Kashmir - Engagement of Youth through Sports
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A talk by Mr Waheed-Ur Rehman Para was organised at Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF) on July 30, 2018. Mr Waheed who is active in the political and social scene in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, provided a firsthand review of the state. While narrating his perspective about the social process in the valley, he highlighted the rising level of disorientation among the youth who constitute majority of population in Jammu and Kashmir.

When one considers the political process in any state, the focus is usually on the voting adults i.e. above 18. In the Valley, due to lack of opportunities and poisoned environment, the younger lot below 18 are living without any personal goals, just waiting for some incident to happen. In this circumstance, violence is the only platform available for the youth to express their emptiness and anguish. Violence and rebellious bravado seem to be the only manner for them to express themselves. These factors have facilitated the emotional disconnect with the heartland.

In this backdrop, sports could emerged as a unifying factor which can not only connect the youth of Jammu and Kashmir with other states, but nurture the values of leadership and a sense of achievement. Mr Waheed expressed his optimism that due to a rising sporting culture, sports will become the objective for the youth in Kashmir. However, he also emphasized on a greater need to engage with the youth in other fields too. While suggesting certain developmental measures for the upliftment of the youth, he highlighted the value of centrally run CBSE schools. He further stated that while building upon the educational profile of the youth, it is essential to introduce democratic values and hence various democratic exercises such as election for class monitors and student representatives can be encouraged. He affirmed that such exercises will percolate democratic values among the youth and groom them towards a responsible future. In employment-oriented social and economic discourse of Jammu and Kashmir, greater need for technical and professional education was also highlighted as that would provide better avenues for the youths and provide a conducive atmosphere for young minds to develop.

Mr Waheed gave a brief review of the agricultural sectors and its potential to provide greater employment within the state. Agriculture and its allied sectors like horticulture form 70% of the economy of the state. With socio-economic developmental interventions like high density apple harvesting that can be further enhanced to turn India as a top producer of apples in the world.

While deliberating upon various challenges faced in the Valley Mr Waheed noted that the families of slain militants have become the nucleus of mobilization of disgruntled masses and romanticism of violence. These have become a major hurdles in the political and social process of the Valley. Introducing various inclusive developmental measures (including a dialogue with the slain militant’s families) will divert the masses from celebrating militant’s deaths.

The speaker emphasized upon the role of social media in developing the narrative. Digital communities can be developed in villages across the Valley to facilitate smooth discharge of governance and to provide encouraging atmosphere to run schools and other positive activities. Greater emphasis on human development will not only compliment security but also will facilitate greater development in the state, while sports would be a way of rejecting the false narrative of martyrdom. A greater need for women empowerment was also highlighted. Through such opportunities from educational and social measures, a greater push for real empowerment will strengthen the democratic fabric of the Kashmir and enshrine ‘Kashmiriyat’ in real sense, the speaker concluded.

Event Date 
July 30, 2018

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