Jammu and Kashmir is one of the places in India with highest unemployment rates. The number of unemployed youth here are far beyond the absorbing capacity. There are people with highest academic credentials but without jobs or working in private sector or in Govt colleges and higher secondaries on academic arrangement/ contractual basis where they are not only paid low than what they deserve but also face issues like discrimination , inequality and status clashes. Thousands of Youth with post graduation or doctorate are working as lecturers on academic arrangement in various colleges of the valley. They are facing number of issues that puts their psychological, emotional and vocational life at stake. Their future is not safe in the system. There is no policy for regularisation. After serving academic year; they are left away with uncertainty that whetherthey may get another chance or not. Some of them even face harassment, dejection and psychoemotional trauma.
Their efforts are not acknowledged inspite of doing their work with full zest and enthusiasm. They usually deliver more lecturers but are not appreciated or acknowledged rather are implicitly or explicitly made to feel that they are not a part of college family. Equal pay for equal work is a distant dream.They have no say in matters related to curricular and co-curricular activities. In meetings, events and decision making most of the time they are not invited and their mistakes are exaggerated. In various committees of college like Discipline committee, NSS, etc; they are usually not given leadership roles even though theytoo can perform them well. During suspension of teaching work in colleges many principles engage them with library work like maintaining database which is not their domain. Sometimes, college staff look down upon staff on academic arrangement. They need to be impartial ; whether a staff member is permanent or contractual it doesn’t matter, teachers deserve utmost respect and dignity.
In many colleges, there are separate staff rooms for permanent and contractual staff. In many colleges, principals don’t include name of contractual staff members in newsletters and college websites. Besides, they are not paid salary on time. They long for months to get salaries while faculty members who earn 60,000 or above 1 lac are paid on time. Authorities are cold in redressing their grievances. They don’t bother how a person working on an academic arrangement earning just Rs 28,000/month will manage family responsibilities if not paid on time. For many years these contrcatual lecturers have served the system with zeal and zest.
Its high time that authorities take a keen notice of grievances of staff on academic arrangement who despite holding high credentials and experience long for a secure future. Equal pay for equal work should be implemented. Just like governments of west Bengal and Himachal Pradesh regularised staff working on academic arrangement in higher education, J&K should also come with such policy. Post abrogation of Article 35A, UT of Ladakh started providing basic salary to staff on academic arrangement but authorities of J& Kdidn’t came up with such policy. It is a sheer injustice. Besides authorities should realise the value of staff on academic arrangement for higher education.There should be a policy for regularisation after serving a system for a specified time period. A committee should be framed who would take action against those who harass or traumatise a staff member on academic arrangement without genuine cause and also college principals need to beimpartial and provide equal opportunities in college events and committees to all so that justice will prevail.
(Author is a Contractual Lecturer)