Now we come to the administration of the university. The first day I got to Meerut, I met with the HOD (Head of Department) of chemistry and the Dean of the Science Division. The HOD was very pleasant, the Dean was non-committal. He did not say anything. I was not too impressed. In fact, I had called him from US also and even then, he was very unassuming and non-conversational.

Two days after I officially started coming in for “work” I was told that I had to sign the register that all the faculty and staff sign when I come and before I leave. Being Honorary Professor, I had flexibility in my timings, but I never took advantage of it. I was always arrived and left within 15 mins of the times. I just have a hard time going to work at 8 am!

Anyhow, the same day, I was also asked to visit the Vice Chancellor. The Dean took me there personally. My first impression of the VC was not the best. I thought he was bombastic and at a point in our conversation, not very polite. I am sure overconfident people in power say a lot of things in jest, just because they can. But – I was a guest, he could have had little more finesse. He did ask a little about me, but eventually the conversation was all about him – all the qualifications he has and his work experience etc. We spoke mostly in English.

My work started okay. Some lack of communication from the HOD led me to do more work than was required.

The big deal came when around the third week of February the administration decided to interview all the science and engineering faculty. Faculty thought it was because they were the only ones who got the lowest grade in the NAAC visit. There was also the concern that some of the chemistry faculty had just been hired within the last one year. Why did they need to be interviewed? So, they knew someone was going to be let go. And that created an environment of dread in the department.

One of the chemistry preemptively gave his resignation, which was accepted. And he left – just like that in the middle of the semester. The HOD distributed his courses to all of us. I got one lecture course that met every single day for six days! Not happy – but I helped out.

Then came the blow to the Dean. Soon after 4 Natural Science faculty resigned during the one day, at 3:45 pm the Dean was also fired. This brought another shock to everyone. Me too. Not that I was a fan but still, it is just not pleasant to see anyone be fired. Who will be the new Dean? What changes are to come?

And then came the interviews on 3rd March. Within one week, one faculty was let go – effective immediately. What? Another leaving in the middle of the semester? What’s going on here?? How does the administration see this as normal? Who will take all the extra courses? All faculty are already quite booked. They may have 1 or 2 hrs in the middle and they need a little time to prepare and re-energize.

An interim Dean was hired from the Math department. The HOD was not giving courses to anyone. She knew no one had time for extra courses. Then the interim Dean changed the rules of the game. A lab that met twice a week was made to meet once week – why do the students need to meet twice – he says! Just lecture them about the lab in the one meeting. That will free up the faculty to teach more. Any class that met 6 times was to meet 3 times a week, freeing up 3 more hours for the faculty to teach more classes. What a joke!! Instead of fighting for the faculty, this guy is trampling all over the faculty. Suddenly again, I feel happy to be in USA.

I have never seen a situation like this. All faculty got assigned more classes including me. I ended up getting three labs. The only saving grace is that it will be only for two weeks – I will be gone after that!! I had decided that during the sessional exams.

I was feeling bad initially about leaving the students in the middle of the semester without finishing the syllabus, but now I realize the University does not care about them at all. They are just interested in money. Not hiring enough faculty is a typical administrative move. And then most of the students don’t come to class either. So what’s the point? Why should I feel bad about this? I should not. The Biotech HOD very coolly increased one hour in my working week as if it was normal and I could not say no. Then one lecture and three labs got added to my load and I did not say no. I think for an Honorary faculty, I have been honorary enough!

The HOD did not come in to work for a week in March– she was not well. Stress. It’s understandable. I have missed only two days so far – just the two days after Holi. Two other faculty has taken off 4-5 days off here and there. Getting leave is also not easy. I don’t know whether they are taking unpaid leave.

There were some other things I learned about the pay structure of the faculty and holidays. There are not many holidays, not like in USA where the summer teaching is optional. Here it seems the semester drags on and the work never finishes. And faculty are required to be there almost year round.  There are always some duties assigned.

I don’t think I could work in an environment like this for a long time.