As students, we rarely know the ongoings of what happens behind the scenes especially with regards to how the university deals with its teachers. It came as a surprise to me how important the Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) elections really were. To give you a little basis, the DUTA was founded in 1948 and elections for the Presidency take place every other year. So, if they happen every other year what makes this one so special?
The Issue of Ad-hoc Teachers
The University hires teachers that is as simple as it is. But when colleges need teachers, the university dictates that colleges recruit new teachers for permanent vacancies but in the interim period, they may hire ad-hoc or guest faculty. But what is happening is that these ad-hoc teachers are not being promoted to the position of permanent faculty. And worse, the salaries are not subject to annual increments according to an article published by the Indian Express in 2019.
According to the same article, the University due to several underlying problems fails to hire permanent faculty regularly to fill vacancies. This has led to an increase from 500 ad-hoc teachers a decade ago to 4,500 ad-hoc teachers today.
Further, in 2019, the varsity tried to do away with ad-hoc teachers or reduce them to the capacity of guest teachers. This raised serious concerns as guest teachers make less money, are limited to working for eight months of work and are not entitled to paid leaves. The guidelines further state that:
Guest faculty will not be treated like regular teachers for the purpose of voting rights for becoming members of various statutory bodies of the university.
The DUTA has brought up this issue several times in the last couple of years. They stated this in a letter to the Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan:
Close to 4,500 teachers are working ad-hoc basis in DU with the number increasing every day as no recruitment have taken place for more than ten years now and with many teachers superannuating in the meantime. Though these these teachers perform the same duties as their permanent colleagues, they have been denied basic rights to a dignified life.
The DUTA elections were held on Friday and mainly five groups are running. All of which are taking the issue of ad-hoc teachers very seriously. They are running with the premise of absorbing ad-hoc teachers, rolling back the four year UG programs and implementation the NEP.
The ad-hoc teachers also formed a group that stood for elections called Ad hoc Teachers’. It is led by Shabana Azmi, an ad-hoc political science teacher in Zakir Husain College. Their primary motive is the one-time absorption of ad-hoc faculty. The AAP backed group, Delhi Teachers’ Association is also fielding for a position on the board. The right-wing National Democratic Teachers’ Front (NDTF), which only lost by a slim margin last time is aching for its way back. Finally, Academics For Action and Development (AAD) stood for elections this year.
The RSS-backed NDTF won the election this time for the first time in 24 years. The DTF which has been in office for five terms now is being dethroned. So, the NEP might not be going anywhere for the time being. And the ad-hoc teacher issue might unfold in the coming months with the new administration.
While researching for this article, I came across this paper from 1986 which talked about the significance of the DUTA, its significance and its gall when standing up to authority:
This [Delhi University’s] reputation has given the Teachers’ Association some measure credibility and bargaining power…Over the years, the teachers movement in the University has come to be recognised as one of the leading segments of the democratic movement. The DUTA has, to its credit, the distinction of being one of the first associations to draw public attention to and agitate on issues like the Hospital & Other Institutions Bill, the UGC’s Central Universities Review Committee’s (CURC) Report, the ‘New Education Policy’ etc.
Read more DU news here.