shared the workload among themselves to comfort the pregnant teachers. Yet, there were complaints that the pregnant teacher should be thrown out. Male teachers would us ask to prioritise between work and family.” 

Further explaining the struggles of women teachers, she said, “We do not come from progressive families where we were allowed to exercise our freedom about careers. We fought really hard for it, and now we are out in a matter of hours. They pushed us back ten years back. I could not muster the courage to tell my family that I have lost my job. They would not understand that it is a systemic failure. We would be blamed for it too. So, many are waiting for interviews in the hope that they may get selected for some other college. Yet, we would be asked the same question about why our previous college abandoned us after years of service !”

Preeti Gupta, who taught Maths at Deshbandhu College, told NewsClick that the candidates with 15 years of experience were asked to leave after a minute of the interview. “What could they know about us in a minute? When the results came, it was amply clear that sons and daughters of principals were on the final list. It is complete anarchy. People are sympathetic towards me. Some advise that I should have sought the blessings of some senior teachers. But I was here to teach, not to seek blessings,” she said.

Commenting on the ongoing displacements, Abha Dev Habib, Secretary of the Democratic Teachers Front, said that the university administrations should immediately intervene to stop mass-scale displacement. She said, “We are appalled by the fact that in colleges like Hansraj, Ramjas and Laxmi Bai, the rate of displacement amounts to more than 80%, especially that of teachers who have been teaching for the longest period at their respective colleges. It also includes temporary teachers who were appointed through regular selection committees. In Daulat Ram College and Swami Shradhanand College, more than 50% of teachers were displaced. This displacement of teachers through farcical interviews is not only an attack on the livelihood of thousands of educators but also shows a callous disregard of the university administrations towards the teachers’ contribution to these institutions with tireless work.”

Habib added, “What has transpired in the last few months is nothing short of a massacre, especially in the colleges mentioned above where the principals acted with a vendetta against their own colleagues. Teachers working for 20, 17, or 15 years have been thrown out of their jobs through interviews not lasting for more than two minutes.” 

She said that in Ramjas College, ten out of 11 working teachers in the Maths department, four of 5 in the Statistics department and 15 of 19 working teachers in the Physics department had been displaced with impunity. It happened despite them teaching in the college for over a decade and making a stellar contribution to the institution. The story is similar in Laxmi Bai and Hansraj Colleges, where certain departments witnessed 100% displacements of teachers working for the longest time, she said. “It is extremely unfortunate that the University Administration has not done anything to rein in these three vindictive college principals,” Habib rued.

Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.

Subscribe Newsclick On Telegram