For more than 30 years, insurgency and depraved cross-border support have been the biggest challenges for the progress of Kashmir and its people. The governance, land, women’s rights or employment- everything has suffered terribly in the shadows of paralyzing fear. Political volatility between India and Pakistan has further made the situation in Kashmir fragile. Pakistan has innumerable times used this hostility for its own benefit. It is evident that Kashmir issue always holds the top place in Pakistani agenda for electoral campaigning. Young Kashmiris are often targeted and brain washed to support terror groups in the name of religion. A large number of parents have lost their sons to mindless violence over a misleading idea of territoriality. All this has led to a whole generation to be called as ’children of conflict’.
Ever since the Instrument of Accession was executed by Maharaja Hari Singh on 26 Oct 1947, India has considered Kashmir as an integral and unified part of the country. Various development plans and schemes had been introduced to aid the growth and prosperity of this region which has been a traditional victim of conflict. Constant efforts had been made to ensure a terror free environment for the locals, where the society could thrive and achieve its true potential. But all these efforts were marred by the nefarious designs of India’s western adversary. It has been more than 2 years since the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A of Indian constitution. This landmark event on 5th August 2019 has brought hopes of holistic development to an erstwhile militarized pseudo-autonomy. Removal of the special status given to this state and ensuring the central government laws become applicable by downgrading Jammu and Kashmir into a union territory has finally brought Kashmir on the right side of history. Today, Kashmir is experiencing unprecedented benefits of development enjoyed by Indians elsewhere.
After the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A, union territory of Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed decrease in terror activities as well as a stable progress in the spheres of human resource, infrastructure and education. During last two years, the government has undertaken a holistic approach for all-round development. Some major headway projects include Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla railway project, establishment of prestigious AIIMS campus and gas-pipeline project. These development projects in the region call for numerous employment opportunities for the locals. There is also a renewed focus on the agriculture and horticulture sectors, which employ the largest segment of Kashmiri population. Efforts have been made to create digital infrastructure, expanding usage and making government processes as transparent as possible. IT sector and telecom services are reaching new heights with latest government schemes. New investors are showing more and more interest in ever growing industrial sector. People in Kashmir are connected more than ever and there is a paradigm shift in people’s mindset towards the country. Budding entrepreneurs and several self-sustained businesses are gaining popularity among Kashmiris.
Kashmiri society has always had a rich cultural heritage. There is no dearth of talented artists, scholars and sportspersons. While in earlier times the popular trend was to move out and settle in other parts of the country, more and more people have embraced the Kashmir post Aug 2019 wherein talent and hard work is respected, and there is an inherent sense of peace and prosperity. Here are a few glimpses of stalwarts of a new, progressive Kashmir:
Tahirah Rehman , the first woman from Jammu and Kashmir’s tribal Gujjar community and from a remote village in Rajouri has been selected for training in Indian Air force.
Adnan Manzoor, this young Rabab artist from Kashmir has taken Valley’s traditional music to a global platform through social media and has become an inspiration for youth of the Valley.
Hoorain Zulfikar, the 19 year old from Srinagar is spreading magic through her art, currently working as a director for Centre of Art, Youth Parliament, J&K- a non-profit organization registered with the United Nations.
Umran Malik, this cricketer from Srinagar is playing for Sunrisers Hyderabad team in IPL in Dubai and has set the record for the fastest ball bowled in IPL 2021.
Hina Jaan, an extremely talented 8th standard student from Handwara, and has become the youngest writer to release her book ‘To Infinity and More…’
Indian Army has been the frontrunner in promoting peace and safety in Kashmir. Through its Operation Sadbhavna, the army has helped Kashmiri society overcome the sense of despair and lost hope. Recognizing young talent and extending a helping hand for those in need has become the second nature of armed forces in Valley. People are sick of ongoing terrorist activities and are longing for peace and peaceful right to life and liberty. Terrorist activities have declined sharply in recent years indicating that the young Kashmiris no longer seek to be a part of the never-ending pit of militancy. Increased feeling of acceptance and harmony can be seen amongst the Awaam and army, moving together towards a peaceful and progressive Kashmir. Dreams and aspirations of the society can be seen rising through positive social and economic changes in the valley. Under the assuring watch of Indian army as sentinels of the valley, youth of Kashmir is hopeful and keen to shape a better tomorrow.