“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies,” said Groucho Marx.
Politics can build your career; politics can ruin your career. It was simply for political gains that more than fourty thousand educated youth were appointed through a legal and well set procedure as teachers under SSA at the elementary level.
At every village, every mohalla schools were opened blindly and teachers appointed. These teachers now see that the ‘job’ was actually a trap for them. Their future seems bleak.
Now these teachers are facing miseries because their salaries seemingly are deliberately delayed possibly to force them on to roads for somebody's political mileage.
Had that not been the case, then instead of beating these teachers mercilessly, their issues would been solved amicably.
If MHRD is delaying funds as the authorities maintain, then why not ask for their immediate release from there? Why delay? Why prolong hardships of the teachers?
Tragically, politics now is leaving these teachers alone and to suffer. When they cry for salaries, they are wounded and jailed. There is no sympathy for them.
About six SSA teachers were injured and two dozen imprisoned when they were protesting for disappeared salary in Srinagar on 14 May.
To address the salary issue, the state administration had two options: one, to accept the demand, a genuine demand, of the protesting teachers.
Two, to begin the process of smooth release of pending salaries with immediate effect.
Exercising either of these options would have enhanced the image of the government among the suffering teachers and their families. It was a golden opportunity for the government to use the occasion as a platform to improve its credibility.
However, the government had other ideas: it decided to exercise the violence option against the helpless teachers possibly to suppress their voice.
In view of the violence, many questions arise: Why treat the teachers with insensitivity and put their families in trouble? Why no sympathy with the miseries facing these teachers? Why give no importance to their needs and their families? How can these teachers run their families without salaries? Are they beaten on roads to silence them against salaries? Are they mistreated to show to the larger society that teachers have no value and utility in this society? Why use power against the powerless teachers?
Meanwhile, preferring violence against the teachers,over peaceful engagement with them to resolve their issues amicably, shows the non- seriousness of the administration towards resolving the serious matter.
Salary issue is a grave humanitarian issue facing about forty-two thousand SSA teachers. These teachers are legal citizens of the state and are doing a noble profession of teaching the poor students at the grass roots level.
But it seems that since the poor children have no representation at the political level or the administrative level, their studies and career are no priority.
Let’s not forget that the schools of these children often remain closed or understaffed because 95 percent teachers working there are SSA teachers who are kept without salaries for months together. To get the salaries, the teachers have no option but to close the schools or go for protests.
Pertinently, legal justice, in case of the SSA teachers, their families and the innocent students studying under these teachersseems to have been redefined.
As per the state’s labour laws, a person is to be given his/her wages without delay, without crying, without suffering. By denying dues for months together to SSA teachers, labour law is brazenly violated.
The unpaid salaries deprive the families of the teachers of basic needs and make their life miserable. That singles out this segment of the citizens for receiving no benefits which are available in a welfare state.
Sadly, the non- availability of SSA teachers (due to the unresolved salary issue) at schools negatively impacts the studies of the poor children. That purely is against the state’s Right to Education Act which states that every child has an equal right to receive education without bias and privilege.
Meanwhile, punishing the SSA teachers for raising their voice against the delayed and denied salaries is pure humiliation and hate for them - no for the entire teaching community. With this attitude of the authorities towards teachers, the so called nation builders, respect for them will go further down in the society.
It is of special mention that SSA teachers do duty in this state, teach children of this state and serve the people of this state.
So why should they wait for months together for their salaries from the MHRD? It is the duty of the department of education to ensure the timely release of the salaries of these teachers.
If not, then how come an officer of the state is entitled to supervise the duty of an SSA teacher who is fed with the mantra that your salary comes from the MHRD! Let MHRD itself supervise the duties of SSA teachers.
There are some departments where employees are just meant for getting fat salaries. Duty for them is nuisance and forced labour.They earn side incomes easily.
On the other hand, teachers attend duty daily.But for them there is force and punishment. No salary. This is a redefinition of institutional justice.
Government is not formed for beating people for demanding justice. Ministers, MLAs are elected for meeting peoples' needs.
However, once elected the representatives acting upon the saying' might makes right' adopt a muscular approach to trample the rights of people just to feather their own nests.
If this fails, excuses are invented to keep a good impression in public only to prolong the miseries of people for political mileage. No rules, no laws are observed. Perhaps someone has rightly said, “Rules are for fools.”
To get SSA teachers and their families out of this purely man made crisis, media can play a pivotal role: it can take a stand favouring SSA teachers and highlight the fact based miseries that these teachers and their families face due to delayed salaries.
Editorials and columns can highlight this humanitarian crisis to help these thousands of families out of trouble.
Opposition political parties can take a principled stand against the crisis which has made life hell for SSA teachers.
On its part, the government can take a humanitarian look at this grave issue facing the teachers and their families. It can strongly take up the matter with the MHRD and get the funds smoothly released.
Or, it can take a bold step to delink the salary from the MHRD funds.