Dear colleagues, A massive thank you for your overwhelming show of solidarity at our Dharna at D.U Arts Faculty on 25 February 2009. Due to the participation of hundreds of teachers from Delhi University, JNU, and Jamia, the Dharna was a huge success, and we now see clear signs of increased sensitivity among various quarters towards the concerns of young and prospective teachers. Your participation in the Dharna in large numbers was a crucial blow to the undemocratic DUTA leadership that is in power currently. We congratulate you all.
Our struggle for a better pay package for young and prospective teachers has now reached a crucial stage. The mandate we had received from all of you at the Dharna was very loud and clear. There is an intense feeling of betrayal by the DUTA leadership and the Government, and a sense of de-motivation is creeping into the rank of younger teachers arising from the reduction of AGP at each level within Pay Band 3, the loss of Academic Allowance, and the lengthening of first promotion from 9/10/11 years to 12/13/14 years with PhD/M.Phil/PG respectively. Unfortunately, in its latest newsletter released in March 2009, the DUTA leadership continues to issue canards against the agitated teachers. The current DUTA leadership publicly declares the present pay package as ‘historic’, and in its newsletter demands the “speedy” implementation of the MHRD Notification of 31.12.2008. It is unfortunate that Academic Allowance and the restoration of 9/10/11 years criterion for first substantial promotion to Associate Professorship do not even figure in the list of DUTA’s demands. It may be recalled that UGC after modifying the PRC Report had recommended PB 4 with GP 8700 in 9/10/11 years of service. (See the Newsletter of October-November, 2008, released on behalf of AAD itself). Historic negotiators have utterly failed in getting any of the substantial recommendations of the UGC approved by the Government. This so-called “historic” pay package is going to have more dangerous effects in the near future. According to media reports, owing to a substantial jump in the basic pay in PB 4, newly appointed and not so newly appointed Readers are likely to be fixed at the same basic pay. A host of legal complications is bound to arise if this actually happens. The legitimacy and prudence of the historic negotiators of this historic deal can seriously be called in question.
Ever since we realized that the present pay package was unjust, asymmetrical and discriminatory, we have not left any stone unturned to make the leadership aware of the worries and concerns of all young and prospective teachers. The amazing neglect shown towards younger and prospective teachers by the current DUTA leadership has forced us take up our issues ourselves. We have submitted a memorandum in this regard to the MHRD. Further, we are working rigorously on extending our movement to other Central Universities to sensitize them and bring them to our fold. In the course of our interaction we have realized that there is huge unrest in the rank of teachers in other Central Universities as well. They are equally agitated on account of the Government’s departure from its declared policy of attracting young talent to the teaching profession. Their sense of betrayal has led them to discuss the possibility of filing a Writ Petition against the Government for violating the doctrine of “just expectation”; and further for causing serious dislocations in the hitherto existing pay parities with respect to certain categories of employees. They have promised to extend their wholehearted support to our common cause. This will provide immense strength and a national dimension to our movement. We have created working groups for the purpose of contacting teachers of other Central Universities and brainstorming on the best methods to address them. We request you to volunteer for this task, so that we may accomplish our goals at a quicker pace, subsequent upon which we plan to take a protest march to the MHRD. We have raised our voice and echoed our concerns at every available forum. We even impressed upon Shri Alok Kumar Mehta, Hon’ble member of Lok Sabha (who raised this issue in the House under matter of urgent public importance), and also met Shri Rahul Gandhi, Hon’ble member of Lok Sabha, who promised to forward the matter to the MHRD. As many saw for themselves, the real agenda of the current DUTA leadership got exposed as soon as the Draft UGC Regulations pertaining to promotion and service conditions of teachers were posted on the UGC website. The said Regulations imposed stringent conditions on all teachers (Asstt. Professor, Associate professor, and Professor) and linked them with promotions. As we all know, the pernicious Draft Regulations visibly perturbed all teachers. To our initial relief, the DUTA leadership wasted no time in convening an emergent meeting of the DUTA Executive on 17 February, 2009. The meeting called for a complete strike on 19th and 20th February. It also decided to stage a demonstration at UGC on 24th February. However, again as is familiar to all, the UGC in the meanwhile issued a clarification on 19th February in which it stated that incumbent Readers and Lecturers (Selection Grade) would be exempted from said UGC Regulations and would be placed in PB 4 at appropriate stage as per the MHRD Notification. It is important to note that the UGC Clarification that came on 19th February exempted only incumbent Readers and Lecturers in Selection Grade while Asstt. Professors and Professors continue to be potentially governed by the new regime of API, WP and PASS system as laid down by the UGC for promotion to higher Pay Band and vertical movement within a Pay Band. In a shocking demonstration of bias, the DUTA/FEDCUTA not only called off the strike, but it also ‘deferred’ the demonstration at UGC on 24th February. We put on record that this deferred strike has still not been held and no one knows if it ever be held.
Our serious doubts if the current leadership was representing the interests of all sections of teaching community have only been deepened by this episode. Worse, the current DUTA leadership has gone to the extent of holding the aggrieved younger teachers responsible for the objectionable Draft Regulation issued by the UGC!! Such inane and patently false statements need to be condemned in the strongest possible terms. Ours is a genuine movement and our struggle for better conditions for younger faculty cannot be dismissed by the insensitive DUTA leadership which has on its part ceased to represent the legitimate interests of all sections of teaching community. It has lost its focus, strayed from crucial issues and has come to depend increasingly on the politics of slander. History repeats itself!! Never did we realize the meaning of this proverb as we are doing today! It is worthwhile to travel back in history and quote an interesting excerpt from Indian Express, 29 April 1998:
“Meanwhile, the Association of Young Academics (AYA) has expressed apprehension about the intentions of the DUTA leadership. “We are worried that during negotiations with the HRD minister we will be made the sacrificial lambs,” says Aditya Narayan Misra, convenor of AYA. “The DUTA leadership is not paying attention to our demands. Though everyone is talking about trying to bring in better talent, by giving lecturers a bad deal good people will never come in.” (http://www.indianexpress.com/ie/daily/19980429/11951314.html)
Mr. Aditya Narayan Mishra has now done exactly what he stated 10 years ago against the then DUTA leadership. Young teachers have been made, to use Mr. Mishra’s own words, “sacrificial lambs” this time too. We request Mr. Aditya Narayan Mishra, the Former Convenor of AYA (Association of Young Academics) and incumbent DUTA President, to refrain from vilification campaign that we are dividing DUTA. Our repeated and genuine efforts to put across our concerns in the ranks of DUTA leadership soon after the MHRD notification have met with repeated failure and dismissal by the DUTA leadership. Our concerns have been misleadingly portrayed as an attempt to divide DUTA. Perhaps they don’t realize that DUTA is too sacrosanct to be divided. Our democratic right to be heard at every stage, and to be represented faithfully by our elected leadership has been denied by a tried and tested tactic – trying to show that we are “only a handful” in number. Further, fictitious theories regarding our supposed party affiliations have been floated – as if we are bereft of political wisdom ourselves, and require secret party affiliations to appreciate our real fortunes in the present pay package! Despite their best efforts and a parallel vilification campaign, which is the main political plank of current dispensation, we have demonstrated at our Dharna and through our sustained campaign that we are not a “handful”, and that our demands and concerns cannot be undermined any longer. The hypocrisy of the leadership has now come to the fore. The reason why the leadership has demanded ‘speedy’ implementation of the MHRD notification, and has been refraining from chalking out any concrete action plan for the pursuit of our demands is that the leadership is probably hand in glove with the Government. Opposing the Government at this stage would have caused untold embarrassment to the negotiators of the deal who wholeheartedly accepted the package. The so called “unresolved” demands and “anomalies” listed in the DUTA Newsletter are not actually “unresolved” and “anomalies”. This was what was offered by the Government and accepted by the negotiators in the whole process of bargain.
We still hope that wisdom prevails, even belatedly, and the DUTA leadership chalks out a concrete action programme for the pursuit of our demands. Any false pretense of unity can 4
only suppress crucial voices and inputs. This is not the ethic of a trade union to represent the interests of some while leaving others to flounder. Readers have got PB 4 because they rightly deserved it. It is again very regrettable that historic negotiators are resorting to demagogic politics and whispering campaign across a section that PB 4 would be taken back by the Government on account of Young teachers’ protest against the present pay package! You may recall that young teachers had succeeded in seeking a promise from the DUTA Executive members present at the Dharna Site on 25.02.2009 that they would requisition a meeting of the Executive to compel DUTA to undertake action programme for pursuing young teachers’ demand. The requisitioned meeting was scheduled to take place on 16.03.2009. The same has been postponed for conspicuous reasons. This is again unfortunate. The DUTA leadership is hell-bent on its policy of perpetual evasion of young teachers’ demands. We must fight for restoring democratic propriety in DUTA and facilitating the conditions of internal democracy within DUTA. Also, we trust that the Government shall consider demands of all young teachers and prospective entrants to this profession with care and sensitivity if it is honest in keeping its tryst with its countrymen of creating a glorious future for higher education in India. There is a long fight ahead; and the teachers’ movement can succeed only if all sections of teaching community support each others’ cause.
Released by Young Teachers of Delhi University YDUTA
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