Srinagar, Jun 29: Civil society is the “aggregate of non-governmental organizations and institutions that manifest interests and will of citizens”. Civil society includes the family and the private sphere, referred to as the “third sector” of society, distinct from government and business. Sometimes the term civil society is used in the more general sense of “the elements such as freedom of speech, an independent judiciary, etc, that make up a democratic society” (Collins English Dictionary).Especially in the discussions among thinkers of Eastern and Central Europe, civil society is seen also as a concept of civic values. One widely known representative of this concept is the Polish former dissident Adam Michnik.
The role of Civil Society in shaping a positive society is known to one and all which it does by meaningfully engaging the youth. In the valley of Kashmir, over the past three decades, we have seen unending cycle of violence and destruction. The youth frustration in Kashmir has been at its peak due to political turmoil and other reasons. Experts and rational voices have time again stated that failure of the civil society to meaningfully engage the youth has been one of the critical reasons behind straying of the youth in the wrong direction.
Youth constitute a considerable portion of the Kashmir population and they are most vulnerable to the unrest and violence.The need of the hour was to have such a vibrant civil society which would give the youth of the Kashmir a meaningful direction but we have failed to do the same.
The lack of employment and educational opportunities has become one of the major concerns of the Government of Jammu and Kashmir. In this complex context , although few local civil society organizations, together with the Government have played a degree of positive role in empowering young people, who were the most active players in J&K‘s decades old war- like situation. According to the ground reports, years of bad governance, endemic corruption and the denial of basic human rights, which created deplorable conditions for youth are yet to be checked by Civil society in a effective manner due to lack of vibrancy in it.
For setting up the base for civilized debates in promoting youth participation, non-violent discourse should have been the crucial component of civil society in Kashmir which unfortunately it has not achieved and on the other hand of the spectrum the civil society in the pain- hit Kashmir also needs to take long strides forward in ensuring that the youth get proper platforms to express their burning problems.
The need of the hour is that from poets to Journalists, doctors to reformers, activists to campaigners etc and other important components of the civil society in the Kashmir get their acts together to first formulate an effective and vibrant civil society and then let the same devise effective charter of operation that engages youth in meaningful direction and guides them in right direction especially against the backdrop of the radicalization and rising negatives of the social media.
Also at the national level the civil society has a big responsibility at its end in giving the youth of Kashmir a proper direction. The perception is that national figures of civil society since decades focus on valley and remember Kashmir only when it is burning and the violence and unrest are at peak .The moment semblance of normalcy is achieved everything is forgotten, and civil society at national level goes to slumber.
The core fact of the Kashmir mess is that we believe that only Sustained Dialogue is the way ahead on Kashmir issues and problems. Every time starting from zero, every time a new government is formed,it has weakened the institution of dialogue and also neglected dialogue during less turbulent times by the state and other stakeholders which has proved to be an imprudent step .Civil Society has a crucial role in giving life to this dialogue which it has so far failed to do.
On holistic paradigms, a civil society that reflects the passion of youth and engages them in meaningful direction in Kashmir is the need of the hour. (KNB)