Last time, I shared the story of neglect but also of creative aspirations of children and women of Gurez valley in Jammu and Kashmir. During the 40th Shodhyatra, we also came across many more possibilities.It seems the government has belatedly realised a fraud that had been going on in the education sector. A lot of school teachers were initially posted in Gurez but using their political clout got transferred to better endowed regions.Similarly, during recruitment drive for various services including paramilitary, youth from this region could not get the attention they deserved. The medical facilities are also not up to the mark. Even the Army medical facility, which helped civilians without any hesitation or reservation does not have a pathological facility. The lab-in-a-suitcase, which Army Medical wing has acquired from BIRAC supported biotech start-up like Accuster, has not reached here.It can perform 36 tests in one hour in less than Rs 250. Such facilities must be provided in all border and other less developed regions urgently. Local youth can be trained to perform these tests.Majority of schools do not have a computer or science lab. Such labs are needed in these regions even more. The Midday Meal programme in nine schools in the region was allocated one fourth of the ration needed for 220 days. The HRD ministry must look into such anomalies urgently.On one hand, there was a general notion that Kashmir was given a lot of resources and subsidies, the reality seemed contrary, unless the resources meant for this region were pilfered or pre-empted on the way. Earlier, we had noticed similar neglect in skill development programme.Class six student Khursheed Ahmedabd Meer from Niru village said, “Do you know when an electronic gadget goes out of order, not all components of it are wrong?” I feigned ignorance. I asked, “So, what should one do if such is the case.” He said, “We should have one room in every village where such things should be deposited. Children can take out the functional components and make new things by using them.” I probed, “Have you made any such thing?” Of course, he replied and ran to his home to bring a fan that he had made by salvaging a motor from a broken gadget.I hope colleagues in the Atal Innovation Mission and Niti Aayog are listening and will sanction a tinkering lab in this village. The Honey Bee Network through Prof Bhat of Kashmir University, Electronics department, has initiated steps to start a small community innovation lab.The question now is how can we rethink developmental opportunities in the region. Firstly, every developmental policy should be implemented in marginal areas and after saturating the needs here, less privileged regions should be covered. A change in fundamental priorities of developmental planning and implementation is required. Secondly, the huge drudgery that women go through must make them the top priority for LPG gas provision. Thirdly, recruiting teachers for the block and district only can address the chronic problem of transfers from Gurez. Also, MDM and other such programmes need to be strengthened. Besides, modernisation of post-harvest processes, access to improved varieties, urgent investment in hydro-power generation and lift irrigation are the need of the hour. It is to be noted that NIF is encouraging grassroot innovators to set up such devices.A team of Honey Bee Network has already left for Gurez to share spinning wheel, winnower among other things that could be met through local innovations and resources supported by SRISTI and NIF besides volunteers. Hope policy planners will start rethinking developmental design in such regions, critical for national integrity and well-being.
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