NEW DELHI: Hundreds of Delhi University teachers have come together to protest against a University Grants Commission notification that is seen as an undemocratic attempt to “cut” jobs and “deny” promotions. The stir that brought the DU faculty to Jantar Mantar on Monday is drawing larger numbers every day, and is expected to become more intense if the government does not heed the demands.

On Monday, the members of the Delhi University Teacher’s Association (DUTA) along with the scholars and students of Delhi University held a demonstration at Jantar Mantar demanding the withdrawal of the controversial Academic Performance Indicators (API) system and UGC Gazette Notification .

The UGC brought out a circular earlier this month to reportedly assess the academic performance which the Teachers Association believes is a cover for increasing the workload of ‘direct teaching’ on assistant professors from 16 to 24 hours per week and from 14 to 22 hours per week for associate professors.

"DUTA is a democratic body and we will not let the government decide our fate " DUTA President Nandita Narain told The Citizen. She further added that the decision to boycott the evaluation was taken after the UGC notification was put before the General body and All Staff Association in a meeting which was held last week. DUTA will hold an extended Executive meeting on Wednesday ahead of the General body meeting on Thursday where it will decide the possible future actions after June 2 if the Ministry of Human Resource Development does not respond adequately.

The HRD ministry continued to defend the new UGC criteria for Academic Performance Indicators (API) for college and university teachers, saying it provides "more flexibility" and even ruled out any possibility of reduction in number of teaching jobs but still it doesn't seems to match the demands of DUTA which continued to boycott the evaluation of undergraduate exams at its 15 evaluation centres.

"In light of recent events, I think all the stakeholders need to be taken in confidence, an atmosphere of trust and confidence needs to be built, so that fruitful discussions in the best interest of higher education, students and teachers can take place" Aakriti Kohli, an Assistant professor at Delhi College of Arts and Commerce, Delhi University, told The Citizen.

DUTA is demanding the rollback of the API system as they feel it reflects the government's attempt to "cut" jobs and "deny" promotions. Despite regular attempts and repeated calls UGC refused to comment. DUTA emphasised that the UGC notification will lead to 50% increase in workload on teachers and over 4000 teachers in DU alone may face retrenchment, the skewed student teacher ratio will adversely affect the quality of teaching .