In first person: The wave of dominating narrative

By Sheikh Saqib. Dated: 11/7/2019 12:07:25 AM

As soon as we board an e-rickshaw from Jamia Millia Islamia metro station in New Delhi, Hameed (name changed) starts expressing, as usual, his regard for the ruling BJP, influenced, since its inception, by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a right-wing Hindu nationalist organization.
Hameed, 26, has his origins in Kashmir and the Bhartiya Janata Party is the same political organization which, on August 5, through illegal means, revoked Article 370 and 35A of the Indian constitution that guaranteed autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir, therefore, splitting the state into two Union territories, J&K and Ladakh.
He came to Delhi a year ago to do a corporate job so that he could provide some financial help to his family back in Kashmir. Today, he earns around 20,000 Indian rupees monthly but has been, what his close associates often say, morally degraded.
As we ride through the lanes and by-lanes of Zakir Nagar, Hameed shares his ambition of joining the national party and work shoulder to shoulder with some of the key players.
As the journey progressed, a friend reminded him about a series of political blunders, broken promises, and violent crackdowns on every peaceful demonstration in the valley. The debate took my friend to make him remember the 70,000 people who have been killed whether within the struggle or attacks conducted by Indian and Pakistan on its border. About the 8000 people who were taken by the armed forces to never return and disappeared in jails and torture centers, about half widows, about how rape has been used as a weapon of war by the Indian state.
But Hameed's denial mode continued and he refused to give in. At that time, he was one among the thousands who had not heard from their parents because of the communications lockdown in the valley and yet he remained unshaken.
This experience forced me to think about today's rapidly changing world, where one is encouraged to look forward towards a money minting profession where as value education seems to have taken a back seat. The current model of education in Kashmir, both from elders at home and teachers at schools and colleges, presents a total alienation between head and heart and only promotes individualistic idea of excellence whereas emotional and relational skills are at a total neglect. Young learners have been limited to become skilled at regular-school-subjects. We hardly understand how we could commit ourselves to the welfare of the society and care about other social, political and moral issues plaguing our surroundings.
As for my experience, the so-called modern system inclusively deems education as the synonymous of manufacturing self-centered and greedy individuals who have altogether a different definition for peace, cooperation, discipline and harmony. This, perhaps, is a very concerning subject all around the world but keeping in view the situation in the valley, this has to be more worrisome for us.
I think besides the current praxis of different forms of resistance, we need to promote broader capabilities and skills that not only interests market needs and employability but also focus on relations and emotional attachment towards the people. Education is about preparing students to develop interpersonal relations which can then help them work for the betterment of its people who are caught between the line of fire.
So far, our schools have repeatedly failed to invest in building the foundation of such lifelong learning.
In such an atmosphere, the onus first lies on parents to activate human heart in their children and prepare them for human excellence other than making them walking machines.
In our own capacities we could at least become responsible and recognize the causes behind our obstructions. We can liberate ourselves from a structure which serves the interests of the dominant that is known for dehumanizing men and women. We can set our own study course at home, find inspiring teachers and mentors who can guide through the journey. Besides, many of our people are making a respectable living inside and outside the valley and meanwhile sending helpful resources like books and guiding students on how to go through the text and acquire the best they can. We need to be around such great mentors- who have already been exposed to multicultured societies- and learn to do something for our people than just becoming self-centered and materialistic.
Otherwise, the dominant is already in process of a different narrative building.
(The author is a Srinagar-based Journalist)



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