For Pritam Singh Sharma (50), the journey from ambition to its realisation has been long and tiring.
Suffering from visual impairment, Sharma fulfilled his dream of teaching at Delhi University (DU) last year when he became a lecturer of Hindi at Ramjas College. But not before he was forced to put his ambition on hold for two whole decades.
“As a school teacher, job satisfaction had always eluded me. I knew I had made a compromise by taking up a teaching job in a government school, but I didn’t have much choice as I could not manage to clear any of the interviews at DU. But now I am professionally content,” he said.
Sharma is not alone. In DU, many like him have been recently recruited as part of the varsity’s special drive to fill faculty posts reserved under the physically handicapped category.
So from having almost no teachers under this category about two years ago, DU along with 85 of its affiliated colleges now have over 100 physically challenged faculty members — the highest the varsity has ever had.
The milestone, however, has only been achieved after the pressure imposed by a public interest litigation filed in 2006.
As per a resolution passed by DU in 1994, there is a three per cent reservation for blind and orthopaedically-handicap candidates in teaching departments of the University and the colleges affiliated to it.
“The drive started after the High Court placed a cap on all appointments till the statutory obligation of filling the reserved seats for the PH teachers was actually met,” said SK Tandon, pro-Vice Chancellor, DU.
“In hindsight, this observation has done a lot of good for the varsity.”
The High Court’s observation was in response to a PIL filed by Sambhavna, an NGO working for the physically challenged.
“Before we filed the case no institution except one — Shradhdhanand College — had any teacher under the PH category. The court took strong notice of it and placed cap on all the appointments,” said Vikas Gupta, joint secretary, Sambhavna.
Things have, however, changed since.
The university’s biased stand seemed to have softened and by April this year, the varsity along with 85 affiliated colleges had permanently appointed 106 physically challenged teachers.
“There was a bias against recruiting disabled teachers and no one can deny that. But now things have changed and I have benefited from this change,” said Naresh Arora (34), who is visually impaired. “I was a school teacher and may not have got this opportunity had it not been for the cap.”
Arora is now a a history lecturer in Kamla Nehru College.