The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Puja gift with ‘refuse’ rider
- Cash-strapped CU asks teachers not to claim festive offer

The right hand gives a Puja gift, the left requests the recipient not to accept it. The gift is an annual convention; now the denial seems to be becoming one, as well.

Cash-strapped Calcutta University (CU) finds itself fighting, for the second year running, an unsuccessful battle to stave off the money blues before the festive season.

Last week, CU issued a circular to all departments. It informed teachers and non-teaching officers that the authorities were “pleased” to give them the festival advance.

“In order to provide financial relief to all employees of this university during the ensuing Puja festival, the vice-chancellor has been pleased to grant an interest-free advance in cash,” the order read.

But the rider followed soon after, “requesting” teachers and officers not to accept that gift. “The vice-chancellor requests the teachers and officers to desist from exercising the option (of taking the interest-free advance) in view of the present financial stringency,” the circular added a little later. The non-teaching staff, however, has been left out of the curious move.

The response to the circular, distributed to all campuses of the university a couple of days ago, has been predictable. “The advance given to us reaches a maximum quantum of Rs 3,000,” a teacher said.

“The situation must be really bad if the university cannot pay this meagre amount,” he added, clarifying that the university was not even giving away the sum.

“A similar circular had been issued last year — complete with the rider — and many teachers, who applied for the advance, did not get the money,” another teacher said. “What is the point of making requests if the authorities have already decided not to give us the advance'” he asked.

General secretary of the CPM-controlled Calcutta University Teachers’ Association Gautam Ganguly said teachers should not resent the move as it was in the form of a request. “They are free to take the advance if they want,” he added.

The university, according to officials, needs Rs 60 lakh to hand over the festival advance to non-teaching employees (numbering about 2,500), teachers (600) and non-teaching officers (50). But it has only around Rs 53 lakh in its coffers right now, so even if a section pays heed to the request, the slip will not show.

“I have nothing to say,” was CU vice-chancellor Asis Kumar Banerjee’s comment on the matter.

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