CAN THE CANDLE FLAME LIT UP THE ADMINISTRATION?
With bandage in ankle and occasionally moving between wheel chair and walking on stick, the spirit of neither Delhi University teachers association (DUTA) president Nandita Narain, nor that of DUTA seemed fazed as DUTA protest entered its 26th day starting from 24th May, 2016 against the guidelines laid down by the UGC (University Grants Commission) Gazette Notification of 2016, the third amendment, notified on May 4, 2016.
The candle light vigil as planned for the Saturday saw the crowd starting from Mandi House metro station and occupying the whole stretch on one side of Barakhamba Road. The protest was made in full disciplined way ensuring no obstruction to traffic as the crowd remained on one side of the road. Starting the protest with a short speech on need of rolling back of academic performance indicator (API), the DUTA president highlighted the importance of quality in higher education. The protest continued for around two hours with huge banners and slogans calling for rolling back of API.
As the issue is picking up the momentum, the university grant commission tried to come to a common ground two day before, by restoring the direct teaching hour workload to 16, 14, 14 hours per week for assistant professors, associate professors, and professors respectively. But the DUTA said that it would continue the protest till the time there is no complete rollback of the 3rd amendment.
The issue which is still persisting was that of API target based promotion which would make promotions almost impossible. It would make teachers to focus on quantifiable parameters like no. of hours per week, no. of tutorials etc rather than focusing on quality of lectures to be imparted. This is bound to impact the quality of higher education in long term. Moreover, thousands of ad hoc teachers and Assistant Professors tend to lose their jobs with the reformulation of the criteria.
With each passing day, the stakes are getting higher as the evaluation of first year and second year graduation students are getting in limbo apart from the probable delay that may occur in admission process of university. DUTA had, however, earlier decided to exempt the final year batch, which is also the Four Year Undergraduate Programme (FYUP) batch, from the evaluation boycott. The evaluation boycott is to be continued till June 20 after which the general body will be taking decision on further course of action.
Though, the candle light vigil ended with teachers putting down their candle in different groups on the side of the road showing their collective action, the flames are still burning high inside their heart which do not seem to go anytime down in near future until their just demands are met.
By Momin Mohd
Photos credit: Jigyasa gulati