Seniors Can Take Forward State’s Vision
While the focus on the youth is welcome, the Admn Must Involve Elders For Help In Tackling Drug Menace, Other Social Evils
The government and its institutions in Jammu and Kashmir genuinely have a youth-oriented mission, which is appreciated. The whole narrative rests on the youth. Every program is designed for the youth, and the policy focus is around the youth.
This is important. The government is conscious of the fact that youth engagement is pivotal for peace and stability. Youth participation is antithesis to the narrative of alienation. Hence the youth-centric policies of Jammu and Kashmir are strategically significant.
Like the other states of India, J&K has a sizable youth population. If the youth bulge goes astray, it can create trouble for the state and the society. The spirit behind youth engagement is the fact that the youth are vulnerable to irrational and illegitimate thought processes, which takes them to the wrong path.
That said, the state cannot afford to completely ignore the saner elder generation. There is a solid argument against ignoring this generation. Youth go haywire when they are influenced by the wrong direction given by the elders – whether parents, teachers, preachers or civil society members.
The Elders Stoked Civil Unrest In Kashmir
The bloodshed of the last 33 years can be analyzed in this way. The society leaders (with not even a single youngster) decided to wage a war against the state by involving young minds and they did it.
All the opinion leaders and strong votaries of violence were in age group of above 50. They instigated and indoctrinated the youth and provoked them to wage a war against the state.
Kashmir stands witness to the fact that it was the elderly members who for the last three decades knocked at the conscience of the younger generation to choose the path of death and destruction. In the ultimate analysis, it is the elders who set the discourse. They choose a path for the younger generation and lead them on that path. The youth only translate the idea and ideology into action.
Staying Engaged With The Elderly Is Vital
Most societies tend to engage with the youth. But staying engaged with the elderly is equally significant. Practically all issues, whether social, economic or political are resolved with the participation of the elder generation. They hold sway because of their experience, vision and far-sightedness.
Whenever there is a problem within a social group or in the administrative hierarchy, it is resolved with the intervention of the elders. Check with any police station or an army unit. It is the seniors who prevail.
We have innumerable examples where commanding officers of the local army regiments seek the advice of the elders in issues pertaining to the involvement of any youngster in militancy. The how can their role be ignored in maintaining peace and development?
During the last 30 years of turmoil, we have witnessed two things in Kashmir.
One, the separatist leadership ignored and abused the older generation for their political ideology. For the separatists too, the target group was the youth. They could only mobilize the youth by unleashing an organized campaign against the older generation for their political affiliations.
But interestingly, both the state and non-state forces would approach the elders at the time of crises. This gives us a fair idea that whatever the situation, the role of elder saner voices in peace progress and development cannot be undermined.
The turmoil of 30 years has taken a heavy toll on Kashmir. One of the major ways in which we have suffered is the assault on our societal values. Our social fabric has been disturbed. We are now bearing the brunt.
Drug Addiction Spreading Fast
The culture of lawlessness was inculcated among the youth intentionally to create chaos. Because the elders were pushed to the margins by a particular narrative, the youth went haywire.
Social evils which were unknown to the Kashmir society spread like a pandemic. Today Kashmir on the whole is facing the challenge of drug addiction. The menace has consumed hundreds of youngsters so far. It is spreading fast among the youth.
The administration is concerned about the spread of drugs, and the problem has many dimensions. Narco terrorism has emerged as new challenge to the security of the state. The government is trying hard to contain the spread of drug peddling, drug abuse and narco terrorism. NGOs, social activists and police are collaborating in highlighting the problem. But without the involvement of the elder, saner elements of the society, the war against drugs is not that effective.
There are still certain traditional institutions in both urban and rural Kashmir which can play a vital role in addressing the problem of drugs in the society. It is commonly felt that the present breed of Panchs and Sarpanchs have least social credibility. They cannot be that effective in the campaign against drug menace.
Govt Can Seek Support Of Masjid Committees
Masjid committees all across the Kashmir valley are the ones that still enjoy influence and power in their respective areas. In absence of other democratic institutions, these committees over the years have established their writ and clout among the general masses. People immediately turn to mosque committees for the redressal of their grievances, and these are resolved on the spot. The committees work on the patterns of Lok Adalats. These committees are always on the forefront to assist in relief and rehabilitation of the affected people.
Another important institution in rural Kashmir is that of Numbardar (village headman). This has been traditionally a very respectable institution in rural public life. It has also been a conventional but very credible link between the administration and the villagers.
Whether the matters pertain to revenue or law and order (the police), the Numbardar used to have a very important role of mediation, settlement and resolution. Though the institution has lost its sheen over the years, it is still more credible than the Panchayat. The role of the Numbardar contributes towards nation building, since the micro management of petty issues in public life cannot be ignored.
Historically and also socially, the role of the elder generation in both positive and negative ways must be acknowledged. This is why the narrative of the government must always be inclusive. The involvement of the elder generation and its constructive engagement is essential for building any positive narrative in the society.
While talking to the Kashmir Central, senior political leader and vice president of Apni Party Gh Hassan Mir said that the mosque committees over the period of time have emerged as legitimate bodies which have acceptance among the masses. “Masjid committees are near democratic bodies. People have faith in them and they are active in public matters, ”Mir said. He added that the involvement of the Masjid committees in issues concerning the general public is vital for the government. Their role is vital because the Masjid Committees are a credible body present in every nook and corner of Kashmir valley.
Mir said that the Panchayat, in its present composition, cannot be that effective in addressing issues like drug menace. Masjid Committees can assist the government in this major task. The administration should reach out to them to seek their assistance for this critical role.