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struggle for Kash...
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Education for social change

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Education for social change

  1. 1. 13/11/10 8:33 AMUntitled Document Page 1 of 4http://www.kashmirtimes.com/archive/1009/100929/opinion.htm Welcome to Kashmir Times Online Edition | Opinion COLUMN Education for social change Nyla Ali Khan “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today" "I have often reflected upon the new vistas that reading opened to me. I knew right there in prison that reading had changed forever the course of my life. As I see it today, the ability to read awoke in me some long dormant craving to be mentally alive." MALCOLM X quotes (American black militant leader who articulated concepts of race pride and black nationalism in the early 1960s) Education must produce a vast population that is able to read and is able to distinguish what is worth reading; education stretches the mind with new ideas; educated people cannot be enslaved or lead like cattle; education makes it possible to question structural inequities and to demand redressal. Expression of concern about backwardness, poverty, illiteracy; rise of people’s politics in the political zeitgeist of equality, liberty, and democracy; necessity of affirmative action to pull out the majority of the people; protesting against state oppression and police brutality; questioning the impunity enjoyed by paramilitary troops in “disturbed areas”; holding an elected government responsible for its unrepresentative character; voicing legitimate dissent within political discourses available to the populace; questioning political partisanship; highlighting people’s narratives which are marginalized in official historiography; recognition of the infringement of people’s civil rights; recognition of the attempt to demonize Kashmiris in dominant political discourse; intelligence to lead a people’s movement--- these abilities are cultivated through education. It was a long and hard
  2. 2. 13/11/10 8:33 AMUntitled Document Page 2 of 4http://www.kashmirtimes.com/archive/1009/100929/opinion.htm struggle for Kashmiris to come out of the quagmire of illiteracy, political marginalization, cultural sterility, and social decrepitude into the enlightening institutions of education, spaces of democratic debate, political enfranchisement, cultural revitalization, and social progressivism. For a long time Kashmir remained a source of casual unskilled labour to Punjab, where they were treated as beasts of burden. Kashmiris were given the derogatory appellation of “hattoo,” close to “dirty nigger.” When the first few Kashmiri Muslims to have obtained degrees at institutions of higher education, like the Aligarh Muslim University in British India, returned to the state in the 1920s, they were imbued with ‘newfangled’ ideas of nationalism, liberty and democracy. We, as a people, cannot afford to ignore the empowerment that critical intelligence gives us; the credibility that articulate expressions of our discontent give us; the international forums that are made available to us because of the intelligence that we have employed to create a national identity. We have witnessed the militarization of the socio-cultural fabric of Kashmir; we watch with remorse the clamping down of intellectual freedoms in Kashmir and the growing influence of fanatical elements in that polity; we are saddened by the shutting down of dissenting voices; we mourn the erosion of women’s activism in Kashmir by the reduction of their identities to grieving mother, martyr’s mother, or rape victim; we grieve the relegation of sane voices in civil society to the background; we are pained by the scathed psyches of women suffering psychosomatic illness in conflict zones. W e l l - e d u c a t e d Kashmiris can give the clarion call for a much needed social consciousness; for a socialism that recognizes the diseased
  3. 3. 13/11/10 8:33 AMUntitled Document Page 3 of 4http://www.kashmirtimes.com/archive/1009/100929/opinion.htm and crumbling edifices of stagnant political and bureaucratic infrastructures; for a democracy that would them to fully participate in institutions and the rule of law that specifies the limits of jurisdiction and allocates power between different institutions. We, as a people, have recognized and availed ourselves of the myriad political, sociocultural, and economic forums that education, historically, has created for us. The assertion of self-determination in Kashmir and political self-awareness can be kept alive by a people who have availed themselves of the opportunities offered by higher education. In order to question inequities---the alteration of the political and cultural milieu by the forces of rampant corruption; state supported institutions where young boys are indoctrinated in religious fundamentalisms of various hues; Pakistan’s shift in strategy that revolution cannot be exported but has to be built in target areas by various means, including indoctrination and inducements; the complacence of the Indian government if the batons of police and the guns of the Central Reserve Police Force make the political milieu in J & K look calm on the surface ---we require an education to be able to counter the instances of injustice and unfairness created by such institutions/ ideologies/ doctrines. How can we, as a people, develop the ability to organize and mobilize for social change, which requires the creation of awareness not just at the individual level but at the collective level as well? How can we develop self-esteem for which some form of financial autonomy is a basis? How can we make strategic life choices that are critical for people to lead the sort of lives they want to lead? We require education for these mammoth tasks. This is where we need to bridge the divide between the civil society
  4. 4. 13/11/10 8:33 AMUntitled Document Page 4 of 4http://www.kashmirtimes.com/archive/1009/100929/opinion.htm of Kashmir and the civil society of Jammu in order to pave the way for the education of our younger generation. Civil society and political institutions are closely interconnected. In order to substantiate democracy, there must be a minimum of participation and adequate pluralism in a society. A consolidated democracy has to be open to diverse opinions; dissent and conflict on specific policies is an important element of every democratic system. There must, however, be some shared consent on fundamental principles. One of the things that the civil society of Kashmir and the civil society of Jammu can agree upon is the indispensability of education. Democratic, social/ educational institutions cannot function in Kashmir without participation by citizens. Nurturing a civil society that bridges regional and communal divides is a prerequisite for the effective and legitimate functioning of education institutions. (The author is Visiting Professor, Department of English, University of Oklahoma) About us | Advertise | Other Publications | Subscriptions | Weather | Letters | Send Mail Disclaimer: Information is being made available at this site purely as a measure of public facilitation. While every effort has been made to ensure that the information hosted on this website is accurate CHAIRMAN: VED BHASIN Kashmir Times Group of Publications Edited, printed and published by Prabodh Jamwal Editor-in-Chief, The Kashmir Times, Residency Road, Jammu, J&K, INDIA. Executive Editor: Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal E-Mail: vbhasin@sancharnet.in, jmt_prabodh@sancharnet.in

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