Since times immemorial, games and sports have been an integral part of our lives. People across the globe take part in different regional and international games and sports. Our fathers and forefathers used to play different local games like tip cat, hopscotch, hide and seek, Kabbadi etc. Games and sports not only help us to keep our bodies fit and healthy but they are a great source of entertainment, amusement and pleasure derivation.
Some decades earlier, parents would rebuke their children for taking part in games and sports. It was considered to be dangerous and detrimental for one's career. Now, the trend has not only changed but reversed as well. The career options in games and sports are so lucrative and glamorous that people put in their every effort to earn a place in a team or club. Many doctors and engineers switch to new careers in games and sports. Radio, television and now the internet has added a lot of glamour and money to games and sports. People, who succeed to carve a niche in games and sports, consider themselves very lucky and blessed.
Jammu and Kashmir is not an exception to it. The youth of the erstwhile state have already exhibited their potential and talent at national and international levels. Keeping the promising career options in view, thousands of young people wish to make a career in it though it is very difficult, and many have already made it to the desired levels. I believe that it is easy to be a doctor, an engineer or an IAS but very difficult to find a place in a Ranjhi team.
And to the joy and excitement of thousands of young people, physical education is taught as a subject in hundreds of institutions across the country. Keeping in view the growing career options, thousands of students from Jammu and Kashmir opted for higher studies in physical education field across the country, during the last one decade with the hope that this field is gaining momentum.
Jammu and Kashmir government also took cognizance of the matter, and introduced physical education as subject at 10 2 level, got around two hundred physical education lecturers appointed through Jammu and Kashmir public service commission. They also appointed a good number of physical education instructors (PTIs) in different degree colleges of the erstwhile state. But, it didn't cater the growing number of unemployed physical education degree holders though the appointment of physical education teachers continued to be held by Jammu and Kashmir services selection recruitment board. But, the number of unemployed youth kept mounting to alarming numbers
Then, in the year 2018, the then Jammu and Kashmir government decided to absorb the unemployed physical education degree holders in youth services and sports department. A scheme namely Rehbari-Khail was introduced, and consequently almost three thousand degree holders were engaged across the length and breadth of Jammu and Kashmir. Most of the engaged candidates are postgraduates, and there is a good number of NET, SET, M.Phl and PhD pass outs as well.
But, the terms and conditions laid down in the scheme are two harsh and cruel to bear. According to the scheme, a Rehbari-Khail teacher is supposed to be paid a paltry stipend of rupees three thousand for seven years. It seems simply bizarre and cruel. And adding insult to the injury of these teachers, there is no service inclusion of these seven years.
These teachers have been knocking different doors for last one year or so to get the scheme modified because discharging duties for seven long years at a meager honorarium of rupees three thousand, with no service benefits like inclusion of these seven years in the service records, is unjustifiable . From advisors to Lieutenant Governor of the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, these teachers have been registering protests, meeting bureaucrats and other influential people. But, all in vain. Besides, many assurances from the higher authorities, their applications are biting dust in the official shelves at Jammu and Srinagar.
Very recently, Rehbari-Khail teachers with extraordinary sports careers staged a unique protest at Jammu. The teachers put their national and international medallions and certificates on sale. It was an attempt to mock and ridicule the official insensitivity towards these teachers who have glorious sports and academic backgrounds to their credit.
Rupees hundred a day, is unpalatable. When a labourer, a carpenter or a mason is paid rupees seven to eight hundred a day, why a teacher is paid just one hundred rupees a day. How can they manage their families and bear out other expenses? Wellbeing of workforce is the moral responsibility of a government. Now, if the government is exploiting its workforce, then who will come to their rescue? Handsome salary is a great motivation for a person to give his/her best.
These Rehbari-Khail teachers are dejected and sad. It is extremely cruel to pay a solitary one hundred rupees a day to a postgraduate, M.Phil or PhD degree holder. They are hardly able to meet their personal demands. Their families are craving for pennies. Many are unable to buy life saving drugs for their parents and other dependents. People at the helm of affairs should take cognizance of the matter, and the Rehbari-Khail scheme must be modified to benefit thousands of poor Rehbari-Khail teachers. Their monthly stipend should be increased to a handsome level which would uphold labour laws of our erstwhile state and the country. The quantum of their unrecognized service should either be changed or at least reduced to two years.
These teachers deserve compassion and mercy. The recent cabinet decision to cancel the SRO 202 has sent waves of optimism among these physical education teachers and their families. It has rather paved way for the resolution of their genuine demands. When the government has delivered justice to SRO 202 appointees, why can't it resolve the issue of these poor teachers?
(Author is Teacher and a Columnist)