An indefinite hunger strike launched on January 4 was called off and ‘deferred’ on Sunday after DUTA agreed to take up the cause of 4,600 ad-hoc teachers of Delhi University. DUTA has called for a shutdown on January 17 and 18.
While the University and Government has shown no interest in resolving the issue, the shutdown will be a last-ditch attempt before teachers decide to march to Parliament during the budget session that begins on January 11.
Ad-hoc teachers, points out former DUTA president Dr Aditya Narayan, are treated like slaves, with no security, no leave, no benefits and yet they are expected to engage classes, publish papers and conduct research work like any other ‘permanent’ teacher.
“The situation is so bad that if an ad-hoc teacher gives birth to a baby, she is still expected to engage classes or go without salary,” he says and adds, “ the problem is that this Government is trying to apply the Gujarat model of education to the rest of the country—effectively handing over higher education to private players.”
While blaming successive governments for not addressing the issue, Dr Narayan pointed out that the Modi government has discarded the practice initiated in 2007 to review vacancies and fill them up with ad-hoc teachers who fulfilled the criteria.
Dr Maya John recalled that while the practice of appointing teachers started in the 70s to fill up for teachers who availed long leave for research, field work or other assignments abroad on lien, the problem has become acute with the number of ad-hoc teachers ballooning to 4,600.
Dr John, Secretary of the Staff Association at Jesus & Mary College, claimed it was a myth that ad-hoc teachers do not work as much as permanent teachers. “ Their workload is as heavy and they are required to work under constant uncertainty over their tenure—this constant fear of losing their job is unfair and it is unreasonable to expect them to give their best.
Quality of research work has suffered because the government has reduced the budget for NET scholarships, withdrawn travel grants and are insisting that colleges now raise 30% of the cost of running the institutions.
Remarkably, the Delhi High Court had directed the University to fill up all vacancies by July, 2017. But despite advertising the posts repeatedly, DU has failed to do so.
Ad-hoc teachers point out that the Congress government in Rajasthan in 2008 had absorbed temporary teachers by way of an ordinance. West Bengal had done a similar exercise in 2010 to regularize “guest” teachers. Punjab, Delhi, UP, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana Governments have also regularised temporary employees in the past few years, they pointed out and demanded that the Union Government too make use of an ordinance to regularise the services of ad-hoc teachers.