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In Her Own Words: A Teacher’s Struggle with Ad-hocism for 20 Years and Counting

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A first hand account of Dr. Asha Devi, an ad hoc professor at Hindi Department of Aditi Mahavidyalaya. She talks about the difficulties ad hoc teachers have been facing for over two decades. 

“I joined the University of Delhi (DU) as a lecturer in Aditi Mahavidyalaya in1996 on ad-hoc basis. I used to change three buses to reach the college since it was two hours away from my residence.  With a Doctorate in Hindi, double Masters in Hindi, and Mass Communication, I was sure that I’ll soon get a permanent job in the University. I was also the Class 12th topper in Hindi in CBSE Examinations, 1985. I still have the journal where my interview was published. Even at that time, I had said that I wanted to be a lecturer when I was asked about my goals.

I did my Bachelors, Masters, M.Phil and Ph.D in Hindi from DU. I cleared NET with JRF in 1991 in the first trial. In 1999, my daughter was born, and being an ad-hoc I wasn’t given maternity leave. I was thrown out of my job but I did not lose hope. I continuously kept teaching in various colleges of the University as a guest lecturer, and even agreed to give a single lecture a week. In 2001, the interviews for permanent posts of faculties were conducted in Aditi Mahavidyalaya. I wasn’t selected despite a good interview because the already appointed lecturers were given preferences. I joined Aditi Mahavidyalaya again in 2002, again on an ad hoc basis. In 2004, the interviews for permanent posts were conducted again, but due to nepotism, I was thrown out from my job for the third time. Even now, when I think about the 2004 interview, I feel extremely miserable, helpless, and depressed. The thought that someone else took my job because they had better contacts and money than me still haunts me.

Since then, I have been filling the application forms for other colleges of DU spending around INR 500 to INR 1000 on each form. Every year, thousands of applicants fill these forms, but the interviews never take place. If they do, I for sure never get selected, despite proper experience, and qualifications. I taught in a private university for a year where my salary was even lesser than what I used to get in DU.

Since I have been teaching in Aditi Mahavidyalaya for long, it feels like my second home. However, there is still a fear that this home will never accept me completely, and would throw me out. My daughter is pursuing her graduation from Miranda House. She often asks me to join her college, but it is not that easy. I can only dream of teaching as a permanent faculty. Every four months, I have a weird feeling in my gut which leaves me wondering whether I’ll get the letter this time or not. I am the sole bread earner of the family. I have two kids, and less money to spend on their education. I am under many loans. I want to make sure that they don’t suffer because of the system, like I have.

One thing I am sure of is that is I know my job very well. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been teaching for 20 years. Since 1996, I have also been the in-charge of many committees, and societies of Aditi Mahavidyalaya. I was the convener of NCC for nearly six years. I used to be given tasks to take the NCC students for outdoor camps. If I were so impotent, who would assign me tasks like these?

Sometimes, students of other disciplines tell me that they want to attend my lecture. This makes my day. Whatever happens in college affects me a lot. I tell my daughter everything that happens in a day. It occupies a huge part of my life. It’s too late for me to learn something new, and start all over again. All I want to ask is: What is my fault?, The fact that I didn’t give in to the system or, deserved to be treated fairly.

Feature Image Credits: Dr. Asha Devi

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