The show must go on

Greater Kashmir

And can there be a greater destruction than the ruin of millions of careers?

firdoussyed@yahoo.com

I beg to differ; everything else can wait but not education. Certainly one need to survive to be educated, that’s a given fact; why explain the most obvious.  Undeniably deluge, we suffered and its after-effects Kashmir continues to endure, is unprecedented. We, however, are not the only nation or society to undergo the calamity. Many societies, from time to time, too have had to suffer, due to natural or man-made, disasters. What makes the difference, however, is the way nations deal with the disasters. At the beginning of World War II, in 1939, the government of Britain ordered evacuation of children from 6 most vulnerable cities including London. “On August 31st, 1939, the government issued the order “Evacuate Forthwith” and ‘Operation Pied Piper’ was started the very next day”. And “nearly two million children were evacuated from their homes at the start of World War”.  Certainly this would have caused huge disruption in day-to-day activities of life.
Yet even during that period of extensive displacement, “children continued their education in pubs, church halls or anywhere else there was the space to accommodate them was seen as the accepted face of a requirement that had been foist on the government”. Had British government of that time been as insensitive and mindless like the present government of J&K, it would have found a genuine reason of war, to bring to stand still all educational activities.  British authorities however were alive to the overriding significance of education. That the reason why a small nation could rise to become the most dominant imperial power of its time.
To describe the present dispensation, as insensitive and mindless, is utterly understatement. We know that people with alien mindset can never be sensitive towards the future of Kashmir, so no qualms about that. The disaster was unavoidable, losses could, however, have been minimised.  The logic of any disaster management is quite simple, cut the losses as far as possible. Here instead of minimising the losses, the callous have exacerbated the disaster only. The so-called election can be held, why not the exams?  Owing to massive displacement of flood hit population, State election commissioner was asked how it’s possible to hold the election. The answer was crisp but insensitive; “only 99 polling stations may have been relocated”.  Is this a deliberate strategy to undermine the survival issues faced by more than a million and half flood sufferers? Or else by underestimating, he is simply emphasizing government’s misplaced priority to hold the election in spite of worst miseries people are faced with? 
Let’s for a moment accept the “99 polling stations argument”. In 72.25 lakh electorates with total of 10005 polling stations only 99 are worst affected, seems to be the logic the government is trying to sell to justify the conduct of elections. If this is to be true, then exams also could be held on time, easily. 
  Even if we are worst hit, that we are, the debate is not about the extent of disaster, but irrespective of the magnitude of disaster, exams could and moreover should have been held on time. Whilst’s the logic behind shelving the exams and rendering the children idle for months altogether, hence putting their future in jeopardy. Exams cannot be held because school buildings are damaged, how many? Not many if we follow the logic of “99 polling stations”.  With the onset of an early winter what’s the assurance that in March next these damaged structures will get repaired to enable the smooth conduct of exams? In any case, then or now, the children from worst hit areas need to be relocated to other (close-by) examination centres. The children of worst hit areas with home remaining under water for weeks; have lost books, notes and all other study material. How can they prepare for exams, that’s very genuine problem.  Procuring the books somehow might be a possibility, how it’s possible to retrieve the lost study material even in March.   Moreover this is also true that many children have lost their homes, how can they prepare for exams in such a distressing condition. Let’s face a grim reality; homes will need months if not years to rebuild. Many distressed souls, our heart and prayers are with them, will still be without a reasonable shelter in March also.  So how will the shelterless be able to coup with the stress of exams in next March? And with the forecast of a severe winter this time, there is every possibility that exams will not be held before April.   If exams stands postponed, children without an activity worthwhile from September to April next is a ridiculous idea. It’s criminal, don’t they know that idle brain is the devil’s workshop. Why they are hell bent upon to destroy the future of Kashmir.    
There can never be a one-size-fits-all formula. Again following the “99 polling stations” analogy majority of the children in the valley having substantially covered their syllabus, would have been already preparing to sit for exams. The gravity of situation and ordeal faced by the children of deluged homes necessitates a mass promotion for these students, in view of above discussed problems, anyway. Hold exams as soon as possible for the children who are able to. And promote those who are unable to sit for exams, is the only viable solution available. 
Then the silly thought, March session will serve the children of Kashmir better. If it’s so marvellous an idea, why it dawned upon the doyens of education only after the deluge? Have the common-sense-marooned even applied their mind cursorily? If the exams are now to be held in March only, will it not be a loss of one complete academic year for the children of winter zone. What’s their fault? Why government instead of minimising the losses is desperate to maximise the destruction. And can there be a greater destruction than the ruin of millions of education carers?