Qualification is not enough. You must be good at raising slogans and bearing physical and mental assault to get into the respectable profession of teaching in Punjab.
Victim of slapgate incident, Varinderpal Kaur, who had become the icon of teacher's protest now says she feels betrayed by the leaders who once assured her justice. On December 4 last year, an Akali sarpanch, Balwinder Singh Totti, had slapped her at Daula village in Gidderbaha assembly constituency where Varinderpal Kaur and her fellow Employment Guarantee Scheme (EGS) volunteers had reached to meet their member of parliament, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, at a sangat darshan (public contact) programme.
A woman of Sukhna Ablu village near Gidderbaha, Varinderpal Kaur braved humiliation and emerged stronger from the incident. Her charisma ruled the following days of protest at Gidderbaha and the government accepted most of the demands of her volunteer union. All his humiliation, sloganeering and limelight, however, didn't get her any job.
The government retracted from its promise after the state elections. It cited technical grounds. She has moved into another fight: to save her father, a taxi driver. "The episode pushed my father into stress and heart disease," said Varinderpal Kaur. "For the past two months, I have been visiting doctors for his treatment."
Some of the prominent leaders of the EGS teachers' protest in Gidderbaha also ditched her after the sarpanch allegedly bought them over. The woman is left to fight alone in the local court to punish the sarpanch who slapped her in public. "The police weakened the evidence," said the jobless teacher. "Most of the eyewitnesses are not invited to testify, and fake witnesses have been raised opposite me."
"The EGS union leaders are submitting statements in favour of the sarpanch," said the slapgate victim. "I will never succumb to the pressure, though political leaders are doing every bit to force me to give up. I will fight until justice prevails."
Now a qualified elementary teacher, she had no hope to finding any job quickly. The government has to first hire the candidates who cleared the Teacher Eligibility Test (TET) in the past. "We are still waiting of the next TET," she said. "If I clear that, another long wait for job will start."
"Teaching, a delightful profession, now has been turned into a humiliating occupation," said the brave woman. "Everyday, teacher are beaten up in public, their turbans are tossed, and their dupattas torn. Police wield the stick on them for news cameras. People hardly care."