Registrar justifies proposed austerity measures in a circular

In the wake of the November 14 deadline fixed by the Joint Action Council of teaching and non-teaching staff of Annamalai University to authorities for spelling out their decision on the proposed austerity measures, Registrar R. Meenakshisundaram, in a circular issued on Wednesday, has laid bare the grave financial situation of the varsity.

The November 7 circular has stated in unambiguous terms that the university is sinking and its present financial status will not allow proper payment of salaries to the staff in coming months. Therefore, it has proposed to take short-term and long-term measures, “to realise the ideals of founder pro-chancellor Rajah Sir Annamalai Chettiar, to tide over the financial crisis and to make the university self-sufficient in financial aspects.”

He has attributed various reasons for the sickness of the university.

He has admitted that the State Government had sanctioned a teacher strength of 657 and employee strength of 1,110. But, there were 2,500 teachers and 10,000 non-teaching staff, including those employed on temporary basis and in selection grades.

The Registrar has noted that the State Government has been sanctioning Rs. 61 crore annually to the university, for meeting salary commitments.

However, as the government itself is in the grip of financial difficulties, even the sanctioned amount is not fully released.

Therefore, the salary obligations had to be met from university funds and revenue from its Directorate of Distance Education. Here too, the university is facing severe constraints because enrolment of students in the arts and science courses is on the decline with every passing year.

To cap it all, the State Government through its orders issued on August 1, 2009 and September 1, 2009 directed the university to implement the Sixth Pay Commission awards that raised the salary of faculty members by 35 per cent and dearness allowance from 23 per cent to 72 per cent.

The revenue realisation of the university hardly matches the increase in the staff salary and the government aid too has fallen short of expectations. In such a situation, the university has to streamline its finances through certain austerity measures for which the Registrar has sought full cooperation of the faculty members and other staff.

Meanwhile, the JAC convened a general body meeting on Wednesday to take stock of the situation. Its convernor and joint convenor R. Udaiachandran and S. Mathialagan told this correspondent that in deference to the direction of Higher Education Minister P. Palaniappan, the members had decided to adopt a wait and watch approach till the university syndicate took a decision on the issue at its November 16 meeting.

Hunger strike

The JAC members have decided to participate in the all-party hunger strike at Chidambaram on November 15.