(Mr. Syed Adfar Rashid Shah, 28, was born in Watlar, Ganderbal. He did his basic schooling at the Government High School in Watlar, and then went to the Government Higher Secondary School, Ganderbal, for 11th and 12th grades. He completed a diploma in computers through The Industrial Training Institute (ITI) Ganderbal, followed by a diploma in the urdu language through the National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language in India (NCPUL). Mr. Shah completed B.Ed in 2009, his Masters in sociology from the University of Kashmir, and enrolled in M.Phil at the Center of Central Asian Studies (CCAS), University of Kashmir when he accepted admission to the Ph.D. program in social sciences at the Jamia Millia Islamia Central University in New Delhi, where he is currently enrolled. He is interested in diaspora studies, and sociology of religion, change and development. He loves interactions with people of all religions and creeds, and enjoys writing.
Ms. Soubiya Yousuf, 22, was born and raised in Srinagar, and is currently doing her Master's degree in Sociology from the University of Kashmir.)
Kashmiri Youth - A Sociological Slimpse
Youth is typically regarded as an ascribed status or socially constructed label, rather than simply the biological condition or stage. As per United Nations criteria, youth has been categorized as people in the age group of 15-24 years and as per National Youth Policy 2003 of India they have been put in the age group of 13-35 years. Youth are characterized by freshness, vigor and spirit. Youth is the spring of life, an age of discovery and dreams.
It is the youth who make or mar a society. Youth has the capacity to awaken the consciousness of the nation and bring about desirable change in the existing system.
Kashmiri youth though bearing tremendous resilience and moral conscience, however have been wrongly exposed to the whims of modernity in the form of certain dysfunctional cultural and social encounters. The prolonged turmoil since decades has ravaged their individuality and liberty and has turned them into a confounded personality and put them to identity and personality crisis. If treated in sociological terms modernity in real sense hardly connotes the total annulment of one’s own traditions and societal-cultural ethos, which we as Kashmiri youth are taking wrongly and forgetting the principle of continuity and change. We ignore to acknowledge that no genuine modernization is possible through mere imitation as it is a process of expansion, elevation, revitalization of traditional values and cultural patterns. Modernity should be defined in relation to, and not in denial of, tradition. Kashmiri youth have been blindly following a culture of hollow imitation which has led to declining emphasis upon the spiritual and local cultural settings. Education is cool for them but selecting the right course becomes difficult. They often find themselves at the crossroads when it comes to make a career-choice. Although, the State Government is a high-wage place but that is too saturated to offer any gainful employment. Very earlier the government was needed to promote self-help, self-employment and vision for reaching the universalistic standards of educational pursuits but due to lack of efficient, sufficient and timely policy interventions by the state administration, the youth are caught between the devil and the deep sea, on one hand thinking to move ahead and while on the other dragging the burden of economic dependency on. As a matter of fact, the youth remains susceptible and become an easy victim to despair and despondency. They are provided false optimistic hopes which serve as a mere placebo and hence remain unsolved. This is entirely not their fault but partially because of the incompatibility between various institutions like education and economy, family and religion, kinship and competition, etc. Education for instance has not been able to fulfill or inculcate the collective behavior or morality; even it is not compatible with justice or egalitarianism, as unemployment problem faced by Kashmiri youth can be attributed to aspects like curriculum-dysfunction, relationship between disciplines taught and job market value, lack of efficient policies and ample empowerment of student community. Another aspect of the said intimations reflect in the form of silent/polite violence in higher education like suppression of students and research scholars in universities, the growing moral corruption in academia and suffering of youth in many aspects, violence on gender basis, sense of feeling insecure among girls and violence of all forms inflicted on Kashmiri youth. Hence they are caught in a sort of a created vicious circle which is actually responsible for their frustration and may be youth bulge. Nevertheless, we salute Kashmiri youth for bearing it all and moving ahead despite all these odds and obstacles, be that lack of right guidance or economic crisis, no ample family support, etc,.
Youth in today’s time are bound to suffer when the system has been eaten by the dragon of corruption at every nook and corner. The other aspect pertaining youth stereotyping is that there has always been a tussle between our tradition and modernity and the youth have often been misunderstood by the elders. The elders feel that the youth being immature and inexperienced usually indulge in thoughtless activities, which otherwise are not so but shaping up the growing inter-generational gap. The fact is not only with the voting age of 18 years, the youth have increasingly become politically important but the state’s high political culture since decades due to political instability, chaos and turbulence; youth are highly politically conscious and important as well due to vested interests in them from all corners. Realizing this, they (youths) more or less shape Kashmir politics etc.
In early 90s the youth joined the chaos because of their being vulnerable and energetic as well and with the introduction of gun-culture in the valley, youth and women suffered the worst. The dance of unaccountable deaths and destruction on a large scale continued and youth responded to it group wise. One which was send outside the state by parents to suffer, another which crossed LoC to suffer forever, another which left out of fear (Pandit youth),another which deviated to the extreme and carried out robberies, thefts, scared people, looted innocents, threatened government officials and thus marred the whole regulatory system and what not. Another is the section of youth who simply lived with the turbulence and watched things as they happened. So it can be argued that youth suffered to the worst in post 90’s. In short, some were guided and some unguided and the rest were misguided, shaping up Kashmir as the growing geography of anger and chaos. Besides conflict situation amidst growing unhappiness, frustration, mental trauma and above all economic crisis and acute dependence culminated into different nature of crimes and undesirability’s in the valley which had negative ramifications mostly for youth like drug abuse, torturing thefts, eve- teasing, smuggling, murdering and many other sorts of deviant behaviors.
With the arrival of cell phones in the valley in 2004, instead of taking due advantage from it, a negative trend took place out of our transitional character as most of youth turned Nomophobic and this mobile-mania has had lots of ramifications and social implications like fostered lavishness, loitering, excessive addiction to social networking, excessive and increased love affairs, misuse and immorality, etc. The sociology of Kashmiri youth reveals that they are anxious, politically disturbed and has been caught in identity and personality crisis and as a result try every damn thing to follow or fell prey to venomous ideologies and adapt to practices without judging and applying their reason. They have developed a strange busyness and undirectional priorities for themselves where by media has placed them on a new platform through advertising patterns, serials, unceasing reality and request shows, spread of new fashion channels, nude shows, etc, forcing them to exercise the experiences and be vulnerable to new situations like fantasy dressing, vagrancy, vulgarity and thereby defeating the actual goal of modernization, religiosity, reasonable life and rational sense.
Today when many of the youth are shouting for social reconstruction, morality, socio-economic development, crime free society, religious revivalism, etc, the fact cannot be ignored that in the maximum of the prevailing chaos baring political scenario, youth are to a greater extent themselves responsible for the mess. In the existing negative social order they face acute repression at every step, consequently the rest shun their responsibilities and even resort to live aim-less while believing in the empty slogan of “sab chalta hai”. It has to be acknowledged that the youth in itself are responsible for the social degradation, social pathology, inter-generational conflict, culture of perpetrating violence upon others and blind imitation of alien cultures not suitable to Kashmiri normative structure.
Apart from that, Youth are in dire need of sustainable and overall social development which could be met with many primordial elements like education, health, justice, economic security, self evaluation, discipline, spirituality & conformity of societal codes. The Department of Youth Affairs, Government of J&K is implementing a number of schemes for youth development. The Department caters to the personality development aspect of school children by encouraging them in various social activities at the State and National level. It covers a wide spectrum of activities like organizing Domestic & National level competitions in various games and sports for school children, conducting Physical Education activities like Mass Physical Display in various schools, promoting adventure sports, promoting talented school children in extracurricular activities like dance and drama, organizing Youth and Cultural Festivals across the State and outside, promoting Scouts and Guides activities, besides providing opportunities to school children for participation and excellence in various sports activities.
The problem with Kashmiri youth is their indifferent attitude towards things, situation and politics. The new formula of “Let the things be” is proving fatal to state’s development. Lack of unity and spirit is another major problem. The valley youth have to realize their power, their role, their duties and their responsibility and stand up for their rights but simultaneously taking care of their duties before that. Also youth need to subject themselves to psycho-social maturity and instill in themselves the cognitive-intellectual skills and develop a complete self to get rid of all chaos, crisis and confusion. There is need of guidance by Experts/Educationists to provide them proper counseling in a conducive atmosphere to ensure a platform for a developed personality besides government’s functional and sustainable youth or student friendly policies.