Kashmir has a long tradition of scholarship and has produced scholars of great eminence. But due to its unique history and cultural traditions, these scholars have naturally found their inclinations towards spirituality, philosophy, social sciences, literature and allied disciplines.
Kashmir valley has always remained a fertile place for intellectual pursuits. However, somehow it has been that modern sciences have not found a passionate audience in our valley. Scientific culture which has become the defining aspect of modern world, has remained alien to Kashmiri culture which is totally out-of-sync, especially with mathematical sciences.
One of the reasons is that there has never been a proper platform which could inculcate the rigorous mathematical thinking in students. Consequently, there is a huge deficit in acquiring degrees and pursuing careers related to mathematical sciences.
This needs to be accepted as a problem of Himalayan dimension because it pertains to our immediate survival in the challenges thrown by the modern world and hence needs to be addressed.
In the same backdrop an institution namely KIMS has appeared on the scene by the efforts of Dr Rukhsanul Haq and his peer group which include among others Dr Mohsin Illahi, leading the operations for academic programs and Chairperson for KIMS AMU Chapter; Junaid Akhter, leading the operations for Technical and Industrial programmes and Head of KIMS European Outreach; Murtaza Ali, leading the operations for Career Counseling and student outreach programmes and Danish Shakeel, Co-ordinator of Technical and Industrial courses and Head of KIMS IT section.
Born at Wadwan in the Budgam district of central Kashmir where he grew up but could not live up to the expectations of his family to be a medical doctor and instead chose to study Physics at University of Kashmir. Dr Rukhsanul Haq did his PhD at Jawaharlal Nehru Center for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) which is a sister institute of Indian Institute of Science Bangalore.
He is the first Kashmir born Quantum Scientist to make it to IBM Quantum, a special division of IBM or International Business Machines, an American multinational technology corporation headquartered in Armonk, New York, with operations in over 171 countries.
Based at Bangalore, Rukhsan is overseeing many projects there, glorifying his career. He owes his success to IISc Bangalore, a temple of science besides his parents, friends, mentors and gurus.
A gracious guru of specific regards is Mr. Asadullah, a senior JKAS officer working in the department of social welfare, who taught Rukhsan at senior secondary school. Mr Asadullah still lives with the remorse of not making a career in Physics which he was so fond of. He had stood 3rd in order of merit in his graduation and yet he could not secure his entry into Physics on account of some miscreants directing him elsewhere.
He finally took an escape in JKAS. KIMS which is an acronym for Kashmir Institute of Mathematical sciences is the brain-child of Dr Rukhsanul Haq and the like-minded. This idea was conceived by him in COVID times when he was back to work from home and got to see the misery that his home state was in. This touched him to the extent that he soon came up with the idea of KIMS.
The platform is essentially concerned about the unemployment and joblessness of educated youth in Kashmir who have piled up their degrees for nothing except regret. KIMS intends to get the desirous people trained in machine learning and allied areas to secure their livelihood compounded with a good future prospect.
KIMS is first of its kind initiative and an institution which is at work in transforming the education and nurturing of the research in mathematical sciences since January 2019. Though KIMS has a global and an international character but lately, it has focussed on student community from Kashmir and has helped them in streamlining their careers.
KIMS has guided and supported N number of students in reaching the best places in academia and industry. KIMS was born out of this deep realisation that mathematics and computation are foundational and lie at the core of all the human enterprises in science, technology, economy, finance, and education.
In the current age of information, AI and quantum tech, Mathematics has become vitally important than ever before. At KIMS, education is not about degrees and certificates. It is about a guaranteed social transformation by means of earning livelihood through such necessary skills as Computer programming, Machine learning and Deep learning, Data Science, Python ecosystem for AI, Quantum computation, Quantum information, Quantum algorithms, Quantum finance and Quantum optimisation.
With regard to the importance of domestic-economic empowerment of man, I am reminded of this quote of Swami Vivekananda, ‘Man is guided by the stomach. He walks and the stomach goes first and the head afterwards. Have you not seen that? It will take ages for the head to go first.’ Data Science drives the head and the stomach together.
It provides you the necessary stability in life in terms of money, material and career progression with a whooping salary cutting across all gazetted cadres in government sector. Future belongs to data science and it is the most sought-after career in United States followed by the rest of the world.
However, the existing low skill levels in data science and artificial intelligence in India is a serious impediment in its growth and global competitiveness. At the moment about 1.2 crore youth need to be skilled and by 2025, another 250 million youth are estimated to enter the Indian workforce.
The proportion of formally skilled workers in India is extremely low at 4.69% of total workforce, compared to 24% in China, 52% in the US, 68% in the UK, 75% in Germany, 80% in Japan and 96% in South Korea. According to Mr. Amit Agarwal, CEO Of Nasscoms IT enabled services, India is struggling to find skilled techies for 230k jobs in Big Data and Artificial Intelligence, and this shortage is likely to rise soon to 780k.
The nature of unemployment today is not that educated lot are unable to find desirous jobs but positions are remaining vacant on account of shortage of desired skill. It is in the same backdrop that KIMS has kick-started with an agenda to fill this talent deficit here in the valley.
It has now come into a formal existence with its founding members meeting offline for the first time on 14-10-2022. KIMS is an initiative of solid minds and warm hearts, providing a rare combination of IQ and EQ needed to carry forth the agenda of transformation and empowerment by using the tools of data science and artificial intelligence with all sincerity of purpose.
With a mentor like Rukhsanul Haq, a pure and noble soul like Mr Asadullah and many young energetic budding professionals, KIMS is all set to work from the grass-root level. In fact, it has already guided and mentored many youngsters and shown them the way to California, London, Russia and Germany.
For all kinds of association and assistance, one can mail at email@example.com. KIMS is determined to set up a world class platform in Kashmir to foster the mathematical and scientific culture. It will provide the desired space for students, researchers and scientists to pursue their scientific interests in a way that has never been possible before. It will establish a society of mathematically minded and trained researchers who can advance the scientific frontiers both at a local and a global level.
KIMS also aspires to bring Kashmir on the global map of mathematical research where the native scientists will be collaborating with the foreigners. In the long term, KIMS has a vision of establishing a “Knowledge Society” in Kashmir which will enhance and promote the knowledge centric exchanges between members of the society.
The knowledge society of KIMS will be a self-organized economic model which can potentially have huge impact on Kashmir’s economy especially in the domain of human resources.
That way, KIMS is a people’s proposal to Government to empower them the way they ought to be in the modern times. KIMS is calling you to shape your career not defined by previous convention but by concurrence of current times and trends. The author is privileged to be a member of this initiative.
Dr. Qudsia Gani, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Physics, Govt. College for Women, Srinagar
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.