By Anshul Tewari:
In any organization, change is resisted. But change is what makes the same organization move forward. For months, the Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA) has been protesting against the recently implemented semester system in the university. The silent protests inside colleges and at prominent public places by these teachers have now become an everyday sight for students. According to an article in the Times Of India, dated October 25, 2010, “Since the new students joined on July 21, teachers have been more regular in striking work than taking classes. Even after three months, the students of 13 science courses selected for semesters are not sure what their curriculum is. Should they prepare for the semester exams scheduled to begin on December 6 or sit back and wait for annual exams? Nobody has a clue. Semesters or no semesters, students are going to suffer the most. They say what hurts more is that nobody cares. “
This protest and the inconvenience being caused to students was taken a step further on November 3rd when teachers of an upcoming DU college, Maharaja Agrasen decided to take forward the agitation by causing inconvenience to the principal of the college, Mr. Sunil Sondhi, by stopping him from leaving college and using methods as pushing, pulling violently and blocking all the main exit passages of the college, allegedly.
The shouts and cries of the protesting teachers grew as soon as the students were evacuated from the college. Later on, on being informed, the police rushed to the situation and tried to stop the protesting teachers, failing which the teachers had to be taken by the police for misbehaviour with the principal, causing inconvenience to others. This agitation was an outcome of the recent ruling by the High Court according to which the teachers on strike will not be paid salaries for the days the strike is called. This ruling came because of a PIL filed by Professor M R Gupta seeking a direction for action against teachers who have been on strike since October 25.
This comes as a shame on the face of India’s number 1 under-graduate university.
According to reliable sources, a teacher gets paid anything between Rs. 2000 to Rs. 5000 per class on an average. This salary is derived from the fees that the students pay, and these are the very students who are held at ransom when the teachers call a strike.
Many a student stood firmly in favour of the principal and the ruling. “Its good that the teachers have been arrested. It is important to send out a message that students must not suffer because of strikes.” said one student. Another Delhi University college in Yamuna Vihar faced a similar incident.
Bringing in Essential Service Maintenance Act to stop the ruckus:
Essential Service Maintenance Act (ESMA) is an act to provide for the maintenance of certainÂ essential services and the normal life of the community inÂ India. It was enacted by theÂ Indian Parliament in the nineteenth year of the Republic of India.
Power to prohibit strikes in certain employments: If the Central Government is satisfied that in the public interest, it is necessary or expedient to do so. The order shall be published in such manners as the Central Government considers the best calculated manner to bring it to. The notice of the persons affected by the order. It can be in force for six months only, but the Central Government may (by a like order) extend it for any period, that does not exceed six months, if it is satisfied that in the public interest it is necessary or expedient to do so. Upon the issue of an Order: (a) No person employed in any essential service to which the order relates, shall go or remain on strike; (b) any strike declared or commenced, whether before or after the issue of the order, by persons employed in any such service shall be illegal.
Penalty for illegal strikes: Any person who commences a strike which is illegal under this Act or goes or remains on, or otherwise takes part in, any such strike shall be punishable by imprisonment for a term, which may extend to six months, by a fine (which may extend to two-hundred rupees) or both. Read more about ESMA here.
Youth Ki Awaaz managed to get a byte of Dr. Sunil Sondhi, Principal, Maharaja Agrasen College:
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