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It is imperative to have a healthy academic atmosphere in an educational institution, whether it is a school or college or University, for effective implementation of the teaching-learning process. It is highly unlikely that the academic atmosphere in most of our institutions is healthier, whether it is run by the government or private parties. The need for having a healthier learning environment can be best understood, by looking at the problems arising out of the poor academic atmosphere existent. The academic atmosphere gets spoiled due to various factors like the personal conflict between the teachers, clashes due to ego, personal enmity between faculty members, departmental ego, gender ego, caste, religion, language-based grouping and what not jealous. One thing is very much certain that all such factors will either directly or indirectly affect the students’ learning process.

indian girl studentsI know there are professors, working in the same department of an Institution, who have not been talking a single word for years together. The Head of the Department could not only solve the problem between them and landed in a tough situation in getting the work done from them. The fact that there is a rivalry between these two professors is well known to all students, other teachers, non-teaching staff and all the insiders. The good get adjusted to the situation and accordingly get their run in the department, but the mischievous exploit the situation in their favor. Unknowing of things, these professors, are busy in strengthening themselves by bringing cohorts to their respective tents. There are heated arguments and fights during the department meetings, and the Head of the Department could not even organize a staff meeting in the department. You will be an alien, if you talk about research, patent, publication, modern methodologies of teaching, h-index, i10-index of individual teachers, when the fundamental objective of imparting knowledge is sidelined, and the students are being treated as scapegoats.

The similar situation is omnipresent in almost all kinds of educational institutions from schools to the universities. They get grouped based on the factors like caste, language, gender and religion. When the administrative setup of the department or institution is not transparent and professional, it will certainly lead to such invisible grouping, and it will ignite the associated soft political activities. Such politics, what I call as academic politics, and certainly not referring to the political climate of the state/country though it has an indirect impact on the academic atmosphere of an institution. The academic politics is inherent in nature, which deteriorates the system of learning and imparting knowledge to the students. Backbiting and gossiping also accompany and fuel this academic politics. One of my professors referred the people who involve in academic politics, as educated culprits. In an academically politicised environment, the good people/students are forced to be muted spectators; otherwise, they are in the danger of being trapped into unwanted problems.

This is an important issue/menace to be addressed and curbed to the extent possible, and as of now, there is no exclusive mechanism to address this issue. No inspection or audit bothers about this problem, and the academic forums don’t even discuss this. Very silently, politely the meek undergoes stress and face problems for not being involved in any kind of politics as they can only be passive recipients.

We cannot expect an ideal working environment free from all the academic politics, and it is impossible too. Moreover, an education intuition cannot be an isolated entity, and it is a part of our society, and hence whatever social evils present in it, will naturally get reflected in the institution too. The complete elimination of academic politics is not possible, and however, it can be controlled to a greater degree by adopting and practicing healthier administrative practices.

In an institution, the top-level managers should be aware of such problems and understanding the seriousness of the issue, will be the foremost step to solve this issue. They should vow not to encourage politics among the staff and students. The administration should be very professionally done without any sort of prejudice. All academic activities should be well systematised, and if possible, all the activities and services should be automated. A systematised, automated and transparent administration will certainly alleviate academic politics to a greater degree provided that all are judiciously executed.

There is no mechanism laid out by any academic agency to check and address this menace. There are some grievance redressal cells available as per norms of the Universities but in records like any other similar cells or forums. However, if possible, the feedback mechanism can effectively be used to bring out the problem arising out of such academic politics, and then the top-level management can address and solve the problems genuinely.

In solving the issues, partiality, favouritism, prejudice and such related things will completely corrupt the academic climate of the institution and hence should be avoided at all levels of hierarchy in the administration. Especially there should be no injustice done to the students. If so, the impact on young minds will divert their lives into unimaginable, disastrous pathways. Once, when I went for an audit to a private college, the office assistant, in a conversation to me, said in her language, “the city’s rowdies are born here only sir”. The injustice, favouritism, prejudice, corruption, etc., in an academic institution, will have the possibility of producing anti-social elements; if so we can understand how much serious is this problem of having unhealthier academic environment or academically politicised environment.

However, we, the teachers in India, positioned in a child’s life (pertinent to education) just after the parents in the order, Mother, Father, Teacher, God (Matha, Pitha, Guru, Theivam). If that is the case, how much responsibility is entrusted on us, in developing the children as a good human being apart from imparting knowledge? As the creators of the future generation, we should deliver our services as responsible teachers, alleviating the politics of academics.

- M. Joseph

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