Prem Chand “Vimal” has been fighting against autocracy and corruption in the Education Department of Delhi for nearly three decades and has won in about ten such instances. These include one case in the High Court, two in the District Court, twice in the Centre Administrative Tribunal (CAT), and five times in the Central Information Commission (CIC). These repeated victories have slapped the whole education system, which has been and still is, steeped in corruption.
He was born in a Dalit family and hails from a small village called Ahiyapur Kalan in Hathras (Mahamaya Nagar) city of Uttar Pradesh which is about 162 km away from Delhi. Being one of the seven children of a small farmer, Vimal’s life was full of suffering and social exploitation. He even had no money to study. He said, “I had to do labour work in mansions, paint walls and be a band bajawala during my school vacations. I also used to work in a tailor shop. As I said, I had no money to get an education so I had to do all this work from time to time.” He was also a victim of child marriage as he was forced to marry at the age of 13. In spite of all these tough conditions, he managed to get three degrees – B.Sc., M.A., and B.Ed., and later got selected to work in the education department.
In the year 1987, Vimal came to Delhi for a job in a private school, the Columbia Foundation School which was located at Vikaspuri, Delhi. He continued to work there for a year but left after that. When asked the reason for leaving the job, he said, “My manager told all staff members to sign a blank cheque book for the purpose of job security and because I needed the job, I signed it. Then after a year of working there, I felt some kind of malpractice was going on in the school, so one day I went to the bank to check the actual salary and I found some shocking figures. According to the government pay scale all teachers of this school had to be given the actual salary of Rs. 1862, but the Columbia Foundation Manager used to give us only Rs. 600, which was corruption! I raised my voice against this corrupt practice and the manager expelled me from service. Then I went to the labour court and filed a complaint and the court called me to present the case, which I did. After three months of court proceedings, I won the case and all employees got proper salaries along with arrears. This was my first victory in my fight against corruption.”
In the year 1989, Vimal got selected as TGT (Trained Graduate Teacher) Science in a government school named Sarvodaya Boys Vidyalaya, Delhi. Vimal’s life was not easy as compared to that of many other teachers and the ‘common man’ of Delhi. Further, the teachers were meant to work as per the officers’ demands and they were not to interfere in government work at the school and department level. While relating the story of his success, he said, “Actually, many teachers have been tortured, i.e. whoever raised his/her voice against the corruption in the education department of Delhi government.”
Prem Chand “Vimal” has been working as teacher (known as lecturer) in Economics, employed by the Government of NCT for the last 26 years. He has succeeded in earning a name there through his work, conduct and his teaching in the classes. He has received several honourable awards at the state level for his performance at Science Fairs and for his classroom teaching.
“This job (the current one) was not so easy to get at that time. The education department was and is still filled with corrupt staff members and some officers who are eating away into the system like termites eat wood. When I got selected, the Dealing Clerk refused to give me an appointment letter because he expected a bribe but I decided not to give. I went to the Director of Education, V.P. Suri and explained. Then, he called the Deputy Director of Education and the Dealing Clerk demanding an explanation about the same, but the Dealing Clerk took an oath on the Bhagvat Gita and said that he did not ask for any bribe, that I was making false allegations. Around 6:30 pm that day, I got my appointment letter and that too at a nearby school to perform my duty. It was common practice that the Dealing Clerk used to take bribe and assign the teachers some faraway location. It was also a small victory for me that I got to work at a school near my house and that too without giving any kind of bribe”
In his 26 years of service, he has faced a lot of discrimination and atrocities due to his caste. Coming from a Dalit caste, he had been denied opportunities to take charge at various stages. In the year 2005, when he was working at the Government Co-ed. Senior Secondary School, Sector -2, Rohini, he found that one official had embezzled students’ money. “I found this corruption when I was checking the students’ scholarship record of my class. I then reported it to the senior but since the official was from an upper caste, no action was taken against her. Four months later, they conspired to transfer me somewhere faraway without any prior notice or any genuine reason. At that moment, I realised that this system is full of corrupt officials and people with a brahminical mindset. Though I got a prize for raising my voice against corruption, I did not give up and continued to fight against this system and after four years of enquiry on the reason behind transferring teachers, I won against the education department.”
From the year 2005 till 2009, the department made false and baseless allegations on him from time to time. Further, it seems that he was put under constant pressure by constantly giving him clerical work and fixing more class periods than is the norm. All this due to the casteist mindset of the people running the department.
After three years of judicial process, the Delhi High Court gave a decision in his favour on 15th September 2015. Vimal said, “This case, which was finally decided in my favour, was driven only by mala fide intentions of the education department against me; they had made three baseless allegations against me and had no proof to show. During the whole three years of the court proceedings, the government lawyer had nothing to show against me, except baseless allegations.”
Prem Chand “Vimal” has been practising Vipassana meditation. He believes: “My life struggle and fight against corruption succeeded because of the stability in my mind and peace in my heart”.
Rahul Kumar is a blogger, who usually writes on social issues. He has also received Media Training in Israel. He had worked with Navbharat Times and Financial Express earlier. He has written a book, ‘Social media and academics accomplishment’.