Delhi University: Demoralised teachers list what ails the elite central university

For years, students from across India flock to Delhi University to study. However DU is not what it used to be, admit teachers who say that the Government has messed up higher education

Photo Courtesy: justine
Photo Courtesy: justine

Justine Siddiqui

He can barely keep the bitterness out. “The Government can spend ₹4,200 Crore to organise a 55-day Kumbh Mela but has no money to spare for higher education…if we lose our job, we will have no option but to either join coaching institutes for a pittance or start selling Pakodas as suggested by the Prime Minister,” says the ad-hoc Assistant Professor Dr Dilip Kumar Gupta, of Commerce at ARSD college in Delhi University.

As many as 60% of the teachers in Delhi University, claims Dr Dilip Kumar Gupta, are ad-hoc teachers. The Government has offered to appoint 15% of them on contract while reducing the emoluments. While ad-hoc teachers in DU have not been absorbed since 2009, under the UPA they at least enjoyed salary and perks equal to permanent teachers.

But no longer. Under the Modi Government, ad-hoc teachers are scared to protest, afraid that they would lose even their ad-hoc jobs. The Government has added to the uncertainty by declaring that only those who have obtained Ph.D. after 2009 alone will be eligible for contract jobs.

That is not all. While teachers on contract have had their salary cut by 1/3rd, even permanent teachers receive a paltry pension after retirement. A Professor who drew Rs 2,5000 per month as salary is paid a pathetic seven thousand Rupees as pension after retirement. The poor service conditions are prompting an increasing number of teachers in Delhi University to quit and switch to universities abroad or to private universities.

By treating each department as the unit and not the college as earlier, the Government has restricted the appointment of reserved categories and ensured that more ‘general category’ teachers are recruited even as ad-hoc teachers. Poor selection of teachers has affected quality of teaching and left students dissatisfied, teachers complain.

In its bid to push privatisation, the Government, as reported, is setting up a Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) which will give loans to colleges in place of grants. There has been a 55% cut in the funds meant for higher education, they point out.

Dr Mukesh Kumar has taught at Delhi University for 15 years but is yet to be made permanent. “There is no scope for ‘career development’ and no financial aid, welfare measures and no means of any extra- earning,” says he ruefully. On the other hand, the workload compared to permanent teacher has increased significantly.

Curiously, despite the considerable infiltration by the RSS in Delhi University, ad-hoc teachers complain that under the present dispensation they have no platform to vent their grievances or raise issues.

Even permanent teachers are disgruntled. Dr Prashant, a Chemistry Professor, informs that permanent faculty hasn’t been promoted in the University for the past 13 to 20 years

Demoralised teachers, adds Dr Hussain, are not ideally placed to prepare for classes and teach. Ad-hoc teachers don’t enjoy casual or earned leave, he says and wryly adds, “Ever since HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar took over as HRD minister, there have been enough cuts in the income slab of the teachers.”

Even teachers with a Ph.D. and multiple publications are made to appear at examinations to retain their job. They also are made to buy the forms which cost ₹500 to ₹20,000, depending on the college, and submit them in order to appear at these exams.

Dr Prashant, a History teacher in a DU college, who has been removed from two colleges for being anti- RSS. When contacted, he says research work of all teachers has suffered for the past three years because ad-hoc teachers are denied access to the central library. Moreover, the University is now taking into account marks secured by teachers in class X upwards and grading teachers accordingly, even those with a Ph.D.

Even permanent teachers are disgruntled. Dr Prashant, a Chemistry Professor, informs that permanent faculty hasn’t been promoted in the University for the past 13 to 20 years. The student teacher ratio has not been maintained.

Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), he claims, used to receive funds every year but now receives funds once in every three years. Many of the retired teachers, he alleges, have not received pension and some of them have passed away.

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