By Mehraj Sufi
The famous economist Joseph Stiglitz said “strong unions have helped to reduce inequality.”Unionism is not something new in our state. Countries like US, UK and Canada had really encouraged such unions which work for equality, labour rights in a present day world. So Jammu and Kashmir is not any exception where unions fight for the rights of the respective communities.
Recently, there was a war of words between Director School education Shah Faesal and union leader Abdul Qayoom Wani. One of the video clips which have gone viral on social media sites, the union leader was seen using rough and unethical language against the director education.
The people started reacting over the video clip and I too came through the same video clip. I too felt shocked and upset over unacceptable remarks of Wani. But the judgement should be made after going through the issue thoroughly.
The teachers appointed under SSA, a centrally sponsored scheme are on roads since last one year. When new government took the office the issue of their salary was on their table and needed immediate attention.
It is never an easy task for anyone to feed the family when his /her salary is held for over six months for his no fault. I still remember the speech of Wani in which he said that one of the teachers serving in the department is unable to buy medicines for his ailing father suffering from a serious disease. The situation was same at other places too as kids of many teachers were not allowed to attend classes as they were not able to pay their school fee.
As one looked at the root cause of the issue, it came to fore that our government has failed to provide utilization certificate to the centre due to which the funds are held by New Delhi.
But as usual our government paid no attention to it, letting situation to go out of control. A teacher from south Kashmir lost his eye in one of the protests due to tear gas shelling, though it is rare to find such people on streets and baton charged by police without receiving any c0ndemnation.
Then another issue which became bone of contention was order of screening test of ReTs. The teachers appointed under the scheme are appointed on the basis of merit. So ordering for a screening test was really the violation of the norms of the scheme. The statements of the former education minister worsened the situation and the teachers who needed to be respected were degraded.
The simple question I want to ask is why only teachers should go for screening test. And why there is no action against the officials who have failed to submit utilization certificates to New Delhi to avoid fund block. Unfortunately, no one questions these higher officials while the teachers are pushed to face all sort sorts of troubles.
But suddenly when Wani spoke against Director Education in a little harsh tone all corners of the state made hue and cry and tried to establish him an arrogant leader of teacher’s fraternity. The burning and concerning issue Wani was raising of his community was buried. The state government is bound to explain about the uncertainty prevailing in the department that prompts teachers to come on roads.
Teachers are an important part of the education system and the nation builders. Their opinion and stakes in any decision making process can’t be ignored. They are shaping the future of nation and deserve full respect. Entitling them in the VIP list can’t address their far greater concerns and stop them from hitting the streets.