Abha Dev Habib (treasurer of DUTA), in conversation with DU Beat, sheds light on the impasse between the Delhi government, and the DU administration and teachers, requesting the students to stand in solidarity with the teachers of Delhi University and gauge what has been happening on this front.

On 9th March, DUTA called for a complete DU shutdown, requesting teachers across its 70+ colleges to go on strike. Ms Abha, in this interview, goes on to elaborate on the .. of the issue.

Can you brief us about all the major developments, action steps and a timeline of all the events until now?

The whole standoff between the Delhi government and the University of Delhi started in 2019. And there was a very ugly tussle between the University of Delhi and Delhi Government over Governing Body formation: the formation of Governing Bodies was delayed, and also, who will become the chairperson kind of situation. And this standoff resulted in the stopping of grants-in-aid by the Delhi government to these colleges. 

There are 28 colleges out of which 12 are hundred per cent funded by the Delhi government. The centre gives money to the Delhi government so that the government can forward it to these colleges. So a hundred per cent in that sense, the money comes from the Delhi government. Now, they stopped the salaries of the employees and ever since then, the tussle began. DUTA would intervene and would hold protests, and only then there was a release of salary.

It is extremely unfortunate that through the pandemic, the Delhi government maintained this style of functioning where they would withhold the grants-in-aid. Employees today include a large number of non-teaching staff working on a contract basis, and ad-hoc teachers, thus making it impossible for them to sustain themselves in an expensive city like Delhi. A lot of state universities have already been destroyed by this kind of attitude of the government that salaries are not released on time, and therefore, nobody wants to work in such units.

DUTA wrote to the government, enlisting all these concerns, and even held physical protests during the pandemic, but the government did not melt. Grants should be released so that salaries come on time which then, in turn, helps the teachers and employees to perform to the best of their abilities. Now, I mean, with a lot of restraint due time, these teachers function because we did not call for a strike through the pandemic: teachers were involved in admissions, and OBE examinations; teachers continued to teach despite the fact that they had not got salaries, and they also had to go to court for release of salaries. It was only in November that the salaries were finally released Saturdays and in November, that is released only because the court instructed the ligament to do so, or, uh, November Quebec, uh, uh, there was a, such a short one is, or the inordinate delays in grant.