Mushtaq Hurra

Shocking: JK tops the list of unmarried youth in the entire country!

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Jammu and Kashmir in general, and Kashmir valley in particular is known across the globe for its picturesque beauty, pleasant weather, rich biodiversity, unparalleled hospitality and uncluttered social setup. But, of late, the erstwhile border state of Indian republic is grabbing headlines for diabolical reasons.  From drastic climate changes to our cultural dilution, the quondam state of India is confronting swingeing social issues which have not only assumed dangerous proportions, but have lacerated our social health. And consequently, our fragile social fabric is torn and stained. Since marriage is the most important institution of human societies, so, fiddling with it and setting new standards for it, have blemished our great cultural ethos and legacy. The social health of valley is not all well. Many evils which were considered alien to us, have now creeped into our social system.

It is shocking to learn that no metropolitan city, no industrially advanced state or union territory of India, but Jammu and Kashmir tops the list of unmarried youth in the entire country. According to reports, the number of both male and female never-married youth has considerably gone past 29% during the last decade. According to the ministry of statistics and programme implementation’s Youth in India 2022′ study, Jammu and Kashmir has a higher percentage of 29.1 percent of young people (aged up to 29 years) who are not married than the national average. According to the most recent study, it is the highest percentage reported by any state or union territory in India.

The above figures are alarming, appalling and a matter of concern for us all. Something is terribly wrong with our social setup. Contrary to our ancestors and forefathers, we have probably set difficult benchmarks and standards for our marriages and married lives. Extravaganza and lavishly spending has deepened the crisis. In contrast to our beautiful old traditions and teachings, we have infused materialism into the veins and arteries of our youth. We often see everything through the prism of materialism. Prioritising earning men for nuptial knots, is justified to some extent, but government service is never the only way to earn with honour and dignity. A labourer toiling hard to earn his livelihood through legitimate means, is far better than a government employee who evades his assigned work or goes for illegitimate ways to earn extra bucks. We haven’t stopped Here, women without government jobs are not considered for marital matches. I pity this mindset! Earning means to take care of basic needs viz food, shelter and clothing of your family.

Now, we have a billion-dollar question in front of us – Is it possible for any government in the world to provide government jobs to everyone in society? No, never! only a few have access to government jobs. Going by this trend, only a handful of people are entitled to marriages. This perception has been a stumbling block in our social renaissance. Now, if earning of men is made a benchmark, but it should not be synonymous to government services and luxurious lifestyle only. Hefty and heavy amounts as wages should not be the yardstick to measure one’s earnings. Ways and means must be fair though the amount is meagre and scanty. Happy and prosperous married life is not subject to swanky ways of life. Here, I am reminded of an anecdote of Ali and Fatima’s (RA) marriage. When Fatima Binti Mohammad (SAW) was about to leave for her in-laws home, prophet Muhammad (SAW) went to bid farewell to His most beloved daughter. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) witnessed melancholic symbols on her daughter’s face, and said, ” O the light of my eyes! Are you dejected and sad because Ali is very poor. Wallah! There is no parallel of Ali (RA) in the entire Arab. Fatima (RA) bowed her head down, and didn’t open her mouth. And it is pertinent to mention here that Ali (RA) had no house of his own. But, still, prophet Muhammad (SAW), preferred Ali (RA) as the groom of Fatima (RA).

Marriage a few decades ago, was considered a fundamental religious obligation, and was easy to solemnize. But, now, the very thought of marriage sends shivers down the spine of people. Commoners don’t want to marry off their sons and daughters prior to their safe induction into government services. Our marriages are restricted to government jobs, mansion type houses and plenty of dowry. Our young people are excessively obsessed with government jobs because they have been programmed to weigh their lives in terms of material achievements. Our youth is mad after it. I wonder if degrees, diplomas and certificates have really educated us at all ! Education is not all about fetching us a government job. Our education has infatuated us more than enlightening us.

Preferring people with government jobs for marital knots over those who earn through other means, has worsened the situation. With the growing number of unmarried youth, we are caught up in serious social conundrum. The growing number of unmarried youths is not just confined to the number of married and unmarried people, but it has caused ripples in our society, and its repercussions have taken an ugly turn.  When marriages are made difficult, cohabitation and fornication prevail like dirt. Incidence of rape attempts and molestation bids have awfully increased. Immodesty and indecency among youth has terribly shoot up. Thousands of girls have crossed the marriageable ages. Young people have fallen prey to substance abuse. Infertility among married couples is rapidly increasing. Thousands are seen at clinics and diagnostic labs. Yet, we consider ourselves prosperous, wise and advanced. Our materialistic perspective regarding marriages must change, otherwise we may end up worse than savages and beasts.

Now, the onus is on us all. We must educate our masses about the ill effects of the menace. We should take concrete steps to nip the evil in the bud. Our clerics and scholars should edify people to make our social fabric immaculately clean. Youth, particularly educated ones must set glaring examples of courage to curb the peril of late marriages.

Author is a Teacher and columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]

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