Reforms in the University of Delhi such as the introduction of the semester system, and most recently the proposed scrapping of the re-evaluation process, have not gone down well with the teachers. The Delhi University Teachers' Association (DUTA) has decided to switch over from its current mode of agitation to a mass-oriented movement against the vice chancellor and the UPA government. It decided to discontinue the relay hunger strike on its 53rd day and move towards a full-fledged mass action programme and public campaign on Saturday. Studies, however, claim the teachers, have not been affected.
Some of the demands that DUTA has been pressing for include filling up the approximately 4000 vacant teaching posts and removing anomalies in the Sixth Pay Revision as well as the point-based system of promotion and fixing pensions of retired teachers. "As many as 40% teachers in the university are temporary. They are working on ad-hoc basis or as guest lecturers. No new teacher has been appointed in the university in the last two years," says Harish Khanna, vice president, DUTA.
The teachers also want the vice chancellor to consult DUTA, the Delhi University Students' Union (DUSU) and the Delhi University and College Karamchari Union (DUCKU) before suggesting or implementing reforms such as the four-year bachelor’s degree, Meta university concept and scrapping of the re-evaluation system.
“We are not against reforms but we are not open to experiments which do not benefit the students and teachers in the long run,” says Khanna.
The relay hunger strike, which ended on Saturday, December 1, has been accompanied by several other action programmes including a candlelight vigil on October 12 on the issue vacant teaching posts; barefoot march on October 18 against pay cut; and a joint protest by DUTA, DUCKU and DUSU on October 26. DUTA’s next course of action includes a comprehensive white paper individually on the vice chancellor and the DU registrar. “We are also planning to hold a Jansunwai in January to highlight the concrete experiences of students and teachers as a result of non-fulfilment of our demands, the tyrannical functioning of the university administration and the anti-academic nature of changes being imposed,” adds Khanna.
Do DUTA strikes serve any purpose?
DUTA strike does serve a purpose as it is against an unfair system which poses a threat to teachers’ role. This strike is for the sake of professional dignity of DU teachers —Surbhi Jalan, SRCC
The strike manifests dissatisfaction and is creating a constant pressure on the VC. Hopefully, he will involve DUTA and DUSU in policy formation in the future
—Siddharth Tomar, Faculty of Law
It’s a shame if people have to go on strike to get their voices heard. But these days this is the only option left. I have never seen teachers and students of DU coming together like this. —Nitish Negi, Faculty of Law