Opinion: How unreasonable is ‘status quo’ in Kashmir colleges
Ajaz Ahmad Wani
From childhood we are being told to study more and more in order to get a good job. So many students aspire to pursue higher studies in order to secure their future. But unfortunately the system has been reversed i.e. the higher the degree you have, the more are the chances that you will remain jobless due to strange policies. Imagine the anxiety of a person with a Ph.D., who is jobless, sitting at home and has no chance of teaching, even in colleges on a contractual basis.
After completing Ph.D., every scholar hopes to at least to find an opportunity to teach in colleges, even if that is on a yearly contractual basis. Such teachers, in government parlance, are called as ‘Academic Arrangments’.
There are two benefits of a contract like this. First a scholar is able to gain some livelihood and second and important aspect is that for each session he teaches in a college, he earns one point, which is counted by Public Service Commission (PSC) if and when the candidate applies for a permanent post.
However, unfortunately, even this limited opportunity of landing a contractual job has been snatched away from us.
For the last two years, whenever the higher education department issues an advertisement for the academic arrangements, the process is halted by a new virus in the colleges of J&K known as ‘Status Quo’.
‘Status Quo’ is when existing contractual lecturers, many of them teaching for years, bring in a court order securing their current position for the time being.
More the 650 college contractual teachers in Kashmir have got this ‘status quo’. Interestingly, many of them are not eligible for the same post i.e. they either have only PG or M.Phil. but have been working in the colleges for the last two years because of this status quo.
On the other hand every year hundreds of scholars completing their Ph.D. and NET are unable to get a chance to work in these colleges since the positions are already locked by those who have got a status quo in their favour.
The other sad part is the point criteria that higher education is giving to work on academic arrangement. The criteria is:
1. Graduation = 06 points (on pro-rata basis)
2. PG =06 points
3. M.Phil. =03 points
4. Ph.D. =08 points
5. NET/SLET/SET =05 points
6. Teaching experience =01 point for not less than six months.
7. Online certificate course =0.5 points per online course
If this is the criteria system, then how come higher education gives equal i.e. 05 points to a GATE qualified or ICAR/ASRB qualified candidates which are not eligible for the same. The other blunder is that UGC norms are totally reversed because if a Ph.D. holder gets 8 points (according to this criteria) and an M.Phil. holder gets 03 points then how come a student who has both the degrees i.e. Ph.D. as well as M.Phil. is eligible for only 08 points, not for 11 (8+3) points.
The actual criteria for points system according to UGC is:
Ph.D. 30 points
M.Phil. 07 points
Ph.D. +M.Phil. 30 only (not 37). These UGC criteria must be followed.
Why the status quo is not being quashed?
Let me try to explain. If for example as I mentioned, the number of candidates with status quo is around 650. Many candidates confirmed that they pooled in Rs 8000 each to pay the lawyers for getting the status quo. It adds up to a huge amount.
Jammu too seems to have followed suit as at least 101 candidates from the winter capital too have followed the path of status quo and most of them are only post-graduates.
So the result is that after completing your Ph.D. or NET you will have no chance to work in colleges even on contract basis. We demand that status quo must be quashed immediately.
Because status quo is not the right way, however we appeal to the government to make a policy for those candidates who have worked for more than seven years at a stretch and also hike the salary of contractual lecturers.
(The author is a Ph.D. Scholar. Views expressed are personal)