A Latin saying goes, “Audentis Fortuna Iuvat” which literally translates to ‘Fortune favours the brave’ that is how our ancestors were brave hearted tigers and tigresses. Since the valley has been endowed with all that fortune has to offer: rough towering hills, ridges, steep snow-capped mountains, softly luscious botanical marvels, ever-alive streams and hydric niches and a people so determined that not even a month and a half of profound curfew could severely hamper or even deter their existence. Having lived outside Kashmir for most of my life, the valley I call home constantly seems to call out to me, leaving my heart yearning to come here. Absence definitely makes the heart grow fonder, and definitely so in my case, because once I’m here, the yearning warps away into an abysmal pit that’s a 1000 feet under. Why is it? Is it because the flyover that was under construction back when I was five is still under construction makeshift structure? Is it because the parks and gardens that I used to visit every once a while for serenity and mindful contemplations reek of garbage at most spots?
Having lived in various parts of India, I can state with utmost certainty that the valley houses the most brilliant minds, their ever-excited neurons already giving off livid sparks. What must be noted here is that education, in all its scintillating glory, is that beam of light capable of distinguishing man from an almost mindless beast. The other day, two of my cousins, who have been blessed with superb intellect and are keen on studies, complained to me, in a voice brimmed with such emotion that I could almost hear their hearts cry over the phone, that schools hadn’t been properly functioning since Ramadan ended! Is it mere regret and remorse that these children, the future flag-bearers, should grow up with? Is it right to forcefully shove dust into the throats of children who have committed the crime of being ambitious, of wishing for a better future? The quality of a first-rate society is its ability to run the various constituent institutions in a parallel fashion. While political uprisings may or may not be necessary, their interference with the educational setup definitely is not!
What with the world’s obsession with industrialisation and technological innovation, Kashmir seems to be the only place seeking and carrying forward everything at its own snail pace. While it helps in preserving the endemic diversity of our flora and fauna, it also ends up slowing down our advancement and integration with the global communities and getting to the point of being at par with internationally acclaimed standards. Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, we have succeeded in preserving our flora and fauna. Then, my question would be, what is the point of any resource when the population or the authorities remain unable to tap its potential? What is the use of harvesting, oiling and spicing pickle overtime when it is ultimately meant to stay in the jar untouched for eternity? By the grace of God, Kashmir has all that it takes to emerge as the world leader in the tourism sector but the current situation seems to suggest just the contrary. Youth is the pollen that blows through the sky and does not ask why. This youth, capable of leading us, of sparking revolutions, of creating history for all to remember, is the most distraught group struggling to find even odd jobs to support their folks and their own miserable survival. The weighed down shoulders of the youth have no figure to turn to, no means of ‘rahat’. Out there, while the news and the media personnel are talking of Kashmir like its nothing more than an inanimate mass of land, we, the people of the valley, shine with a light so bright that it keeps the world from ever seeing all of us!
The article first appeared in print edition of Oct 5 to 11, 2016.
The author is feature editor with The Legitimate