It's heartening to see Kashmiris enjoying the limelight (for good reasons). Sports, medical science, travel, tourism, business, civil services, art – let us compete in each field of human endeavour and let's excel. Excellence demands talent, breeds talent. Excellence makes us the builders of a better tomorrow.
`No lecturing please' may be a reader's instant response and rightly so. All that is told in the classrooms. But here the point is a bit beyond that typical `work-hard-and-succeed' lecture. We are a hapless lot – and in our case – even the universally accepted virtues and accomplishments change their meaning. That bothers us. We are happy at the way our youth is contributing, sad at how that contribution is put to a devious meaning.
One unpleasant trend emerging from Kashmir is a needless (rather enforced) politicisation of talent. If a Kashmiri sportsman or a Kashmiri doctor or a Kashmiri artist makes it big, why is he being projected as an answer to a Kashmiri youth pelting stones in the street. Such thinking is two-pronged. It's intellectually hollow and politically loaded. HOLLOW as there is no way the two are connected. One's success is not an answer to others' failure. Talent is like a flower, it just blossoms. It doesn't see the withering around. No talented young boy or girl nourishes an ambition to excel just because they want to be on the side of `peace' against violence`. They do it as they like it. They do it as they want it. And LOADED as this theory offers grist to the state-supported propaganda mill which was so crazy to offer even demonitization as a solution to Kashmir dispute. It naturally creates an artificial divide between `us' and `them'. It creates (what they call) a counter narrative which it isn't and which it can't be. Their stardom makes them stand out from the rest, but their story is same. They too are the characters of the same tragedy which has befallen us all. But the way we are thrusting a situation on them, we are involuntarily making them the props of a stage which is not theirs.
This good-guy-bad-guy divide has been abused a lot. If we won't let our children be used as fodder to guns and canons, we won't let them be used as propaganda tools too. They are neither the `free-for-sale' labourers to whom resistance is outsourced nor items to be gift-wrapped, showcased and sold through calendars. Both enterprises are dubious. If provoking children to risk their lives is condemnable, what is making them ingredients of a political design which they are too innocent to understand the enormity of. Encourage talent, reward the talented, but why lay them at the altar of a murky political scene. Why project them as a part of a parallel story which is actually an independent story of struggle and success.