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Post COVID19 Online Examination: Possibilities and Challenges



Dr Syed Zahoor Ahmad Geelani    

University is a multifaceted institution of advanced learning usually meant for disseminating and creating new knowledge, deliver quality education, work for national interests, further international cooperation and produce skilled human resource. In our country we have as many as 907 Universities as of 31-12-2019, out which 399 are state Universities, 334 are Private Universities, 126 Deemed to be Universities and 48 Central Universities. Besides there are other more than 40,000 colleges and 10752 Stand Alone Institutions providing higher education in different disciplines. In its last tenure of UPAS –II the government of India has established 14 New Central Universities; the main aim behind the establishment of these institutions was to make some change in the existing higher education system of India. These universities were assigned the pace setting role in progress of academic education and skill development and at the same time were expected to bring reforms and transformations into academic sectors through creating of skilful human powers. These CFI must be attached and collaborated for promotion to institute and must be supportive for regional level development of colleges and institutes and as such have leadership role in the higher education sector of our country.

The Central University of Kashmir is working hard in realising its objective of being a pace setting institution in the country in general and in J and K in particular. We have been successful in developing a robust online pedagogical strategy wherein the students on rolls were supported by compete SLM package along with supportive zoom classes, whattapp voice messages, Google classes, and periodic guidance and counselling sessions. Along with the online e – transmission of teaching learning materials and guidance a large number of webinars and e-conferences were organised by the different departments of the varsity. When we have almost completely shifted to online pedagogy we need to explore the possibilities of Online evaluation process, although there are a number on impediments which restricts our progress towards online examination system but owing to the grim situation created by the global pandemic we are almost left with no option other than to shift to the online examination.

The School of Education, Central University of Kashmir organized a National e- Conference on “Challenges and Opportunities of Online Examination amid Covid-19” on July 3rd 2020. Two key speakers deliberated threadbare on the subject The speaker Prof. S. K. Yadav, Former Head, Department of Teacher Education, NCERT in his presentation stressed that online examination needs to be emphasized as its importance has been highlighted by number of commissions & committees from time to time. He stressed that the examinations now should be based on self-assessment and need to be more innovative.  Prof Sanjev Sonawane, Dean, Faculty of Multidisciplinary Studies, Savitribai Phule Pune University described various e- Assessment tools which can be employed especially during Covid-19. He deliberated that 21st century demands using the internet and digital platform tools to plan, share and curate learning. He made the participants aware about the different online tools which can employed and also elaborated the context and procedure to use for their implementation. Here I want to share his detailed deliberations for the Teachers of our state so that we all may get benefited by the online assessment tools available for us, if at all we may someday switch over to online examination. These latest online e-assessment tools are

  1. Topgrade Quiz Maker

Topgrade is one of the best e-assessment tools used by more than 250,000 students use to improve their exam results. We can create quizzes, courses and flashcards in it.  It can be had from   Its main features are

  1. we can create an unlimited number of resources to help us learn.
  2. We can choose from several question types including multiplechoice, fill-in-the-blank and matching.
  • We are also able to add images and time limits to our questions.
  1. Best of all we can create resources anywhere and anytime, online or offline, via our Android and Apple apps.


  1. Class Maker

It is very secure, professional web-based Quiz maker, easy-to-use, customizable online testing solution for business, training & educational assessment with Tests & Quizzes graded instantly saving you hours of paperwork, It can be downloaded from The main features of this e-assessment tool are

  1. Secure & private, easy to define test settings, no software installations required and can create assistants to help manage your account.
  2. Custom certificates & exam branding, exams can be conducted with public & private options
  • Results automatically graded & viewable in realtime PCs, Macs, iPad, iPhone, Android, Chrome book & more.
  1. ProProfs (Quiz Maker)

This tool can be used to make delightful quizzes and tests using ProProfs Online Quiz Maker Software, can Create a quiz from scratch or pick from 100,000+ customizable quizzes that come bundled free of cost with online quiz software.

It can also help to get access to a library of 100,000+ ready-to-use questions and 10+ question types including fill in the blanks, multiple choice, hotspot and more with our quiz builder tool.  This tool can create scored quizzes, personality quizzes or surveys with ease, add images, presentations, and videos to make your quiz interactive. The tool can be had from Its important features are

  1. World’s simplest way to create online quizzes, delightful reports & analytics
  2. Customize quizzes your way with quiz creator software
  • Quiz anytime & anywhere with quiz generator with 100+ settings & Configurations.
  1. Online Quiz Creator

This is a very user-friendly e-assessment tool used to create online quizzes and can be downloaded from the link Its main features are

  1. It helps in Challenging the users on any platform. Lots of question types to choose from (Text questions, Multiple choice questions, image questions, multiple right answers)
  2. Advanced game statistics and rankings, rich tools and sharing.
  1. Moodle

Moodle is the world’s most popular learning management system. The focus of the Moodle project is always on giving educators the best tools to manage and promote learning, but there are many ways to use Moodle. It can have online from  with the following features

  1. Moodle is an Open Source Course Management System (CMS), also known as a Learning Management System (LMS) or a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).
  2. It has become very popular among educators around the world as a tool for creating online dynamic web sites for their students.
  3. Quiz Pedia

Quiz Pedia is a digital tool for quizzes in the classroom. It can easily  add text, pictures and sound. It can be downloaded from with following features

  1. Use quizzes to assess student’s level of understanding or make the students co-creators of the own learning and allows them make quizzes themselves and then share them with their peers.
  2. Free, but access to statistics, feedback function and customizing requires a fee.
  3. Interact: Create a Quiz

Interact is a tool for creating online quizzes that generate leads, segment our audience, and drive traffic to our website. It can be had from the link with the features such as personalized quiz, scored quiz and assessment quiz.

  1. Quest Base | Freely create on-line and printed

Quest Base gives us the freedom to ask, Millions of questions (and counting) published and printed with QuestBase free of charge. The online source for this tool is with the features such as to create quizzes, tests, assessments, exams or get feedback from surveys and polls, within minimum possible time.

  1. Socrative | Student Response System

Socrative is a smart student response system that empowers teachers to engage their classrooms through a series of educational games and exercises via smartphones and tablets.

These apps are super simple and take seconds to load and run. Teachers control the questions and games on their laptop, while students respond and interact through their smartphones/laptops. Users can run it as an app or on any web browser. This e-assesment tool can be had online from the link  with the following featues

  1. Quiz and Grade at the speed of learning with activities like Quizzes, Quick Question, Class count.
  2. Helps to get instant feedback and can create personalized activities.
  • It has option for more time for teaching; it is available on all platforms and is free for students.
  1. Hot Potatoes
It is high time to explore the options of alternate channels for assessment and evaluation at all levels of schooling, we can no longer resist the concepts of Open Book Examination, Blended evaluation and on spot Evaluation and integration of pedagogy with evaluation.


The Hot Potatoes suite includes six applications, enabling us to create interactive multiple-choice, short-answer, jumbled-sentence, crossword, matching/ordering and gap-fill exercises for the World Wide Web. Hot Potatoes is freeware, and we may use it for any purpose or project we like. It can be integrated with Moodle. It can be retrieved online from

Besides there are so many more e-assessment tools available online which can be used by the functionaries to initiate the process of online assessment of the students at different levels, no doubt the process of online examination does not fully suit to the educational scenario of our country but there is an age-old proverb that necessity is the mother of invention and in the present Global pandemic which is by every passing day becoming uglier especially in our own country now we have no option other than to turn digital.

In our own social-political scenario we are between the devil and the deep sea like situation, neither we have basic digital infrastructure in place nor we are having the normal internet speed available here and one more serious impediment is that the end-users are also neither well trained to use digital platforms nor the necessary ICT gadgets are easily available with them. Keeping in view such a grim situation we cannot afford to completely rely on online platforms but at the same we have to switch over to it sooner or later. In my opinion the best solution for the functionaries is to develop a blended approach just like we are now using blended pedagogy for the teaching-learning process and that is the only way forward and a win-win situation can be generated. I suggest that we must start an online examination supported by individualized interaction either face to face or with the help of other ICT Channels.

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Kya kuchh tha jiske kehne ko: A tribute to father



Kya kuchh thaa jiske kehne ko

By Zeeba Zaka-ur-Rab


کیا کچھ تھا  جس کے  کہنے کو

Kya kuchh thaa jiske kehne ko

وہ  کہنے والا چلا گیا

Vo kehne vaala chala gaya       

سالہا – سال سہا جس نے

Saalha saal saha jisne

وہ سہنے والا چلا گیا

Vo sehne vaala chala gaya

الجھے – سلجھے خیالات لیے

Uljhe – suljhe kHayalaat liye

چپ رہنے والا چلا گیا

Chup rehne vaala chala gaya

With the reality of his having gone away from this world, still to sink in fully despite the passage of four full months, it is with much hesitation as well as with a rather heavy heart that, a daughter brings herself to prefix “late” to her father’s name, and attempts to pay homage to this noble soul today.

Born as the fourth and the youngest child into a reputable, erudite and affluent family of Amroha, a town in western Uttar Pradesh, Abba (our father), Late Prof. Mohammad Zaka-ur-Rab was one of his kind – a thorough gentleman, a man of uncompromising principles, an intellectual par excellence (who was) far ahead of his times,.. and a multifaceted, ineffably wondrous personality. With humility, soft-spokenness and exemplary Husn-e-Akhlaaq (courtesy, politeness and affability ) as hallmarks, the tremendous amount of sabr (patience) this noble and pious soul was endowed with, is beyond incredible. Abba’s grandfather, Janab Abdur Rab, a highly respected Taluqdar of Amroha, had also served as a Judicial officer of the Royal Court at various places in the erstwhile Rajputana region. This highly acclaimed and principled officer, was also a renowned Persian scholar of his times. Abba’s father, Janab  Mohammad Zia-ur-Rab, was one of the only two Deputy Directors of Industries for the entire United Province ( the mother of a much smaller Uttar Pradesh of post-independence era). It is heartening to hear people still refer to him as the most kind and  upright Officer Kanpur has ever had. Not the ones to buckle under any pressures, both these righteous great men always stood up for the truth.  Underneath their tough exterior, however, nested  a soft, sensitive and compassionate heart.   Being extremely close to these two great men in the family, their lives and values left an indelible imprint on my father’s personality. It was actually his grandfather who had inducted the habit of rising early and awakened, in him, the love for books and nature, ..habits which Abba retained life -long, and later remembered to pass on to his own children.    “Zuka” his grandfather would call out lovingly, at 4 o’ clock in the morning, and slipping tiny little feet into his slippers,  Abba would rush to meet him. The two of them, would then set out for a refreshing long walk in their orchards, breathing in the fresh air,  enjoying stories and anecdotes with merry chirps of birds as background melody, and discussing important lessons on life, faith, and nature which were to guide him all through his life. A straightforward and extremely benevolent person himself, Abba, later proceeded to nurture in us, as well,  the virtues of truthfulness, selflessness, punctuality, impartiality, perseverance, and humility etc. etc right from our childhood. “Fear no one but the Almighty …and the Day of Judgement” …he would remind us frequently,…and as we strolled in the garden, with the morning dew caressing our little feet or rested on the terrace gazing at shiny stars at night,  he would, in an effort to ignite the young researcher in us, often say “Learn to observe.. ‘Ghaur karo’ .. Allah himself has commanded”…

Having lost his father,  while his intermediate examinations were underway (and his grandfather even earlier), he learned to endure adversity with great poise and fortitude at a fairly young age. Deeply attached as he was to his father, Abba a very bright and meritorious student all through, did not let the tragedy affect his educational excellence or achievements. Going against the wishes of most relatives and family friends, who, at that time, advised him to skip (the exams), he decided to do what his father would have wanted him to, that is …write the exams and silence them all with his results. So, each morning the very young and grieving Zaka would leave for the graveyard, offer fateha (prayer) and sit crying by his beloved father’s grave,… and when it was time to leave,  the broken-hearted child would pull himself together, and seeking his departed fathers blessings,  proceed to the examination centre. Abba used to often narrate, in a  voice choked with emotion and a sense of great respect and immense gratitude still palpable, how his teachers from B.N.S.D. Inter College (where he used to study in Kanpur), would specially care to come to the examination Centre, which was some 5 kilometres away from their college,  only to place their hands on his head, wish him luck, and comfort him saying “Though your father is no more…Don’t for a moment feel that you are alone…Beta (son), we were there for you,” ..These kind and much needed words for a child in that state,  remained deeply etched in his mind, and Abba continued to remain truly indebted to his teachers, holding  them all in high esteem throughout his life. To this day, his words stressing respect for teachers resound in our ears A teacher must never be disrespected..( for ) anyone who does so, earns nothing but humiliation and disgrace in his life)..”… “The one standing between the table and the blackboard should be listened to with rapt attention, (because) howsoever little one may think he/she knows,.. he definitely knows more than the student”…and “Observe your teachers carefully, .. Resolve never to repeat ( yourself) if ever  you  find something disapproving ,.. but try to do even better whatever you find good (in them)…”

A tireless worker, Abba knew no shortcuts. His analytical mind,  scientific approach and a keen eye for details made research come almost naturally to him.  From a young age, a passion for education and progressive thinking was fired and fuelled by his mother, Syyeda Begum, an enlightened homemaker who, herself, had received only informal education by a lady tutor, especially, hired by her father to impart English lessons at home. “Wo ilm hi kya, jo dil-o-dimagh roshan na karey ! (what use is education which fails to enlighten the heart and soul)” he would fondly recall his mother say. Armed with an insubvertible zest for knowledge, which lasted his lifetime, and an amazingly unparalleled  knack for simplifying tough topics, Abba turned out to be a fabulous and popular teacher himself… one, who could teach just any subject or topic, to anyone, with great ease. It is difficult to fathom or forget how he could make easy for us, complexities of even medical subjects during our graduation and post-graduation days!.. His succinct hand written notes, meant for a quick revision before our MBBS, MD/ MS examinations, and later even for job interviews are preserved with us to this day.

Prof. Abdul Hameed Hakeem Sb. has penned a well-deserved, beautiful and fairly exhaustive  tribute titled The pioneer of agricultural education and extension in Kashmir,”  highlighting our father’s many qualities  and contributions ( Editorial page,  Greater Kashmir, November 24, 2023). Each line, in this article, is so true, and each fact so well-articulated and elucidated, that (reading) it, literally, took our entire family down the memory lane, bringing back memories so vivid and pleasant of our wonderful  early childhood in Wadoora…. A life filled with plentiful laughter and gay abandon in the breathtakingly beautiful, fragrant and picturesque landscape surrounded, on all sides, by blue snowcapped mountains….. the imposing house with wooden floors and sloping roofs standing tall, its walls covered elegantly with luxuriant dark green ivy creeper playing a loyal nanny to generations of little birds, (with) its shiny broad leaves and maze of strong tendrils sheltering their nests and eggs from predators, ….the aesthetic lush green lawns and idyllic gardens laid and nurtured painstakingly by Abba…. A life amidst vibrant flowers, delicious fruits and berries, exotic vegetables, and also pets aplenty,… ranging from hens and chicks, nightingales,  doves, partridges, Japanese quails to even insect larvae… each of which, could boast of a unique name of its own, depending on a characteristic that had managed to catch the children’s watchful eyes.. Ticktika was one such name, given to a fat, fluorescent green larva which constantly produced ticking sounds while nibbling away, ravenously, at fresh piles of tender leaves which our mother introduced, dutifully, in its jar every morning   …whereas Kudki was a broody dusky grey hen, which went “kuduk kuduk”, pecking merrily around on insects, young frogs and seeds.. and, yes, frogs,…how could I forget those creepy creatures !?…there were hundreds of them there, ready to scare the life out of me!… a fear, which my other two sisters, enjoyed to cruelly exploit to the hilt, …chasing me around the house with the little four legged monsters on their badminton racquets …poised to leap (at me), … in a get, set, and  go position…! Horrified, I used to refuse to step out, and it was Abba who always came to my rescue … “Meri beti ko koi tang nahi karega (no one should trouble my daughter)” he gently rebuked my sisters, and ensured the jumpy menace was gathered in baskets from the lawns, and tossed gently across the fence.

Abba, was, in fact, the first non-state subject to have been made permanent in his J& K service…a fact which surprises many. The article by Prof. Hakeem also  brought alive the joy, warmth and PRIDE of being ABBA’s three little daughters. A myriad scenes began to play, before our eyes, …. the radiant glow regularly lighting up our parents’ faces as they saw the college grow and achieve milestone after milestone, and its products attain greater and greater heights … glimpses of the happiness and contentment on his  face as Abba scanned our school report cards, and heard from my mother the feedback from our teachers  ……flashes of Abba, (with) his back resting against the headboard of the bed, a cup of piping hot coffee in his left hand, giving dictations for his research papers etc. to Ammi, our mother, who doubled as his stenographer at home, and whose valuable inputs and suggestions Abba always welcomed … Also came rushing in, recollections of how we would see him off each morning, even proceeding to clamber up the tall wooden main gate, in an effort to keep watching him as long as we could, ….and then as evenings drew near, perched atop branches of Albizia trees, covered in fuzzy baby pink blooms, lining the driveway,  we waited eagerly for him to return. Years later, as if in reciprocation,  even after his frame had been rendered frail by age, Abba would still stress on seeing us off  daily at the main gate, …where he would continue to stand and watch, until the disappearance of the rear of our car into the next lane. Fast forwarding to the present, with his going away forever, that wait (for our Abba),  albeit extremely heart-breaking  and unending this time, has just begun for us all over again …!

Although most of the crops and trees, Abba got planted in Wadoora, do find a mention in the article by Prof. Hakeem, I would like to add a few more which our family could recollect. It was common in those times, for heavy snowing or landslides to cut the valley off from the rest of the country for weeks or months together.  A man of great foresight, energy and grit, Abba wished to see the valley become self-sufficient in sugar production. This thought led him to introduce the plantation of sugar beet as well as sweet sorghum, from both of which,  sugar could be processed just like from sugarcane,.. but at a much lesser expense. Additionally, these two crops could yield animal fodder as well as ethanol. He had also conceived the idea of setting up a Gobar gas plant in the College, to recycle waste from the dairy,  for the production of biogas, a clean, unpolluted and cheap source of fuel in rural settings.  Abba was also the one to have introduced orange trees which, till then, had not been planted or seen to bear fruits ever before in the valley. On either side of the path  to the college, he had got silver poplar trees planted. The avenue of these eloquent trees, with their silver leaves shimmering in the sunlight like wings of little fairies, was a sight to behold…

I would specially like to recount here, an interesting anecdote around sugar beet, which some of his colleagues or students might still be able to recall. Winters were approaching  fast, and sugar beet was still awaiting transplantation. With snowing just around the corner, and an unexpected strike by Maalis (gardeners) of the College, Abba was left very very worried. “Pray beta … pray that, whatever you Abba wishes for, gets to happen today ”.. Ammi urged us, in a visibly worried voice, without disclosing any further details to the younger two of her daughters. Aapa, the eldest, the most serious of her daughters(though not much older than us) who was treated by Ammi as her confidante and friend all along, was, however, often privy to many tensions or problems about which  the younger two of us could only have a vague idea at best. “ I will plant them by myself today … can’t see all of them perish.. at least a few might be saved” Abba thought out aloud, as he started to transplant the sugar beet with his own bare hands… Seeing their college Principal work in the field, ..the staff members, rolling back their sleeves and pants, joined in too…and soon enough, the entire college, including students, had pitched in… It seemed Allah had answered our innocent prayers, and within no time the entire work was done…That day, “Saathi hath bhadana ”  a popular Mohd. Rafi song from an old and famous Hindi Classic “Naya Daur” seemed to have been re-enacted, albeit in a refreshingly new way, in the fields of this beautiful college, tucked away in a remote village of the valley of Kashmir,… and as if in celebration of the team work and spirit, .. a fine drizzle soon followed the planting of the last row. ….The next day, a thick blanket of snow had descended all over the campus.

How much this college actually meant to Abba, can be gauged by another incident, from several years ago, which Ammi often recounts.  It was the winter of 1971 when the valley saw itself embroiled in yet another Indo-Pak war.  Even though almost all other families had moved to safer zones, our father refused to leave the campus, a decision backed fully by our mother. When some colleagues tried to convince him to shift out as well, he retorted calmly “ Does that place have a different and more powerful Allah from the one we have with us here!?”.. One particularly chilly night, our house, standing lone in the darkness, was shaken violently with an ear shattering, loud boom, seemingly from bombardment in some place quite near… Abba rushed out of the house crying out in despair “they have  destroyed my college… sab tabah kar diya”…Ammi had to literally run out and pull him back in pleading “ if , God forbid, it has already happened, your rushing there at this hour, .. in the dead of the night, going change any of it??”

Coming back to the obituary by Prof. Hameed Sb., not only were we greatly overwhelmed and deeply moved by his article, but also felt extremely indebted to him for having, diligently and honestly, put on record, for the world to know, … who Abba was, …what a remarkable foresight he possessed,..  and all that he had managed to do, way back then, for a college he was so completely dedicated to….However,  at the same time, unbeknown to Hameed Sb., another thing which the article also ended up doing, unintentionally, was to uncover some old sores as well. Wounds, which still oozed and bled somewhere deep down within our hearts…and which over the years, even we had convinced ourselves to believe, ceased to exist…A pall of impenetrable silence and gloom seemed to descend on Ammi  and the three daughters who Abba had left behind …  During the entire day,  we could not help feeling that long forgotten pain and  the same anguish all over again … That particular night,  none  of us could catch any sleep… and as I lay awake, staring at the ceiling, I felt compelled to write my own tribute and elegy to a father like none other in this world ..a father, who instead of admonishing his daughters, himself proceeded to teach them to climb trees, offering in the process, his own palms to step on… A father, who in a bid to empower his daughters and decrease their dependence on others, not only taught them to send telegrams, withdraw and deposit money, fill admission forms themselves (from a pretty early age),  but also trained them to change tyres before teaching them to drive!…A father,  who instead of imposing his own wishes or restrictions, opened up the skies in all their entirety for them (as far as his resources could permit).. A father, who, howsoever tired or tense he was , always entered his home with a warm smile on his radiant face,.. and cared to keep up his promise of playing badminton with each of his little daughters… A father, who despite his hectic schedule, not only wrote timely replies to his children, but always cared to enclose (within the same envelope or inland letter),  the original letters addressed to him as well, appending little notes in his trademark neat and mature hand…Notes,  appreciating their tender sentiments, but at the same time, guiding them, gently, on how a particular sentence could be framed better… or an alternative word or expression used….

Abba  not only had great command over both English and Urdu, but he could also speak Persian with great elan. His DSc. (Doctor of Science – a degree higher standing than Doctor of Philosophy [PhD]) thesis won remarkably strong words of praise from highly acclaimed foreign experts,  not just for the exceptionally high quality of his research, but also for the linguistic beauty of expression as well as for the exquisite diagrams which he had himself inked. Not many in Kashmir might, however, be aware that Abba, who was a very fine and sensitive artist at heart, wrote beautiful poetry as well. A great admirer of art and handicrafts,  he never let my mother bargain. Siding always with the seller, he would convince her “ they work so hard all year long, ..why eat into the little profit they wish to make!”

Just like at any other place, life in Wadoora, too was peppered with small worries and tensions. However, despite the usual ups and downs, faced by almost all office goers, broadly speaking, Abba and his small family of five, were happy and contented. Life was fine, until one day, when suddenly like a bolt from the blue, some fairly, unsavoury events  were orchestrated by a few people with nefarious designs and vested interests. Not the one to bow down to pressure or injustice, Abba decided to proceed on a long leave and left for Aligarh. Those unfortunate events, left us terribly terribly hurt and shaken. Our honest, soft- hearted, and sensitive parents were the hardest hit. It, definitely, wasn’t a question of any post or promotion having been denied…(Abba was the last one to have run after position, power, money or fame).. The sorrow and hurt, were all about a doubt having been cast on the impeccable integrity of a person as scrupulously honest and hardworking as him,.. about having been let down by his own  … about having had to go far- far away from where his heart always lay and continued to ( lay) till the very end of his life and…last but nt the least, an illustrious innings having been undeservingly cut short…..

Quiet and uncomplaining ,  Abba,  an epitome of “sabr,never once complained to Allah or cursed anyone. Seldom expressing any frustration or pain, he chose to use a dignified silence as his armour instead.  However, we, as his family, could still sense it all. Although we all tried to put up a brave front before each other, the harsh reality was that, each member of our family was impacted in ways more than one… the temporary, but severe financial hardship,  was just one of the many consequences. Though he came from a rather well-off family, complete immersal in affairs of the college had left Abba with little time to devote to his ancestral property. This inattention, later, cost us dear,.. and before we could realize it, almost  everything including his house, orchards, and other land holdings in his hometown, had been usurped by caretakers as well as outsiders. Ammi who, from the beginning,  multitasked as an efficient homemaker, loyal friend, and a competent research and personal assistant to her husband (at home),  continued to stand steadfast, uncomplainingly, with him through thick and thin … the unimaginably strong bond of absolute trust, care and affection they shared mutually, all their lives, is an example for all…Our parents (who were first cousins) shared many qualities and virues and remained totally inseparable and wholly devoted (to each other) till the very end..

In the ensuing years, Abba a picture of grace, indefatigable and indomitable spirit, and complete faith in the Creator, managed to veer us through all the turbulent and fairly difficult times with dignity and composure. “Have unquestioning faith in him( the Almighty)… uski rassi mazbooti se pakde rakkho..aur uski raza mein raazi raho”…he would remind us pointing at the sky. “Ye kya hai (what is this)!?… Zinda ho beti, tou zindo ki tarah jeena seekho… Learn to live your life with zest and zeal…” he would gently chide, whenever he saw any of his daughters pull on a long face… To pep our sulking spirits up, he would reiterate “Waqt kii sabse baDii Khoobi hai ke guzar jaata hai,..  achha bhi or bura bhi (The greatest beauty of time is that it passes, …both good as well as bad,” …and in the due course of time, we really got to see it happen, when,  by Allah’s grace and our family’s resilience, we succeeded in overcoming the transient  hardships….What could never be undone, however,  was the tragic loss of, what could have been, some of the most productive years of life of this young, enthusiastic, and honest researcher and administrator. Looking back at all that Abba had managed to painstakingly accomplish  during his tenure as Principal at Agriculture College, Wadoora, and knowing what his calibre was, …it pains us greatly to realise how much more he could have contributed, had all the dreams and plans (which) he had envisaged for the future development of his college, not been dashed so abruptly ..and so ruthlessly many many years ago by a few self-seeking men, …some  of whom later went on to personally  apologise to Abba, accepting and repenting the immense and irreversible damage (they had) caused to a person as honest and sincere as him  …

After leaving the Agriculture College at Wadoora, Abba was conferred the prestigious National Fellowship by the UGC which gave him the opportunity to conduct research in the Department of Zoology at AMU, of which he was an Alumnus. He also briefly served as a Professor of Entomology at the University of Benghazi in Libya. It was during this time that America attacked that country, leading us to plead with him to return. Abba eventually retired from SKUAST – Kashmir as Professor cum Chief Scientist before joining the Institute of Agriculture at Aligarh Muslim University as Director. However, despite all that he accomplished in life, Abba sometimes, still rued the unrealised dreams he had for  ‘his’ College  in Kashmir.  Even after the passage of so many years, Agriculture College Wadoora still remained ( and shall always continue to remain)The Collegefor our entire family! There is yet another precious dream which, now,  shall sadly remain unfulfilled forever, … that of taking our parents on a visit to Kashmir, getting them to meet everyone, and see one more time “our” house and “Abba’s college” in Wadoora..“ Hazaron khwaahishein aisii …”

Kya kuchh tha jiske kehne ko

Abba with his college football team (1964-65)

Notwithstanding, all the trials and tribulations he was undeservingly and unfairingly subjected to, Abba harboured no bitterness or ill will towards anyone,.. his pious heart having only prayers, sincere words of advice and good wishes for one and all…a truth, we as his daughters,  can vouch for …

I have (ignoring my rather limited proficiency in vocabulary and expression) attempted to pen down some thoughts and questions (on those ‘unfortunate events’ of Wadoora referred to in the preceding paragraphs) which, I felt, might have played, sometimes, on Abba’s mind. Since, words in any given language may have more than one connotation, I have tried to mention, at places, the relevant context of their use:

کیوں چھین ہَزارَہ مالی سے                  (hazaara: a pot for sprinkling water on plants)

Kyun chheen hazaara maali se

رخ باد سباء نے موڑ لیا ؟

RukH baad-e-saba ne moD liyaa?

گلشن میں جس  جاں بستی

Jaa(n) basti, jis Gulshan mein

کیوں خاموشی کو اوڈھ  لیا؟

Kyun kHamoshi ko oDh liyaa?

گل خاروں مین تبدیل ہوئے                                   (kHaaron: thorns)

Gul kHaaron mei(n) tabdeel huey

بلبل نے نَغْمَہ  چھوڑ  دیا

Bulbul ne nagHma chhoDh diyaa

 تھا عِلْم وَہاں چَھلْک تا  جو

 Jo chhalkaata, tha ilm vahaa(n)

!پَیمانَہ ہی وہ توڑ دِیا

 Paimaana hi vo toD diyaa !

ماںجھی کے سب پتوار لیے

Maanjhi ke sab patwaar liye

طو فاں کی جانب موڑ دیا

Toofa(n) ki jaanib moD diyaa


کیا-کیا کرنے کی خاہش تھی

Kya-kya karne ki kHaahish thii

نے سپنا توڑ دیا بَیری                     (Bairi:one who bears a grudge; adversary)

Bairi ne sapna toD diyaa

نہ جانے کیسی  رنجش تھی

Na jaane kaisi ranjish thii                                    Kya kuchh tha jiske kehne ko

یوں رسوا کھالی چھوڑ دیا

Yoo(n) rusva kHaali ChhoD diyaa

بنجارا گٹھری باندھ چلا

Banjaara gatHree bandh chala

اَپنوں نے ہی  دل توڑ دیا

Apno(n) ne hii dil toD diyaa

دنیا کے تیوَر کیا بدلے

Duniya ke tewar kya badle

نے رِشتْا جوڑ لیا ْ  پھر غم

Phir gham ne rishta joD liyaa

پیر چُھپائے چھپ نَہ سکئ

Peer chhupaey chhup na sakii

 چھوڑ دِیا ہنسنا ثے اور دل

Aur dil se ha(n)sna chhoD diyaa ..

The last seven months of Abba’s life were spent on ventilator in the ICU of Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College at AMU, Aligarh, due to complications arising from a badly messed up tracheostomy procedure conducted, by a callous senior anaesthetist, one fateful April evening. This was the toughest, the most trying of times for all of us, when Allah, it seems, chose to test Abba’s sabr once again and to the fullest. Desperate to hold him back at any cost, his three daughters never, for a moment, left his side,..and kept struggling, clinging on to even the faintest rays of hope, praying for a miracle to happen, .. and trying all that was within their might to see that he recovers ..… The doting father that Abba was, he too played his part well in his daughters’ struggle, … continuing to fight along bravely until the very last, .. bidding adieu to all, on the night of November 13,  perhaps, only when reassured that his Master had infused enough strength to keep his family from crumbling…


سو زخم سمیٹے آن٘چَل میں

Sau zakHm sametey Aanchal mei(n)

پروانہ گھائِل چلا گیا

Parwaana Ghaayal chala gaya


  چمن کا دِیوانَہ اپنے

Apne chaman ka deewana

دِلْ سوز وہ عادِل چلا گیا        (dil soz:benevolent; Aadil : fair)

Dil soz vo aadil chala gaya


کا مظہر تَمَدُّن  تہذیب و             ( Mazhar: manifestation)

Tahzeeb-o-tamaddun ka mazhar

وہ مخلس , لا ظِل،  چلا گیا         ( laa-zil: gold sans any impurity )

Vo mukHlis laa-zil chala gaya


پابَنْدِ تَعَیُّن ، پاکیزاہ                        ( paband- e -taa’yyun: man of his words)

Paband- e -taa’yyun, pakeezah

اک  پیر  کامل چلا گیا                    ( peer- e- kamil: perfect mentor)

Ik peer- e- kamil chala gaya


جب بھیڑ  لِوانے ای تو

Jab bheeD livaane aaii tou

اپنں سے غافِل  چلا گیا                       ( ghafil:oblivious)

Apno(n) se gHafil chala gaya


عآہستہ بوجھل قدموں سے

Aahista bojhal qadmo(n) se

نَظَروں سے اوجَھل چلا گیا

Nazro(n) se ojhal chala gaya


سب شور شَرابہ  چھوڑ  یہاں

Sab shor -sharaaba chhoD yahaa(n)

بیراگی  رائِل چلا گیا                        (bairagi: saint; raahil: traveller)

Bairaagi raahil chala gaya


کیا کچھ تھا جِس کے کہنے کو

Kya kuchh thaa jiske kehne ko

بن  بولے کافِل چلا گیا                 ( Kaafil: a man who fasts often, & during which imposes silence on himself)

Bin boley kaafil chala gaya


سالہا- سال سہا جس نے

Saalha saal saha jisne

وہ سابر  باسِل چلا گیا                        ( baasil: brave )

Vo sabir baasil chala gaya


حسن صَبْرٌ کا پیمانہ

Husn -e -sabr ka paimaana

بےخوف وہ عاہِل چلا گیا                          (Aahil: king)

Be-kHauf  vo aahil chala gaya

اپنے چمن کا دِیوانَہ

Apne chaman ka deewana

وہ مُشْفِق باادِل چلا گیا                 (mushfiq: kind, affectionate; baa-dil: with heart)

Vo mushfiq baa-dil chala gaya….

Even though pages after pages can be filled without doing full justice to the memory of this marvellous human being, but as I proceed to conclude this rather lengthy write-up, I can almost visualize Abba in his favourite blue dressing gown,   standing, near his desk,  glossing over the paper … (with) spectacles in his right hand…  “This time you were totally wrong Abba, with a loss far too great to get over, and a void too huge to ever fill, how did you think your family could stay afloat without you!??…but as you always said ‘Allah ki raza me raazi tou rehna hii hoga’…we must bow to His will, .. Allah Haafiz…. May the Almighty Allah grant, you the highest place in Jannatul Firdaus,  and give to us, just a small fraction of the Sabr which he had chosen to bestow on you, our angel.. Aameen!”

Prof Mohd. Zaka-ur-Rab is survived by his wife and three daughters Simi, Zeeba and Atia Zaka-ur-Rab who are serving as Professors in the Departments of Ophthalmology, Pediatrics and Surgery, respectively at Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, AMU, Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh

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Promoting diversity, equity and inclusiveness in veterinary profession



World Veterinary Day

Sanober Rasool

World Veterinary Day

For veterinary professionals, it is crucial to provide socially conscious learning and working environments as well as to eliminate obstacles to fairness and inclusion. Veterinarians operate in a world that is becoming more diverse and swear an oath to uphold public health. Students, team members, and veterinarians must have the knowledge and abilities necessary to meet every customer’s requirements and foster hospitable workplaces for every employee. Although diversity, equality, and inclusivity (DEI) and mental well-being (MWB) are still crucial for the veterinary profession, there is little information available on how professional bodies throughout the world approach these problems. The veterinary profession is a diverse field that offers healthcare and other services to a variety of different animal species. However, despite working with animals that come from diverse backgrounds, the profession itself has not always been inclusive of diversity in its workforce. There is a growing need for the profession to promote diversity, equity, and inclusiveness to better serve the needs of all animals and their owners. This essay will examine some of the ways in which the veterinary profession can promote diversity, equity, and inclusiveness.

One important step toward promoting diversity in the veterinary profession is to increase awareness of the opportunities available to individuals from different backgrounds. This can be achieved by reaching out to underrepresented groups and promoting the benefits of a career in veterinary medicine. Admissions committees for veterinary schools should take into account the unique challenges faced by underrepresented minorities when evaluating applications. This could include adjusting the emphasis given to academic achievements in order to account for the additional obstacles that students from disadvantaged backgrounds may have had to overcome. Making a commitment to diversity and inclusion necessitates uncomfortable levels of participation. Breaking out of our comfort zones might be one of the most difficult obstacles to achieving change in our environments. Discover activities that can help you get out of your comfort zone and into a daring space, allowing you to boost diversity and inclusion programmes in your organisations.

Professional groups and associations can also provide support by offering networking opportunities and resources that help individuals overcome barriers to success. They can also offer resources such as job listings, continuing education opportunities, and access to research and other publications that can help individuals stay up-to-date on the latest developments in the field. Moreover, in promoting diversity, the veterinary profession must also strive for equity in its workforce. This means ensuring that everyone has access to the same opportunities regardless of their background.

World Veterinary Day

Veterinarians should be evaluated on their merits rather than their race, gender, or ethnicity. This principle is central to the idea of meritocracy, which holds that individuals should be rewarded and promoted based on their abilities, achievements, and potential. Policies should be put in place to ensure that there is no discrimination in the selection process for veterinary specialists or in any other job opportunities.

Some possible policies that could be implemented to prevent discrimination in the veterinary profession include:

  1. Developing a fair and transparent selection process
  2. Providing equal opportunities: employers should provide equal opportunities for all applicants, regardless of their race, gender, religion, age, or other personal characteristics.
  3. Educating employees: Employers should educate their employees about discrimination and the importance of non-discrimination in the workplace.
  4. Establishing a complaints mechanism: Employees should establish a mechanism for employees to report incidents of discrimination and take appropriate action to address such incidents.
  5. Regularly reviewing policies: Employers should review their policies and procedures regularly to ensure that they comply with anti-discrimination laws and best practices.

By implementing these policies, the veterinary profession can become more inclusive, diverse, and welcoming to all individuals who want to pursue a career in this field.

Finally, inclusiveness in the veterinary profession means creating an environment where everyone feels valued and respected. Veterinary organisations should continue to raise awareness and reduce stigma related with mental health conversations at the national and regional levels through webinars, specific training, and broad ongoing education.

World Veterinary Day. In conclusion, promoting diversity, equity, and inclusiveness in the veterinary profession is essential not only for the well-being of veterinary professionals but also for the animals and their owners. Veterinary organizations, schools, and individual professionals have a responsibility to create a welcoming and inclusive environment that supports and encourages diversity, equity, and inclusiveness. By doing so, the veterinary profession can improve its service to a diverse clientele, foster a culture of inclusion, and better serve the needs of all animals and their owners. It is important to continue the conversation around diversity, equity inclusiveness and mental well-being and take actionable steps towards creating a more inclusive and equitable profession for all.

Veterinarians are essential members of society because of their compassion and caring. They are tasked with treating and caring for sick or injured animals until they are whole and content. So take a chance on World Veterinary Day and give our neighbourhood vets a thank you for all they do for the community.

Sanober Rasool is a PhD Scholar at the SKUAST-K’s Division of Veterinary and Animal Husbandry Extension


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Global eCommerce boom and local traders of Kashmir



Global eCommerce boom Kashmir

A Structural Shift in the Market Preferences

Dhaar Mehak M
Tabeen J Wali

The global eCommerce market was expected to be worth a total of $5.7 trillion by the end of 2022. That figure is estimated to grow over the next few years; exhibiting the fact that borderless eCommerce is becoming a profitable option for online retailers. It is giving a market space to one and all with a potential or product to sell. Only two years ago, 17.8% of sales globally were made from online purchases. That number is again expected to reach 20.8% by the end of 2023; a 2 percentage point increase in eCommerce market share. This growth is expected to continue, reaching 23% by 2025, translating to an increase of 5.2 percentage points in just five years.

Economic projections and forecasts predict the global retail sales growth to rise even further and take up more retail market share. According to research completed by eMarketer and Statista, online retail sales will reach $6.51 trillion by 2023, with eCommerce websites taking up 22.3% of total retail sales. Although retail has had it tough since 2020, every national market covered by eMarketer saw double-digit eCommerce growth. The trend continues globally: Latin America (including Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico) saw $104 billion in eCommerce sales in 2022, up 22.4% from $85 billion in 2021. The UK is forecasted to continuously increase by $85.7 billion (+42.88%) within the next years.

China continues to lead the global eCommerce market, accounting for 46.3% of all retail eCommerce sales worldwide, with total online sales just over the $2.8 trillion mark in 2022. It also has the world’s most digital buyers, 842.1 million, representing 39.4% of the global total. The US eCommerce market is forecasted to reach more than $904.9 billion in 2022, a little over a third of China’s. After China and the US, the third-largest eCommerce market is the United Kingdom, taking up 4.8% of the retail eCommerce sales share. The UK is followed by Japan (3%) and South Korea (2.5%). The top five eCommerce markets haven’t changed since 2018. Trends from eMarketer suggest that these markets will stay in the top five until 2025.

While the whole world has been witnessing the structural transformation and shift in terms of market transformations from retailing to online shopping, the Indian economy has been a part of the process. In light of the same, the Jammu and Kashmir economy has had an equal and equally growing participation in the same. The advent of the internet and the arrival of eCommerce technology in the lives of average Kashmiris have changed the shopping preferences and experiences of the locals. People no longer have to battle issues like vehicular traffic on the roads or wait in queues for long hours. Accredited to the growth of eCommerce technology, locals have been empowered to shop anywhere-anytime just at the click of a button.

However, in the recent past, there was no (or very limited) concept of eCommerce in Kashmir. Smartphone availability to the general public was rare. The masses were barely aware about the internet facilities and global communication channels. There was no idea of online shopping, online transactions, etc. With time and the availability of the internet along with the growing mobile phone penetration, eCommerce made its presence felt in the valley. However, due to slower internet connection issues like 2G and lack of awareness, people initially had apprehensions and thus were afraid of buying things online.

Global eCommerce boom Kashmir

Tracing the roots and history of online shopping awareness in J&K, it dates back to the year 2008 when the mobile internet was making its headway into the valley. People were gaining affordable and available access to wireless internet. It was around the same time that after bearing a lot of hardships with sorting out the supply chains Flipkart became operational and function in the region. the initial years were tough and hard but the company stood steadfast. It took some time for Flipkart to cut through lots of hurdles alone and get to success. Being the only player in the online market in the region for quite some time it was a big deal to keep surviving and floating. But the outcomes were a success.

Steadily as people gain access to quality internet services and advanced smartphone technology the word spread. It was observed that doorstep delivery was actually a reality. At the same time, the quality of the delivery matched the promises of the website. The trust factor got built. Witnessing optimism within the J&K market, other companies like Amazon, SnapDeal, and other local online stores, etc., started jumping in to tap into the growing eCommerce market. The consumers got the opportunity of choosing from a wide range of products. Not only that, discounts and sales from time to time offer big benefits to consumers.

All these factors have been contributing towards a structural market shift. People from across J&K have been moving from in-person retail shopping to online shopping. While the consumers in the region have surely benefitted both in terms of utility/satisfaction and profit maximization, the retailers have been losing.

The J&K economy is predominantly characterized as a consumer economy. The characteristics of being a producer and self-sufficient economy have been limited and rather absent for a long time. It is the retailer of J&K, who has been at the losing end on account of the growth of the online markets. Retailing has been one of the most common business ventures of people across the region of J&K. Setting up of the shops and selling various items has been a known venture. People for generations have been relying on this activity. Lately, the structural change is challenging this segment of J&K businessmen and the immediate solution visible is evolution. These businessmen, particularly retailers, need to adjust to the changing market and make themselves competitive enough to compete with global online sellers. The only other option is to let the business supper, deteriorate and shut down.

The authors are affiliated with the Department of Economics, Islamic University of Science and Technology & can be reached at and

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