Srinagar: The new ideas and concepts like having ‘Youth Clubs’ have made the youngsters understand that life exists beyond stone-pelting, street protests and guns.
Prior to August 5, 2019 — when the Centre announced its decision to merge J&K completely with the Union of India — the youth in Kashmir were like a rudderless ship, completely unaware about what to do with their lives.
Pakistan and the elements sponsored by it took full advantage of the situation and left no opportunity to put the youth on the path of self-destruction by radicalising them.
Kashmir’s Gen-Next was provided with stones, guns and bombs to fight the proxy war of Pakistan. The cycle of violence had become so vicious that Kashmir-based politicians had declared that it would never end till Pakistan is taken on board.
Two-and-a-half years after the abrogation of Article 370, J&K has witnessed a sea change and the youth are leading from the front.
The ‘Mission Youth’ has helped youngsters shape their lives. They are chasing their dreams and in ‘Naya Jammu and Kashmir’ where everything looks achievable.
According to the official figures, till date, 4,522 Youth Clubs have been set up across 20 districts of the Union Territory and 74,000 youth have enrolled themselves with maximum 9,000 getting enrolled in Poonch district.
Former rulers used youth to serve their interests
The former J&K rulers, mostly Kashmir-based politicians, never thought about engaging the youth through such measures. They used youngsters to cling on to their chairs. History stands testimony to the fact that the ones who ruled J&K after 1947 failed to explore the potential of youngsters and allowed them to play into the hands of the adversary.
In 2021, J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, announced the government’s decision to set up Youth Clubs across the Union Territory. The aim was to involve youngsters in volunteer activities through different programmes, and channelise their energies in a positive manner.
The idea worked as youth in every district came forward to become a part of these Youth Clubs. They found innovative solutions to the most difficult challenges faced by them.
They understood that indulging in violence won’t take them anywhere. They found a place where they could interact with their counterparts and share ideas that could help them decide what they should opt for.
The Youth Clubs spread across 20 districts of Jammu and Kashmir are creating awareness about various employment and self-employment schemes of the government, uniting young men and women to pursue their dreams.
These clubs have become energetic and vibrant partners of the panchayats and district administrations and are ensuring that governance effectively reaches to the grass-roots.
Kashmir’s Gen-Next rejects terrorism
J&K’s generation next is taking keen interest in constructive activities. The youth saying no to violence has led to decline in local recruitment into militant ranks. This has led to foreign terrorists leaving their hideouts and coming out in the open.
Initially, majority of the foreign terrorists were on the quiet. They were projecting the local youth as the face of terrorist activities. As the number of local terrorists started drying down, foreign terrorists are now slowly getting exposed to encounters.
After August 5, 2019, the government has focused on roping in J&K youth. And the formula has worked. The schemes meant to empower the youngsters have helped them reject the idea of separatism and shun the path of violence and terror.
The number of foreign terrorists present in Kashmir is not that high and in the absence of local support, they won’t find it easy to survive. Terrorism in Kashmir is on its last legs. The terror-sponsors sitting across the Line of Control (LoC) are running short of ideas as the youth of J&K, who were used as cannon fodder for the past 30 years, have turned their backs towards them. They are grabbing every opportunity that’s being provided to them.
Fake narratives punctured
The change is visible. The youth no longer talk about Kashmir’s merger with Pakistan, nor are they interested in the so-called ‘Azadi’. The fake narratives and slogans stand punctured.
The Youth Clubs have had a direct impact in empowering the youth. These clubs are not only deciding career prospects of the youngsters, but are also shaping their personality so they can emerge as leaders in their chosen walks of life.
Young people in these clubs are emerging as leaders and change-makers. They are becoming more socially active. They are learning new social skills like collaboration and problem solving that are vital to succeed in academics, at the workplace, and their personal lives.
Youth Clubs in J&K are playing a pivotal role in creating lifelong change among the youth and result in their overall personality development, which is the core agenda of Mission Youth, which runs the Youth Clubs in Jammu and Kashmir.
J&K youth prove politicians wrong
The Kashmir-based politicians during their tenures never ever thought about coming up with initiatives like Youth Clubs. They had only one mission, i.e., to enjoy the perks and privileges provided to them by New Delhi. Had they made an attempt to create awareness among the youth, Kashmir would not have burnt for three decades and Pakistan-sponsored terrorism would not have survived.
The idea of ‘Naya Jammu and Kashmir’, which was conceived by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led regime soon after 2014, has been implemented in letter and spirit. Politicians who used to claim that Article 370 is a bridge between New Delhi and J&K have been proven wrong by Kashmir’s Gen-Next.
J&K’s youth are excelling in all the fields and are proving their mettle by emerging as stars. They are competing at all levels now. They have successfully wiped out the tags of being stone pelters and violence mongers.
The politicians who used to claim that nothing will change in J&K without Pakistan’s involvement have been made to eat their words. Now, they are trying to create a space for themselves in ‘Naya Jammu and Kashmir’.