Cover Story: Air Commodore Zafar Masud and the Separation of East Pakistan

By Nasim Yousaf

December 16, 1971 was a dark day in Pakistan’s history. On this day, Pakistan lost its east wing (now Bangladesh). The 1971 war and the separation of Pakistan’s two wings could have been avoided if then President of Pakistan, General Yahya Khan, had followed the advice of Air Officer Commanding, Air Commodore M. Zafar Masud, then the top Pakistani Air Force officer in East Pakistan.
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Air Commodore Masud was a highly respected, brilliant fighter pilot. He was widely regarded as a potential future Chief of Air Staff for the Pakistan Air Force (PAF). In 1965, as Base Commander of PAF Base Sargodha (now PAF Base Mushaf), Masud became a war hero for his outstanding performance in the 1965 war with India. The pilots under his command, inspired by Masud’s courage and the tactical training he imparted, performed brilliantly during the war; these pilots included: the legendary M.M. Alam, Sarfaraz Ahmed Rafiqui, Munir-ud-Din Ahmed, Alauddin Ahmed, Yunus Hussain, Mervyn L. Middlecoat, Cecil Chaudhry, Aftab Alam Khan, M. Anwar Shamim, Syed Saad Akhtar Hatmi, Syed Nazir Ahmed Jilani, Yusuf Ali Khan, and Jamal A. Khan.

In April of 1970, Masud was sent to Dhaka as the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) commander of the East wing. Masud arrived in Dhaka during a particularly trying time for the nation, as there was ongoing political turmoil and strife between the East and West wings of Pakistan. To provide a bit of background, during the general election of 1970, the Awami League political party (led by Sheikh Mujibur Rehman) had won the majority of seats in the National Assembly (NA). But President Yahya and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (Founder of the Pakistan People’s Party) were not in favor of Mujib emerging as Head of the Government. Yahya was concerned that if Mujib became the Prime Minister, then Yahya would have to relinquish the Presidency. Meanwhile, Bhutto, whose party had won the majority of seats in West Pakistan, was concerned that Mujib’s strong showing in the election would block his own path to becoming Prime Minister. Therefore Bhutto stated, “Udhar Tum, Idhar Hum” (“You rule there, we rule here”). Dawn (March 15, 1971) newspaper wrote, “Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto…said in Karachi yesterday that if power was to be transferred to the people before any constitutional settlement…it should be transferred to the majority party in East Pakistan ‘and the majority party here [West Pakistan]’” Bhutto’s statement can be interpreted to mean that he wanted a separation of East Pakistan, presumably so that he could become Prime Minister of West Pakistan (he publicly stated that he wanted a united Pakistan, but his actions indicated otherwise).

Yahya and Bhutto had a common interest in blocking Mujib from assuming power, and it seemed they were willing to use any means necessary to do so. When people began protesting Government attempts to block Mujib, the Government forcefully suppressed them. Meanwhile, on February 28, 1971, Bhutto demanded a postponement of the previously scheduled National Assembly session in Dhaka (originally planned for March 3, 1971). The purpose of the session was for Assembly members to vote on a new Prime Minister (presumably Mujib). The day after Bhutto’s demand, Yahya announced that the Session would indeed be postponed (Dawn, March 02, 1971); a few days later, he announced a new date of March 26, 1971 for the session. There was no justification for this postponement, other than to try to block Mujib from assuming the Prime Ministership.

On March 02, 1971, Mujib issued a statement deploring the postponement of the Assembly session and called for a public strike across the whole of East Pakistan (Pakistan Times, Lahore, March 03, 1971); the Bengalis observed the strike. The Government again responded to demonstrations with brutal force and violent suppression.

The Government’s strategy of trying to resolve a political issue with force was causing great dissension within its ranks. On March 01, 1971, Vice-Admiral Syed Mohammad Ahsan (Governor and Unified Commander of the Pakistan Armed Forces in East Pakistan), who was not in favor of using force, resigned in protest of Yahya and the Government’s handling of the situation in East Pakistan. Ahsan was replaced (on the same day, March 01, 1971) by Lieutenant General Sahabzada Yaqub Khan (Pakistan Times, March 02, 1971). Four days later (March 05, 1971), Yaqub Khan also resigned for the same reasons as Ahsan. Air Commodore Masud was then appointed as the Unified Commander of Pakistan Armed Forces in East Pakistan. Meanwhile, Lt. General Tikka was appointed as the Governor and Martial Law Administrator, Zone B.

The situation in East Pakistan was now reaching a boiling point, but the Government continued using force to suppress protestors. On March 7th, in a public speech Mujib called for independence from West Pakistan, although still leaving the door open for negotiation.

Despite the precarious situation, Yahya still had not realized the gravity of the circumstances. He didn’t bother to visit Dhaka to review the situation firsthand and try to resolve it. Masud was unhappy with the way President Yahya was handling the political turmoil. He felt that the uprising in East Bengal could not be suppressed through guns or violent means. Masud and others convinced Yahya to travel to Dhaka on March 15, 1971. Finally, Yahya arrived in Dhaka and held a meeting at the President’s House along with Masud and top brass from the Pakistani Army.

During the meeting, Air Commodore Masud briefed Yahya and the attendees of the meeting on the complexity and seriousness of the situation. Masud told President Yahya:

“The situation is very delicate. It is essentially a political issue and it needs to be resolved politically, otherwise thousands of innocent men, women and children will perish.”

Yahya replied, “Mitty, I know it…I know it…” Air Chief Marshal Jamal A. Khan further wrote in an article entitled, “Mitty Masud folds his wings” (Dawn, Karachi on October 13, 2003):

“Air Commodore Masud…for well over an hour gave a candid, fact-filled evaluation of the civil-military environment. He forcefully argued that the turmoil in East Pakistan could never be resolved with military force…”

Masud thus apprised President Yahya of the grave situation and explained the consequences of using violence to suppress the people, recommending a political solution instead. While in Dhaka, Yahya also held meetings with Mujib and on March 22nd a joint meeting with Mujib and Bhutto. But nothing fruitful came out of these meetings. To further block Mujib, Yahya once again, on March 22nd, announced a postponement of the National Assembly session without giving any rescheduled date (Pakistan Times, March 23, 1971).

Instead of coming up with a political solution to the situation in East Pakistan, Yahya and the top brass in the Pakistan Army decided to intensify their efforts against the Bengalis with the power of their guns. Prior to his departure for Karachi from Dhaka, Yahya issued orders to launch full-fledged, immediate army action. At Dhaka airport, Masud spoke to the President and again reminded him of the repercussions of using force.

Nevertheless, General Tikka followed President Yahya’s order and, on the night of March 25-26, 1971, launched an aggressive military operation to suppress the Bengali uprising. The military also arrested Mujib. Prior to his arrest, Mujib issued a declaration of Bangladesh’s independence:

“This may be my last message; from today Bangladesh is independent. I call upon the people of Bangladesh wherever you might be and with whatever you have, to resist the army of occupation to the last. Your fight must go on until the last soldier of the Pakistan occupation army is expelled from the soil of Bangladesh. Final victory is ours.”

At this juncture, Tikka asked Masud for Air Force support; this was an incredibly difficult decision for Masud. He could see the ground reality that launching a ruthless and barbaric Air Force operation to massacre Bengali civilians would clearly lead to the separation of East Pakistan. So, Masud took what he felt was the only moral and honorable course of action: in the interest of saving Pakistan and avoiding a massacre of the Bengalis, Masud decided not to comply with Tikka’s demand. He sacrificed his brilliant career in the PAF for the future of the nation and its people.

On March 26, 1971, Masud handed over command to Air Commodore (later Air Marshal) Inam-ul-Haque Khan. Masud traveled to West Pakistan, where he was offered another assignment, but he refused and resigned from the Pakistan Air Force. Upon his resignation, the media attempted to obtain his views on East Pakistan and the reasons for his resignation, but Masud was barred from commenting (His views are not available in the published Hamoodur Rehman Commission Report. It is unknown whether Masud’s statement was recorded and omitted from the published report or if it was not recorded at all).

Meanwhile, in early April of 1971, Lieutenant General A. A. K. Niazi was sent to East Pakistan and took over from Tikka. With each day passing the situation deteriorated further. Towards the end of 1971, India intervened, and in December of 1971 a full-fledged war between Pakistan and India began. The Pakistan army ultimately lost the war and on December 16, 1971, Bangladesh emerged as an independent country.

Masud’s refusal to comply with the army operation showed incredible foresight. While the overall separation movement had begun right after the creation of Pakistan (see additional details in the book entitled “Air Commodore M. Zafar Masud: A Pioneer of the Pakistan Air Force”), perhaps the parting of East Pakistan in 1971 could still have been avoided, had the leadership listened to Masud and others who were against military action. Masud’s heroic and principled stand is commendable; he sacrificed a promising career in support of what he felt was right for the people and the country. He is – and will remain – a true hero of the Pakistan Air Force.

Self and Development: Do they go together?

 

Introduction

The windows of my soul I throw

Wide open to the sun.

(Whittier)

Personal-Development-550x165

The modern thinking man is leading his life just on the superficial level, so much so that the concept of self-development or of reaching the soul is simply out of place. Instead, what dominates is the egoistic feeling os the self as man is just busy feeding his ego. The masked identities veil the real self that is greedy, selfish, jealous and so on.  The serenity and a calm mind is what is lacking in the modern man, living in a society torn apart by frequently occurring acts of violence. We have had two World Wars but things haven’t stopped at that. A continuous war has been going on in the form of cold war or bickering on several other fronts.

Mata Amritananda Mayi in her speech at the United Nations on August 29, 2000 exclaimed that ‘we stepped into the new millennium with great hopes and expectations of change. But though numbers denoting years are different, essentially nothing has changed. The real change must happen within us. What we are faced with today is that phenomenon, which is termed as erosion of values. This erosion has emerged out to be a process that has come to stay in our lives. We, especially the youngsters, have been so overpowered by the foreign cultures that we are continuously drifting away from the traditional moorings, leading to our alienation. The tendency of self-understanding and introspection is a trend that has been long abandoned by the generation X – every individual of which has come to be nothing more than just being one of the crowd.

Wordsworth has rightly pointed out in his famous sonnet:

“The world is too much with us

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.”

 

Present Scenario

We, as humans, often waste our energies over trifles like choosing our materialistic ideals and goals. And it is often in such type of pursuits in which we are so much engrossed that we are cut off from our own selves. This is precisely why we are unable to hear our conscience’s words of warning at the time of committing a wrong deed. The face of it can be seen in the degradation of the moral standards, especially in the youngsters, who love everything that is fast – be it swanky cars or racy bikes or the urge of making fast money.

 

Hindrances on the way of Self-development

Before we take steps for the development of self-concept we must first of all identify all the hindrances that block the path of self-development – because only then will we be able to chalk out a targeted plan of action to reverse the damaging process in operation First of all, let us have a look at the much talked of term, that is, modernization.  Often being modern is taken to the blind imitation of the West – call it slavish mentality or the weakness of character but we are always trying to adopt the western values no matter how damaging they may be for us and we are always ready to relinquish our own, howsoever cherishable and practical they may be. This very nonchalant adoption of Western values by the youngsters construes that they live their life on a superficial level – trying to be something what they are not. So there is no question of self-development.

A related trend that is being observed in society is the vulgar display of wealth. In this way the economic progress of particular section of society leads to dissatisfaction, frustration and a lacking feeling among the have-nots, it even promotes crime. Self-development is not a narrow concept. It includes the development of peace of mind, feeling of satisfaction and a sense of completeness; rather the reverse is happening.

Healthy competition among fellow beings (whether students at school or persons in a job) is a must. But too much of it can cause problems. While talking of students, too much of academic pressure exerted upon them by either parents or teachers can cause more harm than good. It can prove to be a major hurdle on the path of the development of ‘self’ as it generates negativity.

Lest we forget, the changing lifestyle is also a major stumbling block. Today’s kids no longer play the games the earlier generation used to. There is lack of physical activity – video games being the most popular recreational activity, thus hindering the physical development. And self-development is not possible until and unless there is harmonious development of all the aspects of one’s personality. The teacher should encourage participation of more and more students in physical activities at school and also spread   awareness amongst the students.

Our society structure is in a flux at present. The institution of joint family system is fast giving way to the nuclear family system. The growing number of old age homes is a strong indicator of the degeneration of our society. The parents are busy with their jobs with little time to spend in company of their kids. All this leaves the child with very few options as far as expressing his emotions is concerned. The teacher, along with the peer group, can play a dominant role. The proper channelization of emotions will mean constructive use of energy otherwise the child might stray from the right path. Simply lending an ear in the time of crisis can work wonders. Dr. S. Radhakrishnan has rightly remarked, “One good schoolmaster is worth a thousand priests.”

Education is the best means through which we can boost the positive image of students, overcoming all the hurdles that obstruct the path of self-development. Kahlil Gibran in his famous book, ‘The Prophet’ writes in the chapter ‘Self Knowledge’:

The hidden well-spring of your soul must needs rise and run murmuring to the sea;
And the treasure of your infinite depths would be revealed to your eyes.
But let there be no scales to weigh your unknown treasure;
And seek not the depths of your knowledge with staff or sounding line.
For self is a sea boundless and measureless.

Therefore, we can say that we cannot measure how much the self has been developed. Moreover it is an inner journey and it is the teacher who can influence the child in treading the path of self-development in a more effective way. “A teacher affects eternity, no one can tell where his influence stops”, says Henry Adams. So let us all as educators pledge today to do our bit honestly. Remember every drop counts!

By Amritbir Kaur

Harvesting Habits Holistically: A Viewpoint

habits wordle

By Parambir Kaur, Souradeep Roy, Amritbir Kaur

Editor’s Note: We are all tied down due to some of our habits. We might be the slave of a few of them while we tend to avoid getting drawn into this quicksand.                   

 

THE EVER-REFLECTIVE HABITS                                              

By Parambir Kaur             

          “Oh! I really cannot stop taking tea even if my doctor has strictly advised me against doing so,” exclaimed a friend at a get-together. Now one would say that the speaker has become a slave of his\her habit. Basically someone’s personality is nothing but only a sum total of a handful of habits, some of which one might have inherited and the rest may have been developed intentionally or according to need. And on account of these very habits each human being is different from the other. One can say that these habits determine the quality of one’s life to a great extent. They also ensure the kind of image a person will have in society. The way one talks, one’s choice of words ; the manner in which one conducts oneself on different occasions; the kind of food one eats and the way one eats it; the colours and  style of dress are all, an expression of one’s habits and reflect one’s personality. Even our thought process is influenced by our habits. A deliberate effort has to be made on regular basis, to train one’s mind to concentrate only on the positive beliefs.

Then there are good and bad habits. As a human being is the topmost among the living beings on this earth, it is quite expected that instead of becoming a slave to one’s habits, one should rather govern them. Even otherwise acquiring too many habits tends to make life dull, mechanical and monotonous. Only such a practice deserves to be turned into a habit, the results of which are bound to be positive. When one finds that some habit is doing more harm than good to one’s disposition, there is no reason why one cannot get rid of it gradually, with consistent and conscious effort. And such a being ends up becoming a motivation source for one’s fellow beings, therefore improving the standard of society unknowingly. Taking out some time on daily basis to praise and confer with God is one of the most rewarding habits.

There also comes a time when some practices, instead of remaining merely habits, turn into principles and come to be known as the hallmark of someone’s temperament. Being flexible and able to change one’s behaviour, according to the need of the hour, is a sign of wisdom and maturity. This makes life interesting, boosts morale and eventually paves way for success. The American social writer and philosopher, Eric Hoffer has averred, “Wise living consists perhaps less in acquiring good habits than in acquiring as few habits as possible.”

THE OTHER SIDE   

By Souradeep Roy

          Another school of thought would contend that habits cannot be placed in the category of good or bad. Waking up every day is a habit we all possess. These can be called involuntary habits, that is, habits we all adhere to every day such as the basic act of waking up or sleeping. These habits are essential in the way they regulate the proper functioning of the metabolism of the body. However, in a larger sense, almost everything that we do every day in our lives is involuntary as we are all fashioned to live in a certain way. Modern society in Albert Camus’ opinion is “Rising, tram, four hours in the office or factory, meal, tram, four hours of work, meal, sleep, and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, according to the same rhythm – this path is easily followed most of the time.” Thus this routine is but another substitute for habit – the habit of living. This kind of a habit of living in the same dull repetitive existence is neither good nor bad. It is a condition of living, and worse, it cannot be altered. It is a common phenomenon to experience the need of a ‘break’, which sometimes comes in the form of a holiday or sometimes just in the form of a good get-together. What we try to achieve through this is an escape from the habit of living the same kind of life. But such attempts offer only a temporary solution to the larger question of escaping the clutches of a routine. For most, the repetition of everyday events is the bane of living. The first step towards finding a solution to such a situation is the realization that we are after all in a habit of living in a ‘chain of daily gestures’ (Camus). The only solution is in the realization itself because we cannot but feel that no matter how much we would like to, we cannot completely alter the monotony of our lives. The only respite, in such a situation, is in realizing that living life itself is a habit. (This opinion of our everyday life becoming a habit is drawn from Camus’ view of existentialism, a view that finds its complete expression in The Myth of Sisyphus.)

 

SELF-DISCIPLINE

By Amritbir Kaur

Harry S. Truman, the former American President, once remarked: “In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves…self-discipline with all of them came first.”

With a view to inculcate a sense of self-discipline the authority must be in some or the other way invested in the students. This will help to serve many purposes – it makes the child more responsible towards his duties, makes the process of administration a bit more democratic and also inculcates a sense of pride among the students in their being able to contribute towards the management of the institution. Self discipline is something we all need because it is a vital characteristic of successful people. Why? Because nothing is as easy as it seems. There are always unforeseen challenges and problems on the path to success and achievement. To beat these you must persevere and be strong. Likewise, eating disorders or other problems associated with excess (such as smoking or alcoholism) require will power.

Excessive habits foster low self esteem and lack of self confidence. If you suffer from an obsession and cannot control it, you may blame or punish yourself. Likewise the reverse is also true. Low self esteem may cause some of these problems (eating too much, too little, binging or other damaging disorders), this is a vicious circle.

Self discipline helps you control your actions and make sure you stay on track. It is helpful if you suffer disorders like those mentioned above and need to break out and cure yourself. Please make use of help from friends or counsellors as this will support you in your efforts. Going it alone is very difficult!

 

A DOORBELL

By Souradeep Roy

Tell me, tell me, what is this ordinary?

Where can I find it?

Is it there in my fixed fingers

holding a toothbrush

which sweeps my teeth everyday?

Is it there in my gait

when I walk directionless

towards my college?

Is it there in my pen

which fills white sheets

with utter gibberish?

 

Tell me, tell me, where is this ordinary?

Is it there in the makeshift bus-stop

where I stretch my hand daily?

Is it there in the concern

of a million

over how I became so tall?

Is it there in the hot vapour

of the morning tea

which mixes into the air suddenly?

 

Tell me; tell me more about the ordinary.

Teach me to be concerned

about how I look,

how I dress,

how I speak,

or rather,

how well I look,

how well I dress,

how well I speak.

 

Better still,

create a map of my footsteps

I should tread

from home to school,

from school to college,

from college to office,

from office to the market

and finally back home.

 

Just keep this one request:

don’t stare at me,surprised

after you hear the doorbell.

Human Rights? What’s that?

human-rights-day

Introduction

Our society has gone from bad to worse. The social scenario has been changing rapidly with no certainty about the direction that the existing value system and morality will adopt. We often use the term ‘erosion of values’. This erosion of values is not only to be observed among the students, as is often lamented. We, as adults, are equally responsible for that. This ‘erosion of values’ has led to deterioration of respect for human rights of others. The need for being aware of what our rights as human beings are, was always there but it has become all the more important in the current social scenario. At present we are being invaded by excesses from all sides – be it the excess of information, the ‘atrocities’ against childhood or the illicit advances of the teacher community or the violation of the sanctity of relationship between a teacher and a student. We have had a glorious past of the ‘guru-shishya’ tradition.

In the words of Amartya Sen, “there is need to pay attention to the narrowing of horizons, especially of children, that illiberal and intolerant education can produce….Indeed, the nature of education is quite central to peace in the world….every human being’s identities have many different components, related to nationality, language, location, class, occupation, history, religion, political beliefs, and so on.” Therefore, we can say that the biggest challenge for a teacher is to promote respect and tolerance in the classroom. In 1985, the UGC prepared a blueprint for promotion of Human Rights teaching and research at all levels of education. This blueprint contained proposals for restructuring of existing syllabi, and introduction of new courses and/ or foundation courses in Human Rights. Having declared 1995-2004 as the United Nations decade for Human Rights Education (1995-2004), it is now in the process of initiating as a follow-up, the World Programme for Human Rights Education.

 

Human Rights Education

Human Rights Education (HRE)has been defined by the UN Assembly as ‘a lifelong process by which people at all levels of development & in all strata of society learn respect for the dignity of other s & the means & methods of ensuring that respect in all societies’.

If we try to analyse the concept of Human Rights and Education (HRE), we can shortlist a few main objectives of HRE. First, to develop an interaction between the society and the educational institutions for a smooth and efficient functioning; secondly, to create a sense of awareness among the citizens so that it helps in realization of the norms and values of human rights and duties inculcated in the educational programme; thirdly, to give boost to research activities.

 

Challenges before the Teacher

According to a survey conducted by Saroj Pandey (2007), a majority (70%) of the sampled teachers lacked awareness about the existence of Human Rights Protection Act in India. Pandey (2007) also concluded from the responses given by the teachers that they have only a vague idea of human rights; they lack the conceptual clarity, which would help them to clearly and unambiguously explain the human rights; some teachers equated human rights with the fundamental rights provided in the Indian Constitution, while others took it as being one and same thing as peaceful co-existence; there were still others, who felt that it meant following the social norms. This survey is just a hint towards the widespread ignorance that prevails among the members of teaching community. So before we talk of the other challenges being faced by the Human Rights Education and how to inculcate them through education, we must be aware of the fact that the biggest and the greatest challenge is modern context is having a clear-cut knowledge what human rights are first of all.

The Child Labour (Prohibition & regulation) Act, 1986 prohibits the employment of children below the age of fourteen years in certain occupations and regulates the conditions of work of children in shops, commercial establishments, workshops, farms, residential hotels, restaurants, eating-houses, theatres or other places of public amusement or entertainment . However, this act does not provide anything for those children whose parents are engaged in low paid, unskilled jobs and are unable to send them to school. The chances of being exposed to child labour at some point of time are very high for such children. We now have the Right to Education vested duly in our Constitution. What remains to be done is encouraging the children to continue to pursue their education for the requisite time period. This is just one instance, there are many such problems that the teacher has to tackle with his own personal abilities.

 

Role of Teachers in Human Rights Education

It is very important for the teachers as ‘diagnostician and prognostician of student behaviour’ to be aware of what the rights of a child as a student are. National Council for Teacher Education has been making efforts in this direction. Since the year 1995, the council has implemented a project called Human Rights and National Values for Teacher Educators. This project has come up keeping in mind the important role that a teacher can play in spreading the message of awareness about human rights.

At the primary stage, the languages and the subject of Environmental Studies is said to be very appropriate for the inculcating awareness in the students about the human rights. But merely inclusion of a subject is not sufficient. A lot more needs to be done beyond that. This is where the teacher enters an arena of utmost importance. It needs to be kept in mind that the efforts towards generating this kind of awareness are not just a poor attempt at completing the course of the aforesaid subjects. The practical actions of the teacher should match accordingly with a view to an effective implementation of human rights awareness.

According to the National Curricular Framework (2005), the objective of the subject of environmental studies is to generate among the students the ability ‘to critically address gender concerns and issues of marginalization & oppression with values of equality and justice, and respect for human dignity and rights’. At the primary stage, a student will not be able to fully comprehend the concept of ‘rights’, let alone having the above mentioned abilities. The magician that a teacher can be, he can very smoothly and spontaneously, without any conscious effort on the part of the students, imbibe these values through activity method. As the old English saying goes, “Actions speak louder than words.” Giving the students the opportunity of creative expression, will help to make concepts more concrete and understandable; facilitate the concretization of abstractions; and will also help to bring in an attitudinal change by affecting the responses both emotionally and intellectually. All this can be done through the medium of e stories and poetry, drama, song, dance, graphic arts and sculpture. Questions might be raised that every teacher is not an artist. But then even every student is not. Teacher can be an inspiring facilitator for helping the students to give a vent to their creative expression, irrespective of the quality of output.

As the students progress in grades, the complexity of the content may be increased likewise. For instance, in the upper primary stage, some topics that give the students knowledge about the basic democratic values can be included. Students can be told about diversity, inequality and about the democratic principles of a government. Gradually till the time students reach the secondary level, the topics can be broad, that is, in context of the whole world. Students should be familiarized with the evolution of human rights all over the world. While imparting all this knowledge the practical aspect should not be ignored at any cost. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the agency of United Nations for Human Rights has given an elaborately enlisted the various activities and approaches that need to be adopted for promotion of human rights among school students at various levels of education.

Table 1: A step-by-approach as given by OHCHR, United Nation Human Rights agency

Remember, be it primary or secondary or senior secondary stage, a teacher can inspire more than the textbooks can and practical teaching is much more effective than just theoretical preaching. For this various activities can be organized. Story and poetry can prove to be a viable media. Among other techniques are drama, dance, song, graphic arts and sculpture. Discussions can prove to be good stimulants if conducted meaningfully. Students can benefit a lot from the field and community trips. This would help to extend school to community.

Teacher’s inspiration can be endless in helping the child to move ahead in life and be an enlightened citizen. Just be there for the child so that you can guide him in being aware of his human rights as well as taking care of the rights of others. Teacher can easily bring home the point that rights come with duties. These values when inculcated among the students would be of tremendous help in rightfully making the world a better place. On a lighter note, don’t be a teacher who says, “Students today we will be knowing what freedom of speech is….hey you sitting on the last bench, just shut up!”

AMRITBIR KAUR

[email protected]

 

From the Editor’s Desk: Vol.III, Issue 2

The social scenario has been changing rapidly with no certainty about the direction that the existing value system and morality will adopt. We often use the term ‘erosion of values’. This erosion of values is not only to be observed among the students, as is often lamented. We, as adults, are equally responsible for that. The need for being aware of what our rights as human beings are, was always there but it has become all the more intense in the current social scenario. United Nations has been working towards providing Human Rights Education by celebrating 1995-2004 as the decade for Human Rights Education. UNESCO has been promoting the World Programme for Human Rights Education (2005-ongoing), in close cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, targeting diverse communities, from students to civil servants to police officers. But teachers cannot wash their hands off from their responsibility of making the students aware of their rights as human beings as well as students.

The feature story of this issue focuses on the important role that teachers play in our education system in creating awareness among students about their rights. There are two aspects. One is denial of human right of having access to basic education, while other is concerned with the content of curriculum with respect to the orientation of the curriculum towards the human rights. Teacher as the one at the helm of affairs can help do a lot when combined with the opportunities provided by the government.

Let’s look forward to a brighter tomorrow! Happy Reading!

Amritbir Kaur