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.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Breaking the Gender Ceiling

Kavita discusses the UGC’s initiative on nurturing women managers in higher education in the State

(Dr. Kavita Suri was born in Jammu and did her primary schooling there. She received two Bachelor's degrees from the University of Jammu, one in Science from the the Government Women's College, and the other in Education from the Government College of Education. She completed Master's degrees in Education, followed by English (both from the University of Jammu), and in Masss Communication from Guru Jambeshwar University in Hisar. She finished her doctorate degree from the Department of Education of the University of Jammu. In between she also pursued diploma courses in creative writing, business management, journalism and distance education from the Indira Gandhi National Open University. She started his journalism career with the Daily Excelsior, and over the years worked at various print media newspapers like the Kashmir Times, The Tribune, and more recently, at the Statesman. She is currently the assistant director of the Centre for Adult and Continuing Education and Extension at the University of Jammu. She has written a book, entitled, "Impact of Violence on Girls' Education in Kashmir", as well as contributed articles to changing political landscapes and gender inequalities in Jammu and Kashmir. She has received the British Chevening Print Journalists'fellowship, Charkha-Sanjoy Ghose media fellowship, and the U.S. State Department International Visitors Exchange fellowship. She has made numerous presentations, conducted multiple workshops, and is affiliated with numerous social organizations.)

Gender-just system

Only few days ago, India celebrated International Women’s Day with much fanfare. Sadly, March 8, perhaps is the only day when the Indian planners and policy makers think about the betterment of Indian women. Women issues are still not on the priority list of the government in India.

In case if higher education things are clearly indicating that women are not getting their due share. While in rest of the world, women occupy 50 % of the positions in higher education, in India, the figures have gone up from mere 10 % to 40 % in the past few years. So there is still much that needs to be done in this regard.

Perhaps it is in this backdrop that the University Grants Commission (UGC) has started SAM (Sensitization, Awareness and Motivation) workshops for “Capacity Building of Women Managers in Higher Education”, all over the country in the institutes of higher learning since 2002. The objective is to train women holding middle level and higher positions in higher education in the five day workshop, so that they could catalyze the system to move towards a gender-just system, by bringing their perspectives into decision-making.

In Jammu & Kashmir, where there are hardly few women at the higher level in higher education, a five day UGC SAM (Sensitizing, creating Awareness and building Motivation (SAM), for women teachers in higher education workshop on the theme “Capacity building of Women Managers in Higher Education” was recently organized by the Centre for Women’s Studies and P.G Home Science (CRM&E), Government College for Women, Parade, Jammu.

The participants constituted middle level women in higher education who have the potential to occupy such positions in the near future. A total of 35 participants drawn from universities and colleges of Northern India, mainly Jammu region, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab were sensitized and empowered through this workshop. Dr. Pam Rajput and Professor Sushila Kaushik who represented UGC as the Member National Consultative Committee were the Core Group Resource Persons of the workshop. Dr. Poonam Dhawan, Director, Centre for Women Studies, University of Jammu was the Regional Coordinator (NWR) and Dr. Shashi Kaul was the local Coordinator. The objective of the workshop was focused by Prof. Reicha Tanwar, Regional Coordinator North Zone who emphasized on the contribution of women faculty in higher education to become competent managers and to facilitate girls to pursue higher education in a conducive and gender sensitive environment

“The University Grants Commission has been emphasizing gender equity and inclusion in higher education policies and curricula, and this is clearly articulated in the XIth Plan of the UGC. To achieve this objective, one area of concern is the need to increase the number of women in decision-making positions in higher education and develop a gender friendly environment,” informed Dr Shashi Kaul while elaborating on the objective of the workshop.

The scenario is grim for women in higher education in India. There are still many biases against women. Of the total 1, 25,212 academic positions in Indian universities, only 28,310 have been occupied by women in India while in Commonwealth countries, out of a total of 602 Vice Chancellors, 54 are women. Though Southern India has still some women VCs, northern India has none.

“If this is the scenario, we should talk more about women in higher education,” asserts Prof Pam Rajput adding that the trained women managers in higher education institutions could well complement the efforts of men for a qualitative development of the system and ensure gender equity.

The UGC has received one crore as additional grant for carrying forward this programme to every nook and corner of the country which has been divided into nine regional centres, each headed by CGRP who is experienced in the field of women studies,” informs Prof. Susheela Kaushik, Core Group Resource Person (CGRP), National Consultative Committee, UGC while elaborating over the measures taken country-wise for the capacity building of women managers in higher education.

The UGC took the initiative in 1997; first workshop was conducted in 2003 and till now already 129 workshops have been conducted all over the country. From October 2008 to March 31, 2009, the UGC intends to conduct 50 more workshops

“We have a set of manuals for SAM Workshops which have been fully contextualized and rewritten from an earlier exercise done by the Commonwealth Secretariat, London, for the Commonwealth higher education institutions, which also face a similar glass ceiling. The substantive manuals include Women’s Perspectives, Women and Governance, Women and Academic Leadership, Women and Personal and Professional Roles and Women and Research,” informs Professor Poonam Dhawan.

“Through these workshops, we also identify some of them as future trainers so that they can take on the role of coordinators and trainers,” adds Assistant Coordinator Prof. Nidhi Kotwal .

The SAM workshops are followed by ToTs (training of the trainers). From among the participants of the SAM Workshops, some of them are selected as ‘potential’ trainers. They undergo a programme of Training of Trainers (ToTs) on the participative methodology in transacting the above manuals to be applied by them when they themselves have to conduct the Workshops.

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