by Dr Sajad Subhan Rather

We must aspire to a future in Jammu and Kashmir that upholds democratic values, respects citizens’ rights, and fosters justice and equality. Continued efforts to raise awareness and promote inclusivity and justice are paramount.

In Jammu and Kashmir, numerous challenges await attention, spanning academic provisions and political tactics for the scholar political front. Many voices for a parallel political framework to counter prevailing authoritarian governance and entrenched corruption.

Social activism and nonviolent means are viewed as pivotal in fostering constructive transformation. Worries persist over the detrimental influence of regional political factions and hereditary rule, which have stifled student unions, employment bodies, and civic groups. The incumbent government’s inability to tackle pressing concerns such as inflation, unemployment, and declining purchasing power is disheartening. The youth of Kashmir rightfully seek stability and avenues for advancement.

The influence of regional political parties in Jammu and Kashmir, marked by dynasty politics, has adversely affected youth opportunities and career trajectories. These parties have fostered a system of short-term appointments within the government sector, entrapping young individuals in temporary roles for extended periods, sometimes spanning years, before converting them to daily wage positions. The subsequent delays in securing permanent status have impeded the region’s progress and development. Shedding light on these issues is imperative, urging the establishment of a more transparent and accountable political framework.

College Contractual Teachers Association on Tuesday September 15, 2020. KL Image

The actions of regional political parties in Kashmir have not only hindered youth employment opportunities but also stifled student unions, employment associations, and other civil organisations. They wield administrative power to suppress dissent against their entrenched dynastic authority, fostering an environment of fear rather than encouraging youth engagement in mainstream politics. Consequently, Kashmir has grappled with persistent turmoil and unrest. A transformative shift toward a more inclusive and progressive political landscape is urgently needed.

The current government’s pledges to foster a new Kashmir characterised by equitable opportunities for all have yet to materialise into substantive improvements on the ground. Despite slogans advocating for inclusive development and national unity, the reality remains stark: the populace of Jammu and Kashmir continues to endure economic hardships. Escalating inflation and unemployment rates have exacerbated the challenge of meeting even the most basic needs. Addressing these pressing concerns must be a governmental priority, aimed at enhancing the well-being of the region’s residents.

The government’s freeze on school education posts and the absence of lecturer recruitments in Higher Secondary schools since 2017 present significant challenges to the education system in Jammu and Kashmir. The practice of promoting school teachers to lecturer positions offers a temporary fix but fails to address the underlying issues. Prioritising the recruitment of qualified educators is imperative to uphold educational standards and ensure quality learning experiences for students.

Contrary to the government’s assertion of creating 1500 Assistant Professor positions for Jammu and Kashmir government degree colleges in 2017, the reality is more nuanced. These positions have been advertised since 2012 and continue to be advertised presently. Considering the 142 government colleges in Kashmir, with numerous subjects offered in each, the allocated posts may fall short of meeting the educational demands across institutions. It is incumbent upon the government to acknowledge this gap and address it by providing an adequate number of teaching positions to uphold educational quality consistently.

The treatment of highly qualified intellectuals in Jammu and Kashmir raises significant concerns about academic arrangements. Despite possessing credentials such as NET, JRF, PhD, and post-doctoral qualifications, these individuals are subject to exploitative terms, with salaries as low as 18,000 rupees per month. Moreover, the conversion of their roles into temporary arrangements, with slightly increased pay of 28,000 rupees for eight months, along with salary deductions during summer breaks, compounds the injustice.

The recent directive to reclassify these qualified individuals as guest faculty, with a meagre payment of Rs 400 per lecture (excluding Sundays and holidays), is deeply disheartening. This remuneration falls far short of meeting basic needs, including expenses for food, clothing, medical care, and utilities. For those required to relocate for employment and bear rental expenses ranging from five to eight thousand rupees monthly, the financial strain is exacerbated. Authorities must revisit these payment terms and provide equitable compensation that reflects the expertise and commitment of these highly qualified professionals.

Our collective frustration is understandable given the distressing situation faced by highly qualified individuals, enduring low salaries, and challenging living conditions. Advocating for fair treatment and improved compensation for them is imperative. Their qualifications and dedication merit recognition, necessitating government prioritisation of their well-being, given the profound impact on their lives and the academic community’s future. It is vital to continue raising awareness and striving for a more equitable and supportive system.

The coercion faced by highly qualified individuals seeking justice from the government, along with the suppression of their voices, is disheartening. All individuals have the constitutional right to peaceful protest and expression, including through press conferences. The utilisation of intimidation tactics and illegal detentions is concerning and contravenes democratic principles and the rule of law. We must aspire to a future in Jammu and Kashmir that upholds democratic values, respects citizens’ rights, and fosters justice and equality. Continued efforts to raise awareness and promote inclusivity and justice are paramount.

AMU students union leader Sajad Subhan Rather

The challenges faced by the people of Jammu and Kashmir span academic arrangements and political strategies, prompting calls for a parallel political structure to counter authoritarian policies and corruption. Social activism and peaceful means are seen as viable avenues for instigating change. The deleterious effects of regional political parties and dynasty politics, evident in the suppression of student unions and employment associations, cannot be understated. The government’s neglect of pressing issues like inflation, unemployment, and declining purchasing power is disheartening.

Stability and growth opportunities are imperative for the region’s youth. Looking ahead, continued advocacy for justice, democracy, and positive transformation remains paramount in Jammu and Kashmir.

(PhD in History from Aligarh Muslim University, the author previously served as the Vice President of the Aligarh Muslim University Students Union and is currently affected by J&K’s Higher Education Department policies. Views expressed are personal and do not necessarily reflect Kashmir Life’s policies)


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here