Srinagar: Against the backdrop of wasting huge sums on an illegal appointment, there have been regular reports from the University about inadequate facilities at MERC. The University has a stock justification for this: lack of resources.
Students of MERC spoke to Kashmir Reader about how their repeated requests for providing better training facilities and equipment are always brushed aside for supposed want of funds.
In a recent incident, students said they were literally made to beg for funds for an academic tour outside the state, which is part of their training. The trip was slashed from three weeks to ten days. Students were asked to pay from their own pockets for most part of the tour including lodging. Interestingly this tour, which provides a useful opportunity to MERC students to interact with top media persons outside the state, has altogether been scrapped from this year on for made-up reasons of lack of funds.
Some former students told Kashmir Reader they will file a PIL against this ‘wastage’ of funds over an illegal appointment while their academic and training needs were neglected when they were students at MERC.
The RTI had also sought information on Masudi’s academic qualification but there is no response to this. But sources in the University said Masudi is an Arts graduate and a diploma holder in some stream of filmmaking. That obviously makes him unfit for an academic job which is clear from the University statutes as well UGC stipulations.
Sources in the University said Masudi had initially avoided conducting any class work at MERC for want of his academic qualifications. But of late he has featured himself in the departmental timetable holding regular class work alongside with other teachers. He is also overseeing research and project work of the students. This, an University official said, is a severe violation of the academic norms where in Masudi has been allowed to take over regular teaching of postgraduate students when he himself lacks any PG degree in the relevant field.
University rules do not allow engaging of a teacher even for a petty viva of PG students if the examiner doesn’t have a PG in the concerned field.
Some years ago, students at MERC forced the University authorities to invalidate assessment by an external examiner, a senior international level journalist, after it was found out he had no PG in the subject.
The RTI application had also asked for reasons why any teacher at MERC was not considered for the headship of the Centre. The University has no answer for this.
Facts on the ground reveal an interesting and intriguing story about politicking in the University that costs MERC dear.
A recently promoted associate professor at MERC with nearly 25 years of service was under rules entitled to the Centre’s headship when it became available a year ago. But sources in the University said this teacher was ignored because a non-teaching faculty member at MERC had “long standing issues” with the teacher.
These sources added, much to the heartburn of other MERC faculty members, the VC tends to ‘favour’ this non-teaching faculty member over others. So much so that this faculty member’s service file was sometime ago covertly shifted from the non-teaching to the teaching section. Later, over a year ago orders were issued for debiting this member’s salary from the teaching wing of the accounts department. This staffer who is the editor of the departmental journal has even been allotted a full-fledged paper for evaluation. This is yet another grave abuse of rules as non-teaching staffers cannot be assigned marks assessment of students under University examination guidelines.
This has effectively put this staffer in the teaching cadre, though this staffer’s appointment was made in the non-teaching cadre. While this was a clear infringement of rules where non-teaching staffers cannot be transferred to teaching cadre, it further fed the negative politics and rivalries plaguing MERC, University insiders said.
The same non-teaching faculty member, these sources disclosed, was behind the removal of an earlier HOD a few years ago who was ‘forced’ to put in his resignation, though he had been running the Centre fairly well. A source in the VC’s office said MERC faculty members had then tried to stall the removal of this HOD but when they raised it with the VC they were, as the source put it, “sent packing by the VC for their alleged poor CVs.”
Much against the opinion of these teachers the VC appointed a Management professor who, University insiders said, had neither the time nor the acumen to run the Centre.
Reports from the University have consistently been suggesting that the Centre has since been in reverse gear.
And with Masudi’s appointment as ‘Coordinator’ a new low has been crossed.