Empower Kashmir Youth with a Renewed Sense of Optimism

By Syeda Afshana, Professor, Media Education Research Centre, University of Kashmir- India

In the intricate land of Kashmir, where the majestic mountains embrace the polluted lakes, a silent battle wages on. A battle that is quite crucial and subtle. It is a battle fought not with ammunition but with words and rhetoric.

Within this convoluted battleground, a group of self-proclaimed intellectuals cast a dark shadow over the aspirations of the younger generation, breeding disillusionment and instilling pessimism about the future of their homeland.

However, it is time to unveil the truth, to light a flame of hope, and empower the youth with a renewed sense of optimism for staying back and working in Kashmir.

In their pursuit of self-proclaimed erudition, these so-called intellectuals inadvertently sow seeds of doubt and despair in the impressionable minds of Kashmir's youth. Their tongues are tainted with pessimism; their minds are clouded with cynicism.

They weave tales of desolation, painting a bleak canvas of our future. With their dismal narratives, they paint a bleak picture of the possibilities that lie in their homeland.

They overlook the immense potential, the untapped resources, and the boundless talent that exists within the valley. Like toxins, their words seep into the youth psyche, stifling their dreams and aspirations and clouding their vision of a prosperous future in Kashmir.

While some individuals may explore opportunities beyond the valley'svalley's borders, it is essential to acknowledge that not all youth can afford to leave their homeland for different reasons. Kashmir is their birthplace, their heritage and their identity.

It is a place that holds deep-rooted emotions, cultural richness and a sense of belonging. Brain Drain is not an option for everyone. Instead, we must focus on creating an environment that encourages the youth to live, work and thrive in Kashmir.

 To counter the pessimism instilled by these so-called intellectuals, we must prioritise creating opportunities within Kashmir. Our responsibility is to build an ecosystem that fosters growth, innovation and prosperity.

And most importantly, focus on empowering local youth by increasing their representation and making them stay put. This involves investing in education, infrastructure, promoting local industries, supporting entrepreneurship and helping create a secure atmosphere of growth.

By doing so, we can ensure that the youth have access to a wide range of career options and avenues for personal and professional development within Kashmir, Seeing them grow and not wasted.

Education serves as the cornerstone of a promising future for Kashmir. By investing in quality education, we can coach the youth with the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate the challenges of the modern world.

It empowers them to become change-makers and drivers of progress within their communities. Education will enable them to contribute to the progress of Kashmir, harnessing their talents and abilities for the collective benefit of their homeland.

It is our duty to nurture optimism and pride in the hearts of Kashmir's youth. By celebrating their achievements, promoting their talents and providing platforms for their voices to be heard, we can instil confidence and self-belief.

We must highlight the success stories of those who have chosen to stay in Kashmir, showcasing their contributions to the growth and prosperity of their homeland. By doing so, we inspire the younger generation to believe in their own potential and the possibilities that exist within their homeland.

Fostering a flourishing future in Kashmir requires a collaborative effort from all stakeholders - the administration, educational institutions, community leaders and the youth themselves.

It necessitates the breaking down of barriers, the creation of inclusive spaces and the provision of equal opportunities for all. By working together, we can build a future that retains local talent and attracts local talent back from other parts of the world (Brain Gain), creating a vibrant and distinctive society.

In pursuing a successful future, we must challenge the pessimistic narratives perpetuated by these so-called intellectuals. Remember, all can't afford to be second-class citizens in foreign lands, dabbling in harangues while providing world-class education and lifestyle to their progeny.

While in Kashmir, we have to prioritise education, invest in local industries and foster a supportive ecosystem that doesn'tdoesn't link with any gory past. Many bright young brains are already buried in the soil of Kashmir.

We can't afford to lose them now to drugs, crime, disillusionment and depression.

While few may choose to explore distant lands, we must create an environment encouraging youth to live and work here.

Daring lies in creating opportunities and serving your people somehow, even in difficult and deprived surroundings.

Read More on Tragic Optimism

In the face of pessimism, let us embrace optimism's power. Choose to believe in the possibilities that lie within our homeland. Choose to cultivate a generation of dreamers, doers, and change-makers who will breathe new life into our beloved Kashmir.

Without being swayed by illusory prophecies of "anti-actuals", let us unite as a community instead and foster an environment that encourages optimism, ambition, and a strong sense of pride in our homeland.

Together, we can build a future where the youth of Kashmir can thrive, succeed and contribute in a real sense towards the growth and development of their adored valley, ensuring that Kashmir remains their homeland and a land of boundless opportunities.

To those self-proclaimed prophets of doom, we need to raise our voices in defiance…. You may try to sow disillusionment, but we shall sow seeds of resilience, humility and optimism…..….

Nahi Hai Na-Umeed Iqbal Apni Kisht-e-Veeran Say,

Zara Nam Ho Tow Yeh Mittii Bahut Zarkhez Hai Saqi

Syeda Afshana is a Professor at the Media Education Research Centre, University of Kashmir- India and a Visiting Fellow at the Centre of International Studies, Cambridge University, UK

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