On Monday, thousands of Delhi University teachers marched to Parliament pressing for their demand of one-time absorption of all the ad hoc teachers in the university. The march was stopped at Parliament Street and the protesting teachers courted arrest.
“Currently, Parliament is in session. If the bill abrogating Article 370, triple talaq, and RTI can be passed in a hurry, then why not pass a bill to regularise 4,500 ad-hoc teachers of DU?” asked the protesting ad-hoc teachers.
Led by Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA), the teachers of the central university have decided to continue their indefinite strike, boycotting all official duties, till the primary demand of absorption is met. To push for the same, the teachers’ union has agreed upon a series of action programmes, which include public meetings and day-night dharna outside the vice chancellor’s office.
The teachers climbed the barricades that were placed to stop the march. As a result, many were detained.
The uproar in Delhi University is the latest one in the spate of protests that were seen in the higher education institutes in the past few months. The DU the teachers, especially the ad-hocs, are fighting to secure their jobs, while the students of other universities, including JNU, IIMC among others, are up in arms against the increased fees, demanding affordable and accessible education.
“It is a fight to save the essence of India’s public education from the onslaught of Modi government’s privatisation policies,” DUTA President Rajib Ray told NewsClick.
The issue concerning the job security of the ad hoc teachers goes back to the month of August when a university letter to all colleges and departments created confusion regarding the renewal of the appointment of ad hoc teachers.
The letter had asked to, “fill up the permanent vacancies at the earliest and till permanent appointments are made, Colleges may appoint guest faculty, if required, against new vacancies arising first time in academic session 2019-20”.
DUTA leading the march. The teachers demand one-time absorption of all the ad hoc teachers in the university.
Put it other way, this meant, as ad-hoc teachers feared, that the new vacancies will be created with the expiry of ad-hoc teacher’s four-month contracts which will be then filled with guest teachers’ appointment. On December 4, the teachers gheraoed the office of the vice-chancellor, launching their indefinite strike against the August circular.
Taking stock of the situation, the Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD) on Friday released a circular, clearing the air, that the ad hoc staff will not lose their jobs and will be shortlisted for the interview.
The MHRD, in a statement said, “The colleges/institutions shall fill up the permanent vacancies before the start of the next academic session without fail. During the interim period, if vacancies which have to be filled for maintaining smooth academic functioning of the colleges/institutions, Adhoc/ temporary/ contract/ guest faculty can be appointed.”
Though the teacher’s front welcomed the assurances, no mentioning of the absorption of the temporary staff – the primary demand of the teachers – has prodded the teachers to continue their protest.
Moreover, not addressing the absorption demand in the official notification, the MHRD has raised eyebrows of many. Especially, when in March 2017, during the first term of the Modi government, then HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar had told the Lok Sabha that more than 9,000 ad-hoc posts will be regularised within a year. More so, even the current education minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, in the month of July had assured that the teachers will be absorbed within six months.
DU ad-hoc teachers demanding permanent adsorption.
However, despite the assurances, the problem of temporary staff in the university stands unresolved. Capturing the predicament that the teachers face, Sunita Srivastava said, “I am an ad-hoc in DU and that has become my identity. From college administration to students and families, everyone calls us by this name.”
Srivastava has been teaching journalism at Lady Sri Ram College for the last five years. “We get only four leaves in a month, and no medical leaves. There are no maternity leaves for the women staff,” she said. We won’t stop, till we get permanent status, she added.
Update: The teachers' union has submitted a memorandum to HRD Minister Pokhariyal appealing that he finds "a way to resolve the crisis facing the teachers and students of Delhi University".
Read full text of the memorandum:
Dear Shri Pokhriyal,
You would be aware that the teachers of Delhi University have been agitated for a long time over the complete apathy of the University administration as well as the UGC/ MHRD over long pending issues of teachers, especially those concerning the lives of young teachers who have been working in extremely exploitative and precarious conditions for many years and the long overdue promotions under CAS. The immediate crisis that threatened to render thousands of teachers jobless as a result of the 28 August Circular of Delhi University that intended to replace ad-hoc positions with guest appointments against substantive posts resulted in the expression of collective anger of the teachers.
The DUTA welcomes the timely intervention of the MHRD and UGC in meeting the teachers’ representatives to find solutions and the acceptance of some of our key demands through your communication dated 5 December 2019, sent to us on 6 December 2019.
However, it is unfortunate that the MHRD/ UGC did not make any commitment towards the realization of the major demand for a UGC Regulation for the One-Time Absorption of temporary and adhoc teachers on the basis of 200 point DOPT roster. We believe that this is the only way to alleviate the hardships faced by thousands of young teachers who are as qualified as their permanent colleagues and have made immense contribution to the academic and corporate life of the institution. It is extremely unfortunate that these teachers are denied basic rights to live a life of dignity. Women teachers are denied the right to even maternity leave which goes against the principle of natural justice and Court rulings. The recommendations of the NEP that envisage tenure-track appointments will push these teachers’ careers into further uncertainty.
We thank you for extending the provision for counting of past service as per the UGC Regulations 2018 to all pending cases of promotions. However, we wish to bring to your notice that the DUTA has been demanding the counting of total length of service and not only for the first promotion and hope that the UGC would settle this soon through the report of the Anomalies Committee. Further, you may be aware that in Delhi University promotions have been held up for long years and this inordinate delay is cause for deep demoralization amongst a large section of teachers who are deprived of the benefits of any career advancement.
The DUTA has also been demanding that Second Tranche positions of the much delayed OBC Expansion and EWS Expansion be immediately utilized and added to the teaching Roster following DoPT guidelines. In this context, we also demand that the Kale Committee report be adopted and implemented in Delhi University and that the UGC sanctions posts for self-financing courses and absorbs teachers working on these positions.
Moreover, there has been no assurance from you on the DUTA’s demand for withdrawal of the SLP filed against grant of pension to retired teachers and employees, nor on the illegal recovery being made by the DU administration nor on the Supreme Court mandated Stepping Up. The DUTA has also been demanding an end to the constant threat to the service conditions of the teachers of Physical Education in the University.
In this context, the teachers have had no option but to continue the Indefinite Strike to press for the immediate resolution of our demands. The teachers will also march from Mandi House to Parliament Street tomorrow (9 December 2019) at 12 noon to press for these demands.
We hope that you will continue the dialogue initiated with the DUTA on 5 December and find a way to resolve the crisis facing the teachers and students of Delhi University.
Rajib Ray, President
Rajinder Singh, Secretary