Stay Local or Go International

Disliking other''s perception, as said in the beginning, is perfectly fine, but a violent reaction to that is the problem.
File Photo
File Photo

It's normal to have varied points of view – as individuals and as societies. Human nature is such that no people would want to hold onto wrong beliefs. It's either misinformation or their own interpretation that leads to different conclusions. What saves humanity from 24/7 clashes, is the appetite to digest other's beliefs- no matter how repugnant they may sound to you. However, when any society loses that appetite, it gets violent and tries to force people with an opposing view(s) into submission.

This is what has been happening, of late, with our students in mainland India. Unresolved Kashmir, inter alia, has now taken a toll on them, and their studies. I'm not getting political here, by batting for our side of the truth and disparaging theirs. The concern here is to find the way out since the other side is showing intolerance to our view(s) to the extent that it hampers the academic career of our children. Disliking other's perception, as said in the beginning, is perfectly fine, but a violent reaction to that is the problem. For instance, when the organizations like IVAW-Iraq Veterans Against the War, some humanitarian group or Muslim students protest against America's aggression overseas in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Vietnam, anywhere in the US,  many onlookers may despise it but it's rare for the protesters to be heckled, in the name of nationalism and patriotism. That shows the roots of democracy are strong there.  That's not the case in most of the 3rd-world countries. So, when a Kashmiri expresses emotions in Delhi or anywhere in India, that goes against the notion of India being the ideal country that has done nothing wrong in Kashmir, there's a violent backlash.

Instead of trying to fix the unfixable, we need to be circumspect in our conduct and decisions. For those who are already studying in mainland India, should try to be as apolitical about Kashmir as possible. It's also true that most of the times the students are being targeted for no act of theirs, and simply for the fact that they are Kashmiris. This is where helplessness prevails. The Indian electronic media fills its people with hate to the extent, that it manifests itself on campuses. From Rajasthan to Haryana, Uttar Pradesh to Punjab, the news of assaults on Kashmiri students have poured in. This is usually followed by a witch-hunt by the Police and College authorities, as was recently seen in Aligarh. Fortunately, the Kashmiri professionals and businessmen do not seem to be at much risk, since the corporate atmosphere is comparatively congenial and your colleagues and you at a workplace are more mature than what you are as students.

Coming to the solution, to keep your emotions always in check for years does not seem to be a good option either.  It's easier said than done but our students should either stay local or go international. The risk to study in mainland India is increasing with incidents of assaults every day. Where lynching a Muslim is a reality, being a Kashmiri Muslim is a double whammy.

The students and parents in Kashmir need to take a lesson from the recent incident in Aligargh. When a prestigious Muslim institute like AMU went all out to suspend students for something that hadn't even happened, what safety do the colleges with kiosks at Parraypora – begging for admissions, provide? It was the unprecedented unity shown by hundreds of Kashmiri students across India that brought the matter into the limelight, and the suspension was revoked. It doesn't always happen.  I repeat- Stay local or go international. International isn't always expensive. Apart from the first tier countries like the UK and US, some parts of Europe, Malaysia and Turkey could be explored in a medium range budget. Furthermore, if we can go to Bangladesh and Russia to attend a Med school, why not for other programs? It's all in your mind that going out of India is a huge deal. If you are connected to the Internet, start exploring. Also, why are the seats in local colleges vacant? We send our kids to substandard colleges in Punjab and other places at the Bachelors level. They could at least do their Bachelors locally and then look for opportunities abroad. For those who still cannot find other options, may attend Indian colleges, but we can at least minimize the number. Our higher education sector needs to get out of slumber and provide quality education so that our students don't have to bear the brunt of Kashmir issue, on the Indian campuses.

Our emotions and political standpoints will always be at loggerheads with mainland India. What's wrong to them is right to us, and vice versa. So our kid won't be able to act on 'Galat cheezain nahi karna', since 'galat' has 2 meanings: Indian and Kashmiri.

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