Mudasir Karim

Times have changed and so the polity and perception of people. A normative conception of youth participation in political processes in Jammu and Kashmir has been always marked with ‘Indian sponsored agents’ or a ‘traitor’. Every time, we saw people, teachers, civil society members, and other learned people talking about need of youth empowerment and youth participation in democratic processes as a way forward. Very less percentage in Kashmir knows that youth participation in electoral processes is not only about being a ‘paid agent’ or being a ‘traitor’ but it is about engagement in forming opinions and taking actions to bring about positive change in the society.

In Jammu and Kashmir, youth has been kept away in democratic processes by successiveregimes not to participate as stakeholders in development of the erstwhile state. Their participation would have certainly foster a sense of citizenship and made the policies of ‘law makers’ more transparent and accountable towards young people. The present suffering of people especially young in terms of rising unemployment, secure and peaceful environment, learning platforms, and others are due credits to the youth-against hardcorepolicies of the successive regimes in Jammu and Kashmir.

Every one including International community want young ones to take over the governance to build a new world. The participation of youngsters will help in building self-confidence, develop a sense of initiatives, acquire and test skills that are relevant in the society. Politics, authorizing participation, electoral processes, and so many issues arise apart from development and progress when it comes to Jammu and Kashmir. The previous consecutive governments did nothing to have young participations in the set brass.

The goal of this article is to influence ‘authorities’ to be more responsive, inclusive and accountable to youth agendas, and to create an enabling environment for youth to thrive andnot to survive.

Various regional parties in J&K are in revival and seeking to enhance the capacity of youth to organize and participate in decision making and hold governments account for implementation of the policies, creating synergy in the youth movement by creating platforms for sharing their views, policies, agendas, issues, learning various strategies and to facilitate electoral processes through democratic ways. This approach attained by some parties in J&K is appreciable and will certainly go a long way

The aim of political parties especially the regional ones should- to offer a series of opportunities for youth-led and oriented groups in order to engage in democratic electoral processes and societal works.
Apart from providing political space, there should be a vision to offer technical assistance for youth causes in the J&K in order to have meaningful engagement with youth-led and oriented groups and create an accountability demand structure of that particular vision for youngsters. There is desperate need to call for the meaningful involvement of youth in the society’s future. This includes taking up youth issues, like jobs, and putting young people in elected and appointed leadership positions.

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Young population aged 18-34 in Jammu and Kashmir now comprise more than half of the electorate. This demographic profile is often represented as a problem. There are also concerns raising about youth radicalization leading to militancy and other activities. It is better to engage with them rather than giving air to further alienation and radicalization of youth.

The young people in Jammu and Kashmir are perceptive about the challenges facing the UT, civically engaged, and hopeful about the future. It is time to take youth seriously as politically important actors. However, the differences are critical in understanding both the challenges facing youth and how to engage them politically.

Any effort to move J&K forward to a positive future must take the power and promise of youth seriously and meaningfully include a diverse set of youth views and empower young people to act on them. It is not that building bridges and roads, focusing largely on dynast political elites, are sufficient to make this happen.

Despite the disillusionment, sense of injustice, and insecurity that youth of Jammu and Kashmir are reporting, apart from government, the political parties in J&K need to have a firm belief that youth hold a relatively high ability to effect change. Till the time, the political parties and the leaders doesn’t remain committedtowards empowering youth for peaceful and prosperous society, the youngster generation can never grow and peace will only remain a distant dream.

Youth has a pivotal role to play in achieving the objective of socio-economic transformation and government must ensure the ongoing communication between leadership and youth be taken to it’s positive logical end. The job of government is to provide a stimulating environment to assure youth involvement and ability to discuss their innovative ideas and opinions. Initiatives need to be developed that will support the role of youth in the decision making body besides empowering and developing the talents and values in the youth that should remain consistent with those in the decision or policy making.

Kashmiri leadership needs to be passionate about the J&K’s sustainable growth, that can be accomplished through an upcoming generation that is educated, committed and empowered to shoulder their responsibilities, to innovate and to contribute actively to the welfare of our diverse community. The voice of the youth needs to be encouraged to make them heard through several strategy-driven government initiatives for large youth empowerment in the Jammu and Kashmir.

-Mudasir Karim is the youth General Secretary at JKPC, and can be reached at gs_youth@jkpc.co.in