Anthropology, as a subject

Living in the lap of mountains and in the era of curfews and hartals I had no guidance related to my studies here in Kashmir as I passed 10+2 in PCB, and then Bachelors from Kashmir University. Like any other student in Kashmir, I also was required to fulfil the wishes of my parents or the people around, to be a doctor or an engineer or a Civil Services aspirant later, which unfortunately made me a Medical Lab Technician. Yes, this is true; and that is what happens with 95% of Kashmiri students because of lack of quality career counselling, corruption, lack of opportunities and the frequent effect of conflict in the form of hartals, curfews and internet shutdowns. While looking at the syllabus of Civil Services Exams I came to know about anthropology and it was the first time by my choice that I decided to go for higher studies in anthropology. To me, like most of the people, initially, anthropology meant like something related to science, cells, trees etc. all based on guess, and I remember, even a Professor had asked me “what does anthropology mean?”

Anthropology is the scientific study of human, human behaviour and societies in the past and present. As of now, the subject is being taught at graduate level in a few degree colleges in Kashmir which began just after I completed my Post Graduation in Anthropology from IGNOU wherein even the counsellors were not well versed with the subject in the only Study Center for Anthropology at GDC Baramulla. I still remember the problem I had to face in accomplishing my projects and dissertation for the award of my Masters in Anthropology because of the hartals, curfews, lack of internet facility from time to time and opportunity to have field visits and above all non-availability of an expert guide. And that is where I met Engineer Irfan who is a prominent social activist with a lot of experience in the fieldwork. I discussed the topic with him and he suggested me the best possible way to complete the projects and also guided me everything that I can achieve being an anthropologist and also helped me in my exams like NET-JRF and PhD Entrances which ultimately made me enthusiastic to go for higher studies in the subject. Since he keeps on studying the people and the laws or policies that affect them and can change their lives, he gave me ideas focused on social anthropology.

It was difficult for me to go for a PhD because in Kashmir we don’t have any course in Anthropology in any of the Universities and hence Engineer Irfan advised me to know more about the professors who had contributed chapters to IGNOU books. Here I came to know that Dr. Abhik Ghosh, a Professor at Panjab University Chandigarh, is having specialization in Social Anthropology which is of course of our interest as well. Before contacting him I was afraid, thinking about his approach; but when I called him for the first time in 2017 related to my admission in Panjab University, he was so humble and looked so gentle while he said, “unfortunately I am not having any open seat for Ph.D. students as of now”. He looked busy while he was travelling but still he responded with affection. This kind approach had a deep impact on my future decisions and I decided to go for Ph.D. under Ghosh sir.

I did not lose hope and again in 2019 I went to the university to meet Ghosh sir. When we met him for the first time, he was so gentle that I had not even thought of. He gave me a patient hearing and his conversations with the people went deep into my heart and mind. We spent very little time with him, but when you are influenced by great personality every single talk makes a big story. He is very instrumental and we remember every talk he had with us. In the interview I felt that Ghosh sir is very interested in giving opportunity to Kashmiri students and study tribes of the valley. He has studied tribes all around India. After my admission, I attended a few of his classes and realized that he is the one who is passionate about his student’s success; and breadth of his knowledge is sparking a passion for learning. He is an incredibly open mind and is sensitive towards students. As a student I have realized how dedicated he is in his work.

Kashmir needs someone who can help in introduction of anthropology as a discipline in a good way. Dr. (Prof) Abhik Ghosh is a prominent figure in anthropology who is having immense impact on his students and the discipline of anthropology which will definitely help in the growth of anthropology as a discipline in Kashmir keeping in view the wide scope for exploration of human existence in the Karewas.

Muzamil Rashid is pursuing Ph.D. in Social Anthropology under Dr. (Prof.) Abhik Ghosh at Panjab University Chandigarh.