Years of violence and strife do not seem to have made the children of Kashmir a cynical and untrusting lot.
In a research innovation project initiated by the students and teachers at Delhi University's Lady Shri Ram College for Women where students and teachers from the Valley and Delhi were surveyed, a large number of Kashmiri students had more positive perceptions of their peers than their counterparts in Delhi.
The participants of the study sample comprised 13 school principals, 35 teachers, 153 students from three schools in Kashmir and 173 students from two schools in Delhi.
All students were from classes 9 and 10. All students surveyed followed Islam.
According to the survey, the students in Kashmir had a more positive outlook towards their peers for the out-group, in this case students following other religion.
On a scale of 1 to 7, for example, generosity was rated as 5.17 by Kashmiri students, kindness was rated as 5.8 and sincerity was rated as 5.66.
These traits were rated as 4.59 for generosity, 4.92 for kindness and 4.95 for sincerity by Delhi students. When it came to judging peers of their own religion, the results were similar.
"Students from Kashmir made significantly stronger internal attributions for socially desirable behaviours by both the in-group and the out-group as compared to adolescents in Delhi. This implies that in Delhi, adolescents are less trusting and have less faith in the goodness of humankind. They looked for external motives for people's helping behaviour," the report said.
The research team also found religious and regional identities were stronger in Kashmiri students than in Delhi students. Personal identity, however, was missing in Kashmiri students and was overwhelmingly prominent in Delhi.
"Many drawings revolved around the child's dream place, dream country, strong likes and choices, etc. This was completely missing in Kashmir. Some drawings contained themes of violence. In Delhi, violence was more personal in nature and seemed to depict murder, theft, etc. In Kashmir, violence at the national and international level was portrayed," the study found.
The team used questionnaires, interviews and drawings for the survey. Another prominent facet of the study was that the schools chosen from the Valley were being run by the Army. "The schools in Kashmir were run by the Army and it was heartening to see that their work was being recognised by the students and received a very positive response," said Kanika Khandelwal, a teacher associated with the project.