Dr Vikas Sharma
The nature, purpose and spirit of teaching, research and extension (which is the primary task of agricultural / professional varsity) is beyond the mechanical apparatus being proposed by the University Administration as such the biometric attendance system along with guidelines is not acceptable to the teaching community of Farm Varsities.
Biometric Attendance System with strict guidelines is not suitable for adoption in the farm / professional university. Besides teaching, research, extension, the task regarding agricultural / farm operations cannot be accomplished by working during the office hours only (9:30 AM to 5:00 PM). Sowing, harvesting, laboratory work, other field operations are to be done at optimum time or with certain time span which may require the duties of the researcher as well as technical staff well beyond the prescribed office hours thereby putting the scientists and technical staff under tremendous health risk / mental stress of doing biometric attendance as well as meeting the exigent needs of farm operations / lab. duties where their presence during the early hours or late hours is necessary. Therefore, the continuation of biometric attendance in the light of guidelines issued by the University Administration from time to time will only demoralize the committed workers of the university and will affect their routine duties, who devote even Saturdays and Sundays during the kharif, rabi and zaid seasons for the success of their experiments. It is pertinent to mention here that biometric attendance system is to be recorded for working days only i.e., from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM with no credit of doing work late in evening as well as early hours besides performing duties during holidays.
In the University system, the organisation of research / academic / cultural events such as Conference, Seminar, Congress, Symposia, Training Programme, Agrifest, Foundation Day, Convocation, Kissan Mela etc. requires extra efforts of teaching as well as non teaching staff beyond the time limits of office hours. Therefore, binding the university employees between 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM will be unfair and will adversely affect the health as well as progress of the university.
A teacher have to study for late hours in the night or early hours in the morning to meet the teaching expectations of the students / authorities. The teachers of farm varsity seldom find any time for the preparation of lectures to be taken on daily basis because of research and extension activities. Therefore, binding a teacher with mechanical apparatus of office timing will adversely affect his/her performance that can prove to be counterproductive for the students as well as university. The Biometric Attendance System is a cause of mental stress / depression for the scientific as well as technical staff of the varsity stationed in far flung Research Stations of Rajouri, Poonch, Bhaderwah, Reasi, etc. It is practically impossible for them to meet biometric attendance on way to the office after holidays as well as on way to back home during weekends as during their field visits it becomes impossible for them to travel 50-60 kilometres back to mark biometric attendance only.
While talking about the working system in Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) of farm varsities, we can say that scientists have to visit the whole district for conducting frequent / diagnostic visits in farmer’s field, for conducting farmer’s training (12 trainings for every scientist) and for conducting awareness programmes for villagers throughout the year. Moreover, the Subject Matter Specialists of KVK system are required to attend collaborative meetings / programmes of allied departments of State Govt. and to conduct various activities / programmes sponsored by Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) on Saturdays, Sundays and on public holidays. Therefore, it is not possible for the scientific and supporting staff of KVKs to adhere to the unjustified rules of attending the KVK every morning at 9.30 am and at every evening 5:00 pm
This biometric attendance system / guidelines will result in availing of Earned Leave / Casual Leave by majority of the employees (en masse) of the university thereby affecting the progress of the farm varsity negatively. Moreover, the biometric attendance system is more suitable for the offices with public dealings / public services and will discourage the committed human resource of the university. It is pertinent to mention here that the biometric attendance system with strong guidelines is neither followed by any varsity of J&K State till date (no BAS for teachers in University of Jammu, Central University of Jammu, BGSBU Jammu etc.) nor such strict guidelines have been issued / implemented by the State Government for the Agriculture Production Department. In other words, issuing guidelines regarding biometric attendance system are devoid of any validity as per the JKCSR rules / regulations.
This is also a reality that the biometric attendance system is not a fool proof method to enhance working efficiency / output of the staff as it ensures only physical presence. Instead, some of the best Institutions of the world focussing more on increasing the commitment of their employees by reducing stress, by incentives such as flexible office timings, recreation activities for increased performance and measurable output.
Based on the reasons cited above and feedback from the teaching fraternity of the universities of Jammu and Kashmir, biometric attendance system with strict guidelines does not fit to the job profile of University Teacher / Professor as this system affects the sanctity of the working of esteemed teaching fraternity of varsities.
The author is not against the biometric attendance system, but against the unjustified guidelines issued from time to time by the University administration to harass / demoralize the scientific as well as technical staff, who are working day-night for the welfare, progress and better functioning of the only farm / professional university of Jammu division.
(The author is President Teaching Association, SKUAST-Jammu)
Dr Vikas Sharma