“ There is nothing new in world except the history you do not know.” – Harry Truman

Maroof calls for “equal rights” for those looking after the predominant agricultural economy of Kashmir, which incidentally has the highest job potential in Kashmir

(Dr. Muhammad Maroof Shah, 33, was born in Kunan, Bandipore. He has pursued a career in veterinary medicine and animal husbandry, completing Bachelors’s degree in veterinary sciences (BVSc) at the Faculty of Veterinary Sciences and Animal Husbandry (FVSc & AH), Shuhama campus of the Sher-i-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Kashmir (SKUAST-K), and MA English through the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). He is presently posted as a Veterinary Assistant Surgeon (VAS) at the Government Sheep Breeding Farm in Dachigam. Dr. Shah is the author of two books, and has lectured as a visiting fellow at the Jaipur University on Western Philosophy. In his leisure time he pursues studies in comparative religion, philosophy and literature.)

Let’s have quality veterinary universities, one at Jammu and one at Srinagar

I wonder why there is much debate on almost non-issues and little serious debate on such serious issues as why there is no veterinary university. Veterinary university is more important for educating us in multiple ways and is better linked with vocation and employment of masses than academic university. I analyze briefly a few important points of comparison between academic university and veterinary university.

We are currently producing hundreds of postgraduates and thousands of graduates in physics and chemistry and teaching them at college and university level. This creates a few teachers who teach others these subjects in turn and the world goes on without significantly impacting on job creation or strengthening economy. We can’t produce Nobel Laureates nor do quality research in key areas like high energy physics or on cognitive science in our State in given conditions and be a knowledge based economy, at least for near future. We can’t even be great copyists of developed knowledge economies for decades for various reasons that I need not discuss. We are not the developed world and can’t go for heavy industrialization and modernization to achieve that status.

More achievable goal is developing an indigenous agricultural or more precisely livestock based economy and evolving educational structure suitable for it. For climatic and geopolitical reasons we are best advised to develop the resources we have, to develop those industries for which both raw materials and markets are locally available and to achieve at least self sufficiency in many important food items. Fully exploited potential of livestock sector will supply much of our fertilizers and gas for domestic cooking but also complement transport and other energy requirements. We need to be educated regarding poisoning and suicidal fallout of path of imported model of development that Truman in 1949 proposed (rather imposed) for the third world to serve imperialist agenda. We need to apply reverse gear on many important sectors including miseducation or undirected unplanned education to reverse the damage already done. Thank heavens that we have many key resources ensuring our dignified living for all and sundry. Falling into the trap of development, aid, loans and market orientation of economy is a disaster that has ruined many countries, African, Latin American and closer home.

We still don’t know what for do we teach many subjects in higher education when the educated students then become burden on themselves and the earth as they feel incapable of doing anything. Asking them to for entrepreneurship in private sector makes sense for even matriculates but why were years spent on mastering skill and knowledge which is not needed anywhere here. Do we intend them to leave the State and seek jobs in some MNCc, in national army or police force or insurance companies? Why educate in the first instance? The education they receive has little to do with character formation either. I find in stock assistants training class PhDS and PGS of a host of departments from Kashmir University. It means years of investment in learning those subjects shall go waste. Here job alienation is almost universal. Sons of the fathers who sermonize on Friday congregations are competing for posts for Bank clerks though it is their belief that it is unlawful to work for interest based institutions. We are every year adding to the already huge army of frustrated youth who have no employment opportunities. And we pay teachers to prepare such an army! It means our education system is tailored to producing neither character nor necessary skill for jobs available or could be created here. Students take admission for getting absorbed but the system can’t absorb even 10% of them. Our courts are overpopulated by clients or cases indicating diseased system. Drug addiction and violence It means we are breeding frustration and wasting public money. We can’t by the very logic of the system, produce very great or original minds in cloistered intellectual atmosphere. We must plan for future which shows unprecedented crisis of water resources and food insecurity. We have enough if we take heed and plan for our real needs.

Untapped mineral wealth suffices for earning enough foreign exchange. The big question that questions wisdom in the present educational system teaching conventional academic subjects at higher level is why we have produced few good physicist or chemists and hardly anyone who applies his knowledge or skill to create jobs or develop our industrial sector. (I grant few exceptions.) The same applies to teaching of biology. Regarding teaching (rather manufacturing graduates or postgraduates) of education, psychology, literature, economics etc. less said the better. One can be content with noting only one point. Most of these students fail to make any use of what they are being taught and society loses much more (by way of public financing of such educational institutions and wasting time and energy of most of students and teachers) than it gains by such huge investment in such education.

Humanities subjects are largely cut off from our traditional ethos and cultivated with imported conceptual background leading ultimately to crisis in values and disjunction between our needs and imposed educational agenda. The most brilliant go outside and strengthen the economy of those nations. We can’t be pioneers in IT or heavy industry or much of that for which our educational policy spends resources at college and university level. Thus our educational policy and university system is not tailored to local needs of society and economy. My point is education must be, at higher level, linked to local economy and job creation and we have so far largely failed to identify our real needs and create wealth through educated human resource. We have not appreciated importance of professional education and especially veterinary education for uplifting local economy. Denmark is largely a milk economy as New Zealand and Australia are livestock economies. We too can be a significant livestock economy as other options are limited. Even if we don’t export anything related to livestock products but only save all imports of the same we would have saved few thousand rupees for every family every month which could go to boost other sectors.

We need a major shift in economy to move towards some sort of self reliance. We need more investment in livestock sector by way of quality institutions for achieving good public health (leading to drastic decrease in need to invest in health sector), organicization of agriculture, drastically reduce imports (our major imports are in food – meat, milk products, leather, woolen garments, feed sector), create jobs (we need MBAs and entrepreneurship development with major focus on livestock industry – currently we are primarily serving MNCs through business schools and science centric higher education etc.) and livestock education.

Establishing a veterinary university is a serious human rights issue if we go to the depth of the logic that fashions conditions for rights discourse. Right to safe, hygienic food and right to livelihood are connected to these seemingly distantly related issues as providing quality infrastructure for developing conditions that guarantee achievement of these goals.

I wish there were more academic universities than we have (of course we need to redesign them as per our socio-economic needs and value systems) but I can’t imagine any excuse for not having established a veterinary university long back. The fact that we still need to debate its requirement and plead for it speaks volumes about our desensitized civil society and policy makers. Within our given resources we can increase milk production three fold and reduce meat imports to zero and develop an array of livestock byproduct and processing industries that can generate enough jobs for majority of unemployed youth and all this is impossible without a quality veterinary universities, one at Jammu and one at Srinagar.