“There is in the worst of fortune the best chances for a happy change” - Euripides
Perennial Waiting for the Salary
The past one and half year was one of the most challenging and worrisome period in the movement of Amuct in recent years. The hostile bureaucratic machinery, unscientific and inhuman circulars and orders in the name of notional issue, minimum student strength, approved combination and consequent redeployment, 22/ 26 weekly teaching hours, Ph.D. increments and so on. The issues are varied but the sacrificial lamb was “aided staff” of the college both teaching and non-teaching. Salaries were either delayed or denied or withheld or recovered without valid and logical explanations. It repeatedly appeared that rules, orders and precedents have been interpreted and modified with narrow pecuniary goals devoid of expediency. The monthly salary paid for the services rendered and works performed have been obtained only with constant and consistent struggles. All important festivals during this period have been celebrated by borrowing to keep our self honour!.
I am writing this with deep pain to inform all the stakeholders that since March 2014 all our energy, time, contacts and intellect has been mobilized primarily to get our salaries! Inhuman, disgraceful, undemocratic, astonishing, yet, we were practically begging for our lawful and just demand of regular salary!. The only solace was the adage “our value doesn’t decrease based on some one’s inability to see our worth” . Even though we did not receive our salary for months together, we did not ignore or run away from our duties and responsibilities to our profession. Belittling teaching faculty, of late has becoming an obsession for a very few staff of the Department of Higher Education in Karnataka. I would like to ask all the staff involved in disbursing our salary, when “you all” get your salary on the very first day of the month, how come staff under your care are denied salary for months?. Our request has been to pay our salary for our work done, no advance payment, be sure. What is your defense? I earnestly call upon them to ponder what Bill Gates wrote: “Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important”. Can’t the policy makers make the sanctioning authorities accountable and liable to pay our salary within the stipulated date? How long will they allow them to live with excuses and passing the blame?
Responsibilities Not Forgotten
Though issues related to salaries took most of our time, the regular activities of the association have been organized, service matter related issues of members have been periodically represented both at the regional and central office, pending revised scale arrears partially have been received, academic matters have been effectively represented to the university authorities. Two massive protest meetings were held to oppose 22/26 hours of weekly teaching in the month of November, a well attended Dharana was organized to protest the delay in the payment of salary due to notional issue. Annual Academic conference and felicitation programme to Dr A.M. Narahari was another major activity organized during the year. I thank Shri R V Despande , Hon’ble Minister for Tourism and Higher Education for his participation and Mr JR Lobo for his all-round support in organising this programme.
Amuct also participated in Aifucto Annual Conference, Rally and Dharana oragnised by Aifucto, protest rallies organized in Bengaluru against notional issue. Attended executive meetings organised by Aifucto and Fuctak and our issues have been highlighted effectively.
Amuct is also the first teachers’ association in the entire country to organize a day’s workshop on Choice Based Credit System (CBCS) proposed by the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and the University Grants Commission (UGC) to be implemented from the start of this academic session 2015-16. The constructive resolutions of the same have been sent to various policy making bodies. There have been regular meetings with the Hon’ble Chief Minister, Dr Oscar Fernandes, senior political leader and MP, various Ministers, MLAs and MLCs and Principal Education Secretary and Commissioner to sort out notional issue, HRA and other service related matters. It is my pleasure to let you know that, as I am penning down my thoughts, it has become official that Managluru is henceforth qualified as a “B” Category city for the purpose of HRA. Amuct has been submitting appeals and memorandums in this regard for the last many years. A special thanks to Mr Ivan D’Souza, MLC for keenly and effectively pursuing the matter.
Weekly Workload Fiasco
The repeated attempt by the department to increase the weekly class room hours demonstrated the shortsightedness and lack of understanding of the concept of teaching in higher education institutions. As understood by the discussions held and answers given by Higher Education Minister in Legislative Council and paper reports, the move was proposed to save money to the Government!. Surely it was a ploy by a few staff of the finance and higher education department to treat higher education as a commercial proposition. It seems that the Government has forgotten that it is supposed to be welfare state and not a commercial entity to weigh education in terms of debit and credit. The arguments given in support of this are far from reality and more significantly beyond practicality. With overcrowded classes and in the name of semester, valuation of a few hundreds of answer scripts two times during the semester and again at the end of the semester, valuation of assignments, NAAC, IQAC, autonomy , guiding extension programmes, mentoring, EC&CC and association activities, teaching foundation courses and value education, fulfilling requirements for API under PBAS, editing of research journals / annuals, undertaking research projects and studies, organizing student programmes, seminars/ conferences, preparing and filing of mandatory reports and online attendance, ( the list goes on) , practically every faculty in our university area works for several times more than the stipulated 40 hours per week. One can hardly come across any teacher who is not working beyond working hours, on Sundays and holidays and also during vacations. I invite the administrators, policy makers and their advisors to come over and stay with us for a week and learn the diary of today’s college teacher. Ignorance is no one’s monopoly; one has to feel pity at the ignorance of the people responsible for such an inhuman circular. In fact the people who thought about this proposal should be congratulated for such a “pioneering and revolutionary idea” . So much so that, nowhere in India this kind of unreasonable thinking exists. Yet, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Our struggle and the unanimous concern and efforts by all the MLCs have succeeded in restoring the status-quo. I express our heartfelt gratitude to all of them particularly the two MLCs of our region Capt Ganesh Karnik, and Mr Ivan D’Souza, for their timely intervention in this regard. The order has been temporarily withdrawn. The Higher Education Minister has finally consented and accepted the UGC stipulated 14 and 16 hours of weekly workload for Associate and Assistant Professors respectively. However, the bitter truth is Associate Professors have been made to work for 16 hours all these years!
Amuct has been demanding for long recognition of degree college teachers as Ph.D. guides. We have partially succeeded in this regard. Starting with this academic year, Mangalore University under the progressive and open –minded leadership of the present distinguished Vice Chancellor Prof. K. Byrappa has extended research guideship to undergraduate qualified teachers of two constituent colleges. While thanking the VC and all those responsible for this, I urge them to extend this facility to all qualified faculty of affiliated colleges without discrimination. I humbly remind all the members of Academic Council , Deans and Chairpersons of various faculty at the university that, in today’s information technology era denying guideship citing “insufficient library facility” seems to be an excuse to protect the motives. At Amuct, we hope and also urge the university to function as a facilitator and not as a mere regulator thereby monopolising the opportunity. Amuct is optimistic with the leadership of the present VC. Amuct also acknowledges the changes brought in the timing and organisation of pre-Ph.D. coursework that provides a lot of flexibility and convenience to the employed faculty and part-time researchers.
Apathetic National Scenario
At the national level there appears to be a total silence on the part of MHRD on several academic and service related issues. Repeated requests made by the Central leadership of AIFUCTO for a meeting with the HRD minister is yet to be honoured. Formation of 7th pay review committee for college teachers, Minister’s approval to UGC decisions regarding amendment of UGC Regulations 2010 and Ph.D. Regulations, 2009, UGC Regulations for CAS and issues related to API, ensuring a minimum monthly salary of Rs.25000 to self financing teachers and many more pending issues. AIFUCTO has oragnised series of action plans to draw the attention of all the concerned like demonstration at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi on March 13, 2015 by the Joint Forum comprising AIFUCTO, DUTA, JNUTA, IGNOUTA and other Central university teachers’ associations, court arrest program , letter and e-mail campaign to HRD Minister, Secretary UGC, Dharna at UGC on JUNE 19, 2015 by AIFUCTO-FEDCUTA, meeting with API Committee , intervention in the Parliament by various MPs and regular visits and letters by the General Secretary to the concerned. Unprecedented, yet no regards for the genuine demands of lakhs of teachers across the country! There has been inordinate delay in notifying UGC decisions due to the denial of the MHRD to approve the decisions. In view of the total inaction regarding formation of 7th pay Review Committee and approval to UGC decisions for promotion of teachers, the NEC has planned nationwide cease work on August 7,2015, hunger strike at Jantar Mantar on August 7, 2015, All India strike on September 2, 2015. I call upon all the members to be ready for a committed and united movement to achieve our long pending demands.
Good Wishes, Good bye and Optimism
The period also witnessed the superannuation of over 60 members of Amuct. Many of them were there since its inception in 1985 and a few of them have actively been involved in the growth and sustenance of Amuct either as its Managing Council Members or as Unit Conveners. Former leaders Dr A.M. Narahari, Mr B.V Raghunandan, Dr R. Narashimhamurthy, Mr Sadashiva Rao, Dr H.V Somayaji, Dr Madav Bhat, Mr Sathish Bhat, Mr Manohar Shetty have attained superannuation. On behalf of the existing members I gratefully acknowledge the services of these leaders and in building Amuct as a well recognised and appreciated association of teacher movement. I wish all the retired members a healthy, fruitful and fulfilling post-retired life.
Finally a big good bye to renowned classical Economist J.B. Say’s idea that supply creates its own demand at least for now. A close look at the higher education scenario in our state demonstrates that it is other way. Here it is demand which creates the supply. In the name of demand, new colleges offering “in-demand degrees”, existing colleges starting either more batches or obtaining additional strength to the existing batches has become the norm. What is baffling, to note that the teaching in these colleges and batches is done either by guest faculty or by temporary faculty! In the name of universalizing higher education the quantity of admission has overtaken the quality. In a class of over 90 students or many a times cross 120 students, what kind of quality can be ensured?
Quite interestingly Mangalore University which runs several of its PG programmes with Guest Faculty also ventured into starting a day and an evening degree college. Here at Amuct we believe that University should confine itself to start and run more and more PG courses, PG centers and research programmes rather than running behind in-demand degree courses that too in a district known for too many degree colleges.
The bet this time,is on B.Com degree. Parents and students alike have lot of hope from the B.Com course. My fear is, my experience with once in great demand courses like BBM, BSW, BCA, B.Sc/ MSc Nursing and many such other courses. I wish B.Com would be an exception! To be an exception, I urge the commerce faculty to rejuvenate and reorient themselves and stand up to the expectations of all the stakeholders and revamp and redesign the curriculum and syllabus in tune with ongoing trends and expectations. I hope that everyone involved in the process realise their responsibility and are accountable to fulfill the aspirations and ambitions of the students and parents. For majority of these students particularly of backward socio-economic layer of the society, education is basically for living hence employability. I wish the course in demand and also all other courses enhance their career value and be contemporary enough!
Long Live AMUCT Long Live Teachers Movement
Dr Norbert Lobo
President, AMUCT and Vice-President- AIFUCTO