Arguments in Support of our Demands
The Hon’ble Union Minister for Human Resource Development
Government of India, New Delhi
Subject: Charter of demands for young and prospective college and university teachers.
We wish to invite your urgent attention on the following and seek your kind intervention in the same:
The MHRD notification, dated 31.12.2008, on the revision of pay for college and university teachers, has generated intense opinion amongst the college and university teachers. While we appreciate that the provisions in the MHRD notification in respect of incumbent Readers and equivalent grades have appropriately redressed the demands of teachers, we feel deeply aggrieved that the said Notification is not at all in conformity with the stated policies of the Government of India in respect of young and prospective teachers. We wish to bring the worries and concerns of all young and future teachers to your urgent notice and urge upon the Government that necessary revisions be done in the Notification so as to restore its thrust that the Government stands committed, in letter and spirit, to its declared objective of attracting young talent to teaching profession and retaining them in future.
Sir, the onus on the Government to redress the grievances of the future teachers of India is more so because they can not have an organization or association of their own to act as an interface between the government and the prospective teachers. We don’t want to shirk from this responsibility and so should the Government. Sir, India has a demographic advantage as compared to developed countries with 70% of its population are youth. Unfortunately, the initial enthusiasm generated by the Government through its national policy, the 11th Five Year Plan, the National Knowledge Commission Report, and the Chaddha Committee Report, amongst the young and talented youth to join this noble profession, has badly been jeopardized. Government’s departure from its own basic thrust to attract young talent to this profession has been received as a surprise. One wonders under what circumstances the Government was (im) pressed upon to make an about turn from it policy, pushing to jeopardy the future of higher education in India.
Sir, one of the basic attractions of a Government job in general and teaching in particular was the commitment of the Government in ensuring social security, especially in post retirement period. Keeping this in view that teachers play a distinctive role in society, the Chaddha Committee had strongly recommended for the restoration of old pension scheme for teachers appointed on or after 01.01.2004 and also for future appointees. Perhaps this is the reason that the Government of India has been impressed upon to retain the old pension scheme for the Defense personnel. Needless to say, they are crucial to country’s safety & security. Teachers too are vital for nation-building, a fact recognized and underlined by the 11th Plan. Rightly has Prof. Kothari said that the future of a nation is shaped in the class room. Hence, we demand that PRC’s recommendation for restoring the old pension scheme for teachers with the triple benefit of GPF, pension and gratuity be reconsidered. As far as the funding of pension liabilities is concerned, it is worthwhile to quote some excerpts of a study commissioned by the 6th Central Pay Commission, “While the future Central Govt. pensionary expenditure in absolute terms would be significant, as a percentage of GDP its share is on the decline” [p.351, 6th CPC report]. It has further observed, “In any case, the projected pension costs are not alarmingly high given the expected robust growth of the economy and the short nature of the period during which the huge payments are to persist and are expected to fall considerably after touching an all time high of 1.1 % of GDP in 1999-2000 [p.352, 6th CPC report]”. It, therefore, suggests that the worst in terms of pension payment liabilities for the Government is over. Thus, the future pension liability of pensioners and employees can continue to be discharged without much difficulty in the old way.
Sir, the MHRD notification has mutilated the young teachers and future entrants in multiple ways. PRC recommendations were reflective of an incessant vision to ensure that best available talent enters this profession and continue to feel motivated. Hence, it was imperative on the part of PRC that future entrants be offered higher entry-level inducements. For example, a Grade Pay of Rs.6600 for lecturers/ Asstt. Professors, 2 increment for NET, 3 increments for M.Phil and an Academic Allowance of Rs. 1500 per month. Increments for M.Phil have been reduced from 3 to 2. Also, the Research promotion Grant for new entrants to the profession as seed money of Rs. 2.00 lakhs and Rs. 5.00 lakhs for humanities/social sciences and sciences respectively as financial support for carrying out research against duly approved projects (Page 70 of PRC, Cl. 5.3.6) has been rejected. By reducing the GP of lecturers from 6600 to AGP 6000 and that of a Senior lecturer from a GP of 7600 to 7000, the extant parity with school vice-principals and principals, respectively, has been disturbed. Also, the impugned notification has further lengthened the duration to get the first substantial promotion to Associate Professorship by 3/4/5 years. This has terribly de-motivated the young teachers. The situation becomes alarming particularly in the context of a serious requirement for new & quality teachers in the institutions of higher learning and the massive expansion in higher education that the government has envisioned. Hence we earnestly demand that the recommendations of the UGC for lecturers at the entry-level and also for senior lecturers be implemented in letter and spirit.
Sir, retention of talent has also been a prime focus of the Government policy in respect of higher education. We wish to underscore this point separately with an intent that the Government may please gauge the intensity of de-motivation creeping into the rank of teachers arisen from the lengthening of first substantial promotion from 9/10/11 years with PhD/M.Phil/PG to 12/13/14 years. Hence we demand from the Government to provide faster promotional avenues in the first ten years when migrations take place usually.
Sir, the MHRD notification has completely done away with the Academic Allowance for teachers, although it was accepted and recommended by the Pay Review Committee. This allowance was meant to offset the increasing cost of stationery, internet, books, journals and other expenses borne by teachers to sustain their academic growth. Hence it is extremely pertinent that it be restored at the earliest to facilitate the teaching-learning process.
Sir, when a young person chooses to become a teacher, one aspires to reach the pinnacle. It keeps him/her motivated to remain in a constant pursuit to add value to his academic profile. Putting a cap of 10% (of the total number of Associate Professors) on the number of posts of professors in a college is illusory. Also, restricting the number of Professors, to be awarded the AGP of 12000, to 10% of the number of Professors can only promote favoritism which is hazardous for the health of an academic institution. Thus, it is important that the Government considers doing away with this 10% quota and mitigating the chances of favoritism in conditions of services and promotions.
Sir, the last point that we wish to put forth doesn’t pertain to the MHRD notification, nevertheless, it is of high public importance. We bring to the notice of the Government that the rampant practice of appointing the teachers in universities and colleges on temporary/ad-hoc/guest basis for a longer period of time leads ultimately to the erosion and decay of their autonomous character. It ruins their creativity, talent and ability to grow in personality and wisdom. In turn, it grooms an unhealthy culture of dependency and tutelage to the perceived benefactor, a group, guild, or individual, which is pernicious for conducive academic atmosphere. Thus, the government must evolve some regulations to eradicate such continuing practices. In the light of the above, we request that the Government must issue strictures to the appropriate bodies to fill all vacant posts of lecturers on permanent basis at the earliest.
Sir, we trust that the Government shall consider the demands, listed above, of all young teachers and prospective entrants to this profession, with care and sensitivity if it is honest in keeping its tryst with countrymen of prospecting the future of higher education in India.