With the Punjabi University Teachers' Association (PUTA) polls scheduled on September 14, wooing faculty members for votes is in full swing and in this, Teachers for Intervention in Education (TIE) is seeking to take the lead.
The TIE has released its manifesto in which it criticises previous unions for not responding adequately and effectively to the new pressures of the system emerging under a new economic order. It also questions the level of transparency in recruitment procedures.
"New teachers do not get opportunities to participate equally in the unions," reads the TIE statement released by its convenors Rajesh Sharma and Surjit Singh. "Teachers devoted to a life in academics and intellect are discouraged from playing a pro-active and constructive role in the university. The academic atmosphere has thus entered a cycle of degeneration."
According to TIE, while universities are supposed to encourage leadership to society, in the current circumstances, they are turning into factories for profits and instruments for unscrupulous politicians.
The TIE manifesto alleges that in the absence of the PUTA, a small number of teachers prospered by furthering their personal interests. "The culture of backing and favouritism has taken centrestage while ethics and merit have taken a backseat," the group said.
"The recruitment process of faculty has become so distorted that competence, scholarship and legitimate claims to employment no longer have any value," TIE said.
"During the period the university was without PUTA, most of the teachers' groups turned their backs on their collective interests," said Sharma.
"Who can deny that several groups had obtained positions of power in the university administration… only to get members of their own families appointed to these posts," the TIE statement says.
The TIE agenda seeks to restore autonomy of the university by ending political and bureaucratic interferences, ensuring participation of all teachers in its administration, implementation of recommendations of the 6th Pay Commission, speedy disposal of faculty representations and grievances and making an unbiased schedule for interviews under career advancement scheme among other demands.