The death of Samarveer Singh, an ad hoc teacher in Delhi University’s Hindu College who died by suicide on April 26 after failing to clear interview for permanent teaching position, has left the teachers in a state of shock.
The 33-year-old was teaching in the philosophy department for the last six years but was still displaced and rendered jobless.
“Slowly, we are being pushed to the edge. Although I will not go to the extent of Samarveer, I am disturbed following [my] displacement. I am the sole breadwinner of the family and my savings are also decreasing,” an ad hoc teacher who was displaced told Patriot on condition of anonymity.
The teacher, who had been working with Delhi University’s Kirori Mal College (KMC) for the last three years, added, “This displacement is unfair. How can you decide on a candidate’s ability after just a two- or five-minute interview? This means they selected their own candidates.”
Many displaced teachers feel the same way, claiming that the interviews conducted for the permanent post were not transparent and despite experience and academic publications, they were overlooked. They say they are in a big problem, facing uncertain future.
A big chunk
Some say that over 70% of the ad hoc teachers, who served for long, have been displaced.
It is to be noted that following a long wait, the University of Delhi has started filling up permanent positions that have been lying vacant for years.
But many of the ad hoc teachers, have been left in lurch after being displaced and abandoned by the university. Many of them are above 40 and have been teaching for more than a decade.
“Though there is no rule that [says that] an ad hoc teacher will become permanent but it has happened in other states such as Madhya Pradesh and Bengal. Teachers there have been confirmed on the same salary. And, it is important to note that each college already has more vacant seats than ad hoc teachers. If ad hoc teachers are four in a department, the vacancies are five or six. Despite that, the displacement is happening. An ad hoc was not appointed without qualification [so his non-selection is even more surprising],” said the KMC teacher.
Another ad hoc teacher who had been teaching in Delhi University’s Bharati College for many years, explained to Patriot, “There are many problems. Everything is happening arbitrarily. In the latest round of interviews, they are not appointing candidates who have been teaching and spent their life at the university for one or two decades. But they are appointing their own. I gave an interview in Laxmibai College but was not selected. How can they judge us in an interview lasting two or three minutes?”
Demotion after false promise
He complains that the university wants to turn them into guest faculty.
“Now the university wants to shut the ad hoc system and wants to convert it into guest faculty. There hasn’t even been an ad hoc appointment in Bharati College since 2019. We have a lot of work-load. In 2019, they said that they will make all ad hoc teachers permanent and now, they want to demote us to the rank of guest teacher. Some colleges are making ad hoc teachers permanent, some are not. There is no rule, so there is politics and injustice [in the process]. If we will be out of job in this expensive city, how will we survive or where will we go? No one has job security. The question is of bread and butter,” he said.
Another ad hoc teacher of Bharati College said that he has no hopes of selection in future since he lacks political clout.
“I have attended many college interviews but have not been selected. I will attend more but have no hopes of selection due to lack of political clout or other reference. We are barely surviving. There are a lot of issues in all the departments. Seats ki bandarbant hai (seats are being allocated on whims).”
Two female ad hoc teachers of Delhi University shared the same story.
One of them told Patriot on condition of anonymity, “I went to give an interview in the Delhi College of Arts and Commerce and Laxmibai College. Those were only formalities in the name of interviews. I reached college at 9 am. My turn came at 6 pm and my interview lasted for one-and-a-half minute. They did not even listen to my full introduction properly and interrupted me. Now, we don’t even know if our ad hoc status will continue. We have a lot of problems.”
Another female ad hoc teacher, who had attended an interview in Laxmibai College, told Patriot, “They also humiliate the candidate in the interview. I took a week to recover. We face many problems without job security. We face many societal and family pressures. There is a lot of work-load in ad hoc position. If we raise the matter, the college even threatens to remove us. We have even lost our personal life.”
There is one more problem in Bharati College. The four departments — psychology, sociology, mass communication and mathematics, which are suffering from a lack of teachers and need faculty, are not on the roster of 133 vacancies. They have no permanent teachers and depend on ad hoc staff.
Saloni Gupta, the Principal of Bharati College, told Patriot, “The University Grants Commission (UGC) has given only an approval for it but has not sanctioned any fund for it. (The courses were introduced in the college in 2017, after requests were being made since 2015). The university approved it, but UGC did not sanction for the post (job). It’s difficult to run but we are managing the courses with two ad hoc teachers and guest faculty. We can’t involve it in the roster until UGC sanctions it. We are continuing to pursue UGC and have written multiple letters.”
Interestingly, the college had issued two vacancies in each of the four new courses in 2020. However, the college management did not pursue it and instead, limited the number in the roster of vacancies to 125 from 133.
Criticism from unlikely quarter
Not only the disqualified, but qualified teachers too say that the process of interview is not fair.
A Hindu college teacher, who has become permanent now after being ad hoc, told Patriot, “These interviews mostly depend on kon kisko janta hai (personal clout). There is little fairness. Either you are a favourite of the college principal or you are a favourite of someone in the interview panel. Often, there is a compromise between the principal and the interview panel.”
In this teacher’s case, the college principal and experts were involved in a five hour-long debate. The college principal wanted to select him but the experts in the interview panel wanted to pick another candidate. Eventually, the college principal prevailed.
“Very few candidates are selected purely on merit. It’s a subjective interview so things such as your qualification doesn’t matter much. Nobody knows what is the basis of selection criteria. Though my interview lasted 25 minutes, in 90% of the cases, the interview is just a formality and lasts only two minutes. I had also given interviews in Hansraj and Sri Venkateswara colleges, but I was out of the room in two minutes. So, it’s a very arbitrary process.”
A teacher from Motilal Nehru College said, “In the interviews, there is a lot of pressure from political groups. Some panel members have secretly admitted to the teachers about the pressure. Also, ideology of the college and candidate matters. For these two reasons, [able] candidates are paying the price. What will a person do after spending 10 years in the university? Where will he/she get a job now? Also, they have now lost confidence too. In some cases, they selected candidates who had not completed their PhD and removed those who were well qualified.”
The teachers also alleged that the role of Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) has been lukewarm and it has not supported or raised the issue of ad hoc teachers as it should have done.
The KMC teacher, who was displaced, criticised DUTA.
“DUTA had earlier given an official statement saying that ‘not a single ad hoc would be displaced or if any displacement happens, we will shut the university’. But this promise wasn’t fulfilled [as they haven’t taken any action].”
Questions on DUTA’s role
Patriot spoke to DUTA Chairman, AK Bhagi, regarding the matter.
“I have penned a letter to the vice-chancellor and demanded a partial enquiry regarding the suicide issues. The allegation of 80% [teachers getting] displaced is false. We have the official data which DUTA collected. According to it, only 434 out of 1,800 have been displaced. And out of these 434 disqualified, 178 have been reappointed elsewhere,” said Bhagi.
“They should go to court or give me evidence of partisanship. No one is complaining to us in writing about the short interviews or other matters. Nothing will happen only on the basis of allegations. You tell me the name of the person who is alleging,” he added.
Bhagi remained non-committal on it though.
Asked if he thinks the appointments were free and fair?
“Ye maine kab kaha (when did I say this). I neither said it is fair nor did I say it is biased. If anyone complains in DUTA, we will see.”
He further said, “We also wrote to Bharati College regarding the lack of seats in the four departments. The former principal is responsible because she had started the departments. Also, it is the college’s internal matter.”
Asked if he can persuade the college authorities to adjust by removing a few seats from other departments.
“Ab main dusre department ka gala to nahi ghont sakta (I cannot hurt the other departments). It’s a reality that the UGC did not sanction the seats for the department. But we have also appealed to the college that whoever is working there [on ad hoc basis] should be adjusted. We are trying to solve the problem but they should desist from making false allegations.”
Patriot also called the Delhi University registrar Dr Vikas Gupta.
He responded by saying, “I am not on the committee so how can I say anything? I have no idea about unfairness.”