Friday, August 28, 2009

Teachers end strike, win on 6th pay panel, lose on NET

The 45-day teachers' strike that began on July 14 over several issues, prime among them being the implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission, was called off late on Wednesday. The decision was announced at a late-night press conference on Wednesday held jointly by the state higher education minister Rajesh Tope and members of the Maharashtra Federation of University and College Teachers Organisation. Classes in colleges and university will resume today (August 27).

Sixth Pay Commission

Besides implementation of the Sixth Pay Commmision scales, teachers had also wanted the UGC pay package to be implemented in its entirety, and parity for teachers appointed between 1991-99 without a NET/SLET qualification.

However, the education minister said that while the Sixth Pay Commission salaries would be implemented and dearness allowance would be paid as per UGC scales, other allowances such as travel would be similar to state government employees. But certain benefits that the teachers avail of, which are on par with central government employees and are higher than what state government employees receive, will remain the same.

NET/SLET issue

But on the NET/SLET issue, teachers' demands have not been met. The state government has refused to waive aside the NET/SLET qualification for teachers appointed between 1991-99. Tope observed that according to three or four high court decisions, this demand was not consistent with the law. However, he added that a four-member committee will be formed that will comprise two representatives from the government and two from the teachers' union. This panel will take up individual cases of teachers appointed between 1991-99 who do not have the NET/SLET qualification, before the state government.

Making up for lost time

As a result of the strike 35 working days have been lost. Teachers will now have to make up for the lost time during their vacations and if they manage to do so they will not lose out on their salary. However, principals of colleges will have to give it in writing to the university that teachers have completed their portions.

The minister also said that a circular sent on August 24 from the education department to the university asking it to initiate action against the striking teachers will no longer be valid now that the strike has been called off.

By Anahita Mukherji | TNN

Thursday, August 13, 2009

‘Timely treatment saved me’

16-yr-old swine flu survivor speaks of his ordeal as he is discharged from Kasturba Hospital on Wednesday

The 16-yr-old (left) walks out of the hospital on Wednesday

Sixteen-year-old Amit Kumar (name changed) painted a picture of positivity as he walks out of Kasturba Hospital on Wednesday. The Std XII student was discharged after recovering from swine flu, but makes his ordeal sound like a breeze.

“Apart from fever and cough, my health was actually quite good the whole time,” he recounts. “But I had been diagnosed with swine flu early enough, so with the treatment, I was able to make a full recovery.”

Amit, a student of Apeejay School, Nerul, was rushed to the hospital to be tested for the dreaded virus six days ago. Though his illness did not seem severe, his mother did not want to take any chances.

“I never thought he would actually test positive,” she says.

Amit admits there were some tense moments. “When they first told me I had the disease, I was terrified. Rida, India’s first swine flu victim, had just passed away, so I didn’t know what was going to happen,” he reveals.

“I think early detection saved my son,” adds his mother, who had informed the school as soon as Amit tested positive, thanks to which authorities were able to close it down for a week.

The only thing Amit found unbearable about the entire episode was being kept in isolation. “It was like a jail. For five days I could not go outside, and there was no entertainment. I’m just happy I’ve been discharged,” he says.

Amit is expected to resume school next week, and has been asked by doctors to take extra precautions for the next 15 days.

Volunteers from a local NGO distribute masks at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus to passengers travelling to Pune on the Deccan Queen. Pune - that has been dubbed as the ‘swine flu capital’ of India - has seen 10 deaths from the H1N1 virus to date

It was like a jail. For five days I couldn’t go outside, and there was no entertainment. I’m just happy I’ve been discharged - The 16-year-old