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As police detain 700 DU teachers, MHRD seems to have some good news

Ipsita Sarkar | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:49 IST

Even as around 700 Delhi University teachers were sloganeering under police detention on 10 June, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) seems to have quietly agreed to accept the demands of the protesters.

Sources in the Ministry of Human Resource Development confirmed to Catch that demands of protesting Delhi University teachers have been met.

An announcement in this regard is expected to be made by University Grants Commission (UGC) and MHRD early next week. "Most of the demands related to workload and job cuts has been approved by us. The announcement could be made by Smriti Irani on Monday," a senior MHRD official told Catch.

The protesting DU teachers have been demanding a rollback of the UGC gazette notification of May 2016, which made changes to the working hours of professors and changed the Academic Performance Indicators. The protesting teachers claimed that increasing the workload can lead to job cuts and further eschew the student teacher ratio.

"Our protest is aimed at ensuring no ad-hoc teacher or temporary professor loses their jobs. Increasing our workload will result in cutting the jobs of future professors," said Abha Dev Habib, member of Delhi University Teachers' Association (DUTA) Executive Council and professor at Miranda House.

The UGC Gazette Notification of 4 May 2016 had stipulated Direct Teaching Hours (DTH) for Associate and Assistant Professors to be 16 and 18 respectively. The notification had placed tutorials outside the DTH. It also stipulated that two hours of practicals would be treated equivalent to one Lecture. These norms would have required teachers to do classroom teaching for at least 22 to 24 hrs.

Later, the UGC and MHRD announced a roll back of DTH to 14/16 hours for Associate/Assistant Professors. However, teachers explain that unless tutorials and practicals are counted at par with lectures for the calculation of DTH, the problems of overburdening and reduction in the number of teaching posts cannot be resolved.

Also Read: Dear Smriti Irani, a 15-hour workday is not feasible

DU teachers detained

On 10 June, over 4,000 Delhi University professors marched from Mandi House to Shastri Bhawan, for a 'Kali Patti March', protesting against UGC's recent gazette notification.

A minor scuffle broke out between the teachers and the police officers present on scene.

"One thing led to another, and some teachers pushed the police barricades. As a result, all the teachers were arrested on spot. Some of us were brought to the Parliament Street Police station in buses. Rest of us chose to walk down to the station," said one of teachers taking part in the protest.

About 500 to 700 teachers ended up being detained in the police station for around two hours. While one sub-inspector told Catch that 400 people were detained, the protesters claimed that over 1,000 were detained.

The scene inside the police station compound varied from heated debates with policemen, to DUTA leaders giving speeches to thirsty teachers fanning themselves in the Delhi heat. At the heart of the crowd sat a group who began shouting, "Bhook Lagi hai, khana do" while yet another sat discussing the next strategy among themselves.

All the teachers were allowed to go home by noon. "We will now review the further course of our movement tomorrow and accordingly decide the course of action," said DUTA chief Nandita Narain.

Teachers Associations of Jamia Milia Islamia and IGNOU and various students' organisations such as CYSS, Disha, KYS, NSUI, SFI and SYS also participated in the rally.

The rally was addressed by various political leaders including CPI(M)'s Nilotpal Basu and RJD's Prof Raghuvansh Prasad Singh,

"Left parties have written letters to the HRD Minister expressing support for the teachers' demands," stated a release from DUTA.

Also Read: No change in OBC quota or reservation policy by UGC

UGC's Seventh Pay Commission

Meanwhile, on Thursday evening, the UGC released a notification for the Seventh Pay Commission for university teachers. While many considered this to be a pacifying move, the protesting teachers said the seventh pay commission was expected months ago.

Narain said, "The seventh pay commission is expected to come after the sixth pay commission. The UGC is about a year late in releasing this notice. But we welcome the move."

Also Read: Please let children choose their own streams, Smriti Irani to parents

First published: 10 June 2016, 9:43 IST
Ipsita Sarkar @piercingharmony

Ipsita writes on education with focus on schools, higher education (engineering, B-Schools), HRD ministry, policies, and startup ecosphere. She's previously worked with Hindustan Times and Shiksha.com.