Managing Kashmir

Two young friends, Abid Khan and Faizan Zaroo, started an event management company that organises cultural events. Nuzhat Mushtaq reports the story of their struggles and success

GindbaashAbid Q Khan and Faizan Zaroo, both in their twenties, met through their mutual friends, whenever they used to go for an outing. Once they came to know each other, they became closer to each other than the friends they met though. It was in 2011, that their friendship changed into partnership, which gave birth to an event management company known as Markus Kraft, which means a medium. “An idea of starting this company came from the college farewell party that I had organized. I conveyed it to Faizan and he appreciated it. He told me that he will help me to establish it,” says Abid.

Within a year, more young minds like Sheikh Atib, Amir Yusuf, Sufi Shakir, Sadiq Husain, Masroor Ellahi, and Omer joined them and started working for the development of the company. They would get paid after every event. Abid, the founder of Markus Kraft, has pursued Bachelors in Computer application, Cisco Certified Networking Associate (CCNA) and has worked as a networking trainer in Delhi as well as in Srinagar. Abid’s friend and co-founder of Markus Kraft, Faizan has completed his Bachelor’s in Arts. Besides being a student he runs Smart Jeans, a shop of readymade garments in Sheikh Bagh area of Srinagar city.

Markus Kraft has so far organised eight events across Kashmir successfully. Abid vividly remembers the first event that his company organised. “It was called Rap Impact – a rap singing competition where rappers from across Kashmir participated,” recalls Abid.  But it was Taseer, a painting competition on the theme of ‘Save Dal’, which brought them into limelight.  The big-break came when Abid and his team tied up with 92.7 Big FM, to organise a talent hunt show called ‘RJ Hunt’. It was a huge event, something that Abid and his team were doing for the first time. “We had people from Big FM in our team of organisers. It helped us to learn how to work in a coordinated manner,” says Abid. “Abrar Zargar the Programming head at 92.7 Big FM gave us an opportunity to work with them and it helped us to groom,” he added.

Ridding on the success of Big FM event, a few months later, Markus Kraft organised Gindbash – an event focusing on local culture and its importance. With more than 1700 audiences and a melange of local artists, including folk dancers, singers and comedians participating, Gindbash was the biggest event for Markus Kraft. “The event was a big success. At the end of it District Commissioner, Srinagar gave our team a cash price of rupees 50 thousand,” says Abid.

During the initial stage when Abid came up with Markus Kraft he faced many difficulties and was even criticized by his parents because they wanted to see him as a “director” of a government department. “Even after many failures, I never gave up but worked harder and harder to establish my own business. There was a time when we used to pay from our pockets, but now the time has changed and few sponsors have come forward for the support,” he added.

From his childhood, Faizan believed that there was an artist in him but due to lack of opportunity, he never got a chance to showcase his talent. “The reason I supported Abid to launch Markus craft was because I never wanted to see any other artist suffer or lose hope like me. So I thought about providing them a platform, so that they can show the world Kashmiri youth is full of talent, be it painting, singing or dancing,” says Faizan. “The artists who performed in our events got a platform and a chance to showcase their talent by performing in a three day long spring festival, organized by Jammu and Kashmir tourism department.  They were highly appreciated by Bollywood celebrities such as Imtiyaz Ali, Shewata Pandit, and Vishal Bharadwaj,” Faizan added. “Abid Husain, Junaid, Adil, Abida, khushi, Insha, Harmeet Kour had earlier participated in our events, and were among the top performers of that spring festival.

Markus Kraft also managed to bring back the Valley’s lesser known comedian Seth Rafi. Abid believes that in next ten years Markus craft will grow as an organization that will be renowned internationally. He wants the organization to host events outside Jammu and Kashmir in order to provide international platform to Kashmiri youth.  Currently the organization is focused on organizing ‘Taseer’ and ‘Gindbash’ twice a year. These events are based on the Kashmiri culture and its lost heritage.

“We believe that Kashmiri culture and heritage is dying, we want to preserve it and bring it in front of the world, what Kashmir looked like and what it looks like now. There will be a live painting and photography competition and we are hopeful that many people will participate in it,” Abid says.

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