Most of the Government Degree Colleges in Kashmir became totally dysfunctional on June 27, 2016, as the teachers working on academic arrangement basis in different colleges in the valley observed pen down and staged a protest at press enclave Srinagar to register their dissent against anti-educated people policies of the government.
It is highly unfortunate that the student community lost a very important day. Instead they learned something which they should not have even been exposed to. They learned what the life of an educated person is. They learned how difficult sustenance is after acquiring academic degrees. They learned how disgraceful the life is after attaining highest academic degrees and cracking national exams. They learned going to national and international universities and excelling in research and publication is of no worth. Needless to mention the worst, a small fraction learned how to resist and rise up against the oppressor.
The question is who is responsible for the situation? Teachers? Government? MLAs? Ministers? Or Aliens!? The question is should teachers have avoided creating this situation? Should they have devised a different strategy? Initially, I thought so. I thought teachers should have taken a road never taken before, like working on an extra day by coming to duties on Sunday, work for extra hours, stay in colleges for weeks, but I was confused and thought that different strategy too would have exposed students to a lesson which they should have “not” learnt. So better is to not be subjective and judgmental and leave it for readers to decide.
There are number of teachers who have been working, rather nourishing the higher education of the state not with their blood which is recoverable but with the most precious and valuable wealth – youth.. But they have been demonized by the people who are at the helm of affairs. Despite the fact that the college teachers represent the most qualified and competent lot, they have been victims of sheer discrimination and injustice. The exploitation and injustice perpetrated on them is not something new and fresh. College teachers have experienced it since decades.
Every move on the part of government and administration is calculated. There is great philosophy and sociology behind it. With every passing academic year new means and methods are devised to divide and defeat contractual college teachers working on academic arrangement basis in the colleges of the state. In 1980s and 90s the nomenclature of the job was different. Everyone working in colleges was working in the same capacity with the same designation. The only difference between regular and then contractual teachers was difference in their salaries. With the passage of time not only the margin of wages of regularized and contractual staff expanded but the nomenclature of the job also changed.
The worst fall out was that contractual teachers started to experience new forms of discrimination and injustice – worse than slavery and untouchability. Their colleagues who are working on regular bases started to discriminate and demonize them. They avoid them, share separate staff and washrooms.
There is a saying in Kashmir, “Goov Maar tche boozaan saree; Dannd maar tshin boozaan kaheen” (The beating of a cow catches every eye while as torture of ox goes unnoticed). The saying narrates the whole story and phenomenon of contractualism. Irrespective of gender, college teachers are Daands (oxen) who when taken to field by their masters for tilling land and return home; move with raised head and shoulders.
At the end I would like to quote radical lines of Carl Sagan, hope it will make some sense in the context:
‘One of the saddest lessons of history is this: if we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back’.
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