The either/or Treatment of Contractual Teachers

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Dr. Javid Ahmad Mallah

“A writer has an obligation to address all issues,” says, Jean-Paul Sartre. This is my painful duty to address the sufferings of a highly qualified lot of Jammu and Kashmir. I am talking about College Academic Arrangements popularly known as “contractulies”. The word is now more often used to entertain its nature of temporality and the joy is seen in the eyes of the “other”, no matter ether in the eyes of the permanent faculty or students. Even in the attitude of clerks or peons, either in the directions of principal or director/commissioner and so on. It is unfortunate that the lot that deserves utmost respect and honor has become “use and through” stuff. It is unfortunate to see their sufferings and this “either/or status” seems to have no end. Even though, no college can work smoothly, justly (in terms of quality teaching and workload) for a week without academic arrangements.

Their punctuality and quality services cannot be denied and doubted because they are all the time warned that if they are not punctual or fail to deliver their teaching targets; their monthly remuneration will either be reduced or they may face disengagement from the services. Under such a severe academic atmosphere they succeeded on all platforms and serve the system on quality parameters. They fulfill the demands and face the challenges of the system with zest and zeal. Their sincere services in the department for more than 20 years on minimum wages earn worth and dignity in the eyes of the general public, particularly, in the hearts of their pass-outs.  However, within the system, they are approached like untouchables.

Jammu and Kashmir sunk in the waves of the so-called Vikas after the revocation of article 370 and the subsequent uneven lockdown and curfews have affected so much so that the earlier engaged group of college contractual lecturers has been removed. For them, college gates have been closed. It has been seen, the Class -IV employees threaten and humiliate the doctorate and post-doctorate fellows for entering into the colleges.

In between these difficult situations, most of these lecturers approached the honorable High Court to get their miseries resolved, their cries heard and answered. The honorable high court wrote to the authorities not to disturb their status and issued pay releasing orders in favor of these lecturers. In response to the court orders, the department of higher education paid no attention to this serious issue. With the result, the highly qualified lot remained penny less that lead them and their families to extreme sufferings throughout this difficult period.

During the times of COVID-19, and since its horror hit the world, all teaching-learning institutions offered fresh guidelines for online teaching. In these challenging times, these lecturers shouldered the emerging challenges and responsibilities and gave their best in all platforms, whether it’s teaching, content creation, conducting the online examination, paper setting, and evaluations, and so on. All these academic engagements particularly semester examination require heavy expenses and their participation in all these spheres made it successful with the least expenses. These lecturers took all the challenges and successfully stood shoulder to shoulder with permanent faculty to reach the goal but the only difference is the efforts put forth by permanent faculty are efforts as they are being highly paid for them. On the other hand, the work and dedication of contractuals, even when at par, is not rewarded similarly.  This only and only because we work and deliver our best under the banner of temporality.

The cunning and unprofessional attitude of the “authority” that paid deaf ears to the High Court pay releasing orders or Supreme Court ruling for, “equal pay for equal work”, was not the only disappointing thing but it was their negligence and deliberate efforts to keep us unpaid for months.

It is to be noted that highly qualified people of Jammu and Kashmir are working on minimum remunerations that too are not being released on time. This strategy compromises the principles of delivering justice and practicing professional ethics.  Through this small piece, I on behalf of (Jammu Kashmir College Contractual lecturers Association) request honorable LG Manoj Sinha sir to look into this serious matter, pay attention to our long pending issues and settle them. By doing so, we can bring back the glory and dignity of that a teacher deserves.

  • Dr. Javid Ahmad Mallah teaches philosophy at GDC Kulgam 

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