Summers of discontent over, Kashmiri youth focus on career (Feature)

October 13th, 2011 - 1:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, Oct 13 (IANS) A summer has ended peacefully in the valley and Kashmiri youth have certainly warmed up to it as they look for campus placements, surf for employment avenues on the internet, compete for the coveted civil services and even scout for jobs in the private sector.

In a land that witnessed some of the bloodiest clashes between irate youth and the security forces, the youngsters are now focussing on career building.

“Hundreds of local boys and girls, including my son, are attending coaching classes at some reputed institutions to make it to the IAS (Indian Administrative Service) and other such services,” Mushtaq Ahmad, 49, an official with the central customs, told IANS.

“Gone are the days when Kashmiri boys and girls would shy away from facing all-India competition for civil services, medicine, engineering, information technology, management and other professions,” he said.

“At least seven locals made it to the all-India civil services during the last two years. Given our population in comparison with the rest of the country, it is a major achievement.

The summer of 2011 passed peacefully, after three continuous summers of unrest which had made it difficult for youth to focus on education and careers. Boys and girls in local colleges and universities are also looking for jobs abroad and in other parts of the country.

“I have applied for post-graduate courses in Australia and Britain. I have also applied at some of the prestigious institutions in the country,” said 27-year-old doctor Rayees.

Sameer Ahmed, 21, who is studying management in Pune, said: “Contrary to my peers, because I’m a Kashmiri student, my teachers and course mates take extra trouble to help me in my studies. The apprehensions which Kashmiri students have against pursuing studies outside the state are completely unfounded.”

Rouf Shafi, an engineering student in Bangalore, too sounded optimistic.

“Before I moved out to Bangalore, I did not realise the tremendous opportunities that await Kashmiris outside. In fact, if you’re hard working and determined, there is no limit to your ambitions,” he said.

Many private companies are making campus selections at the local university to select managers for their enterprises.

“Campus selections are something our students hardly expected until recently,” said Ashok Aima, a management professor at a varsity in Jammu and Kashmir.

“Big companies and even multi-national enterprises are now making campus selections at Kashmir University’s business school. This happens in Jammu University as well. But you must understand the difference,” he said.

“Youth in the valley have been through bad times. And they are making up excellently for lost time. I have no doubt our boys and girls have the potential to compete with the best in the country and outside,” he added.

What is encouraging is a society that for ages had looked upon government jobs as the only occupational avenue is foraying into the private sector in a big way.

Said college teacher Muzaffar Ahmad: “The mindset has undergone a sea change. Boys and girls with promise now look upon government jobs as their last option.”

“The reluctance and the fear that the world ended for a Kashmiri youth at the Pir Panchal Mountains is finally over. With no dearth of talent and the willingness to brave the odds, sky is now the limit for our boys and girls,” he added.

Ahmad’s son is doing a literature course in Delhi’s St. Stephen’s College.

In a lighter vein, a police officer who did not want to be named said: “Our boys would no longer be known for their stone pelting ’skills’!”

“They have the capacity to conquer the world with their talent and hard work. It is precisely in recognition of their potential that we have been organising coaching courses for civil services, sports, etc, for youth.”

(Sheikh Qayoom can be contacted at sheikh.abdul@ians.in)

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