(Mr. Bashir Manzar, 55, was born in Chack Ferozpora, near Tangmarg in Baramulla district. He matriculated from the Government High School in Chandilora, Tangmarg, and received his Master's degree in English from the Kashmir University. He is publisher of the English daily newspaper, Kashmir Images, Kashmir's only multi-edition daily newspaper. Mr. Manzar is a poet and has published a collection of poems in Urdu - gazals and nazams - 1n 1996 under the title, "Daire Ka Safar." His interests are reading, writing, poetry, music, travel, and of course, politics.)
New Horizons Beckon Youth
Past few years have witnessed youths of Jammu and Kashmir, particularly those of Kashmir Valley, abandoning the beaten tracks, as for as pursuing career is concerned, and looking for more competitive and broader horizons. Sitting in scores for Indian Civil Service examinations and cracking these in dozens indicates how the trend has been attracting more and more youths. Now the question is why? Why the trend has started so suddenly? What motivates Kashmiri youths to look beyond the mountains surrounding Kashmir Valley? Is this trend having some political message in it or is it simply the outcome of academic exposure?
An in depth analysis of the trend indicates that there is nothing “sudden” in it. It has been a gradual process which evolved into what now looks like a sudden change. Kashmiri youths started moving out of Valley in late 90’s towards mainland India for pursuing education. Where on one hand some youths were up in arms against New Delhi, an army of Kashmiri youths had started looking towards New Delhi as their destination.
The trouble and turbulence in Valley had its toll on the overall educational scenario here and youths, who could afford, packed their bags and decided to cross Jawahar Tunnel to spread all over India to seek education. It was for the first time that Kashmiri youths, in such big numbers, came face to face with ‘outer world’ and thus got exposed to variety of career options.
The youths who returned after getting educated outside had a positive influence over the students who couldn’t move out but were studying here. It opened up Kashmiri youths to a new world and they started thinking of themselves not in isolation but globally. They convinced themselves that there was a huge and vast world beyond Kashmir which had a great promise for them.
The information revolution in the world too had its impact on Kashmiri youths. Internet opened a new world for Kashmiri youth that convinced them to look beyond medicine and engineering (two favourite career options otherwise). Growing up in conflict zone generally results into victim mentality wherein people, particularly youths, see the entire world pitched against themselves. However, exposure to the outer world helped change this mindset to some extent as the Kashmiri youths started understanding that such a mentality would further push them into their respective cocoons and shut the doors of outer world on them. And therefore they decided to break these cocoons for good.
Then comes the success story of Shah Faisal, a youth from a middle class family of a remote north Kashmir village. He topped in Civil Service competitive examination on national level and thus emerged as an iconic figure for rest of the youth here. Kashmiri youths are genetically talented but what they lacked in was some ideal, some icon, some hero who could inspire them and undoubtedly Faisul emerged as an answer. Result: following Faisul’s success, more and more Kashmiri youths are looking towards these competitive examinations worth giving a try.
As for as political connotation of this new trend is concerned, the development will undoubtedly help Kashmiri youths feel empowered. Their cracking these competitive examinations and then holding important postings in their own state will change the conception that J&K is ruled by New Delhi. Till date most of the people heading important posts in civil administration and police have been non locals thus strengthening the concept of ‘outside rule.’ Now that Kashmiri youths are in for competition and have started making it, this concept may get neutralized in coming years and that would be politically correct for Kashmir as well as New Delhi.