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“Teachers who were against me succeeded in collapsing GCC,” says Ghanashyam Nath

Posted On :: Thursday 8th June 2017
"Unless students attend classes, results cannot be good" : Ghanashyam Nath
"Unless students attend classes, results cannot be good" : Ghanashyam Nath
By: Rahul Chanda

Following a controversial exit with Himanta Biswa Sarma transferring former Principal of Gauhati Commerce College (GCC), Dr Ghanashyam Nath to KC Das Commerce College in 2014, Dr Nath, with his determination, has proved that the value of teaching depends totally on sincerity. KC Das College secured 8 positions and GCC failed to secure even one. Dr Nath, talking exclusively to G Plus, explains why GCC is collapsing and why the government is not being able to develop the quality of public sector institutions 

Please tell us about your education and the profiles you have had before becoming the Principal of KC Das College. 
 
I passed my master degree in 1982. At that time I was employed with RBI. After I passed B Com in 1978, I started studying M Com from Gauhati University. My classes were in the evening time and I used to work in Khubchand Wine Shop as a salesman during the day. After a few months I realized I couldn’t study and work at the same time. So I left my job and started living in the university hostel. I gave tuitions to earn my livelihood. On the evening of 30th September, there was some news that students opposing the Assam movement might be killed and I happened to be part of that opposition. Fearing for my life I left that very night and took shelter in a Nepali household half a kilometre away from the university. The next morning I left the university as the day before I had got my appointment letter with LIC. I joined the post in Mangaldoi. After 1st October 1979, there was a hue and cry over the Assam movement. I heard that some students were tortured in the university and belongings were destroyed. I lost all my mark sheets which I had left behind in the process. In 1981, I appeared for an exam in RBI which I passed and joined the bank. I managed to continue my masters and passed M Com in 1982. I put in lot of effort and secured a job as a teacher in BH College, Howli. I got married in 1985 and pursued my Ph D completing it in 1987. I lost my first son during delivery as caesarean delivery facility was not available in Barpeta. So I decided to come to Guwahati. In 1988, I joined Gauhati Commerce College. I teach accountancy. In 2003 I charge as the Principal of the college. 
 
There are many controversial stories about how you were asked to leave Gauhati Commerce College. What exactly transpired?
 
In 2003, there were some confrontations with the teachers’ association as I had raised some questions against the Assam College Teachers’ Association. I was member of the association. Under deficit system the teachers are not to be transferred, but the pension is also not given by the government. The government then said that if we wanted pension we would have to go for provincialisation. I opposed it because if we were provincialised it would make us servants of the government which I did not want. I had written an article in the media slamming the government and I raised questions against the move of provincialisation. I used some undesirable words in the article. The association issued a show cause notice to me and I was expelled from the association. I just used to take classes and leave the college. I didn’t care about anything. I didn’t have any friend in the teachers’ common room. But many people felt that if I became the principal it would be good for the students. So there was an interview for the principal’s post and I applied for the vacancy. The governing body said that they would select the principal in-charge through interview, but the association said the selection will happen on seniority basis. The governing body opposed as two teachers had already resigned on failing to carry out the job of the principal. So it was an interview process. I applied and I was selected. I became the principal in-charge. After six months there was another advertisement and after that interview I was selected. I was so sincere that the government issued a circular in 2012 stating that every teacher should give 40 hours a week and 5 hours a day to the college. I had insisted on this. At that time government had insisted on installation of punching machines. I asked the teachers why they were not using the punching machines. Some teachers said that they were not factory employees and they refused to punch in. I asked them to oppose on the government platform, not in my chamber. They tried to demoralise me but I did not succumb. The director backed me fully. Eventually what they did was circulate some brochures alleging that I had given admissions against requests of ministers. I had good relations with the ministers. I had imposed fines on those who did not attend classes. I imposed heavy penalties on the students. My contention was that without attending a single class how would the students appear for the examinations? So I blocked them. The guardians used to come I asked them to pay heavy fines amounting to Rs 20,000, Rs 30,000 etc at the cash counter. I insisted that those who had less than 75% attendance wouldn’t be allowed. At times, we had some old furniture lying unused. Some employee would come requesting to buy the old furniture at a concessional rate. I asked for an application which was endorsed by the vice-principal who then fixed the price. The teachers termed this as corruption and wanted the furniture auctioned. There was a teachers’ lobby against me in the college. We were not using the furniture and if an employee of the College was benefitting from it where was the harm? On 2nd June 2014, they came into my chamber with a reporter who asked me why I had admitted students on ministers’ recommendations. The minister and the director had requested me and I had allowed some admissions because the governing body allowed the same through a resolution. The teachers started accusing me of many things and threatened that I would be thrown out of the college. The huge argument was being recorded on a TV news channel camera of which I had no idea. And so I kept my argument up. All this was telecast and the minister Himanta Biswa Sarma was angry with me. He issued a declaration that all the teachers should be suspended and the principal should be transferred. According to a provision I cannot be transferred. I was not provincialised, though in 2005, government had provincialised colleges and almost all the teachers had been provincialised. But there was a provision where the government had provided an option that if somebody wants he could opt not to go for provincialisation and can continue with the old provision. I was in the old provision and the provision of transfer was not applicable in my case according to law. But Himanta Biswa is so intelligent that he took a comment from the additional advocate general that I could be transferred with additional benefits and without hampering the benefits of the old system. So the transfer order was issued. I was frustrated not understanding how this was possible and before the notice was issued, I had filed a case in the court. On the first day of the hearing, I was given an interim order saying that I could not be transferred till further orders. So the day the order was issued I showed them the stay order that they could not transfer me. With all this going on, I was there physically and I was feeling huge mental pressure as to why the minister did this. Meanwhile, Himanta Biswa Sarma resigned from the post and one fine day the director called me to his office and asked me to go to KC Das Commerce College saying that they would call me back after two-three months. Ultimately I thought that if I did not go they might take things otherwise. Also, I did not have any political influence. Meanwhile Sarat Barkatoky was the governing member of the governing body and he asked me why I had filed a case against the government. He also assured to bring me back sooner than later. On that assurance I withdrew the case and I came here. On 9th October 2015 the government issued an order that I should be transferred to Gauhati Commerce College. Releasing myself from this college and taking the release order I tried to join there but the governing body asked me to join after 10 days. But within the 10-day period Homeshwar Kalita (current GCC principal who was the principal of KC Das College before Ghanashyam Nath) filed a case against the government in the High Court challenging why he should be transferred even before completion of the one-year tenure. He could be transferred because he is provincialised but I couldn’t be as I am not provincialised. Ultimately, after three cases the government was defeated as the minister did not have the power to transfer but the director had. So finally, the verdict was that I had to come to KC Das College. My salary for six months was held up in the process because I was in status quo. I came back to KC Das College on 21st March 2016. I reckoned that if I remained mentally depressed I would become physically unwell. So I decided to adjust accordingly and serve the college. 
 
There is a turnaround in KC Das College results this year and people are full of praise for you. How did this happen?
 
I came here in 2014. In 2015, 7 students figured in the position list. I left this college in October 2015; the 2016 results had only two positions. Now again when I came here 8 positions have been secured by the college. People might think I have some extraordinary power but that isn’t the case. It’s just that I have persistently insisted that classes should be held and teachers and students should cooperate well for the better results. When the results were declared I told the news channels that unless students attend classes, results cannot be good. In the private sector not all students are good. Good teachers are also not there, because brilliant people are appointed in government institutes. In Cotton College all the teachers are good, all the students are good. They had good results and therefore they were appointed in Cotton College. But in Krishnaguru College they do not have teaching staff like Cotton College and yet its student has secured the first position. Why? Because they have taken things sincerely and have taught sincerely. My principle applies to this particular situation. When students attend classes and teachers teach in the classroom the results are bound to be good. 
 
 
Do you think there is a huge interference of politics in higher educational institutes?
              
Government policy is not fine. Government issues circulars but it is not bothered whether the circulars are followed by the schools and colleges. When the director of higher education issues an order of 40 hours in a week and 5 hours in a day, every teacher should adhere to it. But subsequently, they do not collect the information on whether the circular was implemented or not. Punching machines are installed but whether the machine is used or not is not monitored. Students are supposed to have 75% attendance, teachers are expected to spend 40 hours in school per week but no one follows it. When the government does not take their circulars or orders seriously how will the public sector survive? It will collapse automatically. 
 
 
People are opining that till you were in Gauhati Commerce College, its results were good but now the same is not true. Can you tell us why?
 
I have done nothing but there was a group and actually the teachers who were against me have succeeded in collapsing GCC. They tried to collapse the college even during my tenure fighting with me so that the college collapses and my good name is tarnished. They used to think I was weak but I had good relations with ministers, directors and by bringing good results the ministers and directors used to call me. They were jealous of this. They wanted to destroy the image of the college. I never tolerated this and strongly faced the situation. I am thankful to the governing body because they backed me in the process. Dr Homeshwar Kalita, who went there from KC Das College, is not going against the teachers fearing he might be thrown out. He is not bothered about the results. A class there should be of at least 45 minutes duration. After I came to KC Das College, the teachers group there decided that the class duration should be of one hour. The time table was revised accordingly, but they enter the class 15 minutes late and leave for the common room 15 minutes early. So ultimately the classes are of half an hour duration. This type of cheating is going on and the principal is not interfering. One day I raised this question through the media. Kalita countered that since Ghanashyam Nath is not the director of Gauhati Commerce College, why is he airing his opinions. But that is a public institution. I was a student of Gauhati Commerce College, I was also a teacher there. So why should I not say? They are saying that their result is not bad because 99% of their students have passed. Yes, that is true but what type of students have you admitted? You have admitted the students who had secured 90% but they are now getting 70%. Passing is not important but what percentage they secure is important. In public sector, 1st division students are getting 2nd, 2nd are getting 3rd and 3rd divisions are failing. But in the private sector 3rd division students are getting 2nd division. So a converse result is there. 
 
In this year’s HSLC results Guwahati had no rank holders. According to you, how is the educational environment of Guwahati?
 
In Guwahati teachers have so many businesses. In rural areas, they have no other business than teaching. Our vice principal, who is a Hindi teacher, has a sweet shop in Fancy Bazar. He is busy there. He also has a brass metal factory and goes there. He is also a pujari. But in villages, teachers do not have all these scopes. Some of the teachers are giving tuitions, some are share brokers. All this can be done here. Everybody is interested in other businesses because their job is guaranteed. Because the service is guaranteed other income sources are becoming prime money for them. For me teaching is the prime business, others are secondary. If you give tuitions, do it in the evening after five. This is the reason why Guwahati’s results are worst this year.  
 
                         
After KC Das College did well this year many students want to take admission here. What will be the criteria and what will be the cut-off marks? 
 
This year it will be more but what will be the percentage is very difficult to predict now. This year in HSLC the pass percentage has come down to 46%. What percentage they have secured is very difficult to predict. But pressure will be there. In 2014-15, I had given extra admission to 100 students by taking higher fees - like Rs 65,000 per student which is called self-financing quota. It is not given in any other college though the government had approved this during the Congress regime. Sarat Barkataky had given this permission. But if I continue this the present government might question me saying it is illegal. So I have stopped this also. But the admission process will be tough. 
 
How will the total education system improve?
 
If the government does not improve it will never happen. The minister recently said that the students who topped will receive Rs 2 lakhs each. But they are not giving this to teachers in the schools. Teachers will teach the students. So you should provide good teachers. In KC Das Commerce College there are only 20 teachers, and in GCC there are 46. So automatically GCC is more powerful. But why are they not giving 20 more teachers here? Government is not bothered about it. They will give Rs 2 lakhs to the toppers for publicity. They just want publicity.       

"Upon the request of the minister and the director, I allowed some admissions because the governing body allowed the same through a resolution. Teachers threatened that I would be thrown out of college. The argument was being recorded on a TV news channel camera of which I had no idea. All this was telecast and Himanta Biswa Sarma was angry"

 
 

 
 
 
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