Kompally Narsaiah was the only brother to his four sisters and hailed from a poverty-stricken family in Telangana’s Nalgonda district. The 45-year-old’s father toiled in the agriculture fields everyday even as Narsaiah hoped to secure a respectable teaching job in a state university.
On Monday, he was found lying dead in one of the hostels in Hyderabad’s Osmania University’s campus. While no suicide note was recovered, the police believe that he ended his life by consuming poison. His friends at the university maintain that unemployment due to lack of recruitment in state universities is what drove him to suicide.
After being awarded a PhD in Geography, Narsaiah’s friends recalled, he was actively looking for a teaching job. Though he continued to stay in Yamuna new PG hostel on the campus even after completion of the course, he mostly kept aloof.
A day after his death, other research scholars on the campus were seen discussing about Narsaiah and the prevailing unemployment crisis in the state.
Chiranjeenvi, a PhD scholar in the department of Astronomy, who stayed in the room opposite to Narsaiah’s, said he has known him for three years. “He spoke with no one. He always kept to himself. We never thought he would take such an extreme step.”
Dr Parthasarathy Yadav, who is currently pursuing his post doctoral fellowship in the department of Public Administration in the university, recalled how Narsiah was depressed over non-availability of teaching jobs. “He was a meritorious scholar. He was eligible for the post of assistant professor and there were vacancies in his department. In the last 7 years, there has been no recruitment in teaching jobs at state universities. He had almost lost hopes of securing a job,” said Yadav.
Further, he said that men like Narsaiah and himself have actively participated in the separate statehood movement for Telangana and one of the promises was one lakh jobs. “Post state formation, university departments are left to die its natural death with no attempts to fill vacancies. The government also passed a private universities bill. None of the 13 state universities have a full-time vice-chancellor and are run by IAS officers now,” he added.
Another of Narsaiah’s friends, N Sreedhar who is currently teaching Geography, part-time, in an OU affiliated college, said that Narsaiah was finding it difficult to sustain himself owing to financial issues. “He was struggling a lot. Since he had a PhD, he did not want to take lower level jobs. He had been requesting his department for teaching assistant’s job to sustain himself, but in vain,” said Sreedhar. Narsiah, according to him, was planning to get married once he landed a government teacher’s job.
A large number of students, mostly from rural and underprivileged backgrounds, enroll themselves at OU dreaming of a government job.
According to Professor B Manohar, president, Osmania University Teacher’s Association (OUTA), there are 774 vacancies in teaching positions out of the total 1,268 sanctioned posts in the university as on mid-2019.
The situation is same or even worse in other universities. In Kakatiya University, the second largest state university after OU, 250 teaching positions, of the total 390, need to be filled. In JNTU Hyderabad, according to OUTA, 210 teaching posts of the total 409 need to be filled.
There are huge vacancies in other state universities too. For example, universities such as Telangana university, Open University, Telugu University, have about 50 percent teaching positions lying vacant. The situation is slightly better in other universities like MG university, Shatavahana university, Palamuru university, and JNAFAU, even as a large number of vacancies exist.
Further, in government junior colleges across the state, 5075 of the total sanctioned 6000 teaching posts are lying vacant and similarly, 1350 of the total 1650 sanctioned teaching posts in aided degree colleges are also lying vacant. In government degree colleges across the state, there are 2100 teaching posts of the total 3500 waiting to be filled.
The consolidated figures suggest that 10,321 teaching positions in government degree colleges, junior colleges, aided degree colleges, and universities across Telangana need to be filled, whereas the sanctioned posts stood at 14,006.
Explaining the scenario, Dr Battu Satyanarayana, who retired as professor from the Osmania university, said the government-appointed high-level committee formed in 2005 had identified 294 positions that arouse due to superannuation of faculty in OU to be filled in two installments. In 2006, 167 positions were filled, and in 2013, another 137 positions were filled. “The recruitment filled vacancies that existed as on 2005 is what that has led to today’s situation. Over 800 vacancies exist in OU alone today. Moreover, no state university has a regular vice channel or an executive council. Universities in Telangana are run by IAS officers,” he added.
Echoing similar views, Prof Manohar added that every year around 40 teachers are retiring from Osmania University and that present strength of teachers in other universities have come down by percent. “Some departments in OU function without any faculty. Departments are required to maintain a ratio of 1:2:4 for professors, associate and assistant professors for receiving funding from the UGC. Lack of experienced professors also negatively impacts the research and NAAC grading,” said Prof Manohar.
The OUTA has been demanding recruitment of fresh faculty as well as enhancement of age of superannuation for senior professors to prevent a situation that is irreparable.
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