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Dear Pal.

Greetings of the day,

I know it will sound odd of writing an open letter to you rather than adopting so other medium in this digital era, but trust me this is the last resort I have available in the gloomy valley of death. I was waiting for a while that things will change but NO,  they have been from bad to worse. God has made my land “Paradise on Earth” as we used to discuss in college days but now Valley is as good as living hell. Life over here vegetates in the trepidation, under the shadow of the gun that has destroyed as many roses. As many tens of thousands of my innocent populace have been killed, thousands blinded and bruised. Reports of there yet again, one more killed are frequent and the tot up of killings is on. Being precise, another life was put to death for reason apparently best known to them. Our children grow up watching graveyards populate in their villages. The situation in the valley is back to square one, from where it started. Everything is silent except the guns which keep blazing all the time. Every now and then the squeaky-clean, innocent populace are put to death cold-bloodedly. I hoped spring to soothe the blood dripped and gutted populace of last summer but it turned otherwise and deep painted the miseries. The bloodbath of the summer painted every home, hamlet, town, city or market red and spring is deep brushing the same. It is tragic tales of grief that are doing rounds every now and then.Precious Lives are lost in the conflict and it bruises one and all no matter whose bullet hit whom, and no matter on which side one stands.

Now that you were uptight and distressed by the video that surfaced in social networking sites showing some people hackling and abusing your jawans and you failed to identify the other sane voices depicting that they are here to discharge their duties in the same. I would like to describe the quote unquote of the much condemnable incident

Why this altogether happened?

Point1

The background of this incident can be depicted in the context of other video that showed the shot to kill skill of your jawan. Where a jawan shot a child, I repeat A CHILD directly on his head which could had been easily evaded by the man in uniform. Eight innocent lives were choked to death on the very day. Imagine the emotional and mental psyche of the one who’s a friend or brother was one shot dead at point blank for demanding his basic human rights. He will certainly heckle the oppressor. I hardly saw any liberal Indian expressing the outrage on the eight innocent killings. You people failed to appreciate the video where the local populace formed human chain to shield your jawans for their safe passage. The much appreciated video could had boasted and created a good friendly environment. Alas! Your media houses chose hatred over love for their TRPs which certainly does alienate the populace. Your anger is justified and mine is terrorism cannot be taken board simultaneously. We need to bridge the misunderstanding that media houses create by showing only one side of the coin.

Point 2

The armed personal were here for the so called democratic process “Elections” usually discharging their duties outside the state, When 7% votes were polled that should explain to you the perspective of the major populace of the state. The Armed personals perceive the realities of Kashmir in context to the other part of the country. But once Security personals are shifted to the Kashmir their drawing on the board is through the prism of gun. I am sure, had they been serving in Kashmir from few years the show would had be altogether different. I fail to understand why your jawans need to be rescued by facebook experts and patriots I guess they have enough laws (AFSPA & PSA) and necessary body armours and equipments. It points towards either they are very poorly trained and lack professionalism or they are highly professional who wouldn’t stoop to commit horrific violation. After all said and done they showed restrain which is creditable and need to be extolled for.

Point 3           

What do you expect from a youth who was on your side to cast his vote for the so called largest democracy, was mercilessly tried to the Army vehicle as a Human shield and paraded 10-12 kms? He was no stone pelter as records show he has voted on the same day. Isn’t it unlawful as per you law and International conventions? The nation cannot cover itself in glory by indulging in such shameful human rights violation. Will this restore the credibility and legitimacy of the Govt of India? Will this not alienate the populace?  I guess New Delhi, although the situation in the valley is at non-negotiable point needs to understand that limited military intervention and more political engagement is required towards Kashmir. When innocents are killed every day, populace is bruised on daily bases, humans are used as shield, and this will add towards enhancing the conflict and let the reliability of the Govt vanish. It will certainly make the govt of the day as occupying forces.       

I hope I had put to you the other side of the coin but then they say “When it comes to Kashmir the liberals and communals, all are same, I hope against hope that you will altogether view it in being in shoes of the oppressed.

 

Many Regards

I am still alive

Junaid Shaida

Anantnag Mba, Mphil banking&finance

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India is celebrating the 126thbirth anniversary of Babasaheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar. It was this day 126 years go; in a tiny village of Mhow, in present day Madhya-Pradesh, Bhim Rao was born in the family of erstwhile untouchables.   Indeed a lot of research, reading and writings have gone into the life and works of Babasaheb Ambedkar. To this day, he is considered as one of the greatest leaders of the independence movement not only in terms of his contributions as a revolutionary political activist but also in terms of an intellectual academic. Babasaheb belongs to the legion of leaders who not only did remarkable things to be written about but also wrote extremely worthwhile things to be read by the future generations.

 

Leading contemporary historian Ramachandra Guha in one of his books, ‘Makers of Modern India’ has acknowledged Dr. B.R. Ambedkar as one of the doyens of modern India whose life is a reflection of an excellent mix of exceptional intelligence and political leadership in an equal proportion. A renowned economist, public intellectual and Member of Rajya Sabha Narendra Jadhav has compiled the speeches and writings of Ambedkar in six volumes and two editions known as Ambedkar speaks and Ambedkar writes respectively. Jadhav has termed Ambedkar as an ‘intellectual colossus’.

 

Babasaheb was a multi-dimensional man. His multidisciplinary scholarship in economics, sociology, anthropology and politics created an envious body of work and was second to none. The much discussed policy move on demonetization of high currency denomination was conceived by Babasaheb in his days as a student of economics.  Restricting his eternal legacy to a particular community, politics, idea or ideology is indeed a grave disservice to his soul.

 

Maker of Indian Constitution

 

Men and women who drafted the Constitution of India were persons of great vision and foresight.  Babasaheb chaired the drafting committee that produced the lengthiest Constitution for the world’s most diverse nation. The constitution was set to impact the present and future of over 1/6th of the humanity.  One can only imagine the amount of intellectual simulation that must have gone into evolving a model of development that is inclusive of both economic growth and democracy.

 

Babasaheb as an ardent Educationist

 

Babasaheb said, “The backward classes have come to realize that after all education is the greatest material benefit for which they can fight. We may forego material benefits, we may forego material benefits of civilization, but we cannot forego our right and opportunities to reap the benefit of the highest education to the fullest extent. That the importance of this question from the point of view of the backward classes who have just realized that without education their existence is not safe.”

 

Emphasis on education by Babasaheb is reflective of the lifelong impression that his teacher at Columbia University, Prof. John Dewey had on him. Babasaheb has often credited Prof. John Dewey as someone to whom he owes his intellectual life. Prof. John Dewey was an American philosopher, psychologist, and perhaps best known as a reformer of education. Dewey was also one of the central figures associated withfunctional psychology, philosophy and progressive education.

 

Babasaheb was a strong votary of attaining formal education abroad. At the time when heading to UK for legal education was considered rewarding in lucrative terms, Babasaheb moved to Columbia University owing to his eternal affection for humanities. He pursued diverse courses ranging from economics of American railways to American history.

 

Babasaheb on Religion

 

Dr. Ambedkar at Manmad Railway Workers Conference in 1938 observed, “Character is more important than education. It pains me to see youths growing indifferent to religion. Religion is not opium as is held by some. What good things I have in me or whatever benefits of my education to the society, I owe them to the religious feelings in me." We must realize that after introspection stretching from months to years, he decides to choose a religion, which is closest to his parent religion. Religious heads and faith leaders from across the spectrum tried to attract him and even went to the extent of making offers that were difficult to refuse. The cultural and spiritual side of his personality is rarely read and analyzed. His unquestionable faith in unity can be gauged from his following observation,"Ethnically all peoples are heterogeneous. It is the unity of culture that is the basis of homogeneity. Taking this for granted, I venture to say that there is no country that can rival the Indian peninsula with respect to the unity of its culture."

 

Visionary Diplomat

 

His contribution in shaping India’s foreign policy is often ignored by the strategic community. 11 years before the Chinese attacked India, Babasaheb forewarned India to choose the West over the Chinese and urged the then leadership to shape India’s future on the pillar of constitutional democracy. 

 

Speaking at a gathering of students of Lucknow University in 1951, Ambedkar forewarned: “The government’s foreign policy failed to make India stronger. Why should not India get a permanent seat in the UN Security Council? Why has the prime minister not tried for it? India must choose between parliamentary democracy and the Communist way of dictatorship and come to a final conclusion”.

 

On China, Ambedkar strongly disagreed with the Tibet policy. He said: “If Mao had any faith in the Panchsheel, he certainly would treat the Buddhist in his own country in a very different way. There is no room for Panchsheel in politics”.

 

Ambedkar repeatedly expressed the desirability of a league of democracies. He said: “Do you want parliamentary government?  If you want it, then you must be friendly with those who have parliamentary government.”

 

The present government on the occasion of his 126thbirth anniversary has fittingly announced a set of legislative measures for Dalits to be relevant stakeholders in the growth story of India. With schemes such as Stand Up India, MUDRA Yojana and National Hub for SC and ST entrepreneurs, Dalits will be able to strongly register their presence in sectors that has traditionally been inaccessible for various reasons.

 

*Author is working as a Senior Research Fellow and Project Head at India Foundation, NewDelhi. Views expressed are author’s personal.

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National Service Scheme (NSS) was introduced in 1969 with the primary objective of developing the personality and character of the student youth through voluntary community service. Initially it was launched in 37 Universities involving about 40,000 volunteers. However, with the passage of time and as a Pan Indian programme, the number of educational institutions covered under NSS has been increasing year after year. Currently more than 36.5 lakh volunteers are enrolled in 39,695 NSS units spread over 391 Universities/ +2 Councils, 16,278 Colleges and Technical Institutions and 12,483 Senior Secondary Schools.Since its inception, over 4.78 crore students have benefited from NSS.

Each NSS volunteer is required to put in minimum 120 hours of service per year for two years, i.e., total 240 hours. This work is undertaken in villages/ slums adopted by NSS unit or in school/ college campuses. usually after study hours or during weekends/ vacations. Besides, Each NSS unit organises a Special Camp of 7 days' duration in adopted villages or urban slums during vacations, with some specific projects, by involving the local communities. Each volunteer is required to participate in the Special Camp once during the 2-year period. Thus, about 50 percent of the NSS volunteers in a Unit participate in a particular Special Camp.

NSS units can take up any activity that has relevant to the community. The activities continue to evolve in response to the needs of the community. The core activities could be in the field of education and literacy, health, family welfare and nutrition, sanitation and cleanliness, environment conservation, social service programmes, programmes for improving status of women, production-oriented programmes, disaster relief and rehabilitation, campaigning against social evils, creating awareness about Flagship Programmes of the Government like Digital India, Skill India, Promotion of Yoga etc.

NSS is a Central government programme.yetthe Central government, the States/UTs and the Educational Institutions are the 3 pillars of this Programme.  It would have been impossible to effectively run a programme directly from the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, dealing with over 29,000 educational institutions across the country. The implementation of the programme has been possible due to effective collaboration/ partnership between the Centre and the States on the one hand and the States and Educational Institutions on the other.  

As mentioned earlier, NSSwas introduced with the primary objective of developing the personality and character of the student youth throughvoluntary community service. ‘Education through Service’ is the purpose of the NSS. The ideological orientation of the NSS is inspired by the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi. Very appropriately, the motto of NSS is“NOT ME, BUT YOU”. An NSS volunteer places the ‘community’ before ‘self’. This is part of thethird dimension of education, namely,value education, which is becoming increasingly important.

NSS volunteers have been making very valuable contribution to the Society, besides developing their own personality. During the previous year, NSS units organised 12,628 special camps in adopted villages/ slums across the country. NSS volunteers undertook 91 lakh volunteer-hours of Shramadaan, donated 1.98 lakh units of blood and planted over 13.27 lakh saplings. The volunteers were instrumental in organising about 7,051 Health, Eye and Immunization camps and also 30,011 awareness programmes through rallies and campaigns on various important government programmes and social issues. NSS volunteers facilitated pulse polio immunization of about 6 lakh children. The volunteers have been playing key role in Swachh Bharat Mission, spreading digital literacy and in popularization of Yoga. On the occasion of International Day of Yoga last year, about 11.19 lakh NSS volunteers participated in yoga programmes across the country.

Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports is committed to expand NSS in a big way. So far, the NSS covers less than 10% of the students eligible to join it. Efforts are being made to increase funding support for NSS and meanwhile, setting up of Self-Financing Units of NSS has also been permitted. To encourage students to take up NSS, UGC has issued an Advisory to all Universities to introduce NSS as an Elective subject with credits. The Ministry has been rewarding good work done by NSS volunteers by conferring Annual NSS Awards at national level, by providing opportunities to NSS volunteers to participate in Republic Day Parade, International Youth Delegations, Adventure Camps, etc.

While a lot of good work is being done under NSS, there is potential to do much more. The students and NSS volunteers are young Indians and they represent the most dynamic and vibrant section of the Society.  These are exciting times in India.  The Government of India, under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has embarked on the mission of building a united, strong and modern India – “Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat”, following the principle of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas”.  A number of path-breaking initiatives have been taken. ‘Make in India’ campaign has been launched to develop India as a global manufacturing hub. ‘Digital India’ initiative seeks to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy. A nation-wide campaign to promote Digital Payments is underway. ‘Skill India’ has being launched to impart necessary skills to prepare Indians for the opportunities in Indian economy as also the opportunities abroad.

A number of initiatives, including Smart Cities Project, have been launched for developing infrastructure. ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’ and ‘Clean Ganga’ Mission have been launched for building a clean and green India.  A sustained and determined campaign is underway to eliminate the black money and to clean up our Society. NSS volunteers can be contributors as well as beneficiaries of these initiatives.  The programme design of NSS needs to constantly evolve to reflect the priorities of the Government and the nation.

The importance of NSS was underlined in an Evaluation Study conducted through Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). In their Study Report, TISS concluded thatNSS has been a well-intentioned and an ideologically motivated scheme of the Government of India and that NSS is one of the greatest experiments in the field of youth work in the world. In fact, TISS recommended that NSS should be made mandatory for all public and private funded universities, colleges and institutions and should be integrated as part of the curriculum.