Srinagar, July 17: Born with a rare genetic disorder, Qurat-ul-Ain (26) presents a living demonstration of how perseverance can turn a person, who is medically unfit to study, into a teacher.
At three years of age, Qurat was diagnosed with Retinitis pigmentosa, a rare, genetic disorder that involves breakdown and loss of cells in the retina. Doctors advised her mother not to let her study.
However, her mother remained steadfast, holding onto her belief that Qurat would make it through the visual disability.
And her unflinching support has yielded results: Qurat now teaches computer science to visually-impaired students at the Special Education Needs School (SEN) of Delhi Public School, Athwajan.
Hailing from Srinagar’s Sonwar area, the tall and round-faced Qurat has a rich and resonant voice.
The warm smile on her face remains fixed as she narrates her ordeal with the vision loss.
“I was enrolled in a school close to my home. I could barely read anything written on the blackboard. Even while attending mathematics class, I solved sums in my imagination. While writing exams, I took a lot to time to write my answers which resulted in low score,” she said.
Qurat was often bullied by her classmates for wearing big spectacles but she didn’t let that affect her schooling. Her parent’s constant support always helped her bounce back.
“Kids are insensitive by nature and you can’t blame them for it. I was mocked for my weird looking glasses but I didn’t lose heart. I would still talk to them,” she said.
After completing her schooling, Qurat’s gifted voice came to her rescue. She graduated in Music and Fine Arts from University of Kashmir.
“Music became my expression. It made me believe that my vision is still intact,” said Qurat
The course of true love didn’t run smooth for Qurat. This musical path was also filled with myriad hurdles. Her inability to walk without aid made her suffer.
“I vividly remember one afternoon from University days. We were rehearsing for an event in the backstage when an announcement for refreshment was made. All my friends went outdoors leaving me behind. I wept copiously. My immobility made me realise I cannot rely on others in the future,” she said.
A couple of days later, University held several workshops for the specially-abled children. Qurat saw the opportunity and decided to join it.
“The University’s special cell under DSW organised some technology related workshops in which they taught the disabled students how to use gadgets like laptops and mobile phones. I never knew that this little opportunity would turn out be a game changer for me,” she said.
With the help of this workshop, Qurat got acquainted with the world of computers. This was followed by intense sessions of learning. Today, she uses various devices with good proficiency in English and Braille.
“Last year a job offer from DPS came my way, and here I am. Helping and teaching people with disabilities overcome their fears gives me the utmost satisfaction. I have been there and no-one can understand it better than me,” said Qurat.
The resilient teacher, however, believes that the life of disabled people is filled with numerous challenges to go less societal acceptance.
“Walking around with a stick is looked down upon in our society. Many fear the social pressure and refuse to come out using it. Besides, there are very few schools for specially-abled people. Friendly spaces in various institutions and public places are even less,” she said.
Qurat urges the government to create more opportunities for specially-abled people through projects of mass awareness.
“The world should treat them as equals. If there are sincere efforts, you will see the disabled people making contributions in the same manner as others do,” she said.
JK’s liability swells
Srinagar, Jan 17: Similar to previous years, Jammu and Kashmir has accrued a liability of over Rs 7,000 crore in the ongoing fiscal even as experts blame state’s political leadership for not finding a solution to the issue.
Official documents of the finance department reveal that the state is running a liability of Rs 7,531 crore so far this fiscal, a figure close to the annual build-up J&K witnesses every year.
The total liabilities for the state have now swelled up to over Rs 68,000 crore.“The three fiscal parameters–revenue deficit, fiscal deficit and outstanding liability–indicate the extent of overall fiscal balance in the finances of the state government during the specified period. The nature of deficit is an indicator of the prudence of budgetary policy of the state government. Another useful measure of the deficit-base in a state’s fiscal policy is the State’s Own Deficit (SOD),” the documents reveal.
Noted economist, Professor Nisar Ali said the state’s expenditure and revenue system has been “mismanaged”.“The power purchase has been an important factor for swelling liabilities. The GST has further increased the mismanagement between expenditure and tax revenue,” he said.
Prof Ali also blamed J&K’s political leadership for increasing liabilities.“The annual liabilities increase due to power purchases despite the state having huge hydro resources. The state’s leadership has failed to fight for the return of power projects.
“It also depends upon the government of India how it wants to find a solution to this problem,” he added.
Endorsing Prof Ali’s views, a senior official of the finance department said that little or no use of revenue generation avenues, increasing power purchases and bulging expenditure on salaries are the main contributors to the escalating liabilities of the state.“There is a steep rise in salary and pension bills, power deficit, rising interest liabilities, loan repayments, and deficit on account of non-tax revenue,” the official said.
Conducive atmosphere inevitable for dialogue: Farooq
Srinagar, Jan 17: Former Chief Minister and National Conference (NC) president, Dr Farooq Abdullah on Thursday said that the favourable atmosphere is inevitable for dialogue, which is the only way out to settle the issues.
Addressing party workers in Jammu, Dr Farooq said that the dialogue is the only way out to resolve the issues but there is a need of conducive atmosphere which is inevitable. He added that “under the shades of gun, no dialogue process is possible. We have to stop bullet culture for lasting peace in the region.”
“NC has also given priority to the people. When I became Chief Minister in 1996, I fought with many things as the school were shut, no bridge was there, no office was functioning as the people were frightened by the turmoil then, but I stood up to fight against the forces who were inimical to peace.”
About 35 percent reservation in other states, Dr Farooq said that the incumbent Chief Minister of Odissa, Naveen Patnayak has written to him, suggesting there should be reservation of 35 percentfor women in Jammu and Kashmir also. “We will implement the law, which will ensure 35 percent reservation to women in the State once getting into the power,” he said.
However, he said that it is not easy to take such decisions as when his government took a decision to make 50 percent reservation for girls in Medical College then some people knocked the door of Supreme Court to put halt over the decision.
Dr Farooq also appealed the party workers to work hard and ensure the win of NC leaders who will be contesting the elections.
Abundant snowfall in January makes Gulmarg the perfect winter-destination for tourists
Srinagar, Jan 17: Unlike last January, the abundant snowfall so far this month has attracted a lot of tourists to Gulmarg as the destination is brimming with over 90 per cent occupancy these days.
The valley has received at least four moderate to heavy snowfalls this year with an even stronger wet spell predicted from January 19 to 23.
Tourists from across the world are cherishing this and making their way to Gulmarg, whose slopes offer a perfect destination for skiing.
Speaking to The Kashmir Monitor, CEO Gulmarg Development Authority, Syed Hanief Balkhi said that most of the hotels are fully occupied as people are heading to Gulmarg to enjoy the charismatic scenery offered by the snow-covered hills.“Gulmarg is under 4-5 feet snow and is looking like a playground these days. Tourists from India and abroad enjoy skiing, snow cycling, ice skating, snow-sculptor activity, sledge-racing and other games here,” he said.
Apart from the hoteliers, the rush of the tourists, Balkhi said, has provided good workdays for sledge keepers, skating guides, local cab drivers and many others associated with tourism.
In 2018, as per the official figures, Gulmarg received 5.76 lakh tourists as compared to 5.69 lakh in the preceding year.
The tourism players also expressed satisfaction over the rush of tourists heading to the valley.
President Hotel and Restaurant Owners Federation, Wahid Malik said that snowfalls have pushed up the number of tourists visiting the valley.
“Gulmarg saw lesser arrival when winters begun, however, now the snow has ensured all the hotels and resorts are booked,” he said adding that Gulmarg hotels are running on 90 per cent occupancy so far this season.
Gulmarg is declared the ‘heartland of winter sports in India’ by the Winter Games Federation. This year too, Gulmarg Tourism Authority is going to organise winter sports carnival starting from the first week of February.
Additional Director Tourism Department, Nasir Khan said that Gulmarg is “rocking these days as it has received 34,712 and 35,022 tourists in the month of November and December”.
“We are going to organize the winter carnival from the next month to make the place more attractive,” he said.
He added that night market and cultural shows will also be arranged by the department.