Kashmiri youth are not averse to dating now

Some students feel involvement of intelligentsia will help in resolving Kashmir problem

Kashmiri youth  are not averse  to dating now

They have lived through conflict and seen Kashmir besieged. More than two decades after insurgency first struck the Valley, there is now a whole generation of young Kashmiris who have  seen only turmoil. However, this new generation has a different perspective-- ranging from corruption to career oppo­rtunities and resolution of Kashmir issue through a new prism of perception.

They discuss issues which were not heard of a few years ago. On the sprawling lawns of Kashmir University, stude­nts indulge in discussions on issues like dating, love troubles and being shunned. They do have their take on more serious issues like political uncertainty, economic scenario and social life. This is in contrast to early nineties when students on the university campus were only bothered about political issues.

For 23-year-old Imran Ahmad, a mass communication student at the Kashmir University, priorities are education, care­er and employment opportunities. However, at the same time he is bothered about the deep-rooted corruption in the system.
Ahmad whose role model is Parvez Rasool– a Kashmir boy who was recently selected for Indian cricket team-- said the myth that Kashmiris can’t shine in India has been broken now. “Shah Faesal (who topped IAS list in 2010) and now Parvez Rasool have shown to Kashmiri youngsters that they can prosper in India,” he told Deccan Herald.

However, he felt that the system in Kashmir is rotten and needs a complete overhaul. “Poverty alleviation progra­m­mes and schemes sponsored by the Union government have not succeeded in eradicating poverty, mainly because of prevailing corruption. Most of the amount is gobbled up by government officials. Illiteracy and ignorance are a grave problem in Kashmir villages, especially among lower class,” he said.

Political patronage to incompetent and unqualified people in different fields is another worry for Ahmad. “One way to get Kashmiris back into the national mainstream would be to restore the credibility of institutions. Kashmiris have lost faith in institutions; it is very important to work towards the restoration of the credibility of national and state-level institutions. The Centre should work for it,” he added.

A stroll through the university’s centu­ries-old shady chinar trees shows the shift in the priorities of young Kashmiri students. A group of boys and girls sipping coffee in Naseem Bagh canteen of the university is reluctant to talk about Kashmir issue. “We have already overkill of talking about militancy and politics. We are interested in talking more on dating, Bollywood and cricket. No more Kashmir issue please,” said a girl, wishing not to be named.

“The Most discussed issue in our daily chat is about our personal life. We talk about boyfriends, girlfriends, our love troubles and how many new friends we made on Facebook,” she added.

While echoing her views, her classmate added: “We yearn for well-paying jobs, better infrastructure, women’s rights and peace. India is doing very well economically and since we are part of it, we too have a bright future.”

Samreen Mushtaq, who studies political science at Jamia Millia Islamia in New Delhi, is concerned about female foeticide in Kashmir and the spiralling graph of viole­nce against women and gender inequality in Kashmir.

“Despite being a Muslim-dominated society, Kashmir has witnessed the largest decline in sex ratio for the past one decade. This reflects our society wants to be male dominant,” she said.

Samreen wants to make equality of women a social reality. “Legislation as well as practical social efforts are requi­red for gender equality,” she emphasised.

Samreen felt politicians of both India and Pakistan have spoiled the resolution of the Kashmir issue as a result of which it a solution has eluded till date. “Non-resolution of Kashmir problem is mainly due to non-involvement of intelligentsia of both the countries. In the process of conflict resolution, politicians of both India and Pakistan dealt with it within their narrow nationalist perspectives and domestic foreign policy agendas,” she says.

However, there is another shade of opinio­n. Farooq, a law student, believes that the youth of Kashmir couldn’t be convinced about the ideology of Indian nationhood. “In the name of national

interests local political regimes carried out reign of  terror against the local youth. They suppr­essed political aspirations of people and betr­ayed Kashmiris politically,” he said and added the political system was used by individual families for their vested interests.

“This resulted in the rise of antipathy towards India. Local political regimes did a great disservice to the cause of integration,” he said. “The ruling class and the elite in both the countries made the Kashmir issue the focal point in foreign policy and a core point in domestic political agenda. They hardly tried seriously and sincerely to resolve the Kashmir issue. These political actors in both the countries served national interests at the cost of the suffering Kashmiris,” Farooq lamented.

He has a word of caution for Kashmi­ris. “Uprisings in 1931, 1953, 1964 and 2010 and armed revolts in 1973 and 1990 have failed to yield any results for Kashmiris. We should rethink and use non-violent means to achieve our rights. While doing so we should not forget about scientific and social planning,” he said.

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