Fourteen faculty members of the Guwahati campus of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) have decided to a mass leave starting April 1. The faculty members are demanding longer contract tenures as opposed to the one year contract offered by the Institute. The admission interviews for the new academic year are scheduled between April 1 and April 4.
In their letter to students explaining their stand, a joint statement by the faculty members said that during a long discussion in February with deputy director (in-charge), deans of schools and chairs of various centres of the campus it was agreed that longer contracts were required in order to maintain the excellence of the institute.
“In that meeting, those of us who were on contract made it clear that we will stop participating in administrative activities, if the institute did not give us longer duration contracts and clarity on the terms of the contract. Without any consultation with us, the institute sent us back one-year contracts,” the letter read.
The faculty members have claimed that there has been an impasse with the administration, who have kept insisting that they cannot give contracts over a one year period. The letter also stated two faculty members left the institute last year due to this very reason. “Our admin staff are resigning in anger, the people who cook your food threatened a mass resignation a few months ago. We took a hard sobering look at ourselves, it was not a pretty picture,” the letter read.
The 14 faculty include senior faculty members R.K. Debbarma, Convenor of ST/SC Cell and Equal Opportunity Cell; Rajdeep Singha, chairperson of Centre for Labour Studies and Social Protection; Razdan Rahaman, Centre of Livelihood and Social Entrepreneurship; Debdulal Saha, Convenor Placement Cell and International Relations Office; Yengkhom Jilangamba, Chairperson Centre of Peace and Conflict Studies; and Monica Kaothala, Chairperson, MSW Counselling.
The Students Union of TISS has lent its support to the demands of the faculty members. “We are against the contractualisation of education that is happening across the country. The issue of one year contracts is not just limited to the Guwahati campus but across the Institute. We demand that administration ensure that our faculty have secure contracts as well as secure the future of various centres and programmes,” Jit Hazarika, president, TISS Students Union, said.