In ‘Naya Jammu and Kashmir’, youth have become agents of change and a driving force. They have rejected the Pakistan-sponsored terrorism and are scripting a new chapter in the history of the Himalayan region.
After the abrogation of Article 370, a temporary provision in the Constitution of India, on August 5, 2019, the youth have been provided with a plethora of opportunities to build their careers and become what they want to be.
The government during the past three years has taken many steps to create supportive infrastructure, schemes and policies to meet the aspirations of the youngsters. Mission Youth, Jammu and Kashmir Rural Life Mission (JKRLM) and other government agencies along with J&K Bank are helping thousands of new entrepreneurs to set up businesses.
During the ‘Back to Village’ and ‘My Town My Pride’ programmes held last year, as many as 75,000 young entrepreneurs across J&K were provided with an opportunity to start their projects. They were provided financial assistance and other support to become self-reliant and job creators.
Finding reasons led to solutions
Transition of Jammu and Kashmir into a Union Territory led to the government focusing on the youngsters in the Himalayan region. The helmsmen looked into the reasons about why youth were getting lured by the terrorists and anti-national elements. One of major reasons for the youth going astray was lack of employment avenues and negligible support from the former political regimes.
Failure of politicians to formulate comprehensive self-employment packages for the youngsters also led to the youth getting disillusioned and carried away. The youth were made to believe that getting employed in a government sector was the only way to have a secure future in J&K. Not many steps were taken to encourage the young people to become entrepreneurs.
Till 2019, setting up any business unit in J&K was a Herculean task. Many people were forced to give up their ideas much before they could complete all the formalities.
Popularising startup culture
Just three years ago, the youth were a disillusioned lot who were struggling to make their ends meet. However, the complete integration of Jammu and Kashmir with the Union of India opened up a new world for the young people.
To encourage the youngsters to come forward with their ideas and innovations, the government focused on popularising the culture of startups in the Himalayan region. To begin with, the government provided incubation and seed funding to brilliant ideas and solutions allowing the young people to give a practical shape to their plans.
The creation of industry innovation clusters encouraged a new generation of entrepreneurs to set an example and become inspiration for others. J&K emerging as a hub for startups in the country proved to be a game changer.
The industry and academic institutions encouraging a culture of innovation and providing institutionalised handholding to the budding innovators and researchers led to many young boys and girls becoming role models and inspiration for their counterparts.
The initiatives like the Centre for Innovation and Economic Development (CIED) have provided young minds with an opportunity to work on their ideas and sell these to the world. The government has been exploring the startup potential in all the sectors, including agriculture, dairy, transport, handicrafts, food and other allied fields.
Youth centric initiatives
South Kashmir’s Pulwama district, considered as a hotbed of terrorism till 2019, has set an example in youth empowerment. In the district, a new record has been set by providing opportunities to 7,324 youth to set up their own business ventures.
The youth-centric initiatives taken by the incumbent dispensation in Jammu and Kashmir should serve as an eye opener for the leaders who ruled the Himalayan region in the past. They used youngsters for their political gains and projected terrorism-infested areas like Pulwama as “no-go” zones where no development could have taken place.
Providing youngsters with an opportunity to set up any business unit or turn them into innovators were no priorities for the former rulers.
During the past three years, the government has shattered all the myths by concentrating on the potential of youngsters. As on date, every Kashmir district has a list of successful entrepreneurs, sportsmen and artists. Lists of wanted stone-pelters have disappeared from the police stations as the youngsters neither indulge in street protests, nor stone-pelting.
Local recruitment in the ranks of terrorists has gone down to zero as the youth have understood that laptops and pens are the real symbols of empowerment and holding a gun won’t take them anywhere except a graveyard.
The government has made youth partners in governance by setting up youth clubs under the aegis of Mission Youth. Around 4,290 youth clubs are functional in the Union Territory now. The volunteers in the youth clubs have been provided training in all aspects of government schemes. They are part of emergency and crisis management plans. They are involved in planning and decision-making as well.
The youth clubs are serving as the focal point for positive engagement of the youth and are striving to ensure that youngsters don’t fall prey to the radical propaganda and other social issues that can put them in trouble.
The youth in ‘Naya Jammu and Kashmir’ are leading from the front and have succeeded in pulling the Himalayan region out of the dark shadows of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. They have rubbished the vicious propaganda of the terrorist bosses sitting across the Line of Control. They have also turned their backs towards guns and stones that were provided to them by Pakistan and its stooges.
Channelising energies in positive way
The government channelising the energy of youngsters in a positive manner has proven to be a big setback for Pakistan and the terrorist handlers. Had the former rulers provided a chance to the youngsters to excel in their lives, Pakistan and the separatists would have never succeeded in burning J&K and turning it into a battleground for 30 long years.
The decision of the regime led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “bite the bullet” and abrogate J&K’s special status has changed the destinies of the common people in the erstwhile princely state, as they have embarked on the journey of peace, prosperity and development.