Vikas’s Flip Side

Development, off late, has become a buzz word for governments in Delhi and Srinagar. The present dispensation at the centre came to power primarily on the Vikas slogan. In J&K the reason cited for entering into an alliance by the oft-mentioned South Pole and North Pole was again development.

But what is Vikas all about? A cabinet minister was recently quoted as saying that more than 190 kilometers of road length is being macadamised in Pulwama district alone under 30 ongoing projects. Same is true for other districts as well.  So far so good!

But, there is a flip side to it also. Increasing the road network essentially means increased use of productive agricultural land. In a land scarce place like Kashmir, judicious use of land for development activities is very important. Already large tracts of land have gone to railway and the highway. It included fertile Karewa lands, paddy fields, apple orchards and saffron fields. While approving new roads, it is important to do a long term cost-benefit analysis in terms of both social and economic indicators.

Moreover, a large road network may act as an engine for mass movement of goods; it also takes a toll on sub economies which lose their competitive advantage to the sheer volumes of mass produced goods dumped into every nook and corner by large corporate.

J&K is a special state with unique geographic attributes. Bland ideas of development can not be imported from the mainland for their blind implementation.  Also, if the government is serious on promoting the state as a world class tourist destination it needs to weave in the local geo-morphic elements into its entire infrastructure development initiatives. The blank banks of the under-construction Khanabal – Pampore highway, bereft of vegetation and trees, are a testimony to the fact that not much thought is being given to the beautification of the surroundings. Same is true for all major inter district routes.

It has been often said needs a dreamer as a planner, who is cognizant of rich heritage; alive to the uniqueness that nature has bestowed upon Kashmir; appreciative of the unique socio-economic milieu people live in; and conscientious enough not to sacrifice long term values for small gains. It is hoped that the authorities at the helm of affairs shall invest more time and energy in development of holistic project reports for any development initiative

After Amarnath

The yearly Hindu pilgrimage to the cave shrine of Amarnath is over. Despite a couple of seriously bad incidents, more than 250 thousand pilgrims marked their attendance in the cave, the route to which passes through fragile eco zones. A few thousand state government employees, the army men and lot of cooks and sevaks were on the heights from both sides – Pahalgam and Sonamarg.

This entire rush had its own impact on the fragile ecology of the belt. It has started now hitting the ecology very seriously. This year, a massive snow slide hit the Chnadanwari. Had it not been a day, it would have cost the spot quite heavily.

The Shrine Board headed by the governor N N Vohra has issued a series of photographs suggesting its employees have started clearing the plastic waste. But the twin tracks needs more hands. Why can not the education department with NCC, go for a massive cleansing trip from Baltal to Pahlagm. Why can not this be funded by Department of Environment and covered by the media. This trip can be made a yearly exercise strictly as per the pilgrimage.




Get BOSE A Boss

Students, off late, are on roads more often for academic crisis than the politics. While there is not much required to be written about the teaching activities, especially the colleges, the major problem is in the system of examinations and evaluation. It is J&K State Board of School Education (BOSE) that is emerging as the new academic disaster. There is a clear disconnect between the class room and the examination centre. Paper setters do not know to what extent students have been taught from the listed syllabus.

Students protest and it becomes a police job. Every time they protest, they are assured of probe. But the investigations in this part of the world take ages.

BOSE officials have not understood the larger reality that they are tackling the most sensitive generation of this era at a time when they have quite a few days available to study. In IT era they are exposed to better knowledge systems on-line, as well. Officials must ensure that their follies do not lead to delay in a degree course, regardless of what the classroom has to offer. By the way, most of the peripheral colleges have asked their students to go for self-study and prepare for the next semester!

J&K BOSE must be the only exception in the world where it has seriously flawed text books and nobody has ever touched the authors. Now that concession should have encouraged them to make corrections. But even that has not happened.

The government recently sent BOSE Chairman Prof Zahoor Ahmad Chat back to his college. But this is unlikely to help improve the Board because the entire wheel within its Bemina premises is rotten. Its text book section, their printing and the availability – all is a dark story. The system of examinations is pathetic. Off late, it has emerged a new money minting machine.

BOSE needs immediate overhaul. There are people serving at positions for decades now. There is clear crisis as people have not updated themselves. Their books speak about the capacity of the people managing BOSE. It needs a leader with an academic background but who knows how kids are taught in 2020.


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