Mangalore: University College suspends whistle blower guest lecturer
Daijiworld Media Network - Mangalore
Mangalore, Dec 23: In what appears to be a gross case of highhandedness by powers-that-be, whistle blower and founder teaching staff of Mangalore University College Dr Ishwar Gowda M Patil was suspended from service recently, after he questioned certain discrepancies and for raising his voice against the system of ‘treating’ guest lecturers.
Dr Patil had been serving the department of journalism, University College, Hampankatta, (a constituent college of Mangalore University), since its inception in 2006. Recently, several English and Kannada newspapers had highlighted the lack of facilities for students and the ‘treatment’ of guest lecturers on various issues. “When these issues were leaked to the media, I was suspended from service and held responsible for the media coverage,” he says.
Promised salary hike
Earlier, 44-year-old Dr Patil also led a campaign seeking a rise in salary for the guest lecturers which Mangalore University vice-chancellor had agreed to in the press meet. Media reports stated that the guest lecturers at Mangalore University would henceforth get a minimum salary of Rs 15,000 and those who have obtained minimum University Grants Commission norms for lectureship would get a monthly salary of Rs 20,000. However, all the 45 guest lecturers of University College, of which 40 are women, receive a maximum monthly salary of Rs 12,000. The salary is calculated based on the amount of classes taken in a month which comes to Rs 235 per hour.
Besides, the lecturers had also urged that the salary be paid within 10 days after a month of work. Presently, they receive salary only after 20 days.
However, in the Right to Information (RTI) filed by the concerned party, a copy of which is also with Daijiworld, it says each hour of lecture is entitled to be paid Rs 325 and a maximum of Rs 15,000.
Only Rs 60 for exam vigilance duty
Although the guest lecturers are compulsorily made exam invigilators, they are paid less than any other profession. The guest lecturers receive only Rs 60 for half day of work during exams and receive no extra payment since their salary is drawn from the hours of classes they take. For instance, a guest lecturer works only seven months a year in the academic year. If there are two months of holidays, another two months are set apart for exams. However, during exams, a guest lecturer gets only Rs 60 per half day of duty.
Therefore, the team of guest lecturers approached Mangalore University vice-chancellor Prof T C Shivshankara Murthy seeking to increase the amount to Rs 300.
“Although it is mandatory for me as a guest lecturer, to perform the duty of exam vigilance, I was removed from service for not attending duty,” the senior guest lecturer said. “I had only asked them to either hike the amount for performing the duty or not pay it. But the authorities concerned paid no heed to my request. Therefore, I could not perform the duty,” he added.
While the officials claim that exam duty is compulsory, according to the answers received through Right to Information (RTI), exam duty is not compulsory.
Soon after, Dr Patil was removed from duty. “I was not told about the suspension either through a letter or word of mouth. I only realized it when there was a notice for the appointment of a new guest lecturer in my place,” said the senior teaching staff. Dr Patil has a doctoral degree, Bachelor of Legislative Law (LLB), and was a practicing lawyer before he got into the teaching profession in early 2005. Presently, the teaching faculty for the journalism department consists of two guest lecturers with an MA degree in journalism.
For all the students, Dr Patil was a true mentor. Rajesh A (name changed), says, “He was the only experienced staff we had so far in the department. When we joined classes after midterm holidays, we realized that our teacher has been suspended from work. When asked, they have given us no reason. We want him back.” While another student adds, “Patil (sir) was determined to bring out the department journal to give hands-on experience to the students. He himself incurred the expenses when the higher authorities showed no interest.”
For another student, Dr Patil was more than a mentor. A student, presently pursuing Masters in Journalism and a former student at University College, says, “When I had no money to pursue my masters degree due to financial issues in my family, he had paid all the fees”.
When contacted, Mangalore University vice-chancellor Prof T C Shivashankara Murthy said he was not aware of the suspension.
"I do not know about his removal. I am out of the city for an official meeting, and I will look into the issue once back," Prof Murthy said.
When asked about the difference in payment to guest lecturers by the University as against the stipulated amount revealed by the RTI, he said, “We pay the guest lecturers as per the amount stated in the RTI. All the guest lecturers are paid Rs 60 for exam vigilance duty. The higher education department has been studying the case, and we will act based on the report.”