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.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Meritocracy and Kashmir - and Never the Twain Shall Meet

Tauseef laments about how the "Open Merit" (OM) system works against hard work and fair play

I belong to the OM

Shah Tauseef Armand

I belong to the most prestigious category. With reservation of 50%, Open Merit (OM) represents the largest category in competitive exams in J&K however, with meagre chances to get in.

"I couldn't make it because I belong to OM" is the response when dropped from any selection list. The agonising thoughts of 3 or 4 points by which he missed the train of success haunt him a million times throughout the clock. Sweet dreams change into nightmares and depression colonises the mind.

His below average friends belonging to different reservation categories who never performed better than him even in the competitive exams are in above average professional colleges. The endless reservation categories in J&K crush the dreams of talented youth who are caged in OM category. My OM friend was dropped at securing 180 points while my another friend was selected after securing 141 points because he was from reserved category. While my category friend regularly goes to medical college, my OM friend goes regularly goes to psychiatrist. To complicate the already complicated situation some category students fall into OM, throwing OM students out of crowded helicopter to land in despair and if they themselves fall out they are safe because the parachute tagged with "reservation" saves them. Some categories like STGB require students only to appear in the examination to be selected because they are in "no competition" zone.

Most "Residents of Backward Areas (RBA)" students belong to economically forward families. Police and army personnel make us feel more insecure by thrashing our meritorious OM students by weapons like CDP and JKPM reservations. Actual line of control (ALC) quota crosses all lines of justice to reach the reserved seats after dispersing deserving students out of the field. To fill the gap in the sea of injustice, river of "Other Schedule Caste (OSC)"quota was joined to existing (SC) quota. Carom players equipped with "sports category" are becoming doctors and engineers faster and real players are pushed out of the board.

What pains most is to see the financially sound but academically poor students entering professional colleges wearing the hats of reservation transmitted to them from their settled parents as a part of their heredity. After "reservation facilitated" acquisition of higher positions, most such persons settle in cities, giving their children quality education in prestigious schools, which many OM students never dreamt about, and when the judgement day comes, "reservation certificate" balances all their deficiencies and mar all the efficiencies."Don't you think it is the murder of justice?" Rich are getting richer and poor are getting poorer.

The assault on OM candidates don't end here. The crises of reservation continue at the Post Graduate (PG) level and at job seeking examinations to punish the OM students who managed to cross the battle field unarmed.

A question to my non OM brothers and sisters, ‘after pulling the selfishness out of your brain, do you feel your reservation in PG Entrances and PSC exams is justified?" After completing the course under one roof with category students, are OM students fed with superior knowledge or skills to put them in stress and strain?

Once together in college, if OM and reservation students are taught by same tutors in same classrooms on the same bench, share same laboratory, read same books, face same examinations; then why is inequality restored in PG and PSC exams?

This story of injustice requires million papers and pens. Who is responsible for this grave injustice?

Yes, of course the government of India in general and government of J&K in particular. Where else on earth do we have such a score of category reservations?

Sheikh has control his reign of power by trapping major sections of people by such favours. This menace gifted to our state by politicians is a cunning tactic to keep the benefited people as a reservoir of votes for elections. To cut this tree of injustice seems impossible as its roots are deep seated and well protected by care taking administrators who have reached the apex positions by ropes of reservation.

I agree that many classes of our society are backward and poor, who can’t keep pace with other classes because of financial conditions. But government never wants to provide quality education to poor classes because it costs money and in turn pushes such academically poor students into higher professional carriers free of cost after slaughtering the deserving ones. Their need is quality education and financial support not reservation. People with categories are our own blood because we originated from one race and government is deepening the roots of casteism.

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