Recently, we interviewed the Secretary of Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) about the organisation, its views on the FYUP, the issue of ad hoc professors in the university, the Vice Chancellor’s Office and a lot more. Here is the entire interview for our audience to listen and to read.
[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/103948776″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” auto_play=”true” /]
DUB : Mr Siddiqui, to start off, can you tell us a little about DUTA as an organization – what are its main goals and principles?
DUTA: The Objectives of DUTA are to ensure smooth academic functioning in the university and academic growth and to ensure security in the service conditions of teachers alongside maintaining academic standards of the university.
DUB: While so many teachers, students even administrative staff have been protesting against FYUP, the programme is still coming in with the start of the new semester. Where does DUTA stand on the programme? What were the main reasons for DUTA to protest against the FYUP in the first place and what do you think can go wrong now that it is being implemented?
DUTA: Actually, any institution of higher education, we have to understand, it is neither a mill nor a corporate office, and here the environment is entirely different, and whatever is done in the university is done with the active participation and cooperation of teachers, authorities, students and karamcharis. Unfortunately, off late what has been happening is that this culture of the university which has been obtained with great care and devotion has been given a go by and things are moving in a highly partisan, non participatory and dictatorial fashion. There are university bodies, so many agencies and levels of decision making like the departments, the faculties, the academic council, the executive council, the general body of concerned teachers of a particular department. But in the process of decision making, the participation of all these bodies and the teachers who are the people who teach when there are changed courses are not being consulted in a way they ought to be consulted. That is the problem. And therefore the courses are coming in a half baked and haphazard manner, in a manner that the goodness and the propriety of these courses is not ensured.
DUB: So as an organisation, DUTA is against the FYUP completely?
DUTA : Let us not say we are against something which we do not know, something about which there has been no participative consultation and discussion. How can we say we are against it? We are saying, whatever changes you bring, bring them in a democratic manner with the due processes of law. But that is not happening. And the various agencies are being taken for a ride.
DUB: How is the new system is going to affect the students?
DUTA: I feel the educational standard of Delhi University is being made a mockery of. I am not against reform, reforms are welcome, and nothing is as important as change. But change in what manner, I decide something and impose it upon you, and you are people directly concerned, and say we are not seeking your opinion, you have to study this and teach this from this year. From where are the courses coming?
DUB: What about teacher workload and the student teacher ratio – how is that going to be affected by the FYUP?
DUTA: Claims and counter claims are being bended out, where they say workload is going to increase, the workload is getting reduced, and where there is a fear that the workload is going to reduce, it remains the same. Under identical circumstances, in different colleges, the workload is getting upside down.
DUB: But the student teacher ratio sir, is obviously going to increase with so many students studying the foundation courses, right. So how do you think that’s going to affect the student teacher ratio and the workload, because if you’re teaching 70 students instead of 50, its obviously going to make a difference.
DUTA: That makes a difference in the quality of teaching also. When I was a student in the University, there used to be 12 or 16 students admitted. Now we teach a batch of 40. Last year, there were 70 in honours. And this time, we may face an honours class of 150. What kind of honours or distinction will they be getting? They will be studying the same course. And so many courses are the level of school.
DUB: Coming from there, why do you think no new appointments were made to teach the new courses under FYUP? What is DUTA doing about the shortage of teachers in the university right now?
DUTA: There has been an acute shortage of teachers for the past 4 years and about 4000 teachers have been teaching in adhoc and guest positions. And it is a mystery, officially speaking, if you ask me, as to why the appointments are not being made. I am incidentally the general secretary of Federation of Central University Teachers Association, what you call FECUTA, so in that capacity I took a delegation and met the UGC chairman more than once and we wanted to know why the appointments are not being made – whether there a confidential instruction from UGC for not making appointments as DU has been dilly dallying the matter. Then the UGC Chairman said very categorically that there is no delay from our side – infact, there is nothing confidential, infact, on the other hand we want the process of appointments to be expedited and to that effect, at our behest, the UGC wrote to the University officials, but they something, and DU says something and then Delhi University says that as soon as the latest service conditions are finalized, the appointments will start, and the UGC says that there is no bar from our side. And there have been announcements atleast three four times in the press that shortly or sooner than late, appointments will begin.
DUB: What is the composition of teachers in the university as of now? How many teachers are we short of?
DUTA: At this moment, there is a strength of 9000 teachers in colleges and departments, out of which, about 4000 are temporary and adhoc and guest position and on contact basis. Moreover, there are about 4000 vacancies.
DUB: What are the major differences in ad hoc and permanent appointments as far as work load and facilities are concerned?
DUTA: In working conditions, there is no difference. But the nature of appointment is different. The permanent appointment is made through a properly constituted selection committee, and that is regular. Then you cannot be pushed out. And an ad hoc appointment is for 4 months technically. Then you can renew your appointment every 4 months.
DUB: Tell us about the DUTA’s recent protests about the victimisation of ad hoc teachers? What exactly were you demanding?
DUTA: We are demanding, very specifically, the filling up of these 4000 vacancies.
DUB: By adhoc professors who have already been teaching?
DUTA: Number one, actually, we cannot officially say that as that would be disregarding the judgment of the Permanent Selection Committee. So I would say, fill up these 4000 vacant positions with permanent positions and do away with adhocism.
DUB: So you think there should be no ad hoc teachers all together?
DUTA: Adhoc appointments are meant only for a very brief period, until you find a regular solution. But then you institutionalise the adhocism. You have made adhocism a permanent phenomenon, how can the university function?
DUB: A lot has been said and written about the present Vice Chancellor. What is the DUTA’s stand on him?
DUTA: This present VC unfortunately has not been functioning as a head of an institution of higher learning ought to function.
DUB: How should a head function and how is he not fitting into that criteria?
DUTA: Because an academic institution of higher learning is very different from a corporate office, a company or a mill. Because here you get an atmosphere where the university functions with the cooperation of the teachers, students and karamcharis. Unfortunately, here the environment has undergone a total change. And now the present VC, if you allow me to say this, has been functioning as the CEO of a company, issuing orders on his behalf, shooting letters through is assistant registrar, even though the assistant registrar has no authority to do so. . They are also very poor at drafting – they don’t know the protocol or propriety.
DUB: While a substantial number of teachers, students and administrative staff have been protesting the VC’s major reforms and policies in the University, most of these have been implemented regardless of protests, dharnas, demonstrations, even the hunger strikes for that matter. Doesn’t that send across a message about the helplessness of organizations like yours? What are you doing to change that and make the VC’s office take DUTA more seriously?
DUTA: It is being implemented but it is being imposed. But I think this is an interim period, and sooner than later, there will be some kind of reaction. The election of the next DUTA have been announced in August and now any major action programme will come in after the election of the next DUTA. But there is simmering discontent at all levels. Look, we cannot take law into our hands. We are law abiding people, we can protest, persuade, try to engage in persuasion and negotiation. We have undertaken various action programmes.
DUB: So you think that someday, something as powerful as the VC’s office, will have to take into heed your demands?
DUTA: Yes, very soon. These are not demands like those of mill workers. DUTA is a growing and evolving teacher movement, not a trade union screaming inquilaab zindabad. Because we take care of the health of the academics and we are worried and hurt that the academics is dying in the University.
DUB: Finally, with a new batch of students coming in and a whole new system of education being brought about, what advice would you give both students and teachers to deal with these major changes?
DUTA: The new students are coming in with their fingers crossed as they coming into the unknown. They are students and they are young and I know that with their dedication and hardwork, they will tide over any crisis. This is a period of crisis. When the semester system came, the students were made victims. And so many of them suffered. But the youngsters have to rise to the challenge, and have to work with determination, whatever the courses are.
DUB: Any message for the teachers?
DUTA: Teachers will teach whatever the new courses are. But they are feeling hurt, because their very eyes, the courses and their quality are being curtailed and stifled. But we know that the standard of education is being destroyed. You are flirting with the courses and making a mockery of them. We have seen a different kind of university.
DUB: So you say bring back the university that it was?
DUTA: Yes, we want the academic status and dignity of academic functioning must be restored, which is being crippled.]]>