Kashmir has witnessed turbulent times especially since 1947 which later got transformed into a full-fledged armed conflict in 1989 being characterized by mass killings, disappearances, alarming widowhood, and mass rapes and other myriad of crimes and human rights violations.
Youth in Kashmir and Palestine are different from the other sensitive youth of the world they are no what Alfred Blumstein, renowned American researcher on criminology ,calls "super predators" who have little regard for human life. Or what Goldstone’s, the American sociologist calls youth bulge and youth bulge related bloodshed. No doubt they are both the worst victims and perpetrators of violence but their violent behavior carries a message and a deep meaning in terms of their feeling of pathetic alienation in their own land, which still remains to be comprehended psychologically and philosophically. Their violent actions are actually their retaliation and pain and anguish against their life at ebb, against all that discrimination meted to and inflicted upon them and to their dear ones throughout the going turbulence in the vale, against their feeling of gasping life and feeling of being alienated, worthless, valueless, neglected and of suffocated and futile existence. They feel treated as non-living commodities because they cannot even express their emotions when their mothers and sisters are humiliated, embarrassed and abused by strangers or when they are tortured as rebels and political beings, labeled threat to so called public safety. The hard reality is they are not criminals, deviants or drug abusers; but are simply helpless, resource less, futureless innocent living creatures ,who feel nobody thinks for them instead they are booked and put in the company of hardcore criminals in jails, which worsens their personality development, and those who escape tortures and arrests even after crossing their twenties feel a terrible burden upon their families primarily because of very limited domain of jobs, limited choices and the deficiency of income generating avenues in the state which is not the case with the majority of the youth in India.Labelling them violent and enemies of law and order is simply a bureaucratic and state rhetoric and to justify the outrageous civilian killings, which crossed 112 this summer including an eight year boy, who was beaten to death.
Now a days, there are debates of engagement of youth to come out of the current chaotic situation but youth means all youth, (all between 15-35) all boys and girls who are illiterate, literate, urban and rural, tribal, minority youth, of backward class, less qualified, more qualified, less sensitive, more sensitive youths and so on .So it is not so simple to engage youth as everyone casually argues like politicians demand J&K Government of engaging youth to bring decline in violence every day. But where to engage such a large and diverse quantity of youth, Is a question with an alarming and challenging question mark at its end. All of us know regular/permanent government jobs cannot be given to all and sundry in the state which is already impoverished due to rampant corruption, heavy expenditure on defense, convoy of ministers, etc, so to engage more than 5 lac youths is a challenging task.
So we need a well thought, well laid and expert model of youth engagement at suitable places, where their sustainable development, interpersonal and economic empowerment is possible. Model Policy for youth is the need of the hour which will look into the issues of where to absorb them as per their talent, health status, gender, location, education, vocation, trainings and technical knowhow, etc., Also there is a considerable need to address their issues of insecurity, safety chaos and lack of freedom of movement and expression. For that we are in a dire need of think tanks and our learned academics to work for functional engagement, effective and sustained participation of youth in the state itself to see peace as a reality. Above this all,there is a dire need of a proper academic, scientific, empirical and objective assessment of the gravity of the problem of youth unemployment, proper statistics of all youth and exploratory search and research for their engagement to build peace, harmony and economic growth eventually. A dire need of building youth friendly economic institutions to promote well-being and a buffer against psychological disorders among youth, which is not a growing threat but a threat at hand this moment. Moreover a dire need of what psychologists call character development which can be developed only through social responsibility, moral commitment, which can be vested in youth by engaging them socially in practical sense.
This job of dealing with youth unrest and their issues and challenges is the credible test of the civil society, academia and government together in collaboration, because intellectual support and theory or model building must come from academics and civil society, policy formulation from bureaucracy and final empowerment by implementation of proposed policies and schemes by the government, which can pave a way forward and contribute to peace.
Youth engagement means building and strengthening the growth of youth by creating and exploring our own assets and resources and also the most important one by renovating, upgrading and extensive developing of our own income generating institutions like tourism, agriculture, horticulture, PDD, Irrigation, vetenary and livestock, Fisheries development, apiculture and pisiculture, need for a new model policy of land use, more development in saffron cultivation, etc,. Construction of some more colleges, traninng institutions, local craft training houses, IT institutions, more rural and agriculture welfare schemes like Haryali(IWDP), NREGS,IAY, Social forestry and development institutions, a massive live stock raising policy with modern infrastructure, sufficient poultry raising policies and loans for self establishing units at large scale, funded by government on rebated interest basis and less stringent bank formalities for youth.Moreover,government should help in the mobilization of youth by campus recruitments, police and army recruitments, should sign MoU’s with foreign and national institutes,companies,agencies,travel agencies, forces like air force,Navy,Gulf jobs ,overseas employment and business which can absorb a large chunk of youth and simultaneously make youth of the state feel that they are the real concern of the centre and have every right to have the real, economic and beautiful taste of the country.
One more important aspect is that youth in Kashmir are marginalized from political activities and separated either directly or indirectly from the political process as today we see a miniscule section of youth have their active participation in political activities just because of the unprecedented fear created by the state like arrests, unnatural bans,incarceration,slapping of safety acts, and other draconian laws against this future of the society and nation, image of politicians amongst masses, exploitation of government machinery, ill use of posts and power,etc, which will have its dysfunctional and harmful ramifications in the future in terms of political non-participation of conscious, well read and intelligent youth, problems in patriotism, nation building spirit.. Also they are hardly listened to by the political parties, as they still simply treat them, ‘angry young men and radicals or radicalized stock’ who in no way can be fruitful to the common good, which is a blatant lie and a fatal myth.
They can be transformed from stone-hurling, and stick-swinging to the reasonable citizens by generous redressal of their issues, problems and challenges, they can be engaged well in the affairs of the state to get rid of alarming crime rate and larger social pathology, provided their psyche is understood seriously and help them to come out of the stage of transition of their childhood to adult hood in the environs of freedom of living and thought.
We must also acknowledge that youth are devoid of good parenting, they have developed pathological relationships with peers and associates, inadequate socialization, lack of positive role models, functional and disciplined institutions, and a big dearth of various youth counseling and development programs ,which otherwise could have played a timely important role in the development of character strengths among this vulnerable chunk and last but not the least ,dearth of broad-protective factors as larger economic factors are breeding youth violence epidemic, which calls for the immediate redressel not just band-aid solution treatment but a serious examination into their agonies and pains. In fact state has still a long way to go to work for removal of their feeling of social exclusion due to its failure to transform them into socially responsible adults, for which they need practical empowerment and security assurance not mere lip service.
(Syed Adfar Rashid Shah Is A Doctoral Scholar Of Sociology At Jamia Millia Islamia,New Delhi.He Can Be Mailed At Adfer.Syed@Gmail.Com)