Elders in Kashmir have lived through and witnessed historical landmarks that have led to changing the geography, demography of the region and shape the Kashmir that we see today. They have seen Kashmir getting divided, faced horror and atrocities caused due to the same, four wars and two conflicts with Pakistan and China, political turmoil, plebiscite, rise in terrorism, abrogation of article 370 to name a few. But apart from this they have also observed events like rise in tourism, filming of various Bollywood movies, growth in agriculture, horticulture and various other industries, change and development in infra and subsequent economic change of the UT of J&K as a whole. Hence elders have a wealth of skills, lifetime of experience, thus a comparatively more open mind, wider approach and better understanding of things which can be very useful in guiding the younger generation and in turn shaping the future of Kashmir.
On an average only 15% of the total population of the Union Territory is above 50 years of age. Elderly people from all strata of the society, owing to their wisdom and experience in their respective professions such as business, entreprise, sports, music, art, acting, defence personnel, civil servants, etc have all contributed in the past and are continuously guiding the youth towards positive development in various sectors.
Almost 40% of the population of J&K is living below the poverty line. Youth comprise a total of 40% of the entire population of J&K. Notwithstanding govt schemes and initiatives, various entrepreneurs and philanthropists are able to generate jobs and income for Kashmiris on their own steam. Abdul Rahim Bhat who owns an Automobile Shop in Srinagar. Also known as ‘tree man of Kashmir’, he is an ardent nature lover. Rahim started planting trees 15 years ago in Suthaharan forest, Budgam district, to counter illegal smuggling of timber in the area without any funding from the government. Today, Alpine Forest is in all its glory due to his tireless efforts which were also supplemented by the Sher-e-Kashmir Agricultural University. He contributes over one lakh saplings every year till date. In the process he has become a role model for youth and old alike in his district for preservation of nature. He also provides livelihood to over 200 employees in his automotive shop.
Mustaq group of hotels is known to all, it’s chairman Mustaq Ahmed Chaya is a leading forest lessee in the hospitality industry. He has been awarded the ‘Best Hotelier Excellence’ award for the last four consecutive years. Mushtaq has succeeded in providing world class luxury standards in all his resorts, a total of 450 rooms and thus help in uplifting the tourism industry in Kashmir. He has been able to provide employment to thousands of local youths and also encourage and guide students to pursue a career in hospitality or tourism.
There is a total of 7 Universities in Kashmir which have six medical colleges, seven engineering colleges, two institutes of national importance, several other colleges and research institutes. There are innumerable schools with CBSE syllabus in Kashmir. Their chancellors, directors and principals are amongst very known personalities in the education sector. All of them have been guiding and imparting professional knowledge to its students which will help them in their career as well as make them responsible citizens. A Notable contribution by Asgar Sammoon is worth mentioning here- He introduced and boosted the concept of outdoor classrooms during the covid pandemic, thereby adhering to the covid safety protocol of a crowd not being indoors at the same time students not missing out on valuable school time by taking advantage of Kashmir’s lush natural beauty- a treat to students who could bask in its natural environment as they study.
Fruit crops like apple, almonds, walnuts, pears, cherries and apricots are known all over the globe. Undeniably, The world’s finest Saffron is cultivated in Kashmir. Horticulture industry contributes to over 8% of its states GDP amounting to over 10,000 crore yearly turnover. Owing to guidance from various entrepreneurs it provides livelihood to over 7.5 lakh families. It is also the best and most sought after industry for self-employment. The government’s saffron mission has catapulted Kashmiri saffron on the world market, with a target to make Kashmir the largest exporter of saffron in the world. Needless to say, results are for everyone to see.
Governing body of Mission Youth under Lt Governor was in 2021. Comprising of 4,290 clubs with over 2,00,000 volunteers with an initial outlay of ₹12.50 crore the volunteers have been trained in problem solving to help them navigate challenges at the workplace and in their personal lives. They are also being trained in all aspects of government schemes and will be part of emergency and crisis management plans and subsequently involved in planning and decision-making. It is among the functions of the group to ensure that youth do not fall for radical propaganda. The clubs are a part of ongoing initiatives such as skill development programmes, sports clubs, and cultural programmes. Various personalities have contributed towards the development of the youth by guiding, inspiring and providing them with necessary infrastructure and amenities so that they can flourish in their chosen profile.
Amitabh Mattoo, Padma Shri recipient in 2009. He is a leading thinker and writer on various national and international issues. His advice on policy matters has been sought across political parties and across governments, he has also served as Advisor to Lt Governor of J&K and has been a advocate of multiculturalism and of reconciliation between Kashmiri Pandits and Kashmiri Muslims. He plays an important role in engaging the youth towards development with government schemes.
Javed Ahmed Tak after being hit by a bullet in his spine, was confined to his wheelchair. Undeterred by this misfortune, he worked tirelessly towards upliftment of differently abled children and women and founded an educational institution “ZaibaAapa Institute of Inclusive Education” which looks after the medical care and provides free education to differently abled children. He has also established Humanity Welfare Organisation which provides medical facilities to under privileged women and children. With his efforts he has been able to provide employment and make them independent and self-reliant. He has also been awarded with Padma Shri in the year 2020.
Elderly people in Kashmir are wise and have lived through very tough times which the younger generation can only imagine. Hence with their wider perspective of things they are guiding the youth in their respective capacity, on a professional front or at a personal level in their respective families and neighbourhood. They are able to engage the youth towards entrepreneurship, self-employment, guide them towards choosing a career and making them realise their potential by providing opportunities and necessary amenities, thus diverting their attention from terrorism related activities which will help the valley prosper in the times to come.