University professors are borrowing money from friends and relatives these days, while non-teaching members of staff are scouting for petty jobs.
Deprived of their remuneration for three months now, nearly 30,000 employees of the state’s five varsities in Ranchi, West Singhbhum, Hazaribagh, Dumka and Palamau are falling back on desperate measures in their desperate times.
“It has become an annual debility now,” rued Mithilesh Kumar, a professor and senator of Ranchi University.
Come April every year, varsity emoluments get held up for the accountant-general’s clearance. The process takes nearly three months. By the time it is released in mid-July, employees already earn a bad name for having borrowed money or for having taken bribes in lieu of early certificates or for running businesses in the name of tuition, Kumar pointed out.
The delay in release of salary understandably upsets household budgets and compels many to exhaust their savings, take loans or become a miser. “I am single. My salary is my source of income. Going without pay can be a nightmare. I have become a penny-pincher to survive these three months without borrowing,” said Subhra Chatterjee, a professor of Ranchi Women’s College.
Some break their fixed deposits to sail through the rough patch. “I needed money for my son’s admission to an engineering college in Jaipur. My salary would not have sufficed, but it would have been of help to meet additional expenses such as travel, lodging and food. With no other option, I had to withdraw my deposits prematurely,” said Chaitali Adhikary, who teaches economics at Ranchi Women’s College.
Rahul Kumar, a professor at Deoghar’s Satsang College affiliated to Sido Kanhu Murmu University, said bureaucrats must find a way to bail them out of the annual predicament. “How come there is no solution to a recurring problem?” he pitched a point to ponder.
D.N. Ojha, the director of higher education in the HRD department, played down the poser professors and other varsity employees grapple with every year.
“Kahin koi samasya nahi hai, bees-panchis din mein tankhwa mil jayegi (There is no problem at all; salaries will be disbursed within 20-25 days),” he said, but conceded that salaries had been delayed by three months already.
Ojha explained that funds for university employees was “anudaan or grant-in-aid”, which could not be released just like in case of other government officials. “For the release of anudaan amount, an authority slip is forwarded to the accountant-general’s office. Once okayed from there, disbursement is made,” he said.
So, must employees suffer until then?
“Well, to avoid the situation last year, we had asked varsities to make an agreement with their respective banks. The latter could give salaries on credit and get reimbursed later,” Ojha maintained.
A senior official of Ranchi University claimed the process was not feasible. “Banks may agree to the proposal but will ask for interest. Who will pay that?”
Aradhana Patnaik, additional finance commissioner, refused to comment on the proposal, but said there was no reason for the three-month time lapse. “Even if it is a case of grant-in-aid, it can be done on time. We will discuss the matter and see how delay can be avoided next year,” she added.
Should the lengthy varsity salary system be abolished?