The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Campus concern over jobs

It’s time for the ruling CPM to bid adieu to its strategy of using state-aided universities, especially Calcutta University (CU), as a base for providing employment to party sympathisers.

In a recent circular, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has asked the authorities to slash the non-teaching employees’ posts and look for steps to modernise the job, while replacing the staff with computers.

The UGC has even told university officials to offer voluntary retirement schemes to non-teaching employees after the new order is implemented.

“The circular has definitely raised concern. The proposal is meant for the 10th Plan period. We will know how quickly the UGC is going to implement the decision after it sends us the final report on the 10th Plan grants,” said Tapan Kumar Mukherjee, CU pro vice-chancellor, finance.

During their visit to the city last week, the UGC team suggested that the number of non-teaching employees’ posts in the university be fixed according to the number of teachers, in the ratio of 1:2. If such a measure is put into effect, the number of non-teaching staff in CU will have to be slashed by nearly 1,500.

At present, the teachers’ strength is approximately 650. Considering the 1:2 ratio, CU can have a maximum of 1,300 non-teaching employees. Sources said going by the university’s existing non-teaching staff of 2,800, a slash of 1,500 non-teaching employees’ posts is likely.

Opposing the UGC move, the CPM-controlled employees’ union in CU has threatened to launch a continuous movement till the order is withdrawn.

“We will not allow the UGC to slash non-teaching employees’ posts this way. If the UGC still forces the order on the university, we will launch protest programmes across the state,” said Siddheswar Ghosal, senior leader, CPM-controlled employees’ union.

Ghosal said the UGC is on the verge of implementing the same step at Visva-Bharati University, the only Central government-run university in Bengal. A meeting has been convened at Visva-Bharati on Tuesday to condemn the decision, at which Ghosal will discuss the circular sent to the CU.

The ruling CPM had managed to increase the number of non-teaching posts in the university from 1,500 to 2,800 during the Left Front rule. Sources say the bulk of the employees presently occupying the new 1,300 posts, that have been created during the Left Front rule are known CPM sympathisers.

University officials, who had attended the recent meetings with the UGC officials, said the proposal appears to be inevitable, as such steps have already been implemented in Bangalore University, also a state-aided university and of the same status as CU. “The Bangalore University workers had welcomed the VRS schemes. There should be no reason for the CU staff to reject the proposal,” a UGC official had reportedly announced during the recent visit.

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