SRINAGAR: A group of senior professors at the University of Kashmir have issued a detailed statement thanking the administration for enhancing the superannuation age from 62 to 65 years. They have issued a detailed statement that is reproduced here:
“The teaching fraternity of the Jammu and Kashmir Universities thank the Hon’ble Lieutenant Governor of Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir and Chancellor of the Universities for his announcement about the enhancement in the age of superannuation from the present 62 years to 65 years. This decision was awaited since 2007 when the then Ministry of Human Resource Development, Department of Higher Education, Government of India enhanced the age of superannuation from 62 to 65 years for teaching positions in centrally funded institutions in higher and technical education institutions.
This matter was also examined by the University Grants Commission (UGC) Committee which was headed by the famous economist of the country, namely Prof GK Chadda. In its report of October 2008, among other things, this Committee strongly recommended an increase in the age of superannuation of teachers to 65 years throughout the country in both State and Central Universities. The Committee reached this conclusion after an in-depth analysis of the pros and cons of the matter. In fact, the Committee, in its report, had stated “that the fears expressed by certain quarters that raising the age of superannuation to sixty-five years would have an adverse impact on the recruitment of young teachers at the entry level is both misconstrued and misplaced”.
It also needs to be emphasized that on an average the number of teachers retiring each year is just 3 to 4 and entry into university service is also delayed due to requirements of PhD degree and post-doctoral experience. While all other service conditions, including Academic Performance Indicators (API) based Performance Based Appraisal System (PBAS), were implemented from time to time but the recommendation concerning enhancement in the age of superannuation to 65 was deferred.
It is against this backdrop that the decision of the Hon’ble Lieutenant Governor is appreciated and welcomed. In fact, age of superannuation in many states and institutions in the Union Territory of Jammu &Kashmir, such as the Central University of Kashmir, Central University of Jammu, National Institute of Technology (NIT), and Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University, Katra, Jammu is 65 years.
The Economic Survey report for 2018-19 also recommended increase in the retirement age considering the declining fertility rate and increased life expectancy. It stated that the services of healthier faculty beyond the age of 62 years needs to be better utilized because of the investments that have been made on them by the State during their studies, research career and for their capacity building.
A study by the Centre for Development Studies in Kerala brought out that raising the retirement age by just two years would help the State government save around Rs 4,625 crore per year in pension and gratuities. This study also pointed out that pension and other retirement benefits of the Centre and the States have increased by almost three times between 2009 and 2018.
The Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), in its Vision 2047 document, has also vouched for increasing the retirement age in the nation in line with western countries to face the challenges of the rising elderly population.
According to a National Statistics Office report, the share of the elderly in the total population is projected to reach nearly 15% by 2036. This means more people will be eligible for pensionary benefits and for a longer duration of time which would put an additional burden on the state’s exchequer. The Central government spent nearly Rs 1.98 trillion on pensions and related payments in FY22.
This decision is also far-reaching since it addresses the disparity that existed in the age of superannuation of teachers in the Central and State Universities in the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir despite similar recruitment, promotion and workload. This disparity was discouraging very qualified and well-trained faculty from joining the State universities at higher positions. Many positions of Professors remain unfilled for years together even after repeated advertisements at the national level because of the preference of eligible applicants for Central Universities where the age of superannuation is 65 years.
Also, this increase in the age of superannuation as announced by the Hon’ble Lieutenant Governor was much needed given the paradigm shift that is taking place in the entire ecosystem of education, including higher education, with the implementation of National Education Policy (NEP)-2020 and retention of senior faculty are of paramount importance for its successful implementation.
National Education Policy (NEP)-2020 makes an explicit mention of the quality and engagement of the faculty as the most important factors in the success of higher education institutions. The policy underscores the need to address all the issues of faculty to ‘ensure that each faculty member is happy, enthusiastic, engaged, and motivated towards advancing her/his students, institution, and profession’.
This decision would also go a long way in addressing the shortage of senior-level faculty in the universities towards which the Hon’ble Lieutenant Governor alluded during his address in the inaugural function of the Annual Youth Festival Sonzal-2022 at the University of Kashmir in Srinagar on 23rd November 2022.
It would not only benefit the institution in securing better NIRF, QS rankings and financial support from various funding agencies, but would be equally beneficial to students who despite having qualified Junior Research Fellowship/National Eligibility Test for Lectureship are unable to pursue research due to lack of supervisors and vacancies.
The decision would also correct the diminishing strength of senior-level faculty in the departments/research centres with salutary influence on teaching-learning environment, research output, and would also contribute to providing an enabling environment for more productive engagement with students in achieving the laudable objectives of the National Education Policy (NEP)-2020.”