People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
October 14, 2007
AIFUCTO To Join National Strike On October 30
THE All India Federation of University and College Teachers’ Organisations (AIFUCTO) has called upon university and college teachers all over the country to join the one day national strike on October 30. A resolution to this effect was adopted by the general council of AIFUCTO at its 24th statutory conference held at Hyderabad from October 5 to 7. The conference fully endorsed the charter of demands approved by the national convention of the state and central government employees, workers of public sector undertakings and teachers held at New Delhi on August 13. The demands include the following: scrapping the new pension scheme, continuance and extension of the existing statutory pension scheme, interim relief at 10 per cent of the pay, ending of downsizing, privatisation and contractualisation of labour, legislative protection to the right to strike and filling up of all vacancies of employees and teachers on a regular basis. The decision of the AIFUCTO to join hands with the employees of central and state governments and public sector undertakings in the countrywide strike will paralyse the majority of over 350 universities and 16,000 colleges across the country on the day of the national strike.
The conference discussed in detail the disturbing scenario emerging at the international and national levels. It expressed its concern over the implications of the nuclear collaboration with the United States and Ram Setu controversy. Responding to the general secretary’s annual report, speaker after speaker warned the central government against compromising national sovereignty, non alignment, the country’s energy security, self-reliance and vital economic interests by operationalising the 123 agreement. The delegates also cautioned the central government against bowing to the communal forces on the Setu Samudram project. It was noted that mythology and history are not one and the same, though both have immense value in their separate domains. The current controversy cuts at the roots of Indian secularism which accommodates religion and science, history and mythology. The essence of Indian secularism is its inclusiveness. It is unity in diversity. The conference appealed to the people to protect and strengthen the values of Indian secularism, with which the survival of the nation is intricately intertwined.
The AIFUCTO welcomed the constitution of the 6th UGC Pay Review Committee and expressed its satisfaction over its inclusive terms of reference. At the same time, it also aired its apprehensions over the timing of the constitution of the committee. The committee was only constituted 11 months after the constitution of the 6th Central Pay Commission and 21 months after January 2006, from which date the new pay scales are due. The delegates alleged that the constitution of the committee was deliberately delayed to accommodate the tectonic shift in the policy perceptions of the central government on higher education between 2005 and 2006. The conference appealed to the UGC Pay Review Committee to be guided by the policy perspectives of the Report of the Central Advisory Board on Education on the Financing of Higher and Technical Education (2005) which represents the federal consensus on greater public funding for higher education and greater public control over private institutions and to reject the Report of the National Knowledge Commission (2006) which is crafted in accordance with the policies of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation ,bypassing the promises made by the UPA government in its Common Minimum Programme (CMP).
The conference noted that the choice to be made by the UGC Pay Review Committee between the CABE and NKC reports would not only decide the career prospects of over 5 lakh teachers ,but also the prospects of lakhs of young men and women all over the country yearning for quality higher education in an equitable environment. AIFUCTO appealed to the committee to bring out a set of comprehensive recommendations that would address the concerns of the teachers including those pertaining to the anomalies in the implementation of 5th pay review committee recommendations, non implementation of UGC pay scales in Orissa, non-implementation of uniform retirement age throughout the country and the demands of inclusive development which is premised on availability of equitable opportunities for higher education for all young men and women.
The AIFUCTO conference decided to vigorously campaign against the exclusionary agenda being promoted through private universities, foreign direct investment in education, isolated islands of excellence and differential pay scales for teachers. The AIFUCTO demanded that the system of contractual teaching be immediately scrapped and to immediately take steps to fill up over 3.3 lakh vacancies in college and universities on a permanent basis. The slogan “Share Knowledge; Share Development” elaborated through the AIFUCTO Policy on Education would be campaigned over the length and breadth of the country by organising seminars, discussions and morchas and by translating the policy document into all regional languages.
The AIFUCTO demanded that the central government scrap the National Knowledge Commission and constitute a full fledged National Commission on Education along the lines of Kothari Commission. The AIFUCTO also wanted immediate implementation of the fundamental right to education through common school system fully funded by the central and state governments and appealed to the central and state governments to spend at least 6 per cent of the GDP, 10 per cent of the central budget and 30 per cent of the state budget on education. It demanded a comprehensive central legislation for regulating private unaided institutions for the promotion of equity and excellence in education. The AIFUCTO decided to take immediate steps to organise the unorganised part-time and contractual teachers and take effective steps to ensure a better deal for them, even as it would strive to scrap the scheme of contract faculty in favour of regular faculty.
The three day statutory conference and national seminar on the role of public funded institutions were inaugurated by Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh. More than 500 delegates drawn from all over the country attended the conference and the seminar. Over 50 delegates took part in the discussions on the general secretary’s report. Dr J B J Tilak of NEUPA, the chief guest, explained how the prospect of inclusive development is linked up with public provision for quality education at all levels of learning, including higher education.
The statutory conference unanimously elected the following office bearers for the next two years. President: Thomas Joseph (Kerala); General Secretary: Dr V K Tewari (Punjab); Treasurer: Dr Nikhil Desai (Gujarat); National Secretaries: A James William(Tamilnadu); Ashok Kumar Barman (West Bengal); Sadiquil Islam (West Bengal); Sudhakar Mankar (Maharastra); V P Singh (Bihar) Vice Presidents: Amiya Kumar Mahanti (Orissa), Arun Kumar Sinha (Bihar), Ghasi Ram Chaudhari (Rajasthan), L N Pandey (Uttar Pradesh ) P Jayagandhi (Tamilnadu) R Halesh (Karnataka ) R K Kaista (Himachal Pradesh), S Lakshmi Narayan (Andhra Pradesh), Tapati Mukhopadhyay (Maharastra) and Zonal Secretaries: Apurba Kumar Das (Assam) , Dr G C Jha (Jharkhand), Dr Ghanasyam Singh (Uttar Pradesh) , Alok Kumar Singh (Madhya Pradesh), Pawan Kumar Sharma (Haryana), K C Ajwalia (Gujarat), L R Angadi (Karnataka), S Ramaswamy (Tamilnadu)