The tough Naeem Akhter?

Bharti Jasrotia

Ex-Tourism secretary, one of the closest aides of Ex- Chief Minister Late Mufti Mohammed Sayeed and Education Minister of PDP- BJP government Naeem Akhter is seemingly finding it difficult to be a politician and straightforward, honest individual at the same time.

A man, who once staked his job for a cause, then refused to become an IAS babu and followed it up by resigning from the government service when suspected that the government was going to penalize him for being Ex-Chief Minister Late Mufti Mohammed Sayeed’s eyes and ears. He did not waste a minute in demitting office and is only officer to have voluntary retired from the government service in the last three decades.

When he took over as minister of Education, even his closest friends complained that he had developed complete disconnect with all of them. But, on the other side, Naeem had taken up the task of reforming the education department to the highest possible extent. Having served on various positions, Naeem knew where the rot was and began taking action against all those elements.

The ideas he conceived were welcomed by one and all. He talked of making government schools the first choice institutions of general public. He talked of creating an environment where even the most influential, rich and VIPs, VVIPs families would prefer sending their children to government schools than knocking at the door of highly costly private educational institutions.

He talked of model schools, inspirational teachers and emphasized on developing work culture in education department. But, while all this was going on, party workers and leaders complained that Naeem Akhter was too arrogant and completely disconnected with the workers. “He does not listen to us. He is not bothered about the party interest. He is yet to come out of babudom,” is what party workers and leaders would often complain to the party high command including the then Chief Minister Late Mufti Mohammed Sayeed.

Trouble erupted, when Naeem questioned the academic credentials of the Rehbar-e-Taleem teachers. He talked of testing the Rehbar-e-Taleem teachers before giving them responsibility of teaching children in the rural as well as urban and semi-urban areas. This created furor with leaders of all the parties including PDP terming this as useless exercise.

Union leaders including those who always enjoyed proximity in the highest corridor of powers joined in leveling all kinds of accusations. They did not stop here only but went on to use both print as well as electronic media to create an impression as if Naeem Akhter was a villain. Unfortunately, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed passed away on January 7 and for almost 3 months, there was no government.

When the government was again formed on Apr 3 ,2016 with Mehbooba Mufti as new Chief Minister, from teachers to union leaders all wished that Naeem does not return as education minister. Even fake list was circulated wherein it was shown that Naeem was likely to be replaced with someone better than him but it was not to be.

Mehbooba decided to go with her father’s team brought Naeem Akhter back as education minister of Jammu and Kashmir. The moment portfolios were announced, Union leaders went into a hurdle. They feared that Naeem would be vindictive as is the case normally with politicians and they would not be spared for having launched a tirade of allegations against him. But, the last one month has shown how the system prevails over an individual.

Whatever, systemic reforms Naeem had initiated would have all benefited the education system in the long run. One needs not to quote examples while stating that how union leaders exploit the system, force officers to work according to their whims and fancies. It also needs no mention that education department is the only department where transfers are a norm and work an exception.

Wives, sisters, mothers, fathers, daughter-in-laws, son-in-laws, sister-in-laws and closed relatives of all VIPs, VVIPs are drawing fat salaries with little or no work. On the pretext of security, they force the department to post them in defunct schools where they enjoy their life, party and look after their families well. Naeem Akhter should have broken this system and put in place a better one but, it seems in his new avatar, he has decided to play the political flute and keep the workers and leaders happy. But, even this has failed to attract the eye of his detractors who continue to annoy him.


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