The All Tribal Students’ Union, Manipur (ATSUM) said that the Office Memorandum (OM) of the Higher and Technical Education Department issued on November 20 will not be allowed to have effects on the seven colleges of the hill districts of Manipur.
In a press release issued on Wednesday, the apex tribal student body of Manipur said that “an ambiguous Office Memorandum (OM) was issued by the Commissioner of Higher and Technical Education Department on November 20 purportedly at the behest of some disgruntled college teachers who are sulking for being snubbed the posts of Principals and Head of Departments in various faculties”. In this regard, the ATSUM said that the tranquil atmosphere that is being witnessed in all the seven hill colleges should not be disturbed. “Any attempt to subvert the present calm from any quarter and create disturbances would be staunchly opposed,” it asserted.
The ATSUM then said it has never been happy with the government of Manipur and particularly the Education Department for the “overt neglect” they have shown towards the growth of education in the hill areas, especially in the domain of higher education. It pointed out that there are 35 government colleges out of which the valley, though with less than 10% of the total geographical area, is bestowed with 28 colleges whereas the hill districts are “starved” with just 7 colleges.
Elucidating that out of the seven colleges, three colleges viz. Tamenglong College, Hill College Tadubi and Lamka College Churachandpur are functioning with only Arts stream, the ATSUM said. “And to add insult to our injury, three districts in the hills viz. Kamjong, Tengnoupal, Pherzawl and Noney are functioning without a single college”, the tribal student body pointed out. “The ATSUM in tandem with its sister organizations for the umpteen times had been pointing out to the government of Manipur as well as the concern departments to rectify this gross injustices for the sake of equitable growth and development but only to be shown a contemptuous rebuffed,” it added.
According to the student body, “reminder after reminder were made and with no amelioration in sight”, the ATSUM was forced to take up the matter to New Delhi on September, 2018 and the same was reinforced during its Delhi visit last year but “unfortunately no light could be seen at the end of the tunnel till today”.
The ATSUM then recounted that in the year 2018 there was a recruitment notification for the appointment of 24 college principals but rules were framed in such a manner that no tribal aspirants were qualified in the screening process in spite of the fact that seven posts were reserved for the tribal people. “For instance, the Academic Performance Indicator (API) was made 400 points that many aspirants including the ST people could not make the cut whereas many Indian states made it much lower,” it said, adding, “In the true essence the recruitment process was pre-ordained and tailor-made for few people who had clouts and were privy of the RR beforehand”. The ATSUM said it then made vehement protests against the attempt to impinge on the ST reserved post so much so that the government assured that the ST reserved post would not be touched.
According to the ATSUM, in the year 2019 the inconclusive principal recruitment process was undertaken by MPSC with drastic reduction of the API but with two riders for the essential qualifications viz. publication of ten national and international journals in UGC recognized portals. “Only one tribal could fulfil the given criteria as such only one college in the seven hill colleges is with a regular principal,” it added.
According to the apex tribal student body of Manipur, it would have been more prudent had the Higher Education Department chose to go for filling up the remaining vacancies for the posts of principals instead of coming up with an “ambiguous” notification of giving preferences on seniority basis for the post of principals and departmental HODs. It also said the principle of seniority may not be a bad idea but giving a cold shoulder to efficiency and competency may be even more harmful for the students. Again, the ATSUM said that the three years tenure for in-charge principals and two years tenure for HODs are bound to create confusion after the completion of the incumbent tenure as cutthroat competition for the post is expected.
“Whatever is the case, the Office Memorandum issued by the Department of Higher Education will not be allowed to have spiral effects on the seven colleges of the hill districts and disturb the calm and quiet that is being witnessed now,” it added.