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In Valley, Gandhi still counts

A debate on Gandhian philosophy and its relevance in the 21st century has generated an overwhelming response in the valley of violence, reports Arun Joshi.

india Updated: Sep 29, 2007 00:57 IST
Arun Joshi
Gandhian philosophy

A debate on Gandhian philosophy and its relevance in the 21st century has generated an overwhelming response in the valley of violence.

Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who mooted the idea of organising the debate, said the response is an indication of the popularity of Gandhian philosophy among the younger generation. Nearly 50,000 students have participated in the contest organised by the state government.

The competition, which began on September 1, was organised at the school, zonal, district and divisional levels. The divisional-level round concluded on September 22. The finals, which will be telecast live by Doordarshan from Srinagar, will be held on October 2 the Mahatma’s birthday.

Eleven college and eight school students have made it to the last round. The first and second prize winners will get Rs 1 lakh and Rs 50,000 respectively. There are two third prizes of Rs 25,000.

About 47,924 students of high and higher secondary schools, including 23,352 from Kashmir, participated in the debate, school education secretary Khizar Mohammad Wani said. And Gandhi’s quote about the “ray of hope in Kashmir” has figured in almost all speeches in the contest. Interestingly, Kashmir remained peaceful when communal passions engulfed the country at the time of Partition. But over the past 20 years, insurgency has left nearly 50,000 dead and more than a million homeless in the state. Attempts are now being made to revive the virtues of peace and co-existence in the state.

One of the first militants to renounce the gun was JKLF boss Yasin Malik. The latter led safar-e-azadi, meaning journey to freedom, through the towns and villages of the Valley, spreading the message of resolving the issue through peaceful means.
Hurriyat chief Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said: “Guns and grenades have brought about no solution.”

- With PTI inputs