Kashmir aspires for their investment, not donations

Following Pulwama incident, hundreds of Kashmiri students pursuing their studies in different educational institutions in India faced public wrath. Majority of them have been forced to leave with a direction ‘not to come back’.  This has put their career at stake. 

Even the students who were planning to move out of the valley in future for higher/professional studies stand pushed to the wall with no light at the end of the tunnel. At the moment, the situation has jeopardized the future of these students.

Leave the political aspect of the Kashmir imbroglio aside. The kind of hatred which has erupted in the aftermath of Pulwama incident in rest of India against Kashmiris has exposed so many socio-economic issues which should have been actually addressed by the Kashmiris at their own level. One of the major issues confronting Kashmiris lies in the education sector. It’s so weak that it has failed to cater to educational needs of our children. 

Precisely, we lack quality education in private as well as government run institutions. We never think of placing modern infrastructure in the sector and remain contended with colorful four walls of the buildings and having a fleet of buses acting as transport companies. We never align ourselves with an idea to have professional colleges in the private sector to run professional courses like engineering, management, medicine etc. on large scale. We have seen private investment in health sector for establishing a hospital. But such investors never focussed on establishing a medical college on modern lines.

Resultantly, in absence of quality institutions, the parents are compelled to send their wards out of the valley to pursue their degrees. Here, even lack of finances doesn’t deter parents to bank upon the educational institutions outside the valley for getting their children to pursue higher studies. It’s worth mentioning that most of the students have turned bank borrowers as their parents have taken route of bank finance to fund their education expenses.

But, now the deteriorating security environment enveloping around Kashmiris in rest of India and a direct threat to their lives has put the career of these students in jeopardy. The writing is on wall as safety issues in rest of the India would continue to haunt a common Kashmiri for times to come.

Meanwhile, today’s bitter experience has raised some critical issues at the home turf for Kashmiris. Why they have always to bank upon outside institutions, be it health or educational institutions,  to seek the services? It is a fact that such sectors need huge investment and Kashmir is not a paradise for investors. Despite efforts we have failed to woo outside investors to be partners in exploring our unexplored economic potential. 

Since Kashmiris are entangled in the conflict and have to negotiate it’s adverse impact every day, it’s the section of Kashmiris living out of Kashmir in other countries, precisely non resident Kashmiri (NRK), who have a role to play in the infrastructural and the socio-economic development of their homeland. Pooling a few thousand bucks to donate for a particular cause is not what Kashmir needs from these NRKs.

We have one of the most successful diasporas, with people of the state origin living across a wide range of countries.  We have NRKs who have now reached pinnacles of power, be it in the business, medical science or in the academics. Especially in the recent past, the next generation of people of J&K origin have come to represent a highly-skilled – doctors, scientists, engineers, finance professionals, and entrepreneurs – group of locals in every country they live in.  

So here is an opportunity for these NRKs to show their love for the homeland. Let them script their success stories back home by investing in sectors like education. Let them pool their finances not for donation purpose, but for establishing professional colleges in various streams so that local students don’t have to look at rest of India educational institutions. 

The government should tailor a comprehensive Diaspora Engagement Strategy which will benefit not only the state, but also the NRKs.

(The views are of the author & not the institution he works for)