Just a day after Teachers’ Day, I saw this news piece “30 Teachers honored with state awards” on Arunachal Times (Sept. 6, 2014), where it was also mentioned about SSA (contractual) Teachers’ salary. Allow me to quote the sentence from the newspaper, “Our state is paying the highest salary to SSA teachers in the country”. It could be true, so I don’t question or challenge this statement. However, did they bear the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in mind when they make such statements? Did they reckon the inflated prices of commodities and how they command money in exchange for itself in Arunachal? Do they make any attempt to forestall it? Do they know that shopkeepers in some places of Arunachal refuse to accept 25 and 50 paisa as a medium of exchange? It’s weird, but true. Do they know that regular teachers make twice our current salary even though the workloads are same? What about them (MLAs in Arunachal)? Their salary is highest in the country – their basic pay is Rs. 30,000. And this does not include perks like daily allowance, constituency allowance, office expenses and conveyance allowance. And what makes the Engineers and Doctors of Arunachal qualify for big salary? Ever since I could remember, the condition of Karsingsa road in Itanagar has not improved at all. And all see in Arunachal is ugly cumbersome concrete buildings and bridges. Where’s the provision for pedestrians on roadways? Where are the zebra crossings in Arunachal road? I guess that’s why the engineers deserve big salary. As for the Doctors, they would still run their private clinics despite getting non-practicing allowance (NPA). However, the financial incentive has not kept the doctors away from private medical practice.
By the way, let’s see how much does a SSA teacher get paid in a month. The figure of SSA junior teacher salary is Rs. 26,453 in Arunachal. Consolidated salary. Do they get it at regular interval? No. They have to wait at least two months to get paid, and the number of days can go up to 6 months. How do they maintain their families in-between? They borrow money at high interest rate (range from 3% -10% in a month, which means 30% – 100% in a year) from local moneylenders. Why aren’t they taking any advantage of personal loans provided by nationalized banks? The interest rate is much lower. Well, only if they are eligible for such. They are not eligible to draw personal loan because their salaries are not methodical and systematic.
Highest salary, it may be. After considering everything we went through in a year, the statement appears to be sheer mocking. They may think that they are doing us a favor by giving us an employment opportunity. But the fact remains – exploitation. For your kind information, not long ago I declined a job offer from abroad so as to give something back to my native state. And I would like to see my state prospers and moves in a right direction. We are happy to be a part of intellectual development, but ostentation is something I can’t really absorb.
I don’t know whether Labor Statistic in India ever conducted Cost of Living Index in Arunachal. Sometimes ago I saw a report where Assam was shown as highest cost of living index value in India. I wonder where Arunachal will be in that list. You know, whenever there’s a rupee increment in petrol or diesel prices, the public transport operators in Arunachal also increased their fare by Rs. 50. Rs. 50 from each passenger. And they always forget to lower the fare when the fuel prices are revoked. With our highest salary; will we be able to afford to lead a dignified life, let alone our own house.
I was asked once, “Don’t the teachers find their profession exceedingly boring after teaching the same subjects every year?” To be really very honest, sometimes it can be, especially when the teachers and students fail to make a connection with each other. Or else, there’s no question of boredom as we get a whole new challenging batch of students every year that demand a lot of our attentions. So there isn’t much time to think or fret about the subject.
In my life as teacher, I know I have bored my students many times. And so were they. But I think, in the end, it all depends on the mood of students and teachers, healthy state of minds and the extent of enthusiasm in a classroom which determine the austerity of teaching profession – not the subject. For instance; it can be really frustrating when we ask them some general questions, that we had already covered on previous day, to warm up their minds, and they just stay mute. Then you try another one. Again you confront the same blank stare. And then when you ask them if we go through the lesson all over again. They say “No”. At that point, it’s very difficult to come to a decision whether you should go ahead or backward with the topic under discussion. In due course, you began to doubt your own ability. You question yourself if you are delivering enough. Personally I always felt that equal participation or non-participation of both students and teachers defines the boredom. Let me share with one of my trick to keep the students involved in my classroom. I always start my class with a joke or two with some funny acting thrown in between. If they all laughed, you can be a little bit sure that they’ll listen to you. It works out most of the time for me. Secondly, I constantly try to remember all my students’ names, even my ex students’ names. Maybe I could do this because I easily get emotionally attached to my students. Some earliest students had finished college, and they get shock when I call them by their names. Too much emotional attachment can be really draining, but I am helpless. I repeat I am very emotional person.
However, there are trying times that we’re facing as a contractual teacher; we succeed to get through many of them. I guess there will be in future also. No, it’s nothing to do with my students, but governments and bureaucratic apathy. Delay in disbursement of monthly salary – the action regularly followed by government and bureaucrat. It won’t be wrong if we say three months salary instead of monthly salary. Last year, after three months of default we highly hoped that our salary would be transferred to our bank account at the end of fourth month. Fifth month came and gone, there was no sign. Finally after six months, it was paid out. How many public demonstrations and strikes can we conduct in a year besides written requests and complaints for early release of salary? Under such circumstance, pedagogy definitely takes an ugly turn as non-payment dare our survival – the continuity of our physical existence. How are they supposed to find fault in teachers if they were coerced to seek an alternate source of livelihood? Some of our contemporary colleagues have quitted teaching profession in frustration, and they were quite good. It’s a big loss for country. That’s why, big words like “Largest democracy in the world”, “GDP growth rate”, “Rising superpower” are no jingles to our ears.
You must be wondering why I kept this job if there is so much suffering in it. One, my love for learning-teaching profession helps me to carry on. When we stand in the class, we are the most influential force in the lives of our students. If I can help guiding them in a right direction, earning their overwhelming respect in doing so. What more can you ask for? Two, if all of us keep on quitting, who will do the onus of nation builder. Three, I don’t fancy flashy cars. My venerated aged motorbike is enough to drop me at my school. And just two plain meals a day for my small stomach. Four, I love rewarding and challenging employment. Moreover, it keeps me occupied.
Yesterday our school students celebrated Teachers’ Day to honor us. In India, birth date of Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the first vice- president of India, is celebrated as Teachers’ Day. It was fun filled Day. And it doesn’t make much difference to me whether the teaching community are included or ignored in PM Teachers’ Day speech as long as I have my students’ love and respect. Need I say more…?
After taking a look at the archives widget of my blog, I am really surprised myself. I’ve noticed that I am most active in the ninth month of the year. Most of my posts and upload is done in the September month. It is perhaps the best and fertile month for my brain.
Anyway, I’ve been wanting to do this post for very long time. But I was too caught up with my photography madness and desire to show the frames and photographic skills to the world – to be approved, accepted and appreciated by fellow facebookers and bloggers – that a lot of things other than internet and camera seemed like a secondary thing. With each “Like” on the post, you are elevated to another level and it drives you to sheer madness. I would be lying if I say that I don’t care about the “Likes”. As a matter of fact, there’s no control to my cupidity. That’s why I have deactivated my facebook account. Sadly, we have to request the facebook people to delete permanently one’s account. Looks like I have tied a Gordian knot.
There’s a problem with the “Likes” also. You know! it’s really hard to tell whether the likes are really “Sincere and admiring Likes” or just “Poor guy! No like at all. Let me donate one for him Likes.” But who the hell cares, the more is merrier.
When all is been said and done for the sake of the blog’s popularity, you step out of your comfort zone and begin to explore new places. And most often your zealousness hits rock bottom when you see others’ works. No matter how hard we may try, we end up comparing ourselves to others. And when you feel you are too amateurish for the job, then you find times for other things you like to do.
I am really happy with myself. Despite a year and half of intense affairs with facebook, and apart from my teaching job, I could find time to do what I’m really fond of doing – doing artwork. So I‘m happy indeed. In fact, I am very excited to publicize my artworks (Zero Waste Project); I have done it earlier on my other sites though. I sincerely hope that when you hit the “Likes” this time, it’ll be a sincere like – coming straight from your heart. I am wondering if I have also become a citizen of narcissist nation.
I called my artworks a “Zero Waste Project” because it is based on Zero Waste concept, which give emphasizes on waste prevention as opposed to end of pipe waste management. Zero waste concept include eliminating waste through recycling and reuse, it focuses on restructuring production and distribution system to reduce waste. I hope it’s pretty obvious now that I have created all my artworks with waste materials. From Poly bags, waste paper, cloth scraps, food packages, and so on. This was the finest way to contribute something to nature – in a small way, of course.
Lastly, I would like to take this opportunity to thank thanal and it’s Zero waste Centre for introducing me to Zero Waste. The works done by you guys are truly inspiring. And thanks mom for your support. You must have become immune to my habit of shutting myself from social hubbub.
Gayal. In Apatani, we call them “Subu”. And to the Apatani people, it means wealth. It is considered as wealth because it plays important role in economical, social and cultural life of Apatani community of North-East India.
My father used to own a fair numbers when he was still alive, when he was still strong.
Long before he was misdiagnosed with tuberculosis; long before he endured grueling treatment of tuberculosis medicines – he actually had a lung cancer and died from lung cancer – the numbers of gayal dwindled terribly. I was away at boarding school in Delhi. And he couldn’t tend to them like he did it before. Eventually we lost all our bovines to Swpya, or so they say. I don’t know what Swpya really look like. I’ve never seen one in my life – alive or dead. Some call it a wolf. I guess it might be. Anyway, at least they served their purpose of being in the food chain. And served it well.
To make a long story short, Gayals are very fond of salt. The one with tongue out that we’re seeing in a picture was stalking me. Unfortunately, I didn’t carry any salt in my backpack. So I shove my empty hand out at her – hoping without hope to lick it – she licked anyway. The touch of her warm tongue on my palm was healing and divine experience. It reminds me of old times – herding the gayals in the forest with my father.
“That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet.” ― Emily Dickinson
Two meters away from my bedroom window, close to our granary, we have a lemon tree. It used to bear massive and delicious lemons. Once I asked my mother how it got there. She told me that my sisters may have planted it while I was in boarding school.
Over the years, we’ve harvested its produce countless times. Sometimes it would give us a plentiful harvest; at other times good. My mother would take it to the market to sell whenever reap would be plenteous. But, many a time, we would just give it away to our friends and relatives to share the grace. Then there were our neighborhood that would slyly sneak in our property, but its robust spikes had often thwarted their ambitions.
As time goes on; as year turned into years. Everything begins to fade away. Our lemon tree is also showing us the sign that she has grown old. I’ve tried to prune its withered branches, but it didn’t help her much. Still it bears fruit, but the size has reduced to a tiny ball. Of late, despite her age, she began to attract a lot of new visitors. She‘s getting on quite well with feral birds, besides the fact that it has been a playground for numerous house sparrows ever since she attained three meters in height.
Some months ago, I saw a beautiful white bird with a long tail perched on its branch. I couldn’t believe what I witnessed. A fine looking bird on our lemon tree! In the heart of Hapoli town! Since I’d never seen this beautiful bird in my entire life, I thought it must be new specie. So I used to address him/her as an “Angel bird” until someone told me its name – Asian Paradise flycatcher. For two days, Angel bird would come, groom and hop about for hours while hiding among the branches. Though it has never visited our lemon tree again, but its majestic look was permanently etched on my mind, will remain there till the last breath.
That wasn’t the beginning of the end for visitors. Among others, the Tits were also enrolled in the list.
In another incident; it was rather very early morning when I was woken up by birds chirping. As I opened the window a crack, I saw two Red-vented Bulbuls alighting on a branch. Two were already there – settled on nearby branch. House Sparrows consider our lemon tree as their own, their recreational area. So they were trying to scare away the new visitors. Despite their boisterous chirpings, they were unable to budge the Bulbuls.
After the flight of the Bulbuls, the lemon tree has become the dominion of Sparrows again. Not for long, though. The Bulbuls have kept returning to our lemon tree since last few days.
Needless to say, this chapter will pass. Nothing stays same forever. Someday we all are going to make our exit – at destined time. Our lemon tree. The sparrows. The Bulbuls. Money. Friends. Happiness. Grief. You. And me. However, I’m enjoying every bit of it while it last. I’ll cherish our lemon tree while I still can and I’ll miss her when she’ll be not around. By the way, who can tell whose numbers will be up first?
I know it’s been quite long since I shared anything on wordpress.
The fact of the matter is that I have committed a great folly. Maybe folly is the wrong choice of word; fate can be more apt as we become powerless in the face of destiny.
Well, in one of my jungle trips with my friends, I misstepped on a slippery log of wood and fell down, landing at the bottom of the river with all my photographic equipments. I tried to rise above the water almost immediately, but in all this sudden chaotic happening (I don’t know why our mind tend to shut out our thinking capability in such instance) I lose my grip on camera and it was dropped again. I fished them out instantly. But the damages had already been done. I knew it was gone – forever.
It wasn’t a single deed that day, which poked my agonized mind; in addition I botched my spin cast reel which was gifted to me by my sister and the mobile phone I purchased with my three months salary.
It really hurts even more to relive those moments. However, I am a tad reassured that my mobile phone is functioning well.
Next I went to a mechanic with my finger crossed that he might be able to help me out. My heart broke again when he told me that he cannot mend the camera and it has to be sent somewhere else. I really don’t know now whether it can be mended at all.
The hours of separation are one thing, and then there is a question if I will be able to afford another one. Maybe in a year or maybe not.
It’s easy for someone who’s not going through it to say, ‘Oh, well just hang in there,’ but what else can you say to them besides your weary smile.
If emotion is all part of life and life is dictated by fate, then I think it’s okay to curse and cry and be angry and frustrated at fate – it help us to overcome all the hurdles and laugh at your fate.
Until my camera is being fixed, please enjoy the mobile photo upload of Ziro valley.