The contracts of as many as 18 teachers from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) have been terminated and three of the institute's centres are facing closure as the 12th (and last) FiveYear Plan period ends on March 31. The failure to get an official extension for the UGCsanctioned centres, established under various plans till date, has been cited as the reason for the institute to take the extreme step, shocking its teaching community .
The Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policies, the Advanced Centre for Women's Studies, and the Nodal Centre for Excellence, under the scheme of Human Rights' Education, have done remarkable work since their inception, read a note titled 'Closure of three centres' by the director of the institute, S Parasuraman, on TISS's website.
“Though these centres had been sanctioned and funding approved, the institute has not received grants due for the payment of salaries and other operating costs of the centres.The institute has been regularly following up with the UGC to release Rs 5.11 crore spent by the institute on these centres and also for their continuation.However, without an order from the UGC for an extension, the institute will not have any legitimacy to claim the cost incurred to continue with these positions,“ said the director speaking to TOI, adding that the tenure of the positions lapses on March 31, and so the contracts had to be terminated. He said the loss of these teachers will affect academic and research activities on the campus.
Some of the teachers are sceptical about the institute's decision to pre-empt the UGC's move. “The UGC's extension has been delayed in the past. It sometimes comes after the last date. The management could have waited till the last date before sending the termination letters,“ said a teacher. Some of the affected teachers were at the level of associate professor.But Parasuraman said, “If the approval comes before March 31 or at a later stage, we will continue with these positions.But there are less than five days for the term to end. Some of the teachers from these centres hold permanent positions in the centres; so they will continue to work.“
While speculation is doing the rounds that a move to form a teachers' association is the reason for their terminations, senior teachers from the institute rubbished it, saying, “Talks on forming such an association have been there for some time. The problems of young teachers have been a matter of concern for a lot of us, but there are many senior and permanent teachers involved too.“
Younger teachers, appointed two-three years ago, at these centres are affected and are waiting for Monday to decide their future course of action as the order came on Friday at the start of the weekend. Last week, a letter sent to JNU by the UGC regarding discontinuation of funds to its Centre for Study of Discrimination and Exclusion met opposition. The UGC later clarified that the letter was not issued by it and funding will continue.