Imphal Review of Arts and Politics

Higher education must not be allowed to be compromised
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In the Recent Govt Takeover of Private Colleges, Faculty Recruitment was Done in Stealth to Ensure Only Preselected Less Qualified Candidates Made it

If you want to get a high paid job without the required qualification and serious competition, then, join a private college as a faculty member and spend a few months or a few years before your college is taken over as a government college. Why should you burn midnight oil for clearing National Eligibility Test (NET) for lectureship and waste your prime and youthful years doing research to acquire a PhD? Sounds encouraging. Does it kill anyone?

Two third of the colleges in Manipur are privately managed under College Governing Bodies. Some are government aided in various ways and manners and some sustain on meagre tuition fees and UGC fund if the college is recognized by the UGC under 2F and 12B rules. Very few colleges are run by Christian Missionaries and although they may get fund from the state and central governments, they are unlikely to make any bid to be converted to a government college as they have their own missionary purposes.

All the colleges in Manipur are affiliated to the Manipur University except a group of colleges now under the new D.M. University. Private colleges are doing a very good job by expanding higher education to the nook and corner of the state and bring higher education within easy reach of needy students. They are offering undergraduate courses and some colleges even post-graduate courses based on the availability of infrastructure and competent faculty members. However, while some faculty members are well qualified and competent, more often than not most other faculty members do not fulfilling the minimum qualifications standard.

Surprisingly, this burning issue of faculty recruitment still remains in the blind spot of social scientists, media persons and government authorities. In most cases such recruitments were done under the very nose of the government authorities who are looking after the higher education. In the recent years many private colleges were taken over by the government. Nothing wrong as they were suffering for many years. Their faculty members and staff were paid very little and it is imaginable how difficult it must have been for them to subsist on their earnings.

However, these takeovers did not take a calibrated approach and instead made it unconditional thereby exonerating and legitimising faulty, outdated and obsolete rules of faculty recruitment. Forgotten in the process is that like any other government colleges, these institutions are also bound by the guidelines of the UGC circulated from time to time. They are also affiliated under the same Manipur University. They teach under-graduates and post-graduates under the same syllabus prescribed by MU. Examinations, except for autonomous colleges and D.M. University are conducted under the control of MU. They produce graduates and post-graduates under the same MU having same status with those who pass out from government colleges. However, for unexplained reasons, mode of recruitment of teachers still are based on different rules.

Can this be considered reasonable? Reasonableness is the very foundation of Law as the Supreme Court in the Keshavananda Bharati Case (1973) pronounced while declaring what should constitute the Basic Structure of the Constitution of India. He further declared Reasonableness as a part of the Constitution’s Basic Structure.

Recruitment of faculty members of government colleges are based on UGC Guidelines for recruitment of teachers and academic staff for colleges and universities circulated from time to time according to the changing needs and worldwide competition of institutions of higher educations and Manipur government is bound to strictly observe these guidelines. But the government fails to take cognizance of the fact that private colleges do not follow UGC Rules of Recruitments. These private colleges are recognized by UGC under 2F and 12B and receive handsom grants. However, their recruitment is still based on Manipur Education Code 1982. This outdated rule gives enormous power to the Governing Body to recruit master degree holders without NET/JRF and PhD as faculty members in the private colleges. When they are taken over by the government, they become automatically entitled to the same salary as those who are recruited under strict UGC Rules. Under the circumstance, it is difficult to not suspect the government authorities are part of this unfair game and are sharing its spoils? The question they so callously, and probably deliberately, have failed to ask is, what about the fate and future of those who had toiled years together for NET/JRF and PhD?

But there is more to this affair which may qualify it as an ongoing institutionally encouraged scandal. This has to do with the shocking Recruitment Notifications practice. Notification for recruitments are published in a very secretive manner so that persons other than candidates who have been informally preselected would not notice or apply. They choose newspapers with low circulation and then set about purchasing all the copies on the day the notification appeared, to prevent them reaching the wider audience. Can the government be actually unaware and innocent of these unholy happening on a matter so important? No. No Aided-College could have conducted recruitment without the specific approval of the government nominee or in the person’s absence. The moot question is, why did not the government think of sending the notification to its own DIPR for wider circulation, and to ensure all intending candidates do not miss it? This is a clear case of deprivation of the Right to Information thereby violating the Right to Equality under Article 14 as well.

It is not that Government of Manipur does not amend Rules of recruitment for the Government Aided Colleges of Manipur commensurate to UGC Guidelines. There is a Rule called Manipur Higher Education Rules for Government Aided Colleges, 2015, which supersedes Manipur Education Code, 1982, which came into force from the date of its publication in the Official Gazette. Why has the government kept this rule wrapped under the carpet for all of five years now.

This unethical approach of the government has left me with remorse for having wasted so many years of my youthful life in the pursuit of NET and PhD for a dream job in the academic world and a lifelong research. Rest assured, I am not alone in this state of despair.

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