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By: Sameer Fida

The other day I met a teacher from my locality. Renowned for his teaching prowess and astute methodology he is respected by one and all. Both of us were going in the same direction so we started to walk together. On the way he was greeted by people from almost all age groups. He was telling me about the paradigm shift in the educational scenario over the years that SUDDENLY out of nowhere  a shrewd voice called him and said “ Masterji Myane Kam ma gayey” (Teacher, what about my work?). Masterji, as he is called by the people, in a choking voice answered in negative and told him to wait. I noticed that Masterji’s face expression changed. He started to frown and looked terribly disturbed. When I enquired about the reason he in a hushed tone told me that he owes a sum of rupees 800/= to the person who had called at the top of his voice some moments earlier. A tailor by profession, the person had stitched some clothes for masterji in winter.

Without mincing his words he started to curse the now notorious scheme of S.S.A. He had not received a single penny from his employer (DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION) over a period of three months. All of a sudden an uncanny smile erased the distressful look that was large on his face. He jocularly told me that he is being addressed as “Masterji” by one and all but the people don’t know that he still is a petty teacher – A teacher who with a bated breath was waiting for his first time bound promotion but the blunt axe of the establishment culled his dreams. Leave aside the idea of graduating from a teacher to master or availing the benefits of time bound promotion, his very roots in the department are being questioned. Unaware about his miserable plight, the people continue to call him “Masterji” and he will remain a “Masterji” for them till his death or even after that. In the local parlance, a person associated with the prophetic profession of teaching is being referred as “masterji” irrespective of the fact that whether he is an EV, RT, RRT, GLT or a master. We chuckled on the thought of people so familiarly addressing teachers by the name of “Masterji”.

Masterji tried hard to present a jovial face to me – he giggled, chuckled and tried to maintain a healthy body language but deep inside he was distraught. His sunken cheeks and frozen eyes were conveying a different story than what his body language suggested. Perhaps he was a big fan of Dr Asthana’s “Laughter therapy” which prevented an otherwise emotional and short tempered Boman Irani to stay calm in Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s “Munna Bhai MBBS”. In the meantime he reached his destination and both of us parted ways.

Just yesterday, Shahavar the son of a middle school headteacher, asked his father as to why he did not opt for some other job in his early years? The poor boy had been made to flee from the school on umpteen occasions for want of school fee. Now who would tell the little soul that his father took the job of teaching partly because of the sheen and respect associated with it and partly due to lack of avenues in this job-starved state. Ironically enough, the Government is expecting to deliver quality education from those who have been rendered paupers. How can a teacher give his best when the Government for whom he works has inflicted all sort of emotional excesses on him?

Expressions like “Masterji Myan Kaam ma Gayey”,{Sir, what was the fate of my case} “Masterji Tankhah Ma Drayov”,{Sir, did you get your salary} “ Masterji Nanuy Chuk ne Asaan”,{Sir, you are not around} “ Masterji kathi Racha asim Karin”{Sir, I wanted to talk} have become common nowadays. Needless to mention here that these expressions are the worst sort of humiliations that teachers have to face at the hands of shopkeepers and traders. Masterji is compelled to buy things on credit for he has to feed his family, buy medicines for his old age parents and pay the fee of his wards. The unusually long  melee between the SSA teachers and the Government has snowballed into a big crisis. Facts and figures suggest that these teachers have a strong case.

They have been regularized and adjusted as General Line teachers on the analogy of Order no 396 EDU of 2000. All this has been done after the teachers have put in five years of uninterrupted service on honorarium basis. Their service books are being maintained, they are being paid periodical increments, those of whom who have completed nine years of service have been granted in-situ promotions and it is an open secret that these teachers have availed the benefits of the 6th Central Pay Commission.

State Governments claim that these teachers had to be recruited on a consolidated basis is baseless and devoid of any merit. For a moment let us assume that these teachers had to be recruited on a consolidated basis, why did the successive regimes regularize them? In India or else where the employer fixes the job profile for an employee along with some terms and conditions which the employer agrees upon. At the time of being appointed as  R.e.T’s the candidates have been provided an appointment order which clearly mentions that after the completion of five years they would be adjusted as General line teachers. Post the completion of five years, they have been provided a regularization order which clearly specifies that they have been adjusted as General Line Teachers. Most of the candidates who were selected as R.e.T’s did not apply for the posts of “General Line Teachers” as they had already crossed three or more years of honorarium period.

Thinking that their five year period will be counted in their service and in recognition to their hard work Government may release the arrears of their honorarium period; these teachers let many opportunities go from their hands. Had they known that the nature of their job is contractual; they would have applied for other posts or continued with their education for seemingly better prospects. The state Government implemented the S.S.A scheme in the state with minor modifications and if these modifications are not acceptable to the current dispensation, why should the teacher suffer?

If the states’ bureaucratic machinery misinterpreted the scheme from the very outset, why to victimize these people? These people have spent their hay years in bringing the derailed system of education back on rails and now they are being discredited, disregarded and humiliated in a strategical way. One fails to understand that why there is so much hullabaloo about these teachers. Need of the hour is that the Government understands the seriousness of the issue and de-links the salary of SSA teachers from the central budget and links it with the state budget and bring them under the ambit of 7th Central Pay Commission.

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