This COVID-19 pandemic has forced the world to pause. The lockdown caused due to this pandemic has turned the tables for on the professors working on a contract basis in self-financed colleges, which do not receive a government grant.
The past few months, their salaries have vanished obligating the professors to break their saving for homespun purchases and are taking up any available job like painting or baking for making their ends meet.
On condition of anonymity, a professor from Shahad in Thane district told that he had to take up the job of a painter at Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation. He is a PhD and NET qualified professor, who did not receive any salary from April to July. He had received the half payment of his salary of Rs.40,000 for August.
Despite working for years with an official sanction to his post from the Mumbai University, he has not been paid well as per the pay scale set for the degree college professors.
“I have been living off a piece of farmland I have in my village. During the lockdown, I have been going to the MIDC area to look for work. I am doing mol mazuri [working as a labourer]. There were some painting jobs I took up. What’s the option?” he added helplessly.
Another college professor said that he was forced to start a bakery and dairy business in June when he did not receive his salary for three months.
He said that in the first month he started the business from home and then slowly moved to a small shop. He had to pay a rent of Rs. 10,000 every month, but at least he earned something. He wasn’t paid for almost three months by the college as they were also facing a financial crunch.”A part of the payment came in before the Ganpati festival, but about Rs 60,000 is still pending. I had to do something to keep the household running and something was better than nothing,” he further added.
The professor said that he used to even run a private coaching class, which also shut during this lockdown. He said, “Whenever the college starts and I am able to get back to teaching, I plan to continue my bakery business.”
Some other professor said that he was tested positive for COVID-19 in June and that he is living on the money of his extended family’s earning. He said, “For May, July and August we were not paid any salary. For April and June, we got half the amount. The only answer we get from the management is that there is no money.”
The educators said that the pandemic has led to a fall in the number of admissions which have in turn depleted the funds of the institutions. A college in Thane that would on an average has around 340 students every year, has only got the admission of 40 students so far.
These self-financed colleges do not receive the government grant and hence depend upon the fees from the students.
The general secretary of the Bombay University and College Teachers Union (BUCTC), Madhu Paranjpe said that the contract and ad-hoc teachers at unaided colleges were already given the short shrift from the Mumbai University and had to make it work with the lower salaries.
A question regarding the non-payment of the salaries was made last month during the varsity’s senate meeting but it was rejected.
Madhu Paranjpe added by saying, “When a question is raised in the Senate, the university has to send it to the colleges to get their response. But when the question is rejected without giving any reason, then we don’t get a clear picture.”
She further said that this lockdown is being used as an excuse not to dig out information.
“There are colleges which are paying salaries, but a large chunk of them are not paying and that information is not coming to us. Teachers are too scared to talk as it is construed as going against the management. The lockdown has made them more vulnerable. It’s a huge issue,” she concluded.
However, everyone should be able to have a healthy livelihood. The colleges must pay a sum of the amount to the teachers, so that they may continue to live a stable life.