On 28 August, the vice chancellor of Delhi University issued a circular asking constituent colleges and departments to fill faculty vacancies at the earliest. Until the permanent appointments were made, the circular said, “Colleges may appoint guest faculty, if required, against new vacancies arising first time in academic session 2019–20.” It did not clarify whether the new vacancies included those posts currently filled by ad-hoc teachers, who are hired for 120 days at a time and make up two-fifths of DU’s faculty. These teachers have long sought regularisation as permanent employees, and saw the circular as a step to hire them under the precarious designation of guest faculty. They began protesting against the circular, and on 4 December, thousands of teachers stormed the vice chancellor’s office, as part of a larger agitation to secure permanent employment. The following day, the ministry of human-resource development issued a statement amending the circular to include ad-hoc, temporary and contract faculty among those who could be appointed to fill the vacancies in the short term. It also said that ad-hoc teachers working in the current academic year could continue in their jobs until the next academic session, if permanent recruitment does not occur before then.
Rajib Ray, a professor of philosophy at Kirori Mal College, is currently serving his second term as president of the Delhi University Teachers’ Association. He is also the president of the Federation of Central University Teachers’ Associations. In an interview with Sreerag PS, an independent journalist, Ray spoke about the movement his organisation is leading for the absorption of ad-hoc teachers in the university faculty.
Sreerag PS: Could you explain the circumstances that led to the protest by teachers of Delhi University?
Rajib Ray: From where will I start! I can’t make a Mahabharata about it. The elucidation would be that in Delhi University, for long, we have had this concept of ad-hoc teachers. The genesis of this concept is in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but it was a few [teachers]. The peak period [for hiring ad-hoc teachers] was from 1989 to 1993, during the NET issue. [The National Eligibility Test, which qualifies candidates for teaching posts and research fellowships, began in 1989.] Then it peaked around 2005, when there was a ten to fifteen percent cut in substantive positions. They were not to be filled up. Now we have reached another peak. At this moment, about four and a half thousand ad-hoc teachers are there. In a period of nearly four years, no interviews have taken place, especially in Delhi University colleges.
On 28 August this year, the university authority came out with a letter saying that all new vacancies after this year will be filled by guest faculty. In the months of September, October and early November, we wrote letter after letter to every place. I am also the president of the Federation of Central University Teachers’ Associations. We asked the University Grants Commission to intervene, because this would create a lot of problems. The Delhi University Principals’ Association also took up the position that they cannot extend [appointments of ad-hoc teachers] till the university gives a clarification.