Delhi University colleges bore a deserted look on Thursday as teachers refused to take classes because of the one-day strike called by the Federation of Central University Teachers’ Association (FEDCUTA).
The strike also affected classes in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Jamia Milia Islamia and Jamia Hamdard University, which were among the 22 central universities protesting against the delay in finalisation of the report of the UGC’s Pay Review Committee (PRC).
At DU, both North and South campus colleges observed the strike. “The Pay Review Committee is the need of the hour and all teachers realise this. We are demanding that the committee introduce professorship and professor’s grade for university teachers,” said Aditya Narayan Misra, president of DU Teachers Association.
“The pay review was constituted with an aim to attract and retain talent in academics. But while the committee is sitting on the report we are losing bright teachers,” he said.
At present, at least 1,000 DU teachers are stagnating after achieving the post of Reader. “You become Reader after nine years of service. But after that you have 15 years of service left and no promotion or career advancement to look forward to,” said Pankaj Garg, DU Academic Council member. “This ensures that we don’t get the best talent in academics,” said Garg.
Poor pay packages –– which the Pay Commission plans to revise –– are another reason why talented people are shying away from teaching. A lecturer (after doing PG, MPhil and a PhD) gets a starting salary of Rs 22,340 (Rs 2.88 lakh per annum) consolidated.
“Although we still manage to get some very good faculty, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find faculty in areas like biotechnology, life sciences, international relations and economics. We have found that students who go abroad for studies
are not coming back to JNU,” said Kamal Mitra Chenoy, president of JNU Teachers Association.
“If private foreign universities make an entry and are willing to pay a professor Rs 1 lakh per month we will definitely find it difficult to retain people,” Chenoy added.
The FEDCUTA had earlier demanded that the PRC report be submitted by July 31. At its request, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Union HRD Minister Arjun Singh had intervened with the UGC in this regard.