Varsity faculty to protest against Modi govt policies

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (AFP File Photo)

Thousands of university teachers from different parts of the country are set to hit Parliament Street in New Delhi on Friday to protest against various decisions taken by the Modi government in the higher education sector.

The All India Federation of University and College Teachers Organisations (AIFUCTO) has organised the protest rally to raise their issues and demands.

Their demands range from granting 100% central assistance to the states “for uniform and simultaneous” implementation of salary hike under the seventh pay commission recommendations to the “immediate withdrawal” of the Higher Education Commission of India Bill, 2018, which seeks to replace the University Grants Commission (UGC).

They also want the Union government to scrap the provisions made by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and the UGC for grant of graded autonomy to the country’s universities and colleges.

The AIFUCTO’s protest rally is being supported by the central university teachers association too.

“The central government is paving the way for the complete destruction of the democratic and constitutional set up of education, especially higher education in the name of introducing reforms,” AIFUCTO general secretary Arun Kumar said.

The government has been pursuing “its own agenda” in the education sector in the “most unconstitutional manner” over the last four years.

“There is severe budget cut in education, fellowships are severely reduced, change of curriculum and syllabus without any discussion with stakeholders. There is a complete disregard of reservation roster in universities and colleges, attack on the autonomy of institutions of higher learning, freezing of appointment of teachers in regular posts,” Kumar said.

There are “many more” issues against which teachers from across the country are agitating and struggling regularly but there is no response from the government, Kumar said.

“Since the last four years, educational institutions have been under continuous attack by various vested groups but the government through its stoic silence did nothing to save the secular and democratic character of these institutions. Teachers are now ready to launch a sustained agitation till such policies are revoked and redeemed,” Kumar added.

AIFUCTO president Kesab Bhattacharya, a senior faculty member in Jadavpur University, West Bengal, charged the government of taking decisions without consulting the teachers' bodies.

“They are taking several decisions, making crucial changes in rules, regulations and policy in the name of bringing reforms without taking the opinions of the teachers who are among the main stakeholders. We must have a space to express our views and opinions. This is the most undemocratic way of doing things. We can not accept it," Bhattacharya said.

Aditya Narayan Mishra, a senior faculty member at Delhi University, said the government has “killed” the very idea of a university.

“The syllabus has been made uniform. Nowhere in the world, two universities have the same syllabus. They have also reduced the funding and allowing institutions to run self-financed courses which will eventually result in an increase in the tuition fee,” he said.

Mishra also objected to the government’s proposal to replace the UGC with a new body, Higher Education Commission of India (HECI), saying the constitution of a new regulatory body will allow the government to exercise “total control” over the universities and colleges in the country.

“It’s very clear if you look at the government's proposal for HECI. It says HRD ministry’s decision will be final,” Mishra added.

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Varsity faculty to protest against Modi govt policies

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