After 72 days of a relentless struggle, Delhi University (DU) teachers still stare at an uncertain future with delayed salaries. The teachers allege they are being hounded for their participation in protests triggered by a University letter demoting ad hoc teachers to guest teachers.
Teachers argue that DU’s silence on the Record of Discussions between them and the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) is only cementing a crisis looming over the University for a decade.
Dr. Ritu Singh, Assistant Professor at DU, told NewsClick that the University is cracking the whip on agitating teachers by delaying salaries and through service breaks. "I have not received my salary for the last four months. The administration is giving service breaks to teachers by new appointments through principals,” she said. Singh explains that in case college principals suspend their services “and ask us to join from a new date, then my past experience will not be considered for appointment. If we protest their decisions, we may be shown the door.”
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 they have been teaching on temporary positions for between 10 and 15 years, expecting enrollments as permanent faculty. On August 28, 2019, however, DU issued a circular demoting ad hoc teachers 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. DU withdrew the circular after widespread protests. However, teachers demanded an end to the crisis 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.
Jitender Singh Meena, a member of the Delhi University Teachers' Association (DUTA) Executive told NewsClick that the university administration is not only deaf on the issue of absorption, but that they are also non-committal on promotions as well. “First, it failed to notify the record of discussions between DUTA and MHRD. At least it should come out with its own understanding of whether if it accepts the proposals by MHRD or not,” he said. Meena mentions that teachers have been waiting for promotions for years and that DU came up with a one-page form “which essentially mocks us as we cannot list out our details and experience in it. Similarly, it is not releasing the seats under Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) quota. I am seriously thinking if the government can imagine this country without universities."
Explaining the tussle around promotions, a teacher, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that they are suffering due to conflicting situations arising out of recommendations from two different pay commissions and due to weak political will. He said "As per the sixth pay commission, permanent teachers who did not complete their PhD were eligible for promotions. However, this was changed under the seventh pay commission. A similar situation happened with considerations regarding the years of past experience in promotions too,” he said, mentioning that “the government has made a mockery of higher education and is denying every legitimate right to us.”
In the absence of secure and permanent jobs, 86% ad hoc teachers in DU could not avail maternity leave benefits and other social security benefits. A survey by DUTA revealed that 76% ad hoc teachers could not pursue research in the absence of designated leaves, commonly known as Leave with Pay.
NewsClick made repeated calls to Registrar Tarun Kumar Das for his response but he remained unavailable.