The Fiction of Fact Finding: Harassment of Delhi University Teachers Union President

 

PLEASE JOIN PROTEST AGAINST SHAMEFUL HARASSMENT OF DR. NANDITA NARAIN – MONDAY THE 19TH OF OCTOBER, VICEREGAL LODGE, DELHI UNIVERSITY 10.30 AM- 1.30 PM.

 

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Dr. Nandita Narain, President of the Delhi University Teachers Association.

With apologies to Manoj Mitta’s excellent book on 2002 by the same name, it appears that yet another fact-finding commission has made a mockery of the process of law, not to mention truth and justice. Dr. Nandita Narain – yes that blood-curdling, fearsome figure in the picture above – has been accused of disrupting the work of 3 colleges in Delhi University and asked to appear before a fact finding committee appointed by the University, 10 days before the term of the current Vice Chancellor Professor Dinesh Singh ends. For those not acquainted with Dr. Narain, she is the popular President of the Delhi University Teachers Association, beloved Mathematics professor in St. Stephens’ College and a brilliant scholar in her own right. Having contested and won the recent Delhi University Teachers Association elections against the V.C’s relentless pressure tactics and a blitzkrieg of campaigning and publicity by other parties including the government-friendly National Democratic Teachers’ Front, Dr. Narain has evidently had nothing but her enormous personal integrity going for her.

Shorn of high-decibel rhetoric and glamour in the politically charged but highly confusing historical moment the University is passing through, Dr. Narain and her campaign firmly won over a large number of fence-sitters in the University including an exploited floating population of ‘ad hoc’ faculty. Dr.Narain’s previous term as President saw her not simply getting better professional and academic conditions for the University including its teachers and students, but also exposing the expanding web of lies that had come to be the VC’s office under Professor Singh. Working against all odds, the DUTA under Dr. Narain had in the past year painstakingly and meticulously put together a White Paper on the ‘grave illegalities, academic erosion and administrative breakdown’ in the VC’s office – a charge that some of you may remember, was serious enough to get the HRD Minister Smriti Irani’s attention not too long ago. Of course, since then, Irani, no long term friend of any teachers’ movement I guess, has chosen to go mysteriously silent and allow the VC to complete his term.

He won’t go quietly into the night, however. Completely ignoring the mountain of allegations against him, lording it over the University from his citadel called the Viceregal Lodge, still swaying with power as if he is sitting on the infamous elephant he rode in to the cultural festival of the University, Professor Singh has now thrown his last card, ostensibly taking cognizance of allegations of misconduct by 3 college Principals and issuing a notice to Dr. Narain to appear before the committee. The fact of the matter, since the word ‘fact’ is being thrown around so loftily, is that Dr. Narain’s crime in these cases was nothing more than what any democratically elected teachers’ association head would have done – acted on complaints received by teachers in these very colleges over the past year and a half and attempted to visit these colleges and try to meet the teachers. Clearly this didn’t go down well with the college authorities, who in fact rudely stopped her from entering their colleges in some cases. Let us not forget that the complaints against Dr. Narain have been filed by Principals, not by ordinary teachers. Let us also not be fooled by Professor Singh’s claims that the fact-finding commission has nothing to do with him, but “works on the directives of the University” (what does that even mean?! Last we checked he was the VC of that University!)

Dr.Narain is not a stranger unfortunately to these laughable allegations by outgoing administrative heads – some may remember the outgoing St Stephens Principal Professor Valson Thampu, reeling under court cases himself, seeking to drag Dr. Narain to court last year on ridiculous charges of defamation.

In light of these dramatic developments which would be laughable if they weren’t so highly vindictive, the DUTA executive met on Friday and has appealed to students and teachers across the university as well as well-wishers to come to a protest meeting outside the VC’s office – the Viceregal Lodge – Delhi University, tomorrow, Monday the 19th of October, 2015, at 10.30 am.

DUTA Press Release: 16 October 2015

The DUTA Executive met on Emergency basis today in order to discuss the vindictive notice served by the University, via an unauthorised “Fact-Finding Committee”, to DUTA President Nandita Narain asking her to depose before the Committee on Monday, 19 October. The meeting was attended by a large number of teachers representing various staff associations of colleges. Letters and resolutions of solidarity with the DUTA President and condemnation of the outgoing DU VC have been pouring in; some of these were read out before the Executive members.

The DUTA Executive has unanimously expressed strong condemnation of the outgoing DU VC’s dastardly and conspiratorial attack on the DUTA President for discharging her duties as the elected representative of the teaching community. It sees the attack on Nandita Narain as an attack on the DUTA as an institution of the academic community which has consistently exposed the outgoing VC’s misdeeds, sadistic cruelty towards teachers and students, and the systematic manner in which he and his team of close loyalists have sought to destroy Delhi University.

The DUTA Executive warns him from continuing with this conspiracy and clearly urges him to withdraw the Fact-Finding Committee against her with immediate effect, failing which he will be held singularly responsible for provoking widespread unrest and instability in the University.

The DUTA Executive has also resolved to write to the Visitor and MHRD on the prevailing situation,demanding immediate intervention and reversal of the VC’s action and an official reprimand to him.

The DUTA Executive has also given a call for a Joint Teachers-Students Protest Meeting outside the Vice-Regal Lodge, DU, on Monday (between 10.30 am and 1.30 pm), following which the situation will be re-assessed.

(C. S. Rawat)
Vice-President, DUTA

(Sandeep)
Secretary, DUTA

8 thoughts on “The Fiction of Fact Finding: Harassment of Delhi University Teachers Union President

  1. Abhishek

    This article seems to be biased. Kafila should give a chance to the other party also to present its views.

    1. Sunalini Kumar

      On what basis have you concluded this, Abhishek? And I welcome ‘the other party’ to express its views here.

      1. Abhishek

        Being called to explain her stance before a committee can not be termed as harassment.To protest against it is unfair since the committee has not given a verdict yet.If she is innocent then why is she not willing to record her statement before the committee?

        1. Sunalini Kumar

          You are absolutely right in principle, Abhishek. I have two responses if you are interested. One, it’s interesting that you don’t see the politics of the battle between the DUTA and the VC – something I tried to explain in the post. If you were to click on the link to the White Paper, you would understand why the VC’s office wants to prosecute Dr. Narain. But that’s ok, you may say politics is murky, difficult to take sides, etc. The second and more important response is the very legality of this ‘fact-finding committee’ which has not bothered to follow due process – again, an extremely familiar pattern under the current administration. I copy the relevant passage from the DUTA statement.

          The reply by the Registrar to Nandita Narain refused to reveal the identity of the officer under whose authority the Fact Finding Committee has been constituted. It has also refused to reveal the composition of the said Fact Finding Committee. It also fails to provide the supporting documents related to alleged complaints against the DUTA President. In this reply, Nandita Narain’s request for two weeks time to respond to the complaints has been turned down. It has been reiterated that she has to appear before the FFCon Monday, 19 October 2015″.

          If one suspects mal-intention in the very constitution of a legal process including any committee – either as to its constitution or to its functioning, one is well within one’s rights to question the entire exercise. It is those outside power who are forced to know the intricacies of the law better than those in power, in a formally democratic liberal state, since that becomes the only bulwark against misuse. So the issue is not escaping the law. It is that this particular course of action is highly irregular. Normally, a complaint against a university teacher is supposed to invite a memo, which then allows the teacher to frame a response. Administrations normally avoid this route, because it gives the employee ample opportunity to defend themselves in writing, plus raise any connected larger issues. In this case, bizarrely enough, this committee has been meeting since February, and only now, in its mature stages, called upon Dr. Narain to appear, suddenly, without warning and without written evidence. There are funnily enough no facts to find. What happened in these colleges happened in broad daylight. The workings of this committee are however mysterious.

  2. K SHESH ABU

    Women are coming out in numbers…they are occupying seats of power… naturally some high male chavinists try to implicate women in one misdeed or other. Protest is their right. Let the faces masked in jealousy unmasked ..
    ‘Jabhi jee chaahe naayee duniyaan banaatey hai log
    Ek chahareey se kayee chahareey banaatey hai log..’ (SAHIR)
    (Free translation — Whenever (they) feel to build new world they do / (they) can mask numerous bodies one over the other at random…)

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  4. Sayan

    One small point. I checked the of St. Stephens College. It has a list of faculty members and their academic qualifications. According to that list Prof. Narain does not have a Phd degree. Now, either the information provided in the webpage is wrong (which might very well be the case) or you should not refer to her as “Dr.” Narain in this post. Of course, this has nothing to do with your arguments in favor of Nandita Narain. Just wanted to point out this factual inconsistency.

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