Retired DU Professor, Novy Kapadia, who battles a rare Auto Immune Disorder, is one amongst the hundreds who still haven’t received their pensions from the University, after retirement. 

Novy Kapadia is a retired professor of English who taught in SGTB Khalsa College, University of Delhi (DU) for more than three decades. He is also a renowned sports commentator and author of a book on Indian Football, Barefoot to Boots. A member of several DU Boards and Committees during his career, he retired from office about two years ago.

Since then, he’s been diagnosed with a rare Auto Immune Disorder that has caused irreversible damage to his nervous system and has crippled him.

The problem? He still hasn’t started receiving his pension.

His critical medical condition owing to Auto Immune Disorder has rendered him partially disabled and confined him to the four walls of his house. He bears the huge cost of treatment alone, without a source of income, solely relying on the help of former colleagues and students.

In conversation with DU Beat, professor Kapadia said, “It has been around two years since I have retired. I served in many committees throughout my 40 year career and was a very active member of the DU teaching fraternity. After I retired, I got diagnosed with this incurable disease. My disease isn’t one that can be cured with a surgery or like a virus which goes away with time. I don’t have any relatives to rely on either, it is only my ex-colleagues and former students who are there. I have a full time attendant, who charges INR 100 an hour. All this while, I haven’t received a single penny of my pension. No money comes in, money is only going out. That is very scary for me.”

However, he is only one, amongst the hundreds who haven’t received their pensions either.

“My file is one amongst the many. This issue has been going on for such a long time and there has not been any conclusive results yet. while my friends and colleagues in these councils and committees have tried to raise the issue, no one from DU has officially said anything regarding the pension,” adds professor Kapadia.

The problem finds its root in a 2014 University Grants Commission (UGC) decision, where the UGC decided to stop the payment of pensions, as the scheme was launched in 1987 without its permission. What followed was a court case that lasted till 2017, where the Delhi High Court finally ordered for pensions to be released for all employees.

Despite the High Court order, as can be seen in Professor Kapadia’s case, there hasn’t been any progress regarding the pensions.

Delhi University is sitting over a bunch files relating to pensionary benefits of superannuated teachers. Novy Kapadia is one such victims of apathy and indifference of a cruel administration, who has been denied regular pension since he retired almost two years ago. How dare a system treat us like this after superannuation and force us to be left in the lurch?,” says a statement in support of the ex-professor.

Saikat Ghosh, member, Academic Council DU, adds, “In his ailing state, Mr. Kapadia’s troubles have been compounded by the Delhi University’s refusal to fix his pension and help him meet his treatment expenses. Due to no fault on his part, the DU administration has not deemed it urgent to disburse a single penny of his hard-earned pension. Mr. Kapadia’s case is not isolated; in fact it is illustrative of the problems that all retired teachers are facing, especially those whose pensions have been held up by the DU administration on some flimsy pretext or the other, in recent years. Many are ailing and in need of urgent care and assistance. This is a brazen violation of the legally-guaranteed right to pension and full retirement benefits for DU teachers.”

According to Professor Saikat Ghosh, repeated pleas to the current VC, Prof. Yogesh K. Tyagi, have gone unheeded and the union government has also refused to withdraw its ill-advised SLPs against sections of teachers who have been due for pension.

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Satviki Sanjay 

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The dead body was found at the Sarai Rohilla railway station while the Professor’s Mother was found hanging at their Pitampura residence. 

The decapitated body of a Delhi University professor was found on a railway track near the Sarai Rohilla railway station this Saturday afternoon. Around half-an-hour later, the man’s 55-year-old mother was found hanging at their flat in northwest Delhi’s Pitampura, the police said.

27-year old Allen Stanley hailed from Kottayam in Kerala and was an ad-hoc Professor at St. Stephen’s College, North Campus, University of Delhi (DU). His mother Lissy, was found with cloth stuffed in her mouth and her limbs tied, hanging from the ceiling fan in their Ashiana Apartment flat, as reported by the Times of India. 

Stanley taught Philosophy at the college, and was also pursuing a PhD from another institute. A four page note in Malayalam along with two knives were also found in the flat. According to the Hindustan Times (HT), investigators said they suspect the teacher, who taught at St. Stephen’s College, may have killed his mother before taking his own life. They added that the duo was facing an abetment to suicide case, filed at a police station in Kerala reportedly by the family of the Professor’s father’s former wife. Police investigation has revealed that the woman’s husband had allegedly killed himself in December last year. Although, the mother-son duo had secured anticipatory bail in the case, they were depressed because of it, the police said.

Kottayam’s superintendent of police (SP) Hari Shankar, however, said that there was no case against the DU teacher and his mother in the district. “We have checked with the police station in Pambadi and found no case against them here,” he said, adding that he has informed the Delhi police about the same.

The bodies of the deceased were sent to separate government hospitals where the autopsies will be conducted by Tuesday. The police have informed the man’s brother, who lives in Kerala, about the deaths. He had reportedly given the police some insight into the reason his family members may have been depressed. 

St. Stephen’s College principal, John Varghese in conversation with HT, said, “The young man was an adhoc teacher at our college. On Saturday, he did not come to college and we got to know that he had committed suicide. The college administration was not aware of any previous FIRs against him. He had not spoken to any of his colleagues about it.”

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Bhavya Pandey 

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We all talk about the problems and difficulties in the lives of students, but we always forget to mention the difficulties that professors face.

The job of a teacher is considered as a fixed-time job by many. A lot of students talk about how a professor just has to come, speak for an hour, deliver lectures, and go back and enjoy the rest of the day. But the real question is that, is their job as easy as it is thought to be? The answer to this question comes in many forms. 

Becoming a professor is not just a day-job that can be turned off after working hours. It changes the way of life, as it changes the way one acts, and you cannot truly turn your academic brain off. Their job is not just restricted to the classroom. It is taken to their home as well. For instance, writing assignments is the work of students, but correcting them and offering ways for becoming better is the work of the teacher. Correcting assignments of 50 students is not done in a single day. If a student takes an hour to write a test, the professor will also need some time to read and correct it. It is a result of hours of hard work.

The work of a professor is also not limited to delivering lectures. It forms a much wider perspective. Once you become a teacher and are responsible for a bunch of students, you are not responsible just for their academics, but also their overall growth. Where the right or a positive professor can lead to the rise of a student, the negative one can lead to their fall. Everything a teacher does has the power to influence the students.

Bharati Jagannathan, a permanent faculty at Miranda House said, “The job of a professor is easier in comparison to other private corporate jobs as they have to work for longer shifts. However, there are other difficulties in our lives. It depends on what we are looking at. For instance, teaching the same paper over years is not difficult as we just need to brush up our knowledge. But taking a new paper increases the difficulty. We need to spend hours in college where we do not even have our personal space. The people in the administrative department have their cubicles, but we are required to share the same room with other professors. The work is also not confined to just college, as we need to prepare for our lectures, read and check assignments every day.”

Mridul Megha, an ad-hoc professor said, “Being a teacher is not easy, but it is exciting. Moreover, being an ad-hoc professor is a little difficult because the fear that we will have to sit for interviews again in the next semester and we might or might not get the job is always there at the back of our mind. As a result of this, we are also not able to associate ourselves with a single college.”

She further adds, “The notion that teaching is time-constrained is not very true. Teaching is a profession that is not restricted to just college. We need to prepare daily for our lectures and if we have 4 lectures then it is like preparing for 4 tests every day. We need to keep updating ourselves and that is not easy. In most of the other professions, the work stays confined to the workplace itself but as a teacher, we have to dedicate around 2-3 hours at home every day to reading.”

Balancing work, family, life, and self is demanding at times. Professional life is time-consuming and challenging. Thus, it can be said that the life of a professor is not easy. Just like every other professional, they have a hundred things to deal with, and they have a bigger responsibility of building the character of a student as well.

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Priya Chauhan

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There is a gargantuan vacuum between the triads of the life in and around college, the internal anxieties, and all the post-modern ways you try to mask it in. This piece was published in the farewell edition of DU Beat for the session 2018-2019.
In spite of the million diversities which form the demography of the University of Delhi (DU), what creates an eternal mutual sympathy is the fact that we all come out of the conveyor belt of a strict school system, having braved the long twelve years of mechanical monotony, and the teenage crises, under the constant surveillance of parents.

Naturally then, the idea of a promised land of unfathomed independence called college is firmly romanticised in our mental spaces. In perpetuum, the countless young-adult movies, the many high-school drama based books, and all those young-love songs, create an utopia: about a future in the dreamish college, which ultimately develops into clearly unrealistic expectation from, and hence for, the future self; a red zone by all aspects.

Then starts college, and with it, dance heavily and noisily on our heads all the expectations that the 13-year-old, and later the 16-years-old self had from this 18-years-old self. As if that being not enough, the present self adds extra expectations when one sees the other guy in the class who has a really confident air you had always wanted to have, or the girl over there is interning with a big-shot media firm, or some guy on the first bench has read all the books a human, for you, possibly can.

First year, hence, goes by in ticking the boxes. Studies, internships, dressing well, the right genre, a romantic endeavour, a friend circle – there are just too many to tick. Additionally, the university keeps its tricks in tact – the freshers’ parties, elections, and fest; a first-year kid, the prince of this promised heaven, has to ace all of them.

But the second year brings the disillusionment. You realise that there will be this person who would always score better, because the marking system is inherently flawed, that college societies can be really toxic, and any number of smoked cigarettes won’t fit you in with the cool kids, that the relationship is just another game of power dynamics, that capitalism is a lie, the god is dead, and there is no point of doing all the freelancing and internships because any tangible outcome is impossible. Overall, there is no point striving because at the end of the day, nothing actually is worth the struggle. Unsurprisingly, social media, where your friends show off their unflinching state of happiness in weekly parties and monthly trips, where success stories are a regular tune, only increases this existential malaise. Clearly, this is the huge boulder of failing expectations and hard-hitting realities, and the Sisyphean second-year kid finds increasingly impossible to ascend with it to the following year – the third and the final year of this tryst with life.

However, as Albert Camus famously concluded, one must imagine Sisyphus happy. Since the reality has finally set in and the ultimate truth of being caught up in indomitable constructs is a universal act, by the final year, one starts understanding existential angst in its own terms. Living is full of complexities, it is up to the individual to give the meaning to life. It is up to one to find the order in this chaos. And so one does.

“More often than not, one stops looking for the answers in the third year, and starts taking delight in the mess that is life, comes at peace with the hypocrisies, cultural anxieties, emotional and individual insecurities and, well, life,” remarks a professor, who has also been a student of this university, in a casual conversation.

Summing up, if you have spent these three years at the university and have, by some deux ex machina, succeeded in saving your sanity, you know where you are heading. Even if nothing makes sense right now, with patience, it will. Product of the Indian social constructs and the education system as you are, good things are waiting for you.

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Nikhil Kumar
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