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, August 10, 2011

Dysfunctional Education System

Javaid pitches for hapless contractual teachers

(Mr. Javaid Malik, 37, was born in Srinagar. He did his schooling from the Burn Hall High School, and completed his 11th and 12th grades from the Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. After his graduation from the Madras University, he completed his Master's degree in Mass Communication from the Manipal University. Javaid has worked for various Srinagar based English language dailies since 2001. He joined the Greater Kashmir staff in 2005, and is now the Editor of the on-line edition.)

Waiting for a Messiah

Contractual teachers have been camping in the Press Enclave in Srinagar for nearly a week. They still believe that their fast unto death would have some impact on those who enjoy power. Let us hope that their belief comes true and someone listens to them.

So far no one seems to be moved by their plight. Those who matter seem to be of the opinion that “wait and watch policy” would help them and teachers would call off their agitation. They don’t want to take the bull by its horns rather they seem to be in mood of locking horns with the bull. Cursory look at the demands of teachers makes one believe that they are not asking for moon. Their demands are simple and genuine. Their number is not more than 800 and they could have been easily dealt with. It is strange that some people in the present dispensation have made a habit of making a mountain out of a mole hill.

Protesting teachers are demanding a change in the nomenclature; monthly wages equivalent to the basic salary of the post they are holding, one time exemption in NET/SET and end to the new norm of six classes per day. Even if one calculates the economics related to their demands. It won’t have much impact on the state exchequer. But concerned ministers have no time to look into what exactly these unfortunate souls, who have been given the responsibility to shape the future of the nation, want.

When legislators were given a pay hike they ensured that the weight of their pay packet increases manifolds. Anyway why should they bother about the people whom they claim to represent and whose votes at the end ensure that they enjoy all the privileges. They know it very well that it is only once in six-years they have to face the people and seek their votes. Presently they can sit and enjoy. It will hardly matter if one or two teachers die of hunger or dehydration in the holy month of Ramadan. They can sit and relax as 2011 is far better than 2010 only a few teachers are staging a sit-in whereas last year entire Kashmir was on streets. Anyway summer is peaceful and calm. They can take credit for it and relax.

One fails to understand that why government has adopted a cold approach towards the demands of contractual teachers. They are neither seeking Azadi nor are they advocating the cause of separatists. They are just demanding that they be given enough salaries for their survival and their services be given proper weightage. It is strange that on one hand state Government keeps on claiming that reconciliation is the only way to overcome the trust deficit but when it comes to delivering such statements remain confined to papers only.

Media reports suggest that contractual teachers outnumber the permanent lecturers in the colleges. If it is true then that means that future of hundreds of students is at stake. If the strike continues many students may end up losing one academic year. When colleges were closed during 2010 agitation government left no stone unturned to blame separatists for ruining the career of students. This time Government seems to be following the footsteps of separatists.

Going on strike is not the way but those who matter need to realize why these teachers were forced to go on strike and agitate. Had they been content with their jobs they would have never taken such an extreme step. At the first place they don’t enjoy all the benefits which regular Government employees do and secondly the threat of their job being insecure keeps on looming large over their minds. These factors need to be given a due consideration.

It is a simple administrative issue and it could have been resolved amicably. Teachers on strike allege that Government has failed to fulfill its previous promises so how can they call off their strike on mere assurances.

Those who are in power argue that if they keep on fulfilling each and every demand of the people they govern it would become very difficult for them to run the Government. They say that they have their own constraints. By not paying any heed to the strike of the contractual teachers Government wants to establish its writ.

Those who rule need to realize that power comes with responsibility. Smaller issues can turn into big problems if left unattended. Someone from the Government should take a call and listen to these teachers, who are braving all odds to ensure that someone comes to them and asks them what they want?

No one is asking the Government to fulfill their irrational demands at least their legitimate demands should be met.

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