They urge the PM to intervene at least after they die

Underpaid and ignored Ktaka govt lecturers write to PM Modi threatening suicideImage: Guest Lecturers protest, Srinivasachar
news Education Friday, March 04, 2016 - 19:32

Veeranna has not been paid for eight months. But even when he does get paid, his monthly salary of Rs 9,000 as a guest lecturer in a Davangere degree college, will amount to little.

But he does have a daily income while he waits for the state government to pay his salary.

“I sell milk from 5 am to 8 am and then leave for college by 10 am. After I get back at 6:30 pm, I again set off to distribute milk. I also run a general store. I make about Rs 50 to Rs 100 per day,” says the 52-year-old lecturer.

Such stories are not uncommon among the guest lecturers who are working in the state’s 411 degree colleges.

40-year-old Raju Kambar a Kannada lecturer at the Government First Grade college in Belagavi, doubles up as a carpenter in the family business after completing eight hours at the college.

“I am also pursuing a doctoral programme in Kannada University (Hampi) hoping that it will help. I have been doing this for over 10 years,” says Kambar. He hopes that the government would raise the wages for the lecturers to Rs 25,000. 

Fed up with the government’s apathy, however, eight guest lecturers from Chikkodi, Belagavi district, have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, stating that they will commit suicide. The New Indian Express first reported that in a letter dated February 24 and addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the lecturers have urged him to intervene at least after their death. The full text of the letter is below.

The immediate precipitating factor for their drastic announcement, is the government’s decision to recruit teachers through a common entrance exam.  

“Before 2005 we were part-time faculties. It all changed when part-time lecturers went to court in 2003 to ask for regularisation and to secure permanent positions. The court’s verdict accepted the pleas. However, the government and bureaucrats took off the ‘part-time’ tag and brought in ‘guest faculty’ tag, which has become more problematic,” said Srinivasachar, president of the State Guest Faculties Association.

Veeranna, guest faculty at Davengere has a shop too

According to Srinivasachar, the Department of Collegiate Education employs about 4,800 permanent staff while guest lecturers number around 14,000. “Our passion is to teach, but it is a curse to be a guest faculty. We almost feel non-existent though we are more in number than the permanent faculties. The government is out to make money, because having guest lecturers works out cheaper for them,” he says.

Apart from the demand for job security, they want the government to consider MPhil qualification while appointing guest lecturers, implement the UGC salary scale for guest faculty, release salaries for all 12 months and provide compensatory marks for guest lecturers in regular appointment.

Raju Kambar who does carpentary after college hours

According to Srinivasachar, the UGC pay scale for permanent lecturers ranges from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh. However, guest faculty with post-graduate degrees are paid Rs 9,000 and lecturers with doctorate degrees earn Rs 11,500. Benefits such as PF, medical reimbursement, paid leave (PL) are not applicable to them. 

A Chikkaballapura-guest lecturer told The News Minute on condition of anonymity that women lecturers have been often replaced by others if they take extended leave. She says she was replaced when she went on maternity leave.

“They expect us to come and work even if we have had a caesarean which is not the case with permanent employees,” she said.

Although the officially they are expected to put in eight hours a day, they often end up working up to 12 hours, Srinivasachar says.

“We are literally treated like ‘guests’. Even in colleges, they ask us to take care of sports or cultural events in the college or even help with library work. Even if a guest faculty dies, no higher official from Department of Education comes to offer condolences like they would for any permanent faculty. Some frustrated guest faculties have even committed suicide. Who will answer for them?” he asks.

Below is the full text of the letter: 

“In connection with the above mentioned subject, we would like to say that we have been serving as guest lecturers for several years, with very low salaries given to us once a year, like dumb animals. By not making our appointments permanent, by denying us job security, the government is now prepared for our funeral rituals even though we are alive. The government’s scant regard for our 35-day boycott of classes has caused us much pain. When we have spent half our lives in the teaching profession, can the government not amend the law, create rules? Instead the government has gone against UGC guidelines, and has decided to recruit teachers through a common entrance test while we have no job security, which is unconstitutional procedure. What then, is to be our fate, we who have served for so many years? What is to become of our families who are dependent on us? Dejected and depressed at the unhuman and authoritarian manner of the government, we, the eight undersigned guest lecturers, have decided to commit suicide within the Chikkodi mini Vidhan Soudha premises on March 12, the anniversary of the Dandi Satyagraha of the freedom struggle. We wish to bring to your attention that Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and the Minister for Higher Education TB Jayachandra are directly responsible for our deaths. At least after our deaths, we have faith that you will intervene and ensure that laws will be framed for our fellow guest lecturers and existing laws will be amended, that you will personally take interest in ensuring job security and permanent jobs and bring light to the lives of guest lecturers, and build a Swachh Bharat by reigning such a corrupt system in the state.

Chikkodi

24-2-2016

 

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