By Farooq Wani
One of the greatest revolutions of Indian history is taking place right now under our noses, and this revolution is being engineered by the dynamic Indian youth. There is torrential flow of talent-call it is knowledge power or by any other nomenclature offshore and onshore.
It is well proved that youth have very special role in any countries development. India has the largest youth population and if we look on the past youth plays a very important role in Indian freedom fights and right from then it was well recognized that the youth power is very essential in the development of India and to make our country a better place to live.
Kashmir is termed as a paradise on earth. This state has been the bone of contention between Pakistan and India for the past six decades. Pakistan taking the advantage of religion similarity has been taking undue advantage of instigating the Kashmiri youth and has been diverting the jubilant youth energy towards chaos and disorder. Kashmir is an integral state of India with a considerable population and is rightly called the crown of India. It is estimated that Kashmir’s present population is about 1 crore.
Those between the age group of 15 to 35 form more than 55 percent of the total population. For our purposes we count them all as the youth. These comprise students, employees, workers, farmers and persons from various professions including the unemployed—educated or otherwise. These young people constitute a large force. They are energetic, enthusiastic and full of zeal. Unfortunately a large number of them are without any direction It is for once and all, high time for India to take corrective measures for pipelining the youth of Kashmir into the nation building grid.
A Kashmiri thinks himself to be a Kashmiri first and an Indian afterwards. Regional loyalties take precedence over the national. If the evil is not crushed in time, it is likely to break up the country into as many states as the languages spoken by the people.
The fundamental causes of this weakness are socio-political; they lie in the ambivalent attitude of the leadership, to the challenges of development and moral rejuvenation. The leadership’s failure to inspire the youth with their ideal thinking and action has made the Kashmiri youth either into taking up guns or social unrest, unable to cope with the day to day problems and predicaments, the opportunity to develop intellectually, many suffering from the problem of subjective isolation and self-estrangement.
A host of problems keep staring them in their faces—inadequate houses, transport, poor medical and recreational facilities, neurotic noise pollution, shortages, dust and smoke, crimes and ever-expanding Islamic fundamentalism. Lively and colorful periods of their lives are consumed by HlV and AIDS. Fed up with political and social theories, the Kashmiri youth finds themselves utterly helpless, when caught in the tempests of some.
The ‘angry youth joins the army of the Jihadis’, and is no more prepared for his aspirations to the prevailing realities and is ultimately misled by some opportunistic and selfish leaders. Individualistic coupled with the religious fanaticism has proved detrimental for the Kashmiri youth. Despite their outnumbering the urban youth, the rural lot is qualitatively different. These realities have come to divide the educated and somewhat unlettered and the underprivileged rural people in Kashmir. The improving economic conditions of the villages, and the development-cum-job opportunities for rural youth by Army and central as well as state government has been able to change their mindset towards cultivating patriotism.
One of the biggest failures of the Indian government has been the inability to realize that we are dealing with a very different kind of society, comprising ethnic groups of Islam religion craving for recognition of their rights to preserve their ethnic identity and linguistic entity and at the same time the issue of Kashmiri Pandits. The urban Kashmiri youth is adamant and reluctant to bring positive change in mindset for national integration. Therefore, they are the main demographic entity to be influenced for bringing peace and harmony in Kashmir. Having been exploited and neglected for long, the youth took up the cause of their communities, and thus came in direct conflict and confrontation with the State authority and Army.
It can be brought about that a large part of the Kashmiri youth is ultra religious, the majority is Muslims with a Hindu minority followed by Sikh community which is very sparse who follow as well as preach their religion although the degree of religious observance varies from one individual to another. This means that religion is still a meaningful factor in the lives of Kashmiri youth and faith observance among the youth cannot be easily written off as a non issue when dealing with issues that involve the youth.
It is not very difficult to mobilize the Kashmiri youth for nation-building. Once, these programmes have succeeded in firing their imagination, more than enough resources of energy will be forthcoming to achieve the targets. And once they are genuinely involved, and their interest in these programmes is aroused, they would be prepared to give their best to their quick implementation. There can be a large number of tours, KPL, women empowerment steps and various WHAM measures wherein their total involvement will bring quicker and better results. They can play a pivotal role in the socio-economic regeneration of the society.
There are many evil practices in youth society. If the Kashmiri youth is associated in a drive against these practices, the results may be much more satisfactory. There may be schemes connected with the raising of the level of production in agriculture. The youth may be assigned the job of dissemination of knowledge for better farming, new techniques and proper use of fertilisers and pesticides. What is required is that they may be given adequate training in these tasks. In a drive against Islamic fundamentalism, their energy may be used in moulding public opinion in favour of eradication and prevention of such offences. The youth may work successfully as an arm of the administration in the implementation of governmental programmes aimed at fighting against these and other maladies.
Another field wherein their energy may be gainfully employed is the task of adult education and universalisation of education so that the thought horizon of youth is expanded. Their services may similarly be utilized for preventing and fighting offences like smuggling of arms, terrorism and civil unrest. They can at least create public opinion against those who indulge in such anti national activities.
What is needed is that we repose faith in their capacity and capability.
By enlisting the cooperation and involvement of the massive Kashmiri youth-army, the government will on the one hand be successful in mobilising idle man-power, and on the other hand these young people will be saved from falling prey to such elements.
Such involvement of the youth would generate a sense of pride and self-confidence in them, provided it is accorded adequate appreciation. It would raise their morale as well. At the same time the sense of patriotism and of being useful to the society would inhibit them from going astray. It would also help develop in them a nationalist out¬look. Such a step would speed up the process of socio-economic regeneration and democratic decentralization.
Our government spends a large amount of money on a number of organizations and NGO’s that are given charge of implementation of various schemes and programmes concerning national integration development. Involvement of the youth and their organisations would cost less in terms of money as well.
Text books should be suitably revised. Oneness of the people, rather than the differences, should be emphasized. Long distance tours, from the part of the country to another, would go a long way towards fostering emotional integration among the youth of the country. Steps should be taken to ensure that no communal or caste considerations influence the appointment of posts in government jobs simultaneously keeping the sanctity of religious majority intact. The words, `Muslim’, ‘Hindu’, ‘Brahmin’, etc., should be dropped from the names of educational institutions.
Similarly, the radio, the TV, the cinema and the press, should also be used effectively to educate public opinion and develop national consciousness. The press should not publish news and views which are likely to encourage fissiparous tendencies and sectional attitudes. The cinema is one of the most potent means of publicity. Such films should be shown as depict the people of India as a single whole. The evils of communalism and provincialism should be clearly brought out through social films, feature films and news reels and through TV serials. The radio also can broadcast songs, dialogues, speeches and stories which emphasize the national unity of India and Kashmiri heritage. In this way, it can serve as effective means of national integration thus streamlining the youth power into the national mainstream.
It has been said that “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty”. India should ever be vigilant against the dangers of communalism, if it wants to retain its hard won freedom. The nation must stand united to face the combined menace of enemies. In this connection it may be mentioned that a strong centre is essential for national integration. With the rise in terrorism worldwide and dilution of world power, this need has become still more important. Hence, it can be concluded that the Kashmiri youth being integral to national integration are a potent force for nation building and will do wonders for the nation in coming future.
All said and done, modern youth, particularly Kashmiri youth, can again contribute towards a big push to India’s growth and progress. Thinking and dynamic elements among the youth will have to organize themselves for serious self-education, before they can organize the participation of the youth in this vital, national task.
*Farooq Wani, Kashmir senior journalist and a political commentator