BISMAH MALIK,SRINAGAR, Jan 3: Sad but true, the young generation of school going Kashmiris is the least knowledgeable lot of Kashmiri composite culture or “Kashmiriyat”; this what a study conducted by the sociology department at Kashmir University in association with CROSKY says. The study conducted in the high and higher secondary schools of the six major districts of Kashmir valley under the aegis of Prof.Bashir Ahmad Dabla, an acclaimed sociologist of the valley points towards the trend of declining Kashmiri composite culture knowledge among the Kashmiris falling in the age group of 16-20 years.
The twenty years of violence, the study observed is the most significant factor for the erosion of prominent or ideal traits of rich Kashmiri culture such as tolerance of all religions, plurality of various cultures, respect for different ideas and other social ethos.
These undesired social developments, have not only distorted the ideal Kashmiri culture but even dehumanized the cultural ethos.
The study further showcases a huge rural and urban divide as far as understanding the Kashmiri culture goes. Srinagar youth, as per the study are less aware of their decades back Kashmiri plural culture history while the youth from districts like Anantnag , Baramulla , Budgam know something or the other about the shared cultural values ,which hallmarked the Kashmiri society two decades back.
The interesting part of the study reveals the restricted ideas which the youth of today in Kashmir have of their non-Muslim counterparts especially Kashmiri Pandits. Most of the respondents expressed their inabilities to answer some of the questions related with the lifestyle of Kashmiri Pandits, their bonding with the Kashmir valley, and their present society.
The undisputed reason which most of these respondents cite for their ignorance is that they hardly came across any opportunity to interact with non-Muslim Kashmiris especially Pandits. The second reason, expectedly the respondents came out with, was that they have very rarely traveled to places outside the Kashmir valley, where they could encounter non-Muslim Kashmiris.
“The school going age according to the scientific dimensions is the best possible age in a lifetime, when the values and the principles could be imbibed in a human which determine the personality traits of an individual. Though text books and other school oriented methodologies are helpful in broadening the mental horizons of children, however the impact of real experiences on one’s individuality is most predominant. “, asserts Dr. Mahrukh Shah, a psychologist.
And this assertion finds an agreement with Prof.Dabla’s study which finds the experiences of the school going children in the valley totally contrasting to the experiences of the children studying in schools outside the valley.
The experiences of the children who grew up in the turmoil period were largely dictated by violent encounters, hate speeches, emotional outbursts, personal loss of lives and property. Why these children are unable to answer the questions on the composite culture is because they never experienced that.
The study clearly reveals that the ignorance of the pluralistic nature of Kashmiri culture should not be attributed to the bias or any other untoward feeling of Kashmiri Muslims and Pandits towards each other.
Prof.Dabla says, “The aloofness of these young counterparts of the same society is because of the minimal interaction they had with each other. The only idea they carry with themselves of their culture is derived from the contemporary culture like books and movies which have hardly depicted Kashmiri culture in its pure form.”
Notwithstanding its alarming results, the study also highlights some positive trends. For instance, even if the ignorance level of their native culture in the Kashmiri youth is small, majority of them uphold that they should safeguard the plurality of religions and cultures in Kashmir.
According to the study the reasons for the same could be that the pluralism is the most distinguishing reality of the Kashmiri society and also plurality is very much required in present times.
And one of the significant revelations is that the valley’s youth consider maintaining plurality of Kashmiri culture as a harbinger of peace to this violence torn region.
The manifestation of this study finding is progressively showing with the youth of the valley favouring the return of Kashmiri Pandits and blending with the cultures of the world.
Prof. Dabla maintains, “Culture only gets enhanced with real experiences. Rhetoric and education are not enough. The only way, we could bridge the gap between the two segments of our society is by bringing them close to each other.”