It’s time to reorient

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One the many facets of the devastating ethnography of the raw realities of life and history in Jammu and Kashmir is that the most vital chunk of the society – our youth – are not only a disarrayed and disturbed, but they are also exhausted in terms of their hope for a better future. And the simple reason for their frustrations is that they have always been exploited. They have been exploited by the politics as well as by the situational turbulence. The general developmental lag suffered by the state too has exacted a heavy toll. Instead of evolving with and providing them the wherewithal to channelize their potential towards something constructive, the state has only been complicit in hounding them and pushing them to the proverbial wall of desperation and retaliation. No wonder today the sorry state of affairs of the most vital chunk of our population is with ‘no’ or ‘very little’ income! Their only disqualification is that they are over-qualified to undertake vocational skills and jobs for which the state now has to import manpower from Punjab, Bihar, UP and elsewhere. They have been deliberately programmed for only one kind of job – engagement in government service, which of course is not and cannot be available for all. The enterprising among them, who want to break the jinx and do something new by generating their own employment, don’t have access to the avenues and opportunities for the same – financial institutions and various governmental agencies being big hurdles in their way. This is despite the government’s pronounced invite to the youth so go for self-employment ventures!

As the reality has it, this jobless chunk of population, always eager and enthusiastic to enter an honest and respectful job market, falls an easy prey to the politics. They are promised better share in development, an emancipated life through their participation in politics and decisions involving them. They are promised jobs…, moon and stars. And what happens afterwards can be understood by the fact that today our youth hate the very word ‘promise’. They have seen it as meaning something which sets the process of their exploitation rolling. They know it as an attractive and catchy slogan which they know is meant for being consigned into the dark and dingy corridors of forgetfulness by those at the helm once they sail to the seats of power.

Let this chunk of population wake up now and confront the culture of violence, both physical and structural as it exists in this society. Through a structural assessment of their (youth’s) ways of life, and with a comprehensive understanding of their situation and circumstances, it’s time that all sections and all people of the society understand the frustrations associated with joblessness and lack of opportunity to grow and contribute in developmental processes. Majority of our youth may have taken all this as an accepted rite, but it’s time for them to stir up their dissatisfaction and discontent so that those at the helm are forced to think about the gravity of the situation. Young people also need to bear in mind that there is an urgent need of a mechanism that can drain off their underlying guilt for having accepted the situation as something that can’t be changed.

With each and every political party in the election mode here – some campaigning for votes and other insisting on its boycott – young population is once again at the centre-stage. Mainstream political leaders have already started making promises of better future while as those in the separatist camp too are trying hard to woo this section towards them. Irrespective of who says what, it remains an established fact that nobody actually thinks sincerely about creating meaningful spaces for the youth, unemployed people in particular, so that they are able to generate some income for themselves and their families which would at least ensure their economic freedom, without which any amount of political freedom will remain meaningless. Next time someone asks them not to vote, they must dare ask them how that helps their (young people’s) ‘situation’. For long they have been led astray to drift away into the world of make-belief. It is time to look squarely into the eyes of ugly reality and try and figure out how to change it for good. Similarly, when someone asks them to vote for them – the question should be repeated: “How does it change my reality, help my situation?” It is for the youth to decide whether they could afford being fooled by mere political slogans… They will have to try and change their orientations to lend meaning to their lives by creating meaningful spaces for themselves all by themselves.

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