At a time when the state is facing cash crunch, the Education department has in a bizarre move decided to fete the students in snow art by announcing cash prize of upto Rs 1 lakh. The department had announced a competition for students asking them to make snowmen and snow sculptures.
Government which had invited the entries from the students in January has however ignored its own rules of austerity which the different departments have been asked to adhere by.
In the austerity rules which are in vogue from the time of former Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, the departments are barred from even purchasing the furniture except in case of dire need and for new government accommodations only.
The education department initiative has come in violation of the government rules, said a senior official in the state administration.
In January the Education department had asked the Chief Education Officers (CEOs) to send the entries for the awards upto Rs 1 lakh to the Director Education office to fete the students at a grand function. An exhibition of the photographs of the snow art by students is being planned at SKICC Srinagar, said an official.
A senior government official said that there was no credible mechanism which has been employed by the education department to select the students for the awards. In the guidelines which were issued by the department it was noted that ” to take part in the competition, the students should make snowmen, snow sculpture and other snow art and two to three good quality photographs of the same as well as the videos and pictures related to the fun activities associated should be submitted online to the education department.”
Students were asked to submit their entries to Innovation Cell of the education department as well as to the office of the Cultural Coordinators of the respective CEOs’.
Furthermore the entries had to be judged on the basis of the concept, design, creativity, originality and social message and the students were to give the details like name, residential address, contact number, email address and theme for each entry.
In an earlier announcement made for the snow art promotion, government noted that since snow art was the favorite sport of most children during winters, they will be rewarded. The contest was open to students in the age group of 15 to 17 years and 18 to 25 years.
“All snow art works created after January 6, 2017, the day of first major snowfall of this season, shall be eligible for the contest,” read the government guideline.
A senior education department official said that the idea was “absurd” and no credible mechanism was put in place to award the students.
“How does one certify that the snow art was the creation of the participating student only? When schools were closed, education department couldn’t have carried out the spot inspections to ascertain the veracity of the photographs which have been submitted by students. It is only the waste of money.”
Chief Education Officer (CEO) Srinagar, Arif Iqbal Malik, said that the decision about the snow art exhibition will be taken shortly. “We have submitted the entries to the Director. While the first prize will be of Rs 1 lakh, the cash value of other prizes have to be decided by the higher authorities,” he added.