May Day, Mayday!

1st of May has been celebrated as a springtime festival since 13th century and later on from 1880 it also was celebrated as labor day, to give due recognition to the working people. Here in Kashmir we are not sure whether to celebrate it or not, we haven’t seen much of spring yet nor are we known for giving due reorganization to people for their work.
Since ages Kashmir has been very famous for its handicrafts, woodwork, paper-machie , silk, Saffron etc., but recently all these arts are dying a silent death. The taste of people has changed, the architecture has changed, priorities have changed and in the middle of all this change our culture is vanishing. The craftsmen have tried and are trying to survive this wave of change but the question is how much have the successive governments helped to promote these crafts. To summarize all the help that these skilful people have received nothing more should be required to be said then that these people are making every effort to make sure that their sons and daughters do not get into their father’s & grandfather’s trade. Recently a genius of a craftsman, the creator of “The Lonely Tree”, Khazir Mohammad Qasba, died but none noticed. With death of the masters, the death of art itself will follow and with it another part of our rich culture is destined to die a silent and lonely death.
In Kashmir the thinking minds and the able bodies are being exploited in open day light and nothing is being done about it. Well what can one do when the Government who is supposed to be the protector of week is actually facilitating this exploitation.  Government took the saying “something is better than nothing” a bit too seriously and the young generation is bearing the brunt. Teachers, agriculture graduates, forestry graduates etc (many a times even PhD’s) are being hired by government on temporary basis on remuneration of fifteen hundred rupees per month, yep you read it right just Rs 1500/-. This has acted as a blessing for the private players (NGO’s, Private companies etc) in the state, now they have made this remuneration amount as a benchmark. Teachers in private schools are being paid around Rs 3,000/- per month but the amount that these schools show to their benefactors and Government authorities (from whom they receive grants & Donations) is not less than Rs 10,000/- (as salary per teacher). It is an open secret not hidden from any one, but still no action is being taken against the perpetrators. The Labor Department who are supposed to take action against these violators of law is a just namesake department. Just outside the office of Labor Commissioner, Batamalo ,we can observe child labor; children are working in the mechanic shops, they are working as conductors / helpers in public transport vehicles. When the labor department is so blind to something in front of their eyes then how can we expect them to check whether “Shops & Establishments Act” or “Contract Labor Act” or “Remuneration Act” etc are being implemented and adhered to or not.
The government never lets an opportunity go begging when  it comes to claiming accolades (even for someone else’s work) but when it comes to punishing the corrupt, well a probe is setup and nothing more is done. This has had a very bad effect on the whole setup. Nothing moves forward unless you grease some palms. Now a day’s even the Jobs are on sale and there is a proper rate list. All this is being done unofficially but governments is even through its official policies promoting only certain class of people (elitist). The government is not providing equal opportunity to everyone to compete in competitive exams or in government jobs. The government uses High application fee for competitive exams and for applying in the government jobs as a deterrent. To describe the situation in a better way let me give a comparative example of fee structure for different posts and exams recently advertised by J&K PSC and UPSC:
Post/Exam
Recruiting Agency
Fee (RS)
IAS
UPSC
100
KAS
J&K PSC
800
Asst. Provident Fund Commissioner
UPSC
25
Court Manager
J&K PSC
400
IFS (exam stretched over 10 days)
UPSC
100
Asst. Surgeon (Veterinary)
J&K PSC
500
Now you can yourself see and compare the exaggerated charges that that J&K PSC is charging from the candidates (who do not have a source of income). It is a general concept among the youth of J&K that whenever the government doesn’t have funds to pay salary of it employees it advertises couple of posts and then forget about these post just to be remembered in time when most of those who had applied have become over-aged, then the process is repeated over again. An intelligent plan for a continuous source of income one can say.
Now coming back to the question whether to celebrate May Day or not, I think you all will agree that we here in Kashmir have nothing to celebrate. We can only cry Mayday hoping that someone will hear us, is anyone listening!
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