Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Only in Kashmir - Children's School for the Hearing Impaired has Only one Braille Teacher

Only a self-absorbed and selfish society would ignore the plight of 130 children suffering from hearing and listening disorders who attend the Abhinanda Home

School for special children has only one instructor

Srinagar: The Valley’s lone school for children suffering from hearing and listening disorders, Abhinanda Home, has only one instructor for 120 differently able children.

Nasreena Banoo, a Braille instructor is the only teacher at the school and struggles to cope up with the pressure of teaching 120 children studying at Abhinanda Home at Rambagh Srinagar.

She mostly uses the Hindi medium to communicate with the children and English medium is used rarely. Apart from teaching Braille these differently able children are taught making chairs, chalk and candles. Abdul Hameed, an elderly has an experience of 20 to 25 years working in this school imparting “chair making” training to the blind.

N Gopalaswami Ayanagar laid the foundation stone of the school on July 14, 1941. Located on the Rambagh roadside, the Abhinanda Home has two buildings and spacious lawn. It has classrooms with speech teaching room for deaf and dumb and Braille instructor room for blind children.

The school was started in 1972. In 1977, Arshid Siddiqi joined the institute as a senior teacher and single handed taught the differently able children studying between Nursery and 8th standard. The children studying in the school are not admitted on the basis of their age groups instead every special child is made to sit in the nursery and provided with basic insight of education from the primary level. The deaf and dumb are taught different signs like lip movement, sign language and speech reading facilities.

"The main objective of Abhinanda is to produce a group of students with developing skills who are otherwise just obsessed with passing exams and do not have the urge to rise above the divisive tendencies which is hidden inside them," says a teacher. Shabir Ahmad a visually impaired student said, "The infrastructure here is poor. There is not much staff and we have only one instructor. This blind home run by the Social Welfare department is just a disgrace."

The school session starts from October-November and education is free of cost. Jan Muhammad, who studies in 5th standard says, “During exams we dictate our answers to the writer who appears in the exams on our behalf. More trainers and teachers should be appointed in the school so that they can prepare us for the challenges outside."

Executive Officer of the Abhinanda Home, Tajinder Kour told Rising Kashmir that the students are expecting miracles from us. “Independently we cannot do things as the Government is not granting us funds to cater to the needs of our students," she said. “For any development the basic need is of avenues, which this home doesn’t have. The special hearing aids and other stuff are being provided by J&K Police."The only apparent difference between the normal and differently able students is their syllabus, which is half that of the normal ones. "We have a number of pass outs who are now well established and have made a name of their own," says a teacher at the school.

(Rising Kashmir)

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