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.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Principals Shred the Veil: New Degree Colleges Exist Mostly in Name

Secretary of Higher Education, Mr. Khazir Muhammad Wani, while addressing the College Principals said: “The quality should be the benchmark and expansion without quality is total waste.” But is he not a part of the problem?

Srinagar: The principals of degree colleges of Valley said on May 16, 2008 that most of the colleges are running short of technical staff while classrooms, libraries, laboratories and toilets are in dilapidated conditions.

“We don’t have any hostel facility for students who come from far flung areas, while as the present building is insufficient for the students of our college,” Principal College of Education told the Minister for Higher Education and ARI, Gulchain Singh Charak, during a function in city’s Banquet hall.

Principal Degree College Pulwama said, “Almost 5490 students are enrolled with us but we don’t have any proper library, healthcare centre and permanent faculty in the computer department and this is hampering the quality of education.”

Principal Degree College, Handwara said , "Our college is having 1823 students. Our colleges does not have enough infrastructure and are functioning in eight rooms and two huge tents borrowed from the police department.” The principal said the college is without laboratory due to which science students are facing tremendous problems.

The principal of Degree College Kargil complained of inadequacy of teaching staff saying the lecturer transferred to his institution hasn’t joined yet. “The college has dearth of permanent lecturers in English, Chemistry and Physics and need them desperately,” the principal said. He said one of the lecturers from Amar Singh College who has been transferred to the college has not joined for unknown reasons. During the discussions between principal Amar Singh College and secretary higher education over the issue, it was revealed that the lecturer was relieved from the college and had applied for leave, citing bad health condition of his wife as the reason.

However, it transpired during the discussion that the lecturer had sought the permission from department of higher education to proceed on a fellowship to Chandigarh. “If the lecturer is busy with attending his sick wife, how can he seek permission for fellowship,” the secretary questioned. The director education later asked the principals to issue a show cause notice against the lecturer.

The principal degree college Sopore also highlighted the deficiency of teaching staff and demanded immediate appointment of academic arrangement in English, Geology and Chemistry streams.

The principal of degree college Khanabal said that there was shortage of rooms in the college in which 5000 students are studying at present. “We need 16 more rooms and electrification of library,” the principal said.

The principal degree college Pulwama while speaking on the occasion said that her institute was without proper library, health care section and the BCA department lack teaching faculty.

Majority of the principals attending the meet complained of lack of lavatory facilities in the colleges saying the students are facing immense problems due to non-availability of such facility.

The minister for higher education later addressing the principals said that the three types of colleges including old educational institutions, 22 colleges established in 2005 and nine colleges set up in Kashmir division recently have different set of problems. Out of 36 new colleges established during the past few years in the state, the construction of buildings in respect of eighteen has already started. Like activity for ten more is being initiated under Prime Ministers Reconstruction Programme during the current year. The construction of eight such colleges was being taken up with funding from the state plan. The accommodation for the new colleges has been designed in a manner that it takes care of requirements in a long term perspective and is an all inclusive unit.

Charak said that he was upset after seeing the pathetic condition of some of the colleges he visited. “Some of the college principals have failed to maintain their institutes due to which they look shabby,” the minister said. He asked the principals to undertake the renovation works and whitewash the walls. He said the administration in colleges where there is deficient staff shall call lecturers for guest lectures so that studies of studies of students won’t get affected.

Secretary, Higher Education, Khazir Mohammad Wani and Director Colleges, Dr. N.D. Wani also attended the conference and enquired about the issues confronting the college authorities in running their institutions. “Let the college authorities try their best in ensuring student attendance and raise the standard of teaching to what is prevalent in all national institutes of higher education,” Wani said. Secretary education Khazir Muhammad Wani while addressing the principals said, “The quality should be the benchmark and expansion without quality is total waste.”

(Rising Kashmir and Greater Kashmir)

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