Regardless of the displeasure this may cause to some of my colleagues and members of teachers' associations and governing bodies, it's time to question re-employment of teachers in higher educational institutions like universities and colleges without seriously taking into account students' feedback, past academic performance, especially in the field of research and publications, ability to communicate, and keenness to be up to date.
Re-employment is not a new practice, as in universities like Panjab University this benefit (2-year extension in service i.e. up to the age of 62) was granted to teachers who retired even before the implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission.
The commission came as a gift of 5-year extended service (up to the age of 65) for all central university teachers, but those in state universities were deprived of this. The disadvantaged lot has been pressuring state governments to accord this benefit to them but in vain, barring a few cases.
Consequently, some universities have started with re-employment schemes on their own. In our region (Chandigarh, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal), only universities in Chandigarh and Punjab have agreed to extend this benefit.
In an academic institution, students are the most important, as without them there is no need of teachers or infrastructure.
But are the proponents of the re-employment theory taking this element into account or are they just trying to please a group of people for political gains by promising re-employment to all the retirees, irrespective of their academic performance? If the university is not to follow rules for re-employment, then why this farce of framing rules at all?
I am in a better position to talk about the inconvenience incompetent teachers cause to students as I am a student and a teacher both (I study at the Panjab University department of laws).
When one has the option of keeping the "gems" and throwing out the "stones", why not exercise it?
Every faculty member in the higher education system has to juggle roles such as that of teaching and its related duties like evaluation, paper-setting, undertaking own research work, supervising research projects of the scholars, organising/attending conferences/seminars/workshops, presenting papers and delivering extension lectures, working for the infrastructural development of the institution. But it is shocking to know that some teachers who earn more than Rs 1 lakh a month do not even produce a single research paper in careers spanning several decades. Any taxpayer would wonder why the university wants to extend the services of such persons. Haven't they already enjoyed themselves enough?
On one hand we claim unemployment as a reason for frustration in our youth, but on the other we delay the entry of meritorious jobseekers by extending the services of those who have been tried and tested. In this scenario, can we call ourselves progressive-thinking, well-meaning, conscientious human beings? Are we testing the patience of jobseekers and honest taxpayers? As a conscientious citizen of the country, all I only ask for is the extension of the re-employment benefit to meritorious persons who are actively engaged in teaching and research along with excellent student feedback and not to all teachers just because they are alive. In any case, 20 years of service are enough to avail of full-pension benefits. Don't forget that each penny earned by the taxpayers is to be spent judiciously and nobody has the right to take away the opportunity of others by delaying appointments by another 5 years!
(The writer is a professor of French at Panjab University, Chandigarh)