(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
September 08, 2013
DTF’s Unprecedented Victory in DUTA elections:
Fight Against Neoliberal Reforms and for Teachers’ Rights to Continue
ELECTIONS to the presidentship of the Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) and for fifteen members of its executive committee were held on August 29, 2013. Democratic Teachers’ Front (DTF) won the presidentship second time consecutively with over 45 percent of valid votes polled. DTF’s Nandita Narain, former member of the DUTA executive, member of the Academic and Executive Councils of the University of Delhi, defeated her nearest rival – Ashwini Shankar, belonging to the Congress (Indian National Teachers’ Congress - INTEC) and it’s another faction (Academics for Action and Development - AAD) and also supported by the entire administration of Delhi University, by an unprecedented margin of 786 votes. Nandita Narain got 2,705 votes and Shankar got 1,919 votes. The candidate belonging to BJP (National Democratic Teachers’ Front – NDTF) got only 818 votes. The breakaway group of AAD got just 561 votes.
DTF had fielded four candidates for the executive. All of them, Saikat Ghosh, Vijaya Venkataraman, Deo Kumar and Bhupinder Chaudhry won with handsome votes and got first, third, fourth and ninth positions in a fifteen member executive.
The unprecedented mandate in favour of the DTF is very significant particularly because it was not able to show to the teachers any major achievements. It is significant also because the vice chancellor refused to accord even a single second’s time to the DUTA office bearers (with president belonging to DTF) for any discussion on any issue in its two years’ term. The vice chancellor had declared DUTA as an “illegal welfare body of teachers”.
Despite this, DTF candidates got such a massive mandate because it was able to successfully demonstrate that it was the only organisation, along with other Left and democratic organisations, which opposed the so called academic “reforms” under which four year undergraduate programme (FYUP) was imposed. Earlier they had been in the forefront in opposing semesterisation. The DTF convincingly argued that over 4,000 adhoc appointments continuing for last few years and not making them permanent was a part of the Congress government’s agenda of privatisation and commercialisation of higher education.
The vice chancellor, in order to isolate DTF and Left and demolish DUTA as an organisation, has been successful in getting the support of the INTEC, AAD, NDTF, etc. The leaders of these organisations supported the vice chancellor in the meetings of Academic and Executive Councils and outside in the media. Teachers have been facing unprecedented assault from the most authoritarian administration backed by the Congress government and the aforementioned teachers’ groups.
This assault was seen in the refusal of vice chancellor to meet DUTA office bearers, freezing of permanent appointments, and refusal to fill up teaching positions sanctioned on account of 54 percent expansion in students’ intake due to OBC reservation. An army of about half the teaching community as adhoc teachers and about the same number of non-teaching staff as contract employees was created. This army of teachers and employees is quite vulnerable and insecure and therefore mostly do not respond to their organisations’ call.
vice chancellor has been insulting and humiliating teachers
day-in and day-out
in the media that the teachers do not teach and he would send
them in the class
rooms by imposing biometric attendance system. For a small
defaulters, he chose to humiliate all teachers. He created a
reign of terror by
cutting the salaries of teachers for protesting even on
holidays like Dussehra, Diwali and
assault was also seen in the conversion of
vice chancellor’s new found admirers and supporters from
INTEC, AAD, NDTF, etc,
did not allow the meetings of the DUTA executive to take
place. They disrupted
the meetings, rendering the DUTA unable to take position on
the FYUP. They also
demobilised the teachers on any action programme decided by
the DUTA. In order
to take a stand on the FYUP, the DUTA general body meeting had
requisitioned. Despite their opposition, the general body
meeting was held on
May 12 in
The DTF, the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) along with other Left and democratic groups and sections of teachers and students carried the campaign against the FYUP. A ‘Save DU Campaign’ was launched. Under its banner, several action programmes like dharnas, demonstrations, and meetings with the students and parents were organised.
After the Gazette Notification of June 13, 2013 regarding the UGC regulations, the vice chancellor constituted a committee to recommend amendments to the ordinances on recruitment, promotions and other service conditions. This committee included members of the AAD, INTEC and NDTF, while members of the DTF were kept out. Several anti-teacher amendments were passed in the Academic and Executive Councils with a few dissents.
Overstepping the UGC Regulations, a point system was passed for screening or short-listing candidates for calling them for interview for the post of assistant professor. Different point systems were passed for college and university teachers breaking the existing parity between the two. Selection committees approved for recruitment in colleges and departments are different from those in UGC regulations making the vice chancellor all powerful in matters of appointments. This amendment was opposed by the DTF member in the Executive Council (EC) and she informed the EC that the Visitor (President of India) had earlier struck down similar modifications made by DU in 2003 and had forced it to suspend appointments till its selection committees had been brought in consonance with the UGC regulations.
While 22 colleges await appointment of principals, the UGC Regulations on Selection Committees and 5-year term post for principals were not put on the agenda of AC and EC meetings. However, on the eve of the AC meeting (August 15), the post for the principal of a college was advertised as per the unamended ordinance. The game is clearly to appoint select persons loyal to the administration as principals till retirement.
The longstanding benefit of total service/experience used to be available to teachers at all promotion levels has been withdrawn except at the fist promotion. Requirement of completing the promotion process within six months as per the UGC regulation has not been included. While passing that teachers will have to be available for 5 hours daily in the university/college, the vice chancellor dropped the UGC requirement that “necessary space and infrastructure should be provided by the university/college”. The retirement age for the vice chancellor, pro vice chancellor, dean of colleges, directors of south campus and school of open learning was raised upto 70 years.
The teachers saw these negative changes in their recruitment, promotion and service conditions as a massive assault of their rights. These negative changes were passed in the academic and executive councils with the support of members belonging to AAD, INTEC and NDTF. During the election campaign, AAD-INTEC defended these negative changes and projected them as their gains.
While the elections to the DUTA were taking place in this background, the vice chancellor and his team did their best to promote the joint candidate of AAD-INTEC for the presidentship. The university officers called the meetings of adhoc teachers in the garb of discussing foundation courses under the FYUP. In these meetings, these officers introduced this candidate and asked these adhoc teachers to vote for him. In the colleges, several principals threatened the adhoc teachers and asked them to vote for the vice chancellor’s candidate. Some principals told their adhoc teachers to show the photos (taken using their mobile phones) of the ballot papers after marking the votes.
The highhandedness of the authoritarian administration of the university, negative changes in the service conditions, and the anti-teacher role of AAD, INTEC and NDTF in the DUTA, AC, EC and action programmes angered the teachers. On the other hand, they saw the strong fight put up by the DTF along with SFI and other teachers and students organisations. They witnessed strong “Save DU Campaign” and support it got from various political parties including the CPI(M).
The teachers at large including adhoc teachers refused to be bullied and showed their courage in secret ballot. They came in unprecedentedly large numbers (over 73 percent) for vote on August 29 with the resolve to elect those who fought for their rights and dignity, braving the reign of terror let loose by the vice chancellor. They came to defeat the vice chancellor and his administration by defeating their presidential candidate. This massive victory of the DTF in these DUTA elections is a clear message to the vice chancellor and the Congress government that fight against their neo-liberal “reforms” agenda of privatisation and commercialisation of higher education and conversion of our education system suitable for predatory American educational institutions, shall continue. This mandate is also a clear message to the vice chancellor that there is no alternative to dialogue and repression can never help the administration indefinitely. Better late than never, he must establish a dialogue with the DUTA leadership.