These last few weeks have witnessed an unusual scenario in Delhi University colleges. The classes are empty and the teachers are absent, all owing to a collective agitation by the faculty members.
The Delhi University Teachers Union led teachers strike has been going on and off since past two months until it was called off on 8th March 2019. Although this persistence reaped one victory with the Union Cabinet issuing an ordinance to restore the 200-point roster system, there is a long list of issues left unsolved.
What is the ‘roster system’ demand of DUTA?
The 200 point roster system was threatened to be replaced by a 13 point roster system when the government announced the latter in March 2018. These two systems deal with provision of reservation of different categories in teacher appointments. The new roster proposed to provide reservation separately in each department while the 200 pointer makes reservation in the total teacher appointment made by the college.
Difference between the two roster system
On the surface, there is a slight difference, 200 point roster takes college as one unit while the other takes the department as one. However, this minute change has the potential to disrupt the entire reservations system. Since many departments have few teacher requirements, possibly two or three, quotas would have been impossible in the 13 point. Mathematically, a department with only 4 positions would not be able to make 15% reservation for SC/ST, 7.5% for Adivasis and 27% for Other Backward Classes. Merely because, one seat reserved for a schedule caste would make it a 25% reservation, thus exceeding the limit and threatening the quota in itself.
The fight to retain the previous system took a year to show results, but the teachers are grappling with a number of other issues as well.
Ad-hoc basis appointment
At present, merely 40% of teachers have permanent appointment, which reflects the dismal condition of the most qualified minds of India. Elaborating on the same, a teacher of Delhi University voiced the situation of teachers appointed on ad-hoc basis, “The very language in our contract says that we can be eliminated from our position as and when required, we may be moved from our position without doing anything wrong. There are permanently appointed teachers who abuse this power and push ad-hocs to do all the work.”
Less rights and benefits for Ad-hoc teachers
Despite the provision of maternity leave being made by university’s Academic Council, implementation falls short. “We don’t get rights, no maternity leave and merely four leaves per semester. If you take more leaves, you can loose your position” said a faculty member of Delhi University who did not want to be named. Apart from this, pensions for teachers who retired in the last seven years have been withheld, leading to anger and hopelessness for the faculty who have spent their lives teaching.
No to Privatisation
One demand DUTA’s lives by is a ‘no to privatisation.’ The threat of autonomous status granted to public funded higher institutes is vehemently opposed due to the danger of fees hike, and commercialisation of educational spaces. Muda Tariq, a Delhi University student pursuing Political Science opined on this demand, “India is not in a position where it can privatise at this point. While I do think, privatisation may be inevitable, It cannot happen at this pace and definitely, not now,”