Sunday, February 25, 2024

Sacking of DU’s vocal faculty Laxman Yadav sparks outrage

On 6 December, at least 33 ad-hoc faculty members of various colleges of Delhi University were terminated from their duties with immediate effect after the recent selection committee.

“The term of appointment of all the Assistant Professors working on the ad-hoc basis in Hindi and Philosophy Department of the College will be terminated with effect from 6/12/2023 (afternoon)”, reads the office order received by these faculty members of Hindi Department of Zakir Husain College of the Delhi University.

Laxman Yadav, who had served as an ad-hoc Assistant Professor in the Hindi Department of Delhi University for almost the last 14 years is one among the terminated teachers and another person has been appointed in his place.

He was appointed as an ad hoc faculty in December 2010 and has been teaching Hindi and philosophy since then. Every 4 months he received a continuation letter over the 14 years of his stay at the college as a part of his ad-hoc contract with the university. 

Despite being the longest-serving ad-hoc teacher and scoring the highest among the teachers who appeared for the selection process before the selection committee, Yadav’s name was dropped.

He is replaced by a teacher with no itching experience and much lower qualifications.

Dr Yadav told Maktoob, “Among all the candidates, I scored 96 out of hundred on the Academic Performance Indicators, which determines the selection. 96 was the highest score. I also had 14 years of teaching experience, yet I was thrown out of the university” and “the fair selection should have been based on the merit and academic record of the candidate.”

He said, “The members of the selection committee didn’t take 14 years of teaching experience into consideration”

“How can a 14 minutes interview decide on my career and prove that I am not fit for the position I have been holding for 14 years?”, he asked

“No specific or justified reason was given by the officials for not selecting me”, he added.

Yadav also accused the selection committee and the university authorities of favouritism and being influenced by the ideology of the ruling party in the country.

He alleged that in some colleges the Principal is a leading activist of the ruling party.

He said, “They want their people in all the institutions, it doesn’t matter if they are fit for those positions or not. They want to fill the academic institutions with such people.”

When asked what he meant by ‘their people’ and the ideology, he said, “The people who are ruling the state and everybody knows they are influenced by the ideology of Rashtriya Swayemsewak Sangh, which only want one section to rule over everyone.”

“These institutions which hold utmost academic importance are being infiltrated and diluted by the people from ‘Shakhas’ with the help of those who are already in the power, inside the universities, and in the country”, he added.

He asserted that the selection committee enjoys the monopoly of having entire weightage to decide the candidate for a particular post and they misuse it to get ‘their people’ on board, neglecting all the factors of the interview including the merit, interview, academic records, teaching experience and publications of the candidate.

The terminated faculty member expressing dismay said that the state is attempting to dismantle every ideology that exists in the country that is either opposed or different from than right-wing.

He said, “If anyone is slightly inclined towards minorities or marginalized, the state tries to target and stifle that voice in many ways, snatching their livelihood is one of their many ways to suppress you.”

“It is also being done to spread the message strongly that if you have an inch of dissent or you are critical of the government you will face the consequences”, said Yadav.

He further said, “I am terminated because of being vocal against the wrongdoings of the ruling regime and for always standing beside minorities and marginalized.”

While expressing dismay the professor stated, “It is disappointing to see that not everyone who is terminated can come and speak against this practice because once you start speaking, you know your career is already ruined and you are left unemployed with no choice.

He said that he would speak and continue speaking so that he could face himself and his conscience in the face of injustice.

“I will speak, for myself and for everyone who is being threatened by power and facing injustice”, said the terminated faculty member.

Yadav expressed, “Saffronization of academic institutions is being done and how universities which should be an inclusive space for discussion, debate, and discourse are being ideologically razed down by appointing people who possess a fascist ideology.”

“It is disheartening to see universities die systematically in the hands of those who don’t understand its importance”, he said.

Professor Yadav is a celebrated and adored teacher among the students. Soon after the news of his and other teachers’ termination reached the students, they launched a protest on the campus in front of the Principal’s office of Zakir Husain College expressing their solidarity with the teachers and demanding the revocation of the termination of all the ad-hoc teachers.

The protest lasted for three days on campus as students were physically engaged in their semester examinations. However, the virtual protest is continuing through social media platforms, by distributing pamphlets and other means.

Aniket Gautam, an undergrad final year student at Zakir Husain College called the termination of all the teachers ‘unjust’.

Gautam told Maktoob, “Dr Yadav is the most loved teacher among the students, more than a teacher he is like our partner and a friend.”

He said, “These teachers’ termination is a huge academic loss and students who have deep interpersonal bonds that they shared with these teachers are a great emotional and psychological setback.”

“He is never seen engaging in unnecessary issues. His only aim was to educate and pass on the knowledge to the students. He is a man of virtue and always displayed a principled position on the subjects that matter largely to minorities and marginalized”, he added.

Gautam said, “The University is just nitpicking and removing teachers who side with minorities, marginalized or speak on social issues that need public attention and Yadav sir is facing the wrath for doing so.”

“We are in solidarity with the teachers who are unjustly terminated without giving any reason or alternative. Our protest might have ended physically but our fight against injustice will always be there”, he concluded.

On December 8, the Democratic United Teachers’ Alliance (DUTA) held a Press Conference to highlight the ‘massive displacement of ad hoc teachers’

Maktoob was informed by the DUTA that this was the third such joint Press Conference held by various teachers’ groups. The first was held soon after the “institutional murder” of Samarveer Singh, an ad hoc teacher at Hindu College, who was displaced after serving for six years.

The second was held after another displacement of 5 out of 7 serving teachers in the Department of Hindi, Satyawati College (E) in September this year.

Last month the DUTA undertook a week-long campaign to various colleges to meet teachers and Principals to urge them to work towards absorption of their serving ad hoc teachers.

DUTA also informed Matkoob that at least 33 ad-hoc teachers were displaced with an immediate effect from various colleges including IP College (5 out of 5 in Sociology, 6 out of 8 in English, 2 out of 4 in Hindi and 5 out of 6 in Geography), Ramjas College (4 out of 8 in Commerce, 5 out of 8 in Botany and 6 out of 8 in English), Motilal Nehru College and Zakir Husain Delhi College.

“The longest serving teacher, Dr Laxman Yadav, who had served for 14 years and had the highest API score of 96/100, was the only one displaced in a targeted and vindictive manner and replaced by a teacher with much lower qualifications and no teaching experience”, DUTA said in a statement.

“Dr Laxman Yadav is a well-known social activist and public intellectual, who has consistently spoken out on issues of Social Justice, Secularism, Constitutional values, Academic Freedom, and Education Policy. The administration targeted him for his outspoken criticism of Government policies. Despite his outstanding academic record (gold medalist from Allahabad University and PhD from Delhi University) and impeccable teaching career, he was displaced by the selection committee without any credible reason”, the statement further reads.

Yadav now looks forward to building a mass movement to educate and mobilize public opinion “against this ongoing destruction of public-funded education” and appealed to all sections of society to initiate help to build it into a people’s movement.

“I am not stepping back, they took my job but I will save the educational institutions because to save democracy it is important to institutions and ensure their free and fair regulation for all,” he added.

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