Students and teachers of Delhi University met with the press today regarding the issue of the massive ongoing displacement in the backdrop of the institutional murder of Samarveer Singh. Teachers representing Common Teachers Forum, Democratic Teachers Front, Delhi Teachers Initiative, Indian National Teachers Congress (Indira) and Samajwaadi Shikshak Manch participated in the Press Conference. Also present were teachers representing Staff Association ZHDC, SSN and elected teachers’ representatives in Academic Council and DUTA Executive.
The National Education Policy aims to further privatisation and commercialisation of education which has been in the form of job cuts at various points in the last 10 years. In the past, DUTA has led successful struggles against these anti-education policies. However, the current leadership not only does not lead any resistance, it actually is in the forefront of demobilisation of the teachers movement and is complicit in whatever is happening today in the University. The figures of displacement provided by the DU administration and the DUTA leadership are a gross underestimation of the real extent of the tragedy that we are witnessing.
Speakers included Nandita Narain (former DUTA and FEDCUTA President and President of DTF), Ratan Lal (senior activist from Hindu college), Suraj Yadav (from Swami Shraddhanand College), Aftab Alam (Zakir Hussain College), Udaibir Singh (member DUTA Executive from INTEC (I)), N. Sachin (former AC member and DUTA executive member from Dyal Singh college and representing the CTF), Shashi Shekhar Singh (former Academic Council member from SSM), Maya John (Academic Council member from Jesus and Mary College) and Uma Raag (from IP college and representative of DTI).
Rusham and Keshavi, students of Samarveer Singh at Hindu College, spoke about the grim and infuriating times which they are experiencing, fondly remembering Samarveer and his contribution to their lives. They felt disappointed by the current apathy existent in different parts of the University community in the face of what had happened to Samarveer. We feel heart broken, with no desire to give exams. His livelihood was snatched away in a 4 minute interview. And he was finally made to lose hope and give up on life. However, they also hoped that those responsible for Samarveer’s death would be punished.
Subhjeet from the Physics Dept, Ramjas College, spoke about the plight of teachers who did not have a permanent job, with no security for their families. In Ramjas, a teacher who had been teaching Physics for 17 years lost her job. The history dept was one of the worst affected. Teachers who inspired students, who inculcated critical thinking in students and served as role models were the first ones to lose their jobs. Police was let loose upon protesting students. Teachers were not allowed to meet their students to say goodbye. He emphasised the political nature of the appointments, those with links with the ruling establishment have been appointed with no place for merit.
Puneet and Samaa, students from Hans Raj College, spoke about how some of the best teachers were thrown out. The quality of teaching had declined. People are not being appointed for teaching but for ideological reasons. Around 50-60 teachers have lost their jobs in HRC.
Students said that they will not forget what happened to Samarveer and will not forgive those responsible for this heinous crime.
Students across colleges lamented the decline of free debate and discussion on campuses and the clamping down of dissent with the shrinking of democratic spaces. They also highlighted the free rein given by different college administrations to violent right wing elements to harass and intimidate students.
Khushboo, a close friend of Samarveer, an adhoc teacher herself, shared the difficult times she was going through as she remembered Samarveer. She talked about Samarveer’s multifaceted talents. He was passionate about life and was not a person who could commit suicide. She talked about the constant and repeated humiliation that Samarveer faced from the teacher in charge that broke his self- esteem. She also talked about the vulnerability of adhoc teachers who do not have any political affiliation and the deep attack on the sense of self when subjected to such treatment. She highlighted the ill treatment meted out to adhoc teachers by a ruthless system.
Shri. Rajendra Pal Gautam, MLA from AAP, sent a message of solidarity with the issues that the teachers and students are raising.
A key axis of this assault on higher education is the displacement of serving ad hoc teachers and temporary teachers, many of whom have been unceremoniously shown the door despite long years of teaching, contribution to the institution and exemplary research work. This is an attack on lives and livelihoods, evidenced by what has happened to Samarveer Singh.
The change in the UGC Regulations giving 100% weightage to interviews, unlike in the past when teachers were given points for teaching experience and academic record, points to the intention to give Selection Committees full powers to orchestrate displacements.
Speakers highlighted the silence of the DUTA leadership. Even in a college like Dyal Singh, the DUTA president’s own college, there have been displacements with not a murmur. This shows the DUTA leadership’s complicity or inability to stand up to their political masters. DUTA is also responsible for the current state of the University in which mass displacement is being orchestrated.
It is evident that the Selection Committees are mostly working to further the interest of the ruling establishment. Professors from DU depts are being sidelined and opinions of teachers in charge are being ignored in the decision making process. Interviews do not last for more than 2 minutes and often border on the farcical with little or no academic content. Candidates are humiliated by being asked insane questions. The same set of experts, many with negligible academic merit, are being sent to all colleges. There have also been many allegations of moral turpitude and related misdemeanours. Teachers and students demanded from the University authorities that an enquiry be instituted into these serious allegations and the culpable be brought to book.
The institutional murder of Samarveer Singh cannot be allowed to fade from public memory and we demand justice for him and for others who have lost their jobs. All displaced adhoc and temporary teachers must be absorbed against vacancies on which no teacher is currently working. Finally, all speakers agreed that the only acceptable solution is the absorption of all adhoc and temporary teachers keeping the constitutional provision of reservation and the reservation roster in mind.
All the teachers’ organisations and teachers who participated in the press conference have sent a letter to the Vice Chancellor highlighting these issues and demanding justice for Samarveer and for all adhoc and temporary teachers of Delhi University.
Nandita Narain, President, DTF
Prof Udaibir Singh, INTEC (I)
Sachin N., Coordinator, CTF
Shashi Shekhar Singh, SSM
Dr. Chayanika Uniyal, Rajiv Gandhi Study Circle
Maya John, Member, Academic Council
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