Exploring the history of the events that triggered the ongoing unrest within DU’s academia.
In October 2017, the University Grants Commission (UGC) had introduced rules, making reservation applicable at the department level instead of university level. The UGC rules had followed an Allahabad High Court order of April 2017, which was upheld by the Supreme Court. The High Court had struck down a UGC circular on institution-wise quota to fill vacant Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) posts, pointing out that there were departments without any SC/ST teachers. The new UGC rules had led to widespread protests across universities with professors, and critics saying that such a move will deprive many reserved candidates of their jobs.
In March 2018, UGC issued a fresh order with new clauses that asked for a roster system, sparking an instant backlash in the university system. Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) said that, till now, the UGC had specifically prohibited the practice of making department-wise cadres, as that would lead to the denial of reservation in small departments. In June 2018, DUTA organized ‘satyagraha’ amid reports of autonomisation of the University of Delhi (DU), by calling off the evaluation for this semester’s examination papers. Members cited this move as ‘anti-education, and anti-people policy pronouncements of the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development.’ In particular, the teachers were strongly opposed to the 30%-70% funding formula, the tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) requiring steady increase in students’ fees, graded autonomy, and the scheme of autonomous colleges. The DU administration later via a press release pleaded teachers to start the evaluation soon. In response to the ongoing protest about reservation roster, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) drafted a bill that stipulates for the maintainence of the vacancy roasters university wise at all centrally funded higher education institutions to implement reservation of faculty members in November 2018.
In December 2018, agitation with respect to the government’s failure to implement the Seventh Pay Commission in totality for universities translated into more protests. The notification for implementation of revised allowances, and pensions, consequent to the Seventh pay Commission, and disbursal of the required funds for its implementation are still pending, according to the memebers of the DUTA.
In January 2019, a two day shutdown was triggered by the Vice Chancellor’s (VC) refusal to table the report of the Recommendation Committee constituted to review the UGC gazette notification related to teachers’ service conditions. Dr. Rakesh, a member of DUTA spoke to DU Beat. He said, “VC has launched new terms to count the served time period, which harms us. He hasn’t enforced the UGC guidelines, which relieves the ad hocs.” Thousands of teaching, and nonteaching permanent posts remain vacant, while teachers and karamcharis have been working on ad hoc posts for many years. Ad hoc teachers lack job security, and employment benefits. They demand regularisation, and absorption of temporary, and ad hoc teachers. They also accused the government of sweeping the reservation roster issue under the rug, owing to their silence on the matter. Dr. A.M. Khan, a member of DUTA, expressed dissatisfaction with the Ministry, VC and the Government, saying, “There were very high hopes with regard to the new government, but unfortunately the opposite happened. Thus, everyone is on the streets today”.
Feature Image Credits: Aakarsh Gupta for DU Beat.