Almost 86% ad hoc teachers in Delhi University could not avail maternity leave benefits, revealed a survey by the Delhi University Teachers' Association (DUTA). The survey was conducted after a two-month-long struggle for permanent jobs laid bare the miserable working conditions of the teachers.
The association, after collecting information from 705 respondents, noted that 57% teachers are women; whereas, the rest are men. It further stated that 58% teachers are PhD scholars and 16.9% teachers have completed their M. Phil programmes. Post-graduates constitute 20.3% teachers who have passed the National Eligibility Test (NET), which enables them to teach.
The survey revealed that a working environment with no social security was taking a toll on research activity. It said that 76% ad hoc teachers could not pursue research in the absence of designated leaves, commonly known as Leave with Pay.
Why are DU teachers protesting?
Teachers of the prestigious university have been agitating for more than two months demanding a one-time resolution of the impending crisis through absorption. Many teachers allege that they have been teaching on temporary positions for between 10 and 15 years, expecting themselves to be enrolled as permanent faculty. On August 28, 2019, however, Delhi University issued a circular demoting the status of teachers from ad hoc to guest faculty.
Ad hoc teachers are paid a salary equivalent to the starting salary of an associate professor. On the other hand, guest teachers are paid on a per class basis. After widespread protests, the University withdrew the circular. However, the teachers demanded that the crisis should come to an end with a one-time absorption. The teachers body has been suggesting that teachers should be made permanent in departments and colleges where they have taught for years.
"(Ad hoc) teachers perform the same duties as their permanent colleagues, but have been denied basic rights to a dignified life. Despite fulfilling all the requisite academic qualifications like NET/JRF, M. Phil, PhD or a post-doctorate from prestigious universities of India and abroad, and having teaching experience for years, these teachers are yet to be regularised in their respective positions which are substantive in nature and are earmarked into different categories as per the approved reservation roster," said, Rajiv Ray, president, DUTA.
Ray further said that teachers have consistently contributed in the academic and corporate growth of the university, and that they have been working in their departments and for their colleges “amidst massive insecurity of services with no facilities like annual increments, medical benefits, maternity leaves etc.” He added, “The tenure of ad hoc teachers is fixed for four months which gets extended on the basis of satisfactory service records and interviews, most of which depend on the whims and fancies of the administrative authority. The inhuman conditions can be gauged by the fact that women ad-hoc colleagues have been forced to work throughout their pregnancy period and then, have no option but to rejoin immediately after delivery”.
Rajinder Singh, secretary, DUTA, said that the teachers’ crisis violates rules framed by regulatory agencies, mentioning that the teachers’ ad hoc status violates the rules framed by regulatory agencies. “The indefinite nature of ad-hoc service stands in stark violation of not only the Statutes and Ordinances of the University of Delhi, but also of UGC regulations which have stipulated maximum 10% for such vacancies. Not only that, it also goes against the spirit of various court judgements and violates the fundamental rights of the affected teachers including the right to equal wage for equal work,” he added.
According to Singh, the judgment in 1994 by the Supreme Court in Raj Singh versus the University of Delhi, which was reiterated in 2016, the UGC rules have to be complied with in cases of direct recruitment and promotion. “In order to respond to the peculiar situation which exists in DU, the UGC/MHRD should frame a specific Regulation as a one-time measure for the absorption of the temporary/ad-hoc teachers in the university: a provision for teachers to be absorbed against vacancies which are approved and earmarked according to the DoPT Reservation Roster for teaching positions,” he added.