By Meer Rehmat
With humble respect and regards, I want your esteemed self to listen and feel the pain through which I am going since a very long time. I am working as a Contractual Lecturer in the Higher Education Department of Jammu and Kashmir, the portfolio which is under your supervision. No doubt, teaching is one of the noble and great professions and it should be kept away from politics. While the State of J&K is on the path of creating able, intelligent and skillful human resources, we should not forget the role played by the contractual lecturers in achieving the required goals of higher education. But, honestly speaking, to work as a contractual lecturer in any government or private college of the state is a difficult and challenging task. Though I qualified NET and SET (considered as benchmarks to teach at higher education level) and, additionally, completed my M.Phil and Ph.D degrees, from prestigious universities of the country, I am still deemed as an unsuccessful teacher, no matter how much knowledge and certificates I have. What matters in our society is how much an individual is earning and on which post he or she is working. What best lies in me, I always try my level best to teach my students from the core of my heart, mind and soul. But let me tell you Sir, in spite of all this, I am considered one of the most useless persons by family members and in society by the rich and successful persons and in college by the permanent teaching and non-teaching staff.
To make you aware of the happenings in the educational institutions of the state, we are treated as second-class citizens in the very Government institutions where we work. There are separate staff rooms for permanent and we, contractual lecturers, in most of the colleges of the state, highlighting the divide, and leaving aside the room for discussions regarding future of students and the new techniques used in modern teaching-learning process, between them and us.
The Government recently came with the proposal of regularizing the services of more than 60 thousand temporarily working, daily-wage workers in different Government departments. I welcome the move and I am of the firm belief that every individual working in any Government Department should be paid according to his work and capability. But, I wonder why, in this recent order of the Government, we contractual lecturers were nowhere mentioned. How can your Government ignore the commitment and dedication we show in our job even though we are paid a very meager salary for it? How can you ignore me, when the future of your children after Allah/God is in my hands? God forgive me, if I compromise with my job and profession, the young generation of the state and your children will surely get derailed from the track and no power in the world will set them right. But I will never do that. Why will students suffer from my problems, due to the lacunae in the system? I am of firm faith that I will be, till death, honest towards my job and profession, though you and society consider me useless part of the system.
After so many dejections, disappointments and mistreatments, I have little faith in the reformation of the system. My expectations grew more from the day you assumed the office of the Higher Education Department. Sir, I am not asking for making my services permanent, nor do I claim a pay equal to the Permanent Assistant Professors. But I want you to at least address my small issues and let me also live with honor and dignity.
Sir, I must tell you that I am at the edge of crossing the over-age bar. We, the contractual teaching class, are subjected to apply every year to teach as contractual lecturers, which again is a long and humiliating process. After applying each year, most of the times we are sent to new colleges, alienating and humiliating us again. I want your good self to intervene in this and save us from this applying and reapplying hectic and humiliating process.
Moreover, I am like all the contractual lecturers of the state, paid very little. Since a very long time, the pay hike demand of me is pending. I am also a human and have a family at my back. I want your good self to please look into the matter and increase my salary which is my long overdue and genuine demand. If you take positive steps in this direction, it will definitely release me from the mental and psychological pressure to a large extent. I would then be able to devote myself fully and whole heartedly towards the teaching process. I am thus hopeful that my genuine demands would be given a patient hearing. I am looking forward for your positive response.
Thanking you in advance.
—The author, who is a contractual lecturer at the Government Degree College, Baramulla, can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org