The standoff between the Delhi University administration and the teachers’ association looks set to escalate with the change of guard at the Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry. Sources have indicated that the ministry under M M Pallam Raju has intervened to ask vice-chancellor Dinesh Singh to sit across the table with the teachers’ association and start a dialogue to resolve the situation.
Though the Delhi University Teachers’ Association has called off its relay hunger strike — it has been protesting the manner in which the university administration is implementing new policies — it is clearly not giving up. DUTA representatives met new HRD minister Pallam Raju who told reporters that changes must be brought about but through consensus.
Dinesh Singh, on his part, is clearly pushing through a reform agenda. If his predecessor Deepak Pental brought in the semester system amid much opposition, Singh’s ambitious plans for meta universities, meta colleges and introducing four-year undergraduate courses have become equally contentious. That apart, his new ideas — scrapping re-evaluation of papers and introduction of the biometric attendance system for teachers — are also viewed as irritants by many.
While the vice-chancellor may not be making time for DUTA, those close to him claim he has interacted with over 4,000 teachers in the past two years, regularly attends college staff meetings and has been getting positive feedback on the changes being brought in.
His weekly public ‘durbar’ at Gandhi Bhawan is seen as a way to reach out to all stakeholders, including students and parents. Keen to take the reforms forward, the university administration, sources said, would rather not slow down the pace by engaging in prolonged meetings.
Singh, in fact, sailed through with the passage of reforms in the last two years when Kapil Sibal was at the helm in the ministry. Sibal backed reforms, as well as Singh, to the hilt. With Pallam Raju taking over, the support for reforms and concepts like meta universities is still there but there is also emphasis on the need to tone down levels of confrontation at all levels. Therefore, the suggestion to hold talks with DUTA.’
Amar Deo Sharma, DUTA president from the Left-leaning Democratic Teachers Front, refutes suggestions that the association is stalling reforms in the university.
“We are not against all reforms or change. Change must come but the question is who will decide the form of these reforms. All stakeholders must be consulted. Still further, the bigger