I am writing this letter with the hope that it finds the right ears. The political conditions in Jammu and Kashmir have always had a direct bearing on its institutions. This political mayhem gave birth to corruption and highhandedness. Therefore, the policies for governance that were framed amidst this political chaos have almost always created dissatisfaction among the people at large. You are no stranger to how the recruitment agencies in J&K work. I am sure you must have sometimes also questioned the strange rules that govern us here. One such strange case is the recruitment of academic arrangements for the colleges in J&K.
The story goes like this: As always, in the current academic year 2020, the Higher Education Department of J&K announced the official notifications for recruitment of academic arrangements (Contractual Lecturers and Teaching Assistants) in various colleges of J&K for filling up teaching posts. The governing body, as per the rules framed by the government, distributed the 40 academic points in a manner that gave Graduation 6 points, Post-Graduation 6 points on pro-rata basis, M.Phil. 3, PhD 8, Teaching Experience 10 points (two for each academic session), and online Swayam courses/certificates 2 points (0.50 points per course).
However, every year when the notification is issued for the recruitment, it attracts heavy criticism from the stakeholders. Often candidates have to knock the doors of judiciary. This is because no serious thought is given before the criteria is set for the recruitment. To be honest, there is a common perception among the educated youth that the government deliberately prolongs the selection process either to save the state exchequer, or to adjust blue eyed candidates. That may be an accusation only. I don’t know. Fortunately, or not, this year the candidates could do nothing about it owing to the pandemic. No writ petitions, no representations, no memoranda. Only sacrifice of their careers. How is it even fair that a PhD degree is assigned 08 points while graduation and post-graduation are given 6 points each? Then what is the fun of obtaining a doctorate degree for years? Surprisingly, no points are assigned for post-doctoral degrees while Swayam courses are given 2 points. This type of recruitment policy puts our whole educational system at crossroads and the future of hundreds of highly educated youth at stake.
One wonders as to why the government is not applying the UGC rules here as are operating in other states of India. Wouldn’t it be reasonable to make UGC selection criteria mandatory for the recruitment of contractual teachers also? Ideally, there should not be arbitrary procedures of selection when the recent UGC Guidelines regarding the procedure of selection of teaching faculty are already being adopted by higher education institutions across India.
I am not sure whether you have heard about the High Court ruling of status quo for those contractual lecturers who had been teaching on contract of one year from past few years. If you had, perhaps you would have intervened and done the right thing. Due to the High Court ruling of status quo these candidates were not required to even submit their application form. Thus, if a subject had 50 vacancies, only 10 or 15 were notified and on the rest of vacancies these candidates were arbitrarily continued. The argument of the status quoist contractual academic staff is that they have been serving the education department from few years and are, therefore, eligible for continuation. Perhaps they forget that they were paid for their services and every year they had submitted an affidavit giving an undertaking that their services are temporary for an academic year and will not claim continuation of their services whatsoever. The Court, instead of settling the issue once and forever based on principle of equity and justice, gave orders of status quo. This ruling has put the future of the unemployed youth at stake and those who are completing their degrees will never get a chance to serve. One fails to understand how the Honorable Court gave such orders when the services are paid and are meant for one academic year only. How has the Court made it their right to continue their services? This mars the concept of open competition and merit.
The government and higher education officials should not be ignorant of the fact that hundreds of students take the arduous journey of attaining higher education every year with the hope that attaining such qualifications would provide them the opportunities to serve in degree Colleges/Universities when there are little job avenues in other areas. Similarly, no government has the right to play with the hopes and aspirations of the educated youth by undemocratizing the employment opportunities in the education sector and elsewhere. I hope good sense prevails. The sooner, the better!
Postscript: I hope this letter will be read by different sections of the society and they will raise their voice. At the same time, it is my humble request to Lieut. Governor G.C. Murmu to constitute a Committee of experts that will look into this grave issue.
Author is a Doctorate in Political Science from AMU and a victim of unjust recruitment policies