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.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Inportance of Good Teachers

Maroof argues in defense of teachers who impart intellect to the civil society

(Dr. Muhammad Maroof Shah, 31, was born in Kunan, Bandipore. He has pursued a career in veterinary medicine and animal husbandry, completing Bachelors's degree in veterinary sciences (BVSc) at the Faculty of Veterinary Sciences and Animal Husbandry (FVSc & AH), Shuhama campus of the Sher-i-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Kashmir (SKUAST-K), and MA English through the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). He is presently posted as a Veterinary Assistant Surgeon (VAS) at the Government Sheep Breeding Farm in Dachigam. Dr. Shah is the author of two books, and has lectured as a visiting fellow at the Jaipur University on Western Philosophy. In his leisure time he pursues studies in comparative religion, philosophy and literature.)

Why insult teachers?

If one has to judge the state of a nation one should see the status of education, its students and teachers. All developed nations have developed educational system and for that they have the highest respect for teachers. The best qualified alone qualify as teachers and the highest paid workers are teachers. Kashmir has abysmally low standard of education and one of the important factors for it is our ignoring our most important class – the teaching class.

Teachers fashion all other professionals. They are the parents of all of us from chief ministers to bureaucrats to intellectual elite. The nation owes everything to teachers. Our key to development is our teachers and in a way our welfare in both the worlds is dependent on good education or good teachers. Teachers protest and policemen beat them. For those who know what education is and how sacred the vocation of a teacher is it is simply unimaginable. A teacher is more important than the minister and in a way more honourable and if our policemen can’t beat ministers, for whatever reason, they can’t beat teachers as well. Teachers deserve more respect than even our chief justice. Alexendar put Aristotle, his teacher at the top of the hierarchy of noble men. Until we put teachers above everyone, above the doctors, the secretaries and the ministers we can’t prosper as a nation.

The present pay commission has not only ignored teaching community especially the teachers who teach in schools but even degraded them. The pay anomaly for which teachers in J&K had fought for so long and had got some rectification in 2005 was effectively abrogated by new pay commission. Clubbing 13 grades from senior assistant to lecturer/ senior lecturer/ZEO in a common pay grade of 9300-13500 and bringing teachers in line with a host of other professions in terms of grade is insult on teaching profession. It means we rate Senior assistants / SOs etc on a par with teachers/college lecturers! This is profanation and desecration and “shudraization” (equating brain with other organs though I don’t mean that “Shudras” are not important in their own right).

Bureaucrats have been most benefited by the new commission. It seems that it has been in the agenda of our politicians to insult and degrade teachers and teaching profession. RT scheme that makes teachers bonded labourers and pays them even less than casual labourers is an insult. Not treating all teachers on a par with class first officers and opening up the post of teacher to even nominally educated people are some ways, among others, that governments have insulted teaching community.

Insulting teachers is an insult or even offence against nation. It ensures that nation will never really develop and subject it to perpetual intellectual slavery.

Our governments have ample funds for defense but little for education which would make much of police and army redundant as better education makes better citizens which don’t need so much surveillance and thus huge expenditure on maintenance of law and order or defence.

The nation’s most important capital is intellectual capital and skilled labourer and the development of both is dependent on care and welfare of teachers. Clerks – bureaucrats or administrative posts from secretaries to technical assistants and typists are basically clerks – are only organizing/implementing/executing class and thus subservient to teachers. But the esteem in which these clerks are held and the scorn with which teachers are dealt with in our society shows our moral and intellectual degradation at its worst. A professor is compelled to bow to clerks for his minor works – even a GP fund schedule needs so many trips and appeasements to clerks that one wishes not to have subscribed to GP fund at all.

A government which doesn’t ensure speedy work of clerks doesn’t deserve to rule at all. There are unwritten ten percent laws in vogue in many offices according to which our clerks deduct 10 percent from TA bills and other bills in the name of treasury kharch, direction office kharch and so on. A nation in which clerk rules and even top ranking officers are virtually their slaves or do what clerks desire to do is surely going to dogs.

I know most teachers are not putting their maximum in their work and are not displaying exemplary moral or intellectual virtues. But who is responsible for appointing teachers in the first instance and who fixes the standards of qualification – formal and informal – for them? We have never made teaching a job to be envied and to be competed. No wonder we get so many drop outs from schools, so many failures, so many good for nothing graduates.

Our education is a failure as can be judged by the quality of education as compared to international standards – our graduates know almost nothing about philosophy, about religion, about modern trends in thought, about social and economic structure of society, about literature, about history and culture – though a good education at graduate level must give good idea about all of them. We are poor readers – most of our graduates and even PGs have hardly any liking for reading extracurricular books. Many can’t write a good letter or enjoy or easily comprehend Ghalib or Shakespeare or Rumi. Our literacy rate may be slightly better but our education is still of abysmally low quality.

A teacher is more important than a doctor or a KAS officer. But we have degraded its standard so much that the one who can’t get any job may nevertheless get a teaching job

I can’t imagine appointing RT’s for 1500 or 2000 for five years – a high ranking official’s telephone bill or few days’s TA bill is often more than that – and expecting teachers to uplift the community morally and intellectually. I can’t imagine a greater insult to dignity of man, a more degrading baygaer, a more criminal offence against the sacred office of teaching, than compelling teachers to work for five years on 1500 or 2000.

A teacher deserves more pay than any other professional or class first officer because if he is well cared we need not worry about all other professionals or officers. I wonder why teaching community is not resolutely fighting for that. All round corruption, poverty, unemployment and social problems that bedevil us are traceable to bad education which is partly a result of impoverished state of teachers.

I feel moral responsibility to write for the marginalized communities like teachers. Though I am not a teacher but I owe everything to my teachers. Somehow inculcating in me the love for knowledge they have given me everything. If we are sincere towards developing educational/intellectual/spiritual culture we need to give teachers their due. I wonder why teachers are not asserting their voice and content to fight for only small things. Instead of encouraging higher learning government is creating hurdles for those teachers who wish to pursue higher studies. Why can’t one easily get study leave and one simultaneously get many degree while in job. Teachers are also deprived of leave encashment.

Advocating the cause of teachers – good teachers of course – is advocating the cause of all of us. Let the teachers be united and get all their rights. They are the most ignored lot in our community but unfortunately they have, generally speaking lost the awareness what they are supposed to be and what they lack and have been deprived of. They must analyze factors conspiring to their destitute condition. The ungrateful nation has despised and marginalized its intellectual godfathers. May God give teachers the unity and the strength to get what they deserve. Yes, teachers need to fight for it, to snatch their God-given rights. Teachers are after all teachers. Why do teachers allow themselves to be shudraized when they are really the kings and they should ideally advise us on everything?

If a teacher gets corrupt the whole nation gets corrupt. If a teacher is disgraced the nation loses respect. The history of civilizations shows that those nations are doomed which don’t give the teachers the highest honour. The greatness of a nation is measured by the status it accords to its teachers. When will we learn to respect teachers and stop insulting them? Are we doomed or will we learn to respect teachers? We need to drastically reframe our educational policies and our idea of teaching. Teachers need to discover themselves.

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