Inspire Yourself !

Book, videos, audio clips, gurus, workshops, parents, relatives, friends, celebs, leaders… the list of people who we look up-to to inspire us goes on.. every now and then, there are a few books published, we buy them, read, get motivated and follow it for a few days, probably weeks and there it is, stacked up in one of those book shelves, forgotten forever. We all have this urge in be a better human and we continuously look forward to better ourselves. We look at improving our mental health, our physical fitness, constantly endeavor to foster better relationship especially a satisfying love life and impart abundant knowledge and imbibe good habits in our kids…

We all attribute a lot of importance to our mental health, we all want to live stress free and make the most productivity out of the least effort. Nobody wants to stay working forever. Be it an entrepreneur, a stock broker, a educationist or a military leader, all of them look forward to get the work done, get home and have some time off work with family or friends. Everyone wants time off, get de-stressed and have a fun-filled life for themselves. If there are any who feel contrary,  I would strongly recommend consulting a shrink. We all should also have some interest beyond our work. You may read, enjoy sports activities or indulge in more creative ways that interests you. There are people who devote all their time for work, work and work…all day and night..Neither do they have any other interest nor do they find time for the family. Above all, such crazy people are difficult to work with and make lives of their co-workers far too unpleasant.

Physical fitness holds the key to good living. Physical fitness comprises of three basic things – Sleep, food and training, with training being the least important among-st the three. There was a point in time where I used to skip on sleep and sometimes on food to focus on training, only to find negative effects on my physique. Sleep also holds the key to ones mental health, thus forms the most important activity of all. I also feel indifferent to the smokers of the world. That is one activity that a man or woman pursues knowing very well that you are doomed. you all must be wondering about the variation between my topic and content. Well, who inspires you remains the most pertinent thing when you pursue achieving a balanced life. There have been times when I have depended on many people, gurus, videos, articles etc for inspiration. It’s nearly eleven years of madness that has led me to conclude that the only way I can achieve is by seeking SELF INSPIRATION…A deep understanding of oneself gets you to understand your madness better. There is no doctor, psychologist, guru or psychic who can understand like the way YOU KNOW YOURSELF. Your mind speaks to you when it feels tired or exhausted and you desperately need a break. It tells you how much stress can you take on and where you need to say a No. It speaks to you…all you need is some patience to listen.

The body also gives you those indication when you need to start showing some interest on your physique. Most of us feel obesity is the indicator, not necessarily. There are many more signs and symptoms that warns of impending trouble. Similarly, when you overdo your workout routines, your body indicates the need for you to rest and recoup. What I strongly believe is that  we can be our source of inspiration and motivation. No matter what you are, your mindset can make or break you. We need to keep ourselves motivated, inspired and should continue to make our mental, physical, emotional self better.. We need to inspire ourselves.





Change… Learn to Embrace it !

The one thing we all hate the most is CHANGE… in fact we love permanency.. and this is when we all know very well that ‘Change is the only thing Constant in our lives’. When we have a series of success, we dread to face failure. In spite of a series of successes, we get bogged down by the smallest setbacks. Movie stars, sportsmen/women or military leaders, there are many who could never get over even the slightest slump in their careers. They just failed to embrace CHANGE…

I strongly feel change brings the best in a person. We, over a period of time get so used being ourselves and with what we do, that, we fail to innovate and improvise. We feel so comfortable in our skin that we hardly care about being obese. Some of us are obsessed with certain things that we find it difficult to part ways with. Couples feel too comfortable with each other that they fail to inspire or motivate one another. Money, comforts and a convenient lifestyle makes us feel complacent and probably rigid, making it difficult to embrace change.

Change, in a person or organisation need not be a major thing that he or she looses her identity or the people of that organisation feel overwhelmed. They are many people who want to change the world, but are not open to make certain minor changes or adaptations in their personal life. And there are certain greater mortals who want to bring in change at the blink of an eye. To me, change can be on everyday basis, may be natural or spontaneous, small enough to be inconspicuous and one should be an optimist to embrace it.

The Pursuit of Happiness…

We humans are fabulous but complicated and confused creatures. We all want to live our lives to the most, make the best use of time, earn the most, garner all we can. We aspire to win, to be successful and be happy. We want to do it all in the shortest possible time and probably with the least amount of effort one can put in. At the end of our lives, we all want to be known or remembered for something, don’t we?

Some of us value relationships we have, many among-st us cherish the friendship we share, some of us give utmost importance to the money we toil to earn. We all think differently, feel and connect in a unique way and  behave in different manner.  We all grow up learning certain ethics and principles. Most of us forget them by the time we complete our teenage, some take it along till they set up a family, few lose sight of it before heading into old age and a very few among-st us take it to our graves.

Success, Money and Happiness share a very complicated relationship with human mind. Many of us hold the opinion that success and money can together chase happiness, a few lucky ones (the silver spooned) need to just worry about the success part of it and some talented ones find success and money but end up loosing all in search of the summit –happiness.Then, there are those few wise men/women who have seen it all, who very well know that happiness is the only intangible in this world that no tangible(money, success) whatsoever can help us achieve. We all human feel happy on buying a dress or a car, winning a lottery, getting a job and we define it Happiness. All we need is a reason to feel happy, not realizing that these reasons only give you those small spurt of adrenaline that makes you feel on top of the world. Some of us would say that, it is such small moments that collects on to become memories over a period of time.

They say Greed is the greatest challenge to the human mind. We all want more, a lot more, anything and everything. We can define greed in many ways and we find a lot may reasons to justify it too. A young salesman drawing a decent paycheck aspires to become a manager drawing a fat paycheck. Here,  greed is defined as Ambition. A young Captain in the army dreams to become a General one day, here Power defines greed. Many of us just don’t know where to stop, to draw the line and differentiate between being happy and being greedy. We all want the best place, the best weather, the best house with all the amenities and all the goodies. The question is at what price?

In today’s world, I am confident that we humans are far from being happy. All we do is to search for or chase happiness, not realizing the fact that it all lies within us. The digitization of our lives and networking of our thoughts hardly gives us time to think, evolve and be happy, instead, it has made us smarter, faster and probably unhappy. Even-though, communicating using social networking platforms has become a norm, but the art of writing using a fountain pen still delights me more. As we grow old, we look back and realize that we were happier when were children, playing in clay, scribbling on books, reading old novels, battling in the soccer field, getting drunk with friends and had less money. We all hope to relive that day…still we keep chasing the future in the pursuit of happiness.


Fighting Fit!

One of the greatest fears in my life is Aging. People age without a choice, but I dream of aging gracefully. The day-to-day work pressures and our ignorant lifestyle impinges a lot on our health. People define fitness in different terms, to some it is all about losing the excess fat, for some it is about body building, to many it is about seeing those six or eight packs in the mirror, while some focus on building strength or endurance. To me, fitness is my lifestyle.

These days a plenty of articles are written in magazines like MensHealth, videos are uploaded on Youtube and other social media platform about fitness. I remember scrolling through certain videos on burning thousands of calories in hours and vividly remember seeing a headline boasting of reducing 44 lbs in 12 hours. Well, I wonder the authenticity of such videos. In the World we live in, anything and everything catches ones eyes, and most of the cast of such videos and authors of articles confess their so-called drastic success as their personal experience, I wonder how good or bad could it be on they themselves and those who follow their advises/ suggestions.

To begin with, I personally feel that any kid or an adult should have a definite control over her food intake and his lifestyle. I keep wondering as to how can a man or woman lose sight of their physical self leading to excessive weight gain. I can understand that some of us may have an inclination towards fast food or some of us could be among-st those who have been blessed with a sweet-tooth. But whatever be our sweet weakness related to food, that doesn’t reason out for an uncontrolled food intake leading to excessive weight gain. I also (to an extent) blame the support system here. For eg., people in relationship should make sure that his/her partner doesn’t gain those extra pounds. The lifestyle should be routed through by the partner in such a way that there is some control over the worldly temptations of the partners cravings. I know it is easier said than done. Many of us start feeling comfortable in their skin. And I rarely know of a man who had the guts to tell his woman that she is fat. But in not doing so, the partner is doing the biggest injustice to his better half.

I personally feel, fitness is not about how many hours we spend in the gym or on a field. Instead, it a concoction of our food intake, sleep pattern and fitness training. Many of my good friends and colleagues assume that a good training session in the gym or a 5/10 mile run gives them the freedom to pop in a burger or heavy cheese pizza and a bottle of Jack Daniels. Well, to them I do try making them understand that it is just not the miles that count, it is also the calorie intake that matter. But, the irony lies in the fact that most tasty food on earth are filled with those ‘dirty’ calories one cannot live without. Off-course, there are those ‘cheat’ days specifically meant for such misadventures and it is important we have those cheat days forming part of our fitness regime.

filas-de-pesas-de-metal-en-rack-en-el-gimnasio-club-deportivo-equipo-del-entrenamiento-del-peso_1439-5Motivation is another key area of concern to many among-st us. Motivation can be internal and external. Some of us watch a video on weight reduction on Facebook and get motivated on the need to get fit. It is good to be motivated but the challenge is to remain motivated and attain our fitness goals. Some of us lose our way during this journey to achieve better health as we lack the much-needed internal motivation. The factors that motivate externally gets u a kick-start, but it is the factors that motivate internally that keeps your momentum going. Internal motivation is a key aspect to make us attain our fitness goal, in fact internal motivation holds the key to our happiness! Inspiration that comes within has the longest shelf-life.

I hear a number of people who are not in their best shape giving out reasons for not being so. Excuses they say, are the easiest to find in our lives. We have excuses for everything, be it to fall in love or to fall apart, to pursue our goals or to give up. You ll find a whole lot of excuses to skip a run, not hit the gym or pursue a game. The single largest told excuse for being out of shape is ones Job, closely followed by Marriage and lastly Age. You would have heard many say ‘ where do I find time for fitness? my job consumes most of my time’. Some even add, I need to do this to meet my ends and some even sound that I m the only one who earns bread in my family. At least in many Indian households, these are the best given excuses. I was even surprised by a colleague of mine who made a remark that those in the profession of acting or modelling are the only ones who can take care of their health as their job mandates them to do so. Then we have some of us who become comfortable in our skin and with our partner not complaining, take it for granted. And, lastly are those who feel that they need not focus anymore on their health because they are aged.

In a day, an average human being spends nearly 10-11 hours at work and probably 6-7 hours giving rest to the body, which still leaves him/her with 6-8 hours a day to focus on fitness goals. Even if one spends 02 hours on hobbies and a couple of hours on meeting ones basic needs, an hour or two can still be spent on ones fitness. That is all it takes, an hour a day, probably four to five times a week, making it five hours at the max, a week. What pains me to ask is that can’t we find an hour a day for some activity? Are we that busy to find time for fitness? Are we too preoccupied with our work, household or problems to not focus on ourselves? In the words of The Dalai Lama,’Man sacrifices his health in order to make money, then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health’. 

I strongly believe that everything in our lives revolves around the ‘Mind’. Every time I feel like giving up, taking an extra mile, add an extra set or to pump up a few additional weights, I keep telling myself, ‘Its all in my head’. There will be times when you don’t see results, you feel like giving up, your body aches so much that you don’t feel like waking up and sometimes your job tears you down to bits, that is the point you tell yourself that ‘Its my mind that controls my body and not vice-versa‘.

Perseverance‘ is the last major factor that needs to be borne in the mind. We all like results and most of us want it now. We also want our results to outwit our efforts, and sadly we all like it that way. We do a set of crunches and expect tummy to tuck in (Men will be Men), we hardly run a mile, but we want toned legs in the mirror (Women huh!), but as the old adage goes ‘There are no shortcut to success‘, it takes time to see results, but I can vouch that your Perseverance and Hard work will definitely payoff.

So, all you need to do is to GET STARTED….DB1CW7XWsAMleD9

The Autumn Calm in Kashmir

The month of September in the Valley is the most colorful of all months. The Autumn Sun brings along with it a cool breeze which fills our minds with a lot of calm. The Apple season and the harvesting of seasonal crops are in full swing and the markets are bustling with activity.  Academics and cricket have kept the youth of the Valley engaged and tourism seems to have made a comeback following a year of turmoil. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) seems to have kept the Separatist at bay from vitiating the atmosphere and despite the best efforts of certain inimical elements to trigger incidents, the Security Forces (SF) seems to have succeeded in controlling the Internal Security (IS) situation and ensuring that normalcy prevails in the Valley.

Social networking and social media is a major tool in the hands of the Kashmiri population especially the youth. Most of the social networking groups disseminate a tremendous amount of pessimism. For eg., a minor incident or an accident gets widespread publicity and these groups are then filled with photos of the injured fully soaked in blood. Similarly, any incident affecting the followers of Islam anywhere in the World interests the Youth in Kashmir. Blaming the followers of Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism for perpetrating the pain follows suit. Palestine and Syria are the major areas of interest exploited by the vernacular media to convey to the local population the pain caused to the Muslim population across the World.

The Sufi sect of Islam which was followed in the Valley over the years is slowly being replaced by Wahabi/Salafi radical Islam. The call for Jihad(struggle in the name of God) and Shahadat(martyrdom) are slowly but strongly catching the vivid imagination of the Kashmiri Youth. Women clad in Burqa are visible in villages and towns and school going girl students are increasingly seen fully covering the head and body. Rumor-mongering is one of the favorite past-times around in here. Criminal acts apart from terrorist activities are also a major contributor to the pessimism in here. One of the recent dastardly act being committed in certain part of South Kashmir is the insane Braid Chopping of women of different age, the last one involving a 13-year-old girl at Anantnag. I wonder what sadistic satisfaction does one achieve in cutting a woman’s hair.

The Valley has a very high youth bulge and the lack of employment is definitely a leading factor for most of the problems faced here. The unemployment rate is closely followed by the reproduction rate as most of the Kashmiris feel “more the merry”. In one of the case wherein a youth was found missing from his home and later joined the terrorist ranks, the background checks carried out reveal that he had six sisters and five brothers making him the “twelfth” man in his family cricket team. Furthermore, the quality of education being imparted to the students are way below par compared to the rest of the country.  Twice in the last one decade, the students have been passed out of mercy first in 2008 and next time in 2016 citing the turbulent times of unrest in the Valley. Even a minor incident such as killing of terrorist by SF leads to shut down by the school authorities in anticipation of a possible unrest and any such unrest triggers a chain of incidents that generally ensures closure of schools and colleges for 4-5 days at a stretch. These days of unrest are not utilized by the students to undertake tuition or study on their own, instead most of these youth are found throwing stones at police and sloganeering in front of SF camps. A friend of mine visited one of the schools to meet and interact with the children. A student studying in Class IV post exchanging pleasantries asked him as to which religion does he belong to. In plain simple words, the child asked him whether he is a Hindu or a Muslim.

Radicalization and Alienation are the twin issues of concern for the Government and the SF. The Salafi/Wahabi fangs are definitely injecting venom across the Valley especially in South Kashmir and in conjunction with the Ahl-e-Hadith & Deobandhi preaching creates a concoction for radicalization which is becoming a formidable challenge for the Indian establishment. What adds to the challenge is the anti-India/pro-freedom expression that is spreading its wings adequately propelled by the ISI- Separatist nexus alienating the Kashmiri populace from rest of the country.

The SF has definitely been successful in restoring normalcy and providing the much-needed firm base for the state and central government. This happened once in the period between 2003-2006 wherein the militancy was zeroed out and the year 2017 is another year wherein the SF has been successful in eliminating the leadership and could possibly provide another opportunity for the state and central apparatus to take over. But, the question remains, are they ready with a plan to takeover and ensure peace prevails over the Valley? In the history, hardly has been a terrorist or insurgency been eliminated by pure SF action. Civic action in conjunction with Kinetic operations holds the key to such conflicts that have greater civilian participation. 

Any state is as good as its population and it is the moral responsibility of the people of Kashmir to develop come what may be the challenges. There are definitely many opportunities being provided but excuses in the name of Article 370 and Article 35A only curbs their development. It is high time the people here understand that their identity is not bound by articles written in the Constitution, instead it is the “prosperity” by leaps and bounds of Kashmiri culture that could identify them better. For that, they need to invest in better education of their children, empowering their women folk and open their minds to the World. Hope sense prevails and that day arrives!



Hashtags, Viral & Trending- Far From Reality!

On 12th Jul, the anchor of CNN New 18 was lambasting a participant on her show from across the border on Kashmir Chemical Jihad. She was explaining to her viewers the diabolical plan of Pakistan Army- ISI- Hizbul Mujahideen Nexus plan of using chemical weapons in Kashmir. It’s all #Kashmir Chemical Jihad trending on her debate. She claimed to be in possession of an audio tape of a Kashmiri terrorist leader’s conversation with his handlers across the Line of Control. Now, that really caught my attention. Then, she proceeds to broadcast her much awaited evidence and there it is… the so-called terrorist leader discusses his avid plan to use chemical weapons in the valley against security forces. Then its all #Is India Prepared for Chemical Attack?. Slowly, the prime time debate moves to highlight the devious design of our ‘Friendly Neighbor’ and a set of so-called defense analysts, self claimed defense experts and some retired armed forces personnel from both sides debate over for the next few hours. They proceed to attain new decibel levels, blame game and name calling. An hour or so, these defense experts, analysts and retired armed forces personnel move to the next news channel and continue their foray. It is all Trending News and Mending Money. A poor viewer like me, sits and watches these news items and prime debates from 6 PM to 10 PM, feels ecstatic about the lambasting.

A couple of days ago, a dastardly act of terror was carried out by terrorists on a group of Yatris (Pilgrims) who were moving back post their visit to Amarnath Shrine. The pilgrimage is an annual ritual carried out in the summer months and involves tremendous planning and coordination by a number of agencies. There are two routes to the Shrine on either side of the Mahadeo mountain range, an offshoot of the Great Himalayas and on an average,0.2 million pilgrims visit the Shrine. The conduct of the Yatra involves preparation by all agencies that commences by April and culminates post completion of the pilgrimage. The pilgrims register through an online portal and their move to the valley till the Shrine and back is monitored and controlled by security agencies. In spite of a number of security instructions given through various medium, a number of pilgrims visit the valley without registration and it is the monitoring of these unregistered pilgrims who also undertake tourist activities, creating a major challenge to all the stakeholders. The attack on July 10th was on one such unregistered vehicle. The pilgrims post their visit to the Shrine proceeded to visit Srinagar and were returning back to  Jammu, when their bus got punctured en-route. I am sure their further movement ahead would have been either tagged or information passed by some ‘Eyes’ to the terrorists, who went about killing unarmed civilians making it one of the most deplorable act in humankind.

The national media ran the cover story for two days, on the night of the incident the media tried to reconstruct how the terror attack happened and the second day, they covered the bereaved family members and the funeral. I waited for a day or two more to write my blog, as I m sure most of the mainstream media had moved to more trending new stories such as China, Pakistan, Cow Vigilantism, Rajnikanth’s entry in to Politics, Rahul Gandhi’s statements, Karan Johars tweets etc. Thus, the loss is only to the family members, rest all of us sympathize for a day and get along with our lives. This is not something new, the mainstream and social media sites create a lot of hue and cry when a soldier is martyred due to Pakistani firing or terrorist attack on a convoy, but pass over to more so-called trending news in a day or two. We Indians suffer from Short Term Memory Loss syndrome, our minds are akin to stock trading, moving from one hot stock to another. In simple words, we don’t value lives and we just don’t care about others.

The attack on the Pilgrims have changed the contours of terror. Social media and networking ran a number of ‘Hashtags’ such as #Islamic Terrorism and #Blame Intelligence Failure. Well, Hashtagging and Trending online is different, being on ground is altogether a different ball game. It is easier to sit in an air-conditioned office and type on a branded tablet #Blame Intel or criticize through an article on a leading daily. The man with his boots on ground toils day and night, puts his life at extreme risk and ensures the security grid is in place for events of national importance such as Amarnath Yatra. And there are so many things he does, generally unspoken, which his countrymen assumes that its is his/her bloody job to do. Many news channels ran praise of the driver who drove past when he was being fired at, but no one knows about the heroics of a 23-year-old young doctor of the Armed Forces who spend the next six hours providing medical aid to the 18 injured that led to the saving of at least four more lives. She and her small team was stitching up patients in a pool of blood. Nobody cares, because her countrymen feel…its her bloody job.

Lets talk brass tacks, this is not going to be the last attack in the valley. The initiative is with the terror outfits and they are going to create new targets with every possible opportunity. Tremendous efforts go into preventing such attacks from happening which generally go unreported. The valley witnessed negligible incidents during the protest calls by the Separatist from 08-13 Jul. Barring the attack on 10 Jul, there was no incident of protest or agitation reported. This is an indication of the efforts put in to prevent large-scale incidents and ensure normalcy prevails in the valley.

Then, how can the mainstream media help in the efforts? Well, to start with they can come down here (for a change from the air-conditioned offices) and feel normalcy as it exist here. Secondly, they can stop projecting Kashmir as a problem. The lambasting and negativism of the valley showcased by the media is not helping the cause. Thirdly, stop finding solution to the Kashmir imbroglio. For decades, many statesmen and leaders have put their brains into it, they haven’t found a solution yet, and you expect to solve it over a prime time debate. Well, these prime time debates only add to the existing complexities as a lot of venom gets spewed over such debates. Lastly, try showcasing the normalcy that prevails here. This can help in developing the state economy which is tourism dependent.

I hope our media understands the complexities behind the conundrum. It requires consolidated efforts by every stakeholder to improve the situation and the media including social media plays a vital role. Hope, someday better sense would prevail!





‘Thoughts’ Over Tea with My Kashmiri Friend

It was a beautiful Monday morning,  a Kashmiri friend of mine had arranged my meeting with a Professor from a nearby college. I was told that the gentleman I was about to meet is a devout Muslim and possessed deep knowledge on the religion. I was quite excited about the meeting and was keenly looking forward to it. At around 10 am, I received a call from him and he informs me that he just started from his residence and requested me to help him with the visitors check at the gate. I, immediately obliged and sent a word to the gate about my esteemed guest. Its quarter past 10, and I receive an information about an attack by terrorist in the heart of the town. A police constable is badly injured and all efforts underway to evacuate him to the nearest hospital. In comes another call, this time its my guest and he says he is at my gate, I immediately arranged his entry and in a few minutes, he is there at my office, sitting right in front of me, sipping a glass of water. I seek his permission to finish a few left over files and as I hustle through it, I take a glance at my guest. He is average built, formally dressed and has a long grown beard and seemed to be quite conscious about the surroundings. As I finish with my work at hand, we slowly start a conversation on Kashmir.

He starts by talking about his childhood days in Kashmir, how suddenly his parents shifted him to Pune (India) in the 90s, his education in a Central Asian country and his religious education. Sitting and sipping tea in my office, we finally discuss the prevailing situation in the valley. I was very keen to know his views on why so many youth graduate from stones to gun culture. Recruitment into terrorist ranks have increased over the last one year and preventing recruitment has become the most intriguing challenge to the government and the security forces. Furthermore, the average shelf life of a terrorist in the valley is not more that four years post his recruitment and an analysis of some recent cases led me to understand that the same has reduced to two years. Moreover, most Kashmir watchers would agree that any news of elimination of terrorist is accompanied by information of two to three youth missing from their homes.

The valley today would be infested with a few hundred terrorists holding AKs and few SLRs and the simple application of commonsense can make a person understand that this strength is no strength against the state of art security forces. So what makes this terrorism thrive in Kashmir? Why are youth running away from their homes to join militancy? Before every operation, an option to surrender is given and why these terrorist choose Shahadat over surrender? Have they over come the fear of Death?

My guest told me that most youth who join the terror outfits are from poor background, form part of a large family with a number of siblings. I vividly recollect one such case of a slain terrorist, who had six brothers and five sisters, which made him the 12th Man in his parents cricket team and definitely was not missed at home when he joined the terrorist ranks. Some of the them have bad loans and join for the lure of money. There are some who get into stone pelting filed FIR- booked under Public Safety Act (PSA)- no returning back to normal life web at very early age and with a little peer pressure join militancy.  One such case came to the lime light when during one protest an 14-year-old boy was accused of snatching a weapon. A number of attempts were made to bring him back to normal fold, but the individual refused to surrender. There are some who get charmed by gun culture and assume that wielding a gun could facilitate womanizing. The infamous Burhan Wani formed part of this clan of terrorist and there were widespread reports of his relationship with multiple women.  Then, there are those few who join the folds of terror in the name of religion.

Azadi (Pro-freedom) and Islamic affiliation are at logger heads in the valley, while the concept of Azadi attracts the local militants and pro-Pakistan propels the foreign mercenaries, a new wave of radical Islamic ideas have percolated a very few, the likes of Zakir@Musa and his affiliates. This is no way is a proof of the Islamic State making inroads into the valley, though there are reports of waving of Islamic State flags in certain parts. When I asked my guest on the same, he told me that most of the Pakistani flags and pro-Pakistani graffiti are nothing but an attempt by the locals to irk the security forces and the government and this is in no way approves their interest in joining the state of Pakistan. 

Nearly three hours of interaction and he was all guns blazing for Azadi. After listening to him, I asked him few simple questions. What happens after Azadi? Do you think the state of Kashmir would exist? What if there is a civil war in the valley between those pro-Azadi and those who want to continue to be with India? What if, Ladakh and Jammu regions are not interested in joining an Independent Kashmir? With a part of Kashmir with Pakistan and with Ladakhis and Jammuites not joining them, will an Independent Kashmir survive? What makes you so sure that Pakistan wont try annex Kashmir? Well, these are few questions that made my guest ponder and he definitely had no answers, and I m sure these answers are not there with many champions of Azadi.

Well, on that day, atleast we graduated from mere acquaintance to a good friendship and I am sure we both would cherish our friendship for the times to come. As for Kashmir, its going to be an arduous task for the government and the security forces to prevent the young and vibrant Kashmiris from joining the folds of terror.

A Year in Kashmir Valley…

The summers in Kashmir Valley are exquisite. While the mercury soars and sweat finds every pore in your body in the other parts of the country, the mid summers in the valley are a travelers’ dream. As one drives past the NH 44, sadly the only artery that connects the valley with the rest of the nation, one wonders why there are so many security forces deployed all along the stretch. A few weeks ago, the NH was in the news for an attack on a SF convoy at Qazigund that resulted in the death of two Army personnel. In another such dreadful strike, the terrorists killed two police personnel and  injured four others leading to jitters and agony amongst the police rank and file. Attacks on CRPF camps, JKP personnel and political leaders have become a regular phenomenon in the valley. The security forces have been quite successful in eliminating a number of terrorist masterminds, but the irony lies in the fact that for every elimination there is a new recruit to take the vacant place and fit into the shoes. One of the biggest challenge to the Kashmir planners and observers is to find  methods to prevent recruitment into terrorist tanzeems.

Violence in Kashmir now spans into the third decade, generations of Kashmiris have lived their life in turmoil. If one takes the ‘conflict’ out of the equation, the place is bestowed with all the natural beauty that makes it a paradise on earth. Be it the snow-capped mountains, the pristine rivers, the unending greenery as a result of fertile soil, the Valley presents you with unimaginable tranquility and an air of serenity, that makes one fall in love with the place over and over again. But it is the violence that makes this Paradise,  a Hell on earth.

So what and how can one do to put an end to this violence? what prevents peace in the valley? Is it that the people are so used to violence and turmoil that they embrace it unknowingly? or are there vested interest that is in play to keep this place burning? who are Separatist and are they a big clout in Kashmir affairs? how does a handful of terrorist keep the SF on their toes? is the state of affairs beyond redemption? these are some of the questions that pop to those in other parts of the country and probably to some foreign thinkers. The fact is that Kashmir is at a ‘New Normal’. It is one of the states wherein a new narrative is sprung to purpose for every new situation. To some it is the PDP-BJP alliance, for some it is the special status of Jammu and Kashmir,  while some pursue Khilafat as a new narrative, some are wary of alleged Saffronisation of rest of India. Inspite of being a failed state, to some unification with Pakistan enthralls while some are fascinated by the very idea of Azadi or Freedom.

As the first anniversary of the slain terrorist Burhan Wani is fast approaching, Kashmir valley over the last one year has seen it all. Actually, the elimination of Burhan Wani was a trigger that set forth into motion a series of incidents that got triggered one after another which came to be known popularly as the Third Intifida. By end August 2016, it was no-more Burhan Wani who kept the agitations on, it was the civilian deaths, the pellet injury and the Kashmiri media that kept the agitations alive. Beginning November, it was only the Kashmiri media which frenzied over the post Burhan agitations, while the Kashmiri people was exhausted with continuous bandh calls and protest calendars.  I completely pity with the Kashmiri people. They have gone through great difficulties ever since the partition of India. I often wonder whether any other nation-state in the world has been subjected to a conflict of the dimension as being witnessed in Kashmir. The conflict has affected the very fabric of the society, while the older generation is caught between being loyal to the SF and fear of the terrorists, the youth has been influenced and brainwashed by the Jamaat-Hurriyat combo.

An average Kashmiri youth who has witnessed the agitation of 2008,2010, minor agitations of 2012, floods of 2014 and the 2016 Intifida cannot be expected to score 90 percentage in his board exams. He/she has missed school and mass promoted twice. Furthermore, most of them pick and throw stones at the age of 8-10 years, some snatch a weapon or lob a grenade at the age of 14-15 and join a terrorist tanzeem. As he completes his teen, he would have by then attacked a SF convoy or camp and registered by Police for terror activities. When he turns 20 years, he is categorized as a terror mastermind and declared as the area or district commander of a terror tanzeem. After a few more atrocities, he winds up in a cordon and is eliminated in few hours. Thus ends the life of a youth who, if educated and guided well, could have turned out to be a successful engineer, doctor or an entrepreneur. Many youth in the valley are carried away in the name of Azadi, Khilafat, Shahadat etc. Many schools in the valley are modeled on Islamic education and radical Islamic thoughts are prevalent in the Madrassahs. Though Wahabi or Salafist ideology doesn’t seems to have established credentials, but the anti- India/ pro-Pakistan/Azadi preachings finds its way into the Mosques in the Valley.

A youth wakes up in the morning in Shupiyan town in South Kashmir, goes to a Madrassah and gets educated on Shadahat and Shariah, heads to his Islamic model school where he discusses Syria and Afghanistan, during lunch views videos on Khilafat by Zakir Musa, Terrorist Commander, heads to a Mosque where anti-India/ Azadi preaching is a norm. By evening, he along with his friends pelt stones on SF deployed at the town center and gets home. How can you expect this youth to do well in his life when we don’t give him a conducive environment to develop?

The national media also doesn’t seems to help the cause. By highlighting Kashmir as an abnormal or conflict ridden state, the domestic and international tourist flow has reduced to an abysmal levels. This has badly affected the state whose people depend their tourism for a livelihood, Kashmirs’ loss is Himachals’ gain. The national media needs to become more responsible over their reporting on Kashmir. It is not that bad as it is shown across the News channels. Actually, barring a few sporadic incidents normalcy is prevalent in the valley. In the valley they say opening of Shops, Schools and plying of Sumos(cabs) indicate normalcy and they are very much functioning. Moreover the visit to Amarnath Shrine ahead of Pahalgam is gaining momentum.  Thus, Kashmir is slowly but steadily trickling back to normalcy with sporadic incidents albeit the New Normal…