University of Delhi:
The Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) Elections will be held on 27 August 2015 against the backdrop of a disastrous restructuring of Higher Education, increasing centralization and bureaucratic control of public-funded educational institutions and encroachment on their intellectual and academic autonomy. This policy direction relies on adverse changes in the service conditions and working conditions of teachers making public funded higher educational institutions unattractive for talent. Assault on pension and promotions, persistence of prolonged periods of exploitative forms of employment, and denying teachers a say in academic matters are all meant to create an environment conducive to privatisation and commercialisation of higher education.
These adverse changes have been combined with arbitrary and authoritarian governance, systematic doling out of favour to those close to the administration and targeting of those who dared to disagree and protest in order to create an atmosphere of intimidation and academic vitiation. The move to go ahead with the GATS in December this year and convert higher education in India as a tradeable service under the aegis of WTO is going to pose even greater challenges to service and working conditions of teachers and quality of access to higher education. The impending pay revision is most likely to be accompanied by further adverse changes with regard to teachers and teaching.
As an independent trade union body of teachers in the largest central university, the DUTA’s role has been historic in the collective struggle against forces of wholesale privatization and commercialization of Higher Education. Especially in recent times, the DUTA has stood as a bulwark against a sinister effort to undermine questions of equity, public access and quality in public-funded higher educational institutions. Its movements against FYUP and CBCS have drawn the participation of students, parents, civil society organisations and common people from different walks of life. National-level teachers’ organisations like FEDCUTA and AIFUCTO have responded to the DUTA’s call to build a nation-wide resistance to skewed, quality-blind academic restructuring, drastic cuts in public spending and the growing pressure and interference of private and foreign lobbies in public policy on Higher Education.
The Democratic Teachers’ Front (DTF) has led the DUTA in the last four years with the single-minded commitment to keeping a united and independent Teachers’ Movement alive in the interests of the people. It continues to establish wider and stronger networks of solidarity with teachers and students as well as with other trade unions and rights-based organisations working on people’s issues to help free Higher Education from the stranglehold of policies that seek to destroy public-funded Higher Education.
The DTF’s presidential candidate Nandita Narain (Associate Professor of Mathematics, St. Stephen’s College) is representative of the vigour and tenacity with which DUTA has been fighting. Her credentials as an activist-leader of the academic community in DU are widely known and appreciated. The DU Administration under Prof Dinesh Singh and its cohorts, including the Principal of St. Stephens’ College, have tried all tricks to take punitive action against her. Undeterred, she has been able to unite all sections of teachers and students in a common struggle in her tenure as DUTA President. She has combined protest actions with documentation and critique of the policy changes as well as mis-governance, financial improprieties, rigging of the selection process, disregard for and surrender of academic autonomy, other violations of laid down norms and destruction of the university environment by Prof. Dinesh Singh and his team. At this critical juncture, the teachers’ movement needs Nandita Narain at the leadership to forge a fitting collective response to the policy assault on higher education and conditions of teachers.
For the DUTA Executive the DTF has decided to field four proven and equally committed activists. These are:
- Angad Tiwari (Dept. of Hindi, Sri Aurobindo College- Evening),
- Bhupinder Chaudhry (Dept. of History, Maharaja Agrasen College),
- Vijaya Venkataraman (Dept. of GRS, Faculty of Arts, DU)
- Vivek Mohan (Dept. of History, Delhi College of Arts and Commerce).