Can a Democracy Trivialize Education?

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Malik Nazir Ahmad

‘Democracy’ is the most debated, defined and discussed term and concept of our age. The modern connotations and meanings have extended their jurisdiction and do not confine it to a mere political term that stands for a specific mode of government. In explicit terms, democracy stands for a government established on the principles of the sovereignty of the people. People display their sovereignty by exercising their franchise every now and then through election process. Elections empower people henceforth directly or indirectly, they participate in the legitimate process, this is how we can make a layman to understand democracy without meddling in the academic jargon.

The fact is that democracy is universally endorsed for its merits. It is now thought as a way of life. However, I am not going to debate and dwell on the nature of the beast, so to speak, nor shall I analyze merits its or demerits. Nonetheless, I will point out what is almost an axiom: it is a general observation that democracy is successfully carried in the West and grossly mismanaged in the Third World, especially in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, in contemporary times.

The case of teachers who have been protesting since four months for their legitimate rights might constitute an egregious illustration of this broad point. These protesting teachers were denied the benefits of 7th Pay Commission by the previous regime. It is very unfortunate that nation builders are on hunger strike and the Government seems to be more serious about ULB elections than showing seriousness about this long pending humanitarian issue. Is this what democracy yields? What is the fault of these teachers if the scheme under which they were employed was implemented in an improper way? Why is the contribution of this community being neglected when they consumed their prime years in enlightening our children? In the darkest era of the state when no one was ready to teach our kids in dark isolated corners, it is this community that came to forefront to educate them despite many impediments. Why the sword of Damocles is is hanging over this particular community only? Why are they prefixed with Ret, SSA Head teachers and RMSA Masters and Headmasters, when they equally perform the same role as their other counterparts!

While announcing the 7th Pay Commission to all state employees, Government’s depriving the lot of teachers is beyond comprehension. One fails to understand why their nature of appointment is being questioned after decades. Ignoring and neglecting a particular community can ruin the academics of our children but all applause to the TJAC leadership particularly Mr Abdul Qayoom Wani; a man on the verge of his retirement, who spends his nights and stands with the downtrodden in the times of adversity. Such concern renders him to be a a man of vision, wisdom and understanding. He is managing these protests in a real democratic way without affecting the education of our future generations.

Despite the step motherly attitude, the leadership still holds its trust in the newly appointed Governor and his team which holds important portfolios and has really taken some needed steps for the state employees. (TJAC leadership seems optimistic, with its speedy approach of resolving issues, with new impetus unlike the previous regime). It is perhaps this hope that the leadership is making itself suffer and not the students; otherwise they can call for a complete shutdown of all schools across J&K. They understand the gravity of the matter and want to give some more time to the government but if the things remain unresolved, they will be forced to take extreme steps.

Isn’t it haunting for this victimized community that same teachers with different nomenclature were recently accorded sanction to release an additional 2% DA in addition to 7 Pay Commission which was implemented in the month of April this year? How can the Government justify discrimination against the deprived lot of teachers who never known the irony of their fate that they aren’t considered state employees after serving 18 years in the department, when in the past they have received all benefits like other state employees.

The champions of democracy outdid the worst despots by humiliating nation builders in the name of a screening test and bashing and dragging them in the streets of the state capital on even holy days. Fortunately, every section of the society is showing concern for this hapless community and ironically, those who landed them in such a situation and trouble are coming up with sympathetic statements for them. They are now urging the Governor to resolve the issue at an earliest after humiliating them to heights which shows the Janus faced nature of politics here.

The most prominent feature of democracy is the welfare function and time has come to prove it right and redress the in contention issue as soon as possible. The honor and dignity of the teachers must be restored lest things should fall apart and the patience of these teachers might turn into a tsunami that will sink us all.

The author hails plan Bandipora and can be reached at: