Armed with action and grace

Armed with action and grace

Mian Tufail

THE INDIAN Army, the fourth strongest army of the world, has been the cornerstone of Indian militarised force. Known for precise and clean operations, the army has brought laurels to the country by its defense of borders and the mega development and infrastructural projects. According to the recently released Global Firepower (GFP) annual defense review of 140 countries, India’s military is the 4th most powerful. After roping in civil society and non-government organisations in Kashmir, the army has carved a new mark in the minds of the locals here. From Operation Sadbhavna to free medical camps; from employment to the upliftment of the downtrodden, the army has been proactively engaging in mitigating the gaps between the people of Kashmir and the military forces.

After the insurgency of 1990s, the Indian army, with the support of the locals, has managed to sabotage the militancy with tactical operations and contact skills. With the Jammu and Kashmir police taking the affairs of insurgency in its hand along with Indian army and Central Reserved Police Forces (CRPF), the Indian army has started the massive developmental and employment generation initiatives throughout the Kashmir valley. Success of these initiatives can be credited to the proactive approach of the army and the support received from the masses in particular.

The lacunae in the Valley have been filled by the Indian army by way of various programmes and opportunities dominated by the youth and women. These fund-based initiatives are being harnessed under the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects helmed by various NGOs. The collaboration and cooperation between the army and the civil administration helps in reaching the grassroots. Here are some of the projects and initiatives taken up thus:

  • SAMARTH: Covid-19 victim’s empowerment

To safeguard and help the victims of Covid-19, 41 Rashtriya Rifles, under the CSR-initiated Samarth project, is providing Rs 30,000 each to ten beneficiaries so that they may rebuild their lives after the loss of the breadwinners in their families. The money could be spent in various livelihood-earning ventures like dairy farming, vegetable shops, boutique establishments and others, with hand-holding assistance for the sustainable living of the beneficiaries.

  • Stitch the national flag, earn livelihood

Jameela Begum, a woman entrepreneur of Kunan Poshpora area of Kupwara district, had recently displayed her first hand-made embroidered national flag. After she received huge accolades online for the same, the army and the district administration helped her start her own venture. An epitome of women empowerment and nationalism, Jameela received huge support from her counterparts and today, ten such centres have been established wherein hundreds of women are earning their livelihood just by stitching national flags!

This ‘made in Kashmir’ initiative of making the national flag was praised by the Prime Minister in his monthly ‘Mann Ki Baat’ series. Since Jameela Begum received this recognition, three more women-exclusive centres dealing in embroidered national flags have started operations in Kunan Poshpora village alone wherein women supply these flags to different army establishments, government offices, schools and colleges and make their daily earning.

  • Training association

The Indian army, in association with NGO TRRAIN (Trust for Retailers and Retail Associates of India) recently launched a 45-day programme in Kupwara for tech-enabled retail training to girls. It runs eight courses and has a target to empower 240 girls in different courses. So far, 200 beneficiaries have been recruited in various retail outlets at Srinagar, Kupwara and Handwara.

  • Skill-development

Skilling through Jan Shikshan Sansthan programme is a skill-development initiative for rural women. This includes cutting and tailoring centres in different villages of the Kashmir valley.

Asif Plaisar, who runs his NGO in North Kashmir, tells Kashmir Central that over the last decade, the role of the army has sharpened and by way of small to mega programmes, the forces remain on their toes to help the people here. He says, “I can count out tens of personal experiences where the army has been on the forefront to work for people and to ensure the masses benefit from their initiatives. It has built a bridge in Kralpora Village of Kupwara where people used to face immense difficulties while crossing the canal during the rains. The army has started various programmes for women and youth wherein they encourage them to come forward and reap the benefits of these schemes”.

Asif adds, “I personally remain present in various initiatives of the army and they have a habit of not taking the sole credit. They built a bridge for which they invited a concerned District Development Councillor (DDC) for the inauguration. This reflects on the disciplined and democratic nature of our forces whose only goal is to serve the masses without taking any credit”.

The mega establishment of the Computer Training Institute, in collaboration with the National IT Institute is a testimony of how the army is shaping the skills of the youth and women, in particular, to compete in the present world muddled with Artificial Intelligence and block chain technology. These initiatives are at a nascent stage but will surely benefit future generations in the times to come.

  • Agniveer: A blueprint to serve the nation

After the introduction of the Agnipath scheme by the Government of India to modernise the Indian army and have a young brat of forces defending the country, the army in Kashmir has started training programmes to engage the youth, especially college and university students. The programme is to train them to clear the Agnipath-based recruitment test. The training saw a huge response in the districts of Srinagar, Baramulla, Kupwara, Anantnag and Pulwama. Transparent registration drives were organised to make the process more clean and accountable. Of the 566 applicants, 204 have been recruited in the army.

“During the recruitment rallies in Pattan, I witnessed how the educated youth made a beeline to get an entry for the Physical Endurance Test. This reflects the changing nature and priorities of our youth. The Government of India, the UT administration and the Army have done a commendable work to infuse nationalism in the heart and minds of the people. The era is gone when people used to hide after seeing the army march. Today, they walk shoulder to shoulder to address each other’s grievances collectively and warmly,” Asif adds.


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