University Teachers in Rohtak Continue 4-Month-Long Protest Over Pay Scales and Promotions
Delhi: "I am standing in a court to seek justice. Ideally, I should have been on my campus, ensuring my students are learning while the administration takes care of our needs. How can one derive motivation amid such harassment?" said Indranil Ghosh, who teaches Film Editing at the Pandit Lakhmi Chand State University of Performing and Visual Arts (PLSUPVA) at Rohtak, Haryana, where teachers have been observing a sit-in protest for 120 days. They are demanding fair pay scales and promotions at par with the University Grants Commission (UGC) standards.
The teachers said that the university's journey began in 2011 when the government of Haryana established four different institutes: State Institute of Fine Arts (SIFA), State Institute of Design (SID), State Institute of Film & Television (SIFT), and State Institute of Urban Planning & Architecture (SIUPA). Three years later, these institutes were merged to form the State University of Performing and Visual Arts through Haryana Act No. 24 of 2014.
However, the teachers are still awaiting the implementation of recommendations from the Seventh Pay Commission regarding salaries, allowances, promotions, and other remunerations. The PLSUPVA is headed by Vice-Chancellor Gajendra Chauhan.
Ghosh, also the President of the State University of Performing and Visual Arts Teachers Association, told NewsClick over the phone: "The beginning of the university was phenomenal with the recruitment of faculty members from across the country. However, favouritism and administrative inefficiencies have marred the bright prospects of an emerging centre of excellence in visual and performing arts." Ghosh emphasised that the university is "the only one offering acting courses in the country.'"
He added, "We have been awaiting UGC pay scales for the last nine years. Apparently, there have been no promotions either. After years of struggle, the Department of Higher Education finally sent a notice to the university in September 2022 to implement the UGC pay scales. However, we have seen that the letter was also put in cold storage." Ghosh stated that they had initially been assured that the implementation would commence after Diwali, followed by a December deadline. He further mentioned that in April, they had issued a notice of their intention to conduct a sit-in protest on campus from May 2, all while ensuring that teaching and administrative responsibilities were not compromised. Their protest had so far persisted for the past 120 days.
Ghosh also mentioned that the teachers are facing harassment in response to their demands. "First, we were given show cause notices for no reason. Students have also been provoked to file complaints against us," he said.
Dushyant Kumar, Assistant Professor at the Film and Television Department, expressed similar sentiments. He told NewsClick, "The vocal teachers have been kept out of the Academic Council, Executive Council, and Board of Studies. Our dearness allowance and other service benefits have been discontinued. I am a founding faculty of the university. Yet, academic matters are not being discussed with us, and adjunct faculties are being called in to design courses in complete violation of UGC rules. They are destroying the university systems by not adhering to rules. What motivation are you left with to teach your students? Yet, we teach and ensure academics are not affected."
Further, Ghosh cited the example of Officiating Registrar V.P. Nandal, who also holds the positions of Officer on Special Duty to the Vice-Chancellor, Controller of Exams, and Advisor to the administration. According to Ghosh, heads of departments were not consulted while drafting minimum educational qualifications for recruiting assistant professors.
Ghosh said, "Educational qualifications for recruiting faculty members were downgraded, which is against the rules laid down by the UGC or the Government of Haryana."
There was no representation of faculty members from the Faculties of Film and Television, Design, or Visual Arts when qualifications were decided for the advertisement (Advertisement no. 01/2023) of recruitment of regular faculty members, he alleged.
Ghosh asserted, "What can be worse than a graduate person being asked to teach certificate and diploma courses? It is in complete contravention of the rules laid out by the University Grants Commission."
On August 28, 2023, the university approved the recruitment of two adjunct professors, Vibhanshu Vaibhav and Raghavendra Pratap Singh. The teachers also questioned these appointments, citing procedural irregularities.
According to the UGC guidelines, an "Adjunct Professor should be an accomplished professional/expert in their chosen field of discipline and may not necessarily possess the qualifications (Master's Degree with the passing of the National Eligibility Test) prescribed under UGC regulations." However, they should be a "certified professional for teaching and training on National Occupational Standards under NSQF, by the Sector Skills Council for teaching respective trade/job role."
Vikas Siwach, President of the Haryana Federation of University and College Teachers Organizations (HFUCTO), told NewsClick that the professors' demands are legitimate, and the government should listen to them. "UGC pay scale and timely promotions are the rights of employees. However, I feel that the government and university administration are not bothered because the institution's operations are running smoothly without any hindrance," Siwach said.
The university's VC Gajendra Chauhan told NewsClick that he would only provide a reply when this reporter visits the campus in person. Chauhan was in the news when students of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) protested against his appointment as the prestigious institute's chairman in 2017.
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