Kashmiri school students swear by communal harmony | india | Hindustan Times
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Kashmiri school students swear by communal harmony

Although those born during the years of violence in the valley might not be exposed to the composite Kashmiri culture, but for the 15 to 18 year olds in the valley, the plurality of religion and the Hindu-Muslim co-existence is still the ethos of Kashmiri culture.

india Updated: Jan 06, 2010 12:10 IST
Toufiq Rashid

Although those born during the years of violence in the valley might not be exposed to the composite Kashmiri culture, but for the 15 to 18 year olds in the valley, the plurality of religion and the Hindu-Muslim co-existence is still the ethos of Kashmiri culture.

A whopping 92 per cent of youth who participated in a study by the University of Kashmir said they wanted to shun orthodox ways of life.

The study done by the department of Sociology, University of Kashmir in 7 rural and urban schools in Srinagar had a large sample size of about 4000 students, mostly from class 10 and class 12.

According to the study presented at conference held by the Institute of Kashmir studies, 72 per cent of the youth believed in religious tolerance and co-existence of the religions. About 68 percent believed in plurality of the religion. Interestingly, 31 per cent of the respondents were not even aware of the other religious identities and had never seen or interacted with any non-Muslim.

"The study has pointed out towards declining Kashmiri plural culture among the generation which was born and raised in the years of violence. But what is heartening is the fact that those aged between 16 to 20 years have not seen the composite culture, but still believe in it,’’ said Prof Bashir Ahmad Dabla, professor in the department of Sociology, who was heading the research team.

Even choice of cultural idols reiterates the fact. According to the respondents the cultural hero in Kashmir is the Sufi philosopher saint Sheikh Nooruddin Noorani, with Sufi poetess Lal Ded being a close second. National Conference leader Shiekh Abdullah has been given 4th place by the students.

The study threw up a huge rural and urban divide as far as understanding of culture is concerned. "It has been seen that though people profess Kashmiri culture and ethos but in urban Kashmir most of the children are not very well versed in even the Kashmiri language. Most of them speak either in English or Urdu,’’ added Dabla.

The study however showed that the respondents were keen to know about their own culture and introduction of Kashmiri in schools. "The school going age is very formative, this is the time when values and principles can be imbibed in human beings,’’ he added.