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Indian teachers demand equal rights, pay

Nepal’s new Maoist government always talks about social equality. But, its egalitarian policy is not right for more than 500 teachers from India, who are still fighting for equal rights in the recently democratised Himalayan nation, reports Anirban Roy.

world Updated: Nov 23, 2008 00:13 IST
Anirban Roy

Nepal’s new Maoist government always talks about social equality. But, its egalitarian policy is not right for more than 500 teachers from India, who are still fighting for equal rights in the recently democratised Himalayan nation.

Three decades ago, English and Science teachers from India, were in high-demand in Nepal, as standard of education was not at par its southern neighbour. More than 1,200 teachers were specially recruited from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh for human resource development in the then Hindu Kingdom.

The Indian teachers were engaged in different government-run schools and colleges. And, over the years, the teachers have played a great role in educating youths in different parts of Nepal. But, in return, they did not get anything from the Nepal government.

“Many of our students are doctors, engineers and some of them have even become ministers. But, it is unfortunate that we did not get anything,” Balji Pandey, president of Bharatiya Shikshak Sangh, Nepal, said, adding that more than 700 teachers have retired, and have gone back to India, without getting retirement benefits.

For years, the teachers have been running from pillar-to-post for their rights. The teachers from India do not get promotions, nor do they get increments. They get fixed salaries, which are at par the junior-most Nepali teachers.

They are not covered under provident fund schemes. They also don’t get gratuity and pensions after retirement. Moreover, they don’t get medical benefits.

“We don’t understand why Nepal government is not doing anything for us,” Pandey said. In fact, Nepal government’s lackadaisical attitude towards the Indian teachers is a cause of embarrassment for New Delhi as Kathmandu is not respecting its commitment.

On June 10, 1990, the then Nepali Prime Minister Krishna Prasad Bhattarai had signed an agreement with the then Indian PM Viswanath Pratap Singh on various bi-lateral issues.

Bhattarai had promised to the then Indian PM to treat the teachers of Indian origin at par with Nepali teachers and provide them identical financial benefits. Unfortunately, Bhattarai’s promise has not been implemented as yet.

“So far, our demands remained disregarded primarily because the Nepal government did not respect the agreement which was signed 18 years ago,” the teachers said, adding that the issue comes up during the high-level bi-lateral meetings between the two countries.

A group of the deprived Indian teachers were in Kathmandu and met Indian diplomats to request External Affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee to take up the issue with Nepali Prime Minister Prachanda and Foreign Minister Upendra Yadav.

As more than 700 teachers have retired without enjoying the benefits, and many of them are now on the verge of retirement, it is a do-or-die situation for them now. “We hope he (Pranab Mukherjee) will be able to help us,” Pandey said.

Surprisingly, officials of Nepal’s Education Ministry and Foreign Ministry did not show any interest on the issue and refused to comment.