Minister of state for Information, Education & Culture J & K and senior leader of Bharatiya Janata Party Priya Sethi is a vibrant political face of Jammu & Kashmiri. A science background professional Priya Sethi is a name to reckon with among women politicians of Jammu & Kashmir.
In an exclusive interview with News Kashmir Magazine, Priya Sethi talks to Farzana Mumtaz & Rameez Makhdoomi.
As a prominent women leader of Bharatiya Janata Party, Minister and Former President BJP Mahila Morcha we would like to know from you that what is BJP doing to address growing atrocities and crimes being committed against women?
It is our priority as a party that era of safety is ushered for women all over the country. We are looking that there is grievance center with reference to women in every district of our state. We are working and aiming to have at least one female official deputed in every police station so that violence affected women without hassles registers her complaint .We are also in this regard trying to increase the strength of women specific police stations in the state.
What is the BJP as party trying to empower women in J&K?
Women empowerment is our key concern and in Jammu & Kashmir our party with 33 percent reservation for women in party fold is trying level best to empower them in every sphere of life and make women take the charge from grassroots to top level. Women have proven their ability to manage and lead family as well as nation . Women empowerment is our priority area . We want to take along in our vision of development each and every women of Jammu & Kashmir and initiate welfare oriented programmes for them.
Since you hold Culture portfolio, we would like to know how would you try to end discrimination against our native languages and give enrichment to our neglected rich cultural heritage?
It is a burning reality that we have neglected rich linguistic treasure of our state .On the otherhand in our state affluent manuscripts, historical monuments, and heritage symbols of our prosperous culture have also since long time been ignored and faced apathy. Despite living in the era of Information Technology, it took us more than 10 years to repair Tagore hall and we have not modernized our cultural centres too. I have felt there is a strong need for framing a vibrant cultural policy that has a holistic policy matter in it to preserve the rich cultural heritage of all three regions of state viz. Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. We recently held active interactions with writers, poets and other literary and cultural personalities as their expert analysis means a lot in enriching and preserving our diverse and rich cultural heritage .
Why have the Government run schools failed to produce impressive results in our state. Your take as MOS Education?
Actually, the previous governments while framing the educational policy paradigms have ignored the “Child” and have never been child specific. We have got the buildings constructed but ignored the enrolment part. We have had lopsided infrastructural development. At some government Schools shockingly enough we have ten teachers for five students and at some instance two schools in one building. Government School teachers have lot of potential, efficiency and want to perform but lack of proper policy and implementation mechanism has hurt our public education system. Chemistry teacher teaching Math subject and vice versa has summed up the chaos of our Public education system. There has been no accountability, monitoring and we are embarking to ensure accountability and monitoring from top to bottom. Redesigning the education policy and keeping child the core focus of it will definitely yield positive results as far a government schools are concerned and end all chaos.
What would be done to discipline Private Schools as many believe they are functioning like dictatorial empires?
We will take all steps to make private schools accountable. The basic thrust in this regard would be to make our Government schools efficient models of education by enthusing an aura of effective work culture in these institutions. Our focus is to restore the lost faith of masses in Government schools and by doing so we will automatically be in better position to manage and make accountable the private schools. We will make entire education system accountable.
Floods wrecked lot of havoc in Kashmir and damaged Educational infrastructure. What is being done to revamp same?
As you would be aware that Government is facing lot of shortage of funding and there are liabilities worth more than Rs 9000 crore and when we took over the government the SSA Salaries were not paid since 9 months. Once the funding becomes available we will on priority basis mend the damaged infrastructure.
We have also seen students alleging that Heads of Government Schools have demanded money for them for repairing school Infrastructure?
There is no demand, but yes, we have kept it optional keeping in mind that in this day and age when a student pays 5 to 6 thousand rupees as fee in Private school and on a similar parlance if a student from Government school out of his own will and love wants to contribute something for betterment of his or her school he or she can. All this was optional not compulsory. We are also roping in Civil society groups so that they also lend efforts to improve the infrastructure of the Government Schools as it has to be a collective effort.
What has been done to reform the defective transfer policy wherein on some instance even female teachers have to travel hundreds of kilometers daily?
We have already framed new transfer policy and it has been posted on internet too. Its provision includes not to post female teacher more than 20 kilometers from her original destination. We are also going to post in same zone in case both husband and wife are teachers. In scenarios were teachers are posted in remote areas and tough terrains like Leh and Kargil they will be posted only for one year there. We have to bear in mind that all teachers cannot be posted at centrally located places as we do not want far flung areas to suffer.
Minister of State (MOS) post has in previous Government not been made much effective from point of view of having required power to act, what is BJP trying to revitalize same?
Both at Central and State level MOS has been made much proactive and even here in our state the MOS are working now in tandem and hand to hand with the Cabinet Ministers .I have absolute coordination with all three cabinet ministers with reference to departments I am holding.
Your take on making common man more aware about Government schemes and strengthening of Information Department with reference to this paradigm?
The more Government functionaries remain vocal and proactive more the flow of knowledge of Public Welfare schemes will reach to masses on ground. Widening the network of Information centres in all districts and in far flung areas of Jammu & Kashmir is our priority. Taking the aid of local Doordarshan and Radio Kendras to disseminate information of Government programmes and schemes is also our top concern.