Amidst an ongoing protest at Gargi College by the College Karamchaari Union on Friday about the understaffing problem in the college, two professors repeatedly tried to shush the protests and heckled one of its own students out of the premises as she tried to understand the intensity of the situation. Read more to find out.
Gargi College, University of Delhi, has been home to an ongoing protest by the Karamchaari Union of the college since Wednesday, July 20, 2022. The demands raised in the protests, as the Karamchaari Union President, Shekhar Chand stated pertained to the “severe understaffing problem in the college”. He also stated that the college administration has repeatedly been trying to dial down the protests and that there is nothing being done to resolve this issue.
Having noticed said active protest on Friday (the third day of the protest), a student from the college, Kashish who is also a part of DU Beat tried to investigate the “Whats” and “Hows” of the protest but was asked by two professors to leave the college premises immediately upon direct orders by the Principal, Prof. Promila Kumar. Such Professors were met with harsh slogans from protesters, which they termed “disrespect”. As the student was being heckled out of the college, she had also been threatened that she won’t be issued a migration certificate if she pursued the matter further.
“I was threatened multiple times, with questions of ethics. The teachers said this is an internal matter and I shouldn’t talk about this to the outer world because it’s a matter of reputation. Later on, I was told to move out of my own college as conveyed by the principal to those teachers. It’s shameful how Gargi tried to shun down just a conversation between a student and its own workers.”Kashish Shivani, Web Editor at DU Beat
The Gargi College Karamchaari Union President, Shekhar Chand, in conversation with DU Beat, touched upon the nuances of their protest and why they chose to do it.
“Ever since the notice for an expansion on the number of seats for OBC students has been issued, the UGC has instructed the university to increase the number of staff, both teaching, and non-teaching in the colleges. While there should’ve been around 145-150 members of the staff, there are hardly 75 permanent staff members in the college. There is severe understaffing”.The Gargi College Karamchaari Union President, Shekhar Chand
He also mentioned that although the quota for the teaching staff is mostly fulfilled, it is the non-teaching staff including lab assistants, etc. that have to face the brunt of this unduly pressure of routine functioning in a college with such a large student body. He said that they have sent several letters to the principal in hopes of getting a reply or a solution, but so far nothing has been done. There is no transparency in the college administrative process and we haven’t received a single satisfactory answer. Upon further conversation, they revealed that there have been minimal to no promotions for the non-teaching staff in the last 12-15 years in the college.
“Workers here from as early as 2007 or 2016 have hardly been promoted.”Mr. Chand
Delving into the nitty-gritty of the staff shortage, he also said, “Labs including Chemistry, Physics, Psychology, Zoology, Botany, Microbiology, should have at least 12 lab assistants, 2 each, but the staff shortage is so extreme that we only have 6 people where there should be 12”.
In a recent notice issued by the Delhi University Vice Chancellor, Yogesh Singh, on May 10, 2022, it was stated that the officiating principals of the colleges of Delhi University don’t carry the permission to recruit contract-based or permanent staff, both teaching, and non-teaching. Since Gargi’s principal, Prof. Promila Kumar is an officiating principal, recruitment does not fall under the capacity to which she can exercise her responsibilities as the Principal. With her retiring on July 31, 2022, Mr Chand, addressed this facet and went to the point of alleging that the Principal and the Governing Body Chairman, Mr Amitav Virmani are fabricating an administrative obfuscation so they don’t expedite the process of appointing a permanent Principal. The common themes of this protest, as stated by the Karamchaari union, are to “address the understaffing predicament, to appoint a permanent principal, and to enhance the transparency within the different factions of the college”.
In order to understand the mechanics of this “alleged fiasco” a little better, DU Beat spoke to one of the high-rung Administrative department members of Gargi.
“This issue is not as big as it’s made out to be. The college has mulled over the situation enough times. And we have been constantly trying to assure and reassure the Karamchaari Union that their demands are being heard and will be met as long as they’re willing to have a peaceful deliberation about the same”.A member of College administration in conversation with DU Beat
Suggesting a tête-à-tête between the Karamchaari Union and the College Admin actors, he also said, “Aise haaye haaye karne se problem nahi solve hoti”.
On being asked about the number of teaching/non-teaching staff in the college, he denied divulging any information whatsoever. However, he did mention that the college website has posted several vacancies for both teaching and non-teaching staff members but because of the notice issued by the Vice Chancellor on May 10, the recruitment process has been halted until there is a permanent principal in place. With respect to the appointment of the Principal, he stated, “The screening of the applications is in process, but because such a task involves various actors of the university into play, we can’t give a final date as to when the next, permanent Principal will be appointed. It could take 2 months, or 3 months or even 6 months. Ye humaare haath mein nahi hai.” Additionally, he denied most of the statements made by the Karamchaari union and didn’t budge from his original stance and proposition to have a “peaceful conversation” about the same.
With the student’s practical examinations beginning on Monday, and the protests also being resumed, it is still a matter of uncertainty as to when this dissonance between the workers and management will reach a moment of finality, and the students will be relieved of this tug-of-war.
Featured Image Credits: DU Beat