The indifferent attitude and lukewarm response of the teaching faculty towards students in the state-run schools, colleges and even universities in India often made headlines in the mainstream print as well as electronic media but a recent incident in the state of Bihar hit the news very lately and took the social media by storm for its unusual nature.
The incident took place at a college affiliated with Baba Sahib Bhim Rao Ambedkar University in Muzaffarpur, Bihar, where Dr. Lal Kumar, an Assistant Professor of Hindi, reimbursed his entire salary for two years and nine months to the college administration stating that during that period no student came to him to study Hindi and it would be blatant academic dishonesty to take reward for the work he never performed.
The amount he returned to the university exchequer is Rs. 23,82,228. In the last two years and nine months, the attendance of students in Dr. Kumar’s class remained zero and hence he submitted a cheque amounting to Rs. 24 lakh to the Registrar’s Office of the University, the other day.
The other faculty members who were present on the occasion said that the university Registrar at first refused to accept the cheque but Dr. Kumar stood his ground and threatened to quit his job if the cheque was not accepted.
Eventually, the Registrar of the university bowed to his perseverance and accepted the cheque as Dr. Kumar said that his conscience does not permit him to take salary without teaching to the students. He said that if he got paid for what he has not delivered then it would be the worst kind of academic dishonesty.
When asked by the media about the whole episode, Dr. Lal Kumar said, “I was not satisfied with my teaching-related responsibilities since my appointment in the college as students were not coming to the class. That is why I have dedicated the entire amount of my salary to the university’ kitty”. However, when asked how he managed such a lump sum of amount, he replied, “I have received financial support from some of my colleagues and friends to return such a large sum of money as I am unable to afford it”
Dr. Kumar hails from the Vaishali district and belongs to an ordinary farming family. After completing his intermediate from Bihar, he graduated from Delhi University, post-graduated from Jawaharlal University and then did his doctoral from Delhi University. Gold medalist Dr. Kumar also received the ‘Academic Excellence President’ award. He was appointed on September 24, 2019, in the Nitishwar College as Assistant professor and has been serving there since then. The college was founded in 1970 and is affiliated with Bhim Rao Ambedkar Bihar University and offers undergraduate courses in arts and sciences.
According to Dr. Kumar, “Ever since I was appointed here, I have not seen a pleasant study environment in the college. About 1100 students took Hindi as a subject but almost zero students fulfilled their academic responsibilities to this effect. It is unscrupulous to take my salary in such a situation”.
He further said that given the conditions of the college, he has repeatedly requested the Registrar of the University, to transfer him to a post-graduate college where students come to study in the classroom and where his services are properly utilized. However, he is still waiting for a reply from the top management.
He told the media that this was his first job and he didn’t find a highly congenial teaching and learning environment at the institute. However, the Principal of the college said that as soon as Dr. Kumar joined the college as a teacher, the Covid-19 epidemic spread, the academic activities across the globe were disrupted and hence, online classes were conducted in the college. In addition, the teaching activities were affected due to several consecutive examinations.
Considered as a publicity stunt by some- to get the attention of the public, Dr. Kumar has set an example that deserves due admiration. There have been incidents in many parts of my country where teachers in the government schools and colleges either remained willfully absent from duty or do not deliver what is required in the classrooms and hence earn a bad name for the people associated with this noble profession. In such a situation, he has set an example and of course, for the teaching faculty in the schools, colleges, and universities and they must learn a lesson from him.