BY  Binoo Joshi

Often in the heat of the  political frenzy in Jammu and Kashmir, a very critical and important factor is ignored: the economic activity and the aspirational class among the young in the state.

In the context of J&K, what has caught attention of the policy makers, and ironically that of the trouble makers alike is the quantum of violence in Kashmir, everything else has been relegated to the background. The violence suppresses thoughts and aspirations alike. It gives a misdirection to the youth and they fall prey to it, and it has happened so many times now that the school and college going students nurturing dreams of becoming big in life and registering their name at national and international levels, were lured by propaganda and took the path of death and destruction. The violence impacted not only them but also the whole society, and the rest of the state suffered immensely.

Let’s talk about Shah Faesal? Who is he? Why he sits in the imagination of the youth, though he has shifted gears and joined politics.  Shah Faesal represents realization of aspirational class of the youth. He topped the civil services examinations in 2009, and emerged as an icon for the Kashmiri youth. Here, it is worth mentioning that while Shah Faesal made it to the top of the civil services  by the dint of his hard work, but much of the recognition of his hard work and success was bestowed by the Government of India. Every year IAS exams are held and there are toppers, but none of them are honoured by Prime Ministers, Chief Ministers. That is what made him unique.

Two things should be remembered here: one, Shah Faesal had a hope in the system that’s why he worked hard to get where he did. Second, perhaps, he didn’t know himself that his success would be so acclaimed and then become a source of inspiration for the youth in schools, colleges and even those who were already in different professions, medical, teaching, legal and even in business.

The point being made here is that the aspirations if pursued with determination and a fair goal in mind have the scope of getting realized in the country. It would be perhaps a wrong analogy to put Shah Faesal, whose father was killed by militants in his native area of Lolab in Kupwara district in 1990s and his family had to take shelter for safety in Srinagar , made it to the top of the civil services, dream of tens of thousands of youth every year , to Malala Yusufzai  of Swat, Pakistan, who was  shot at  by Taliban for  she wanted to pursue her studies and encouraged girls education  and finally now struts on global stage as Nobel Laureate , in the same category. But there are certain similarities that cannot be missed at all.

The nation has recognized all the talented Kashmiri youth , whether it was Tajmul Islam , a young girl from Bandipore, who won world championship in kickboxing at the age of eight, or the young cricketers Pervez Rasool . There are many more making it big. This is the aspirational class , and they have inspired many more .

Kashmir has to make a choice – should these kids grow and make their name as big as they can or should their aspirations be suppressed by those seeing violence as a means to an end, which, in reality leads nowhere except to the graves.