More than 50 days after they went on an indefinite relay hunger strike, Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) called off the strike on Saturday.
“We have held a number of programmes as part of the hunger strike - a candlelight vigil, movie screenings, joint demonstrations with students and college staff. We also met the President, who is the visitor to the university, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and HRD Pallam Raj. Despite all this, the government has not facilitated a dialogue between the V-C and DUTA members,” Amar Deo Sharma, DUTA president, said.
The DUTA had began the strike on October 10 to highlight a number of issues such as the appointment of permanent teachers, anomalies in the sixth pay revision and changing of courses and syllabi without statutory procedures being followed. They had demanded a dialogue with the university administration to sort out these issues.
Some college teachers, however, expressed dissatisfaction at the manner in which the strike was carried forward. Sangit Ragi, a political science teacher at Maharaja Agrasen College, said: “There was no common cause for launching the movement and many teachers kept a distance from it.”
“Ad-hoc appointments are pending because of procedural reasons. Once the semester system crystallises, things will move on. As far as academic reforms, and the way they are being introduced are concerned, one needs to realise that universities cannot be isolated. Reforms are needed in the university to keep with the wider changes. The V-C, soon after he assumed office, had interacted with more than a 1,000 teachers and has been interacting with students on a regular basis.”
Former DUTA president Aditya Narayan Mishra said:”There is a disconnect between the larger teaching community and DUTA leadership. It is unfortunate that salaries of striking teachers were deducted and DUTA has not been able to do anything about it. This has sent wrong signals in the teaching community,” Mishra said.
Other teachers, however, seemed optimistic and felt the struggle has only widened. Abha Dev Habib, a physics teacher at Miranda House, said: “DUTA has used all democratic processes available. If a dialogue does not get established between the V-C and DUTA, we hold the government responsible for this and we will mobilize forces at a larger scale now.”
DUTA has resolved to carry forward their struggle against various issues with a range of programmes - a public seminar on the idea of a university in February, a march to the Ministry of Human Resource Development, and a report on the irregularities in the functioning of the university administration.