Martin Luther has said, “I have a Dream” and the dream come largely true, but today, no one is bothered to dream any vision….”By Shahbaz Syed
10 Oct 2020
Youth have proven that they possess the best brains. They get a sizeable share of the prestigious IAS quota every year. In sports Kashmiris know how to produce Tajamul Islam and Hashim in the tender age. The youth are proving their mettle in MNC’s and thus helping the state to maintain per-capita income two folds than that of the national averages. Youth is the future of a nation. THE country lies in the hands of the youth. They make the nation and can also destroy it. Jammu and Kashmir is the heaven on this earth and the state justifies the title given to it (which is heaven). However with the past situation that have been arising our heaven is in danger.
The youth hopes for a world free of poverty, unemployment, inequality and exploitation of man by man. A world free of discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, language and gender. A world full of creative challenges and opportunities to conquer them. But let us convert these hopes in reality by means of the following:-
- Creating Space in Academia and Communities. Civil society initiatives that provide safe spaces for participatory dialogue should be supported at a community level across the region. These could be based on the public libraries infrastructure and local youth should be allowed to take a leadership role. Educational institutions – schools, colleges, and university faculties – are a vital arena where space can be made available to youth to discuss and explore their concerns, questions and interests, without any interference from the state, political, religious or security agencies, or threat of surveillance. More space is also needed for women-only and gender balanced dialogue. A monthly, uncensored Open Dialogue Day (ODD) on university campuses would provide another space for students to dialogue and express their interests. This would provide students with a forum to ask questions, discuss their concerns – official or personal – in a variety of formats (individual, male-only, female-only, small group or open to all). ODD would have the added benefit of helping to improve the functioning and accountability of institutions. The learning from these sessions could also feed in to the design of the curriculum and administration of these institutions.
- The Role of Civil Society. Civil society can play a key role in providing spaces for young people to come together and discuss issues of common interest – cultural, social and political. However in Kashmir, civil society has faced a number of challenges in doing so. Where normally civil society can be a space to embrace and promote a diversity of voices, in Kashmir any difference can become a fault-line. The exacerbation of such fault-lines – various political preferences, religious beliefs, rural-urban discourse, the Kashmir/Jammu/Ladakh discourse, a modern rather than an integrated indigenous development model impacts the ability of youth to move beyond such stereotypes.
- Support For Entrepreneurship. Non-governmental community-level support systems, such as private foundations or credit unions that support entrepreneurship, are a useful way to support economic opportunities for youth as well as boost their confidence in effecting the political and social change they desire. Such initiatives could be based on locally available agricultural, handicrafts and other resources, and primarily target the local needs. This would help lower the overwhelming dependence on government jobs, which are seen as a stable source of income in the present uncertain circumstances, as well as imports, which are draining the regions economy. School curricula that reflect the experience of local community life will be better able to promote a sense of ownership as well as entrepreneurial and leadership capacity. This would involve engaging students in vocations such as farming, carpentry, handcrafting, resource sharing, communal living, computing, communication, and other localised and needed skills. Initiatives with tangible outcomes (for example vegetables or fruits grown, furniture made, a community census done or improved community health and hygiene) that can generate resources for the school and the local community, will also give students a sense of accomplishment.
The role of youth is of most important in today’s time. It has underplayed itself in field of politics. It should become aspiring entrepreneur rather than mere workers. It can play a vital role in elimination of terrorism. Young participation is important because youth are the country’s power. Youth recognize problems and can solve them. Youth are strong forces in social movements. They educate children about their rights. They help other young people attain a higher level of Intellectual ability and to become qualified adults. Youth are vital, potential agents for positive societal change.
- Safe spaces for dialogue within and across academic and social institutions in Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh will enhance a sense of ownership and confidence in political processes. These spaces would benefit from independent, participatory, bottom-up approaches. Young people can play a distinct role in the socio-economic and political development of their communities. Education and livelihood options that support the development of relevant skills and capacity can better support youth to constructively contribute to their communities and Kashmiri society as a whole.
- An environment that enables youth to help address community issues should also be encouraged. These could include opportunities to affect change to the local education system and support localised entrepreneurial capacity.
- Efforts to support the role of youth will be more effective if they are complemented by efforts to resolve the political dispute that are transparent, focused on the concerns of the Kashmir people, and improve the situation on ground.
Unfortunately no one is bothered to dream any vision. Martin Luther has said, “I have a Dream” and the dream come largely true. If he had not thought of that dream he would have accomplished nothing in his life. Another problem is its indifferent attitude towards things, situation and politics.The new cool formula of “let the things be “is proving fatal to India’s development .Lack of unity and spirit is the major setback. In addition to that the following are the main hurdles which we cannot deny:-
- Insecurity and Youth. The continued political stalemate and day-to-day violence experienced by youth have increased skepticism of the use of non-violent means of protest to bring about change. There are concerns of a growing sentiment that political violence may be the only option left to push the relevant governments towards dialogue and negotiation. A cursory analysis of recent militant activity in Kashmir supports the claim that many young people are ready to join the ranks of armed fighters, despite the experience of violence by Kashmiri society in the recent past. Recent funeral processions of militants show increased attendance of youth shouting slogans in their support and demanding freedom despite the fear of repercussions.
- Ramifications for Participation in Protests. Since the start of the uprising in 1989, youth have borne the brunt of political violence in Kashmir. This has continued despite the shift from an armed struggle to unarmed street protests. For example, 80 per cent of the 120 people killed in police and paramilitary action to control the street protests during the uprising of summer of 2010 in the Kashmir valley were below thirty years of age. A study conducted by the Center for Dialogue and Reconciliation, a Delhi-based NGO also found that 39 out of the 97 cases of killings, whose demographic information was documented, were students. The 2008 protests, in which over 70 people were killed – the majority of them young – tell a similar story. A number of other incidents involving the arrest of youth, including juveniles (youth aged below 18 years) have been documented. This has included reports of youth accused of attempted murder, charged under laws like the Public Safety Act (PSA) or detained at police stations and humiliated along with family members for participating in protests and stone throwing. There is growing criticism that acts like the PSA, which allows state authorities to place people under administrative or preventive detention without charge or trial, and the Armed Forces (Special) Powers Act (AFSPA), which gives state security forces increased powers to ensure ‘public order’, grant impunity to security forces and have led to gross human rights violations. Ahmad Dar, Zubair. Behind the Numbers: Profiling Those Killed in Kashmir’s 2010 Unrest, Center for Dialogue and Reconciliation.
- Lack of Space for Dialogue. The ability to speak with fellow citizens on issues of mutual concern is an invaluable tool to promote understanding of different perspectives and transform competing narratives on political, social and economic issues into narratives of shared concerns and coexistence. Dialogue within communities as well as between communities across Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh has proved challenging and presents a barrier to widespread youth engagement with political processes.
- The Lack of Diversity in Education Spaces.
- In times of distress and insecurity educationalspaces can play a key role in providing a sense of safety and hope, and room for productive engagement with a diversity of perspectives. This can support the capacity of young people to take ownership of issues that affect them and contribute to the desired transformation of their communities. Yet education institutions in Kashmir have struggled to provide such a space. For example, some student union associations have been restricted in their operations and faculty members at some institutions assert that they self-censor events and initiatives by students. In the current context menonly interactions are also the norm; these tend to focus on the issues and perspectives of men, who2 Kashmir: Violence and Health, Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF), (2006)often end up representing women in public forums on issues concerning them. Many young people choose to leave Kashmir to study at institutions in India or elsewhere.
- In some of these institutions, Kashmiri students are able to engage in formal and informal dialogue and debates on various issues including the conflict in Kashmir. These students have asserted that if they, to an extent, can debate and organise peaceful protests about the situation in Kashmir at these institutions, why is it not possible to do that inside ‘their own’ institutions like Kashmir University? Creative expression and use of social media Many young Kashmiris have turned to creative expression to tell their stories and voice their opinions. This includes writers, poets, filmmakers, musicians, cartoonists and others. They are now narrating the Kashmir story through these mediums documenting the history, the political conflict, and current situation in Kashmir. The use of online social forums and street graffiti has provided an avenue for them to voice their aspirations and share information about their situation. However, this has also faced restrictions engagement in such activities is discouraged and there is limited space on the ground where youth can freely articulate their stories, discuss their positions or pursue artistic activities.
- Economic Challenges for Youth (Unemployment and entrepreneurship). Unemployment is a huge concern for youth in Kashmir. Over 600,000 young people are unemployed in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) out of which over 300,000 are from the Kashmir valley. A 2010 Chatham House study found that 87 per cent of people thought that unemployment was the most significant problem in J&K. A 2012 study of entrepreneurship challenges by Mercy Corps also found that in addition to a high rate of unemployment, “a depressed market economy, protracted and episodic conflict, and a disparity between the educational system and the demands of the labour market thwart Kashmiri young people in their pursuit of consistent and steady income generation.” Some young people have benefited from various government and NGOsponsored schemes and institutions, such as the J&K Entrepreneurship Development Institute and Mercy Corps, which support youth engagement in entrepreneurship to start new livelihood initiatives in agriculture, handicrafts, healthcare, information and communication technology, and tourism. However, such schemes have been unable to fully capture the interests and priorities of the majority of youth. This has been for a number of reasons including :-
(i) The lack of capacity in youth.
(ii) Youth Entrepreneurship in Kashmir: Challenges and Opportunities, Mercy Corps (2011) account the particular circumstances in Kashmir.
(iii) The impact of bureaucratic corruption and public mistrust of government on the perceived credibility of the initiatives.
(f) The lack of public participation in the design or planning phase. Other development initiatives in rural areas including self-help groups and employment generation schemes are restrained by similar factors.
The role of the youth in modern J&K is tremendous. Since they are invariably well educated, they know what their nation expects from them. They are well aware of the potential of human capital of J&K. They have the knowledge of the gilt-edged sectors of the state economy.Thus they have a clear vision of the modern J&K. In words of James” Youth is the joy, the little bird that has broken out of the eggs and is eagerly waiting to spread out its wings in the open sky of freedom and hope.”
Youth is the spring of Life. It is the age of discovery and dreams. India is of largest youth population in the world today. The entire world is eyeing India as a source of technical manpower.Indian youth has the power to make our country from developing nation to a developed nation. Kashmiri yo
India can become a developed nation only if everyone contributes to the best of his or her capacity and ability. Youth is wholly experimental and with the full utilization of the talents of the Youth, India will become a complete Nation. The findings in this paper highlight the role of civil society, education institutions, and policy makers to create and promote spaces in order for youth to engage constructively with political and socioeconomic processes without fear and insecurity. They also provide suggestions on how to open up space for youth to engage in dialogue and work on their vision for a peaceful, inclusive and prosperous future. However, without a serious and sincere effort to address the political dispute and without much improvement in the ground situation the impact of implementation of these suggestions will be conducted.