Marketing Peace!

Can innovative marketing techniques help bring peaceful resolution to Kashmir issue? It can, argues first time writer Mehboob Makhdoomi, a management research fellow from Cardiff who is back to make a change. Riyaz Ul Khaliq reports 

Mehboob Makhdoomi

Prolonged conflict inspired many young Kashmiris to turn to art and literature to vent their anger. It was during last two and half decades that amateur writers penned various facets of conflict in Kashmir.  Recently three new books on politics, history and conflict were released in Kashmir. But the one that caught people attention was Mehboob Makhdoomi’s book titled Social Marketing and Conflict Management.

Mehboob’s book talks about how “marketing techniques can help in bringing a peaceful resolution to the ongoing conflict in Kashmir.”

The book questions “if social marketing can succeed in changing attitudes and behaviours related to health and the environment, could it also be used to change the attitudes and behaviours which inhibit resolution of national conflicts?”

Mehboob did his matriculation from Burn Hall School before moving to Tyndale-Biscoe where from he passed Higher Secondary examination. He did his Bachelors in Bio-Technology from Bangalore University.

“I completed graduation in 2006 and qualified GMAT,” Mehboob, in a short conversation, just after his book release in Kashmir University campus tells Kashmir Life.

After qualifying General Management Aptitude Test, Mehboob was eligible to study in any US college to complete his post graduation. “Once I qualified the test I joined Indiana University of Pennsylvania for post graduation in management,” he says in a calm tone.

After his MBA degree was awarded, he did his internship from Bank of America. “My last six months were very fruitful as I had a chance to work in Bank of America,” Mehboob continues.

His excellent academic record and good performance at Bank of America landed him a job in General Motors (GM). “I got a challenging job in GM when world was passing through an economic recession in 2008,” he informs.

In 2008, when people in US were cutting down their budgets and saving their money, Mehboob was instrumental in marketing $ 80,000 luxury Hummer vehicles. After his successful stint at GM, he joined Hilton Properties and since he is single, Mehboob worked with Comcast that deals with Cable TV, Internet and Tele communications in the US on part time basis. “I was working as marketing consultant with the companies and it helped me a lot in understanding international market,” Mehboob says proudly.

But Mehboob was never detached from his roots. His next stop was Cardiff University London. “After learning the nuances of marketing, I thought to give it a try in Kashmir,” Mehboob says, adding that he applied for research at Cardiff in management.

He requested Dr Fiona Davies (BSc, MSc, PhD) who is associate Dean, Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, United Kingdom to supervise his thesis, “Could the marketing techniques help in bringing a peaceful resolution to the ongoing conflict in Kashmir?”

To which the learned associate Dean, Dr Fiona Davis writes, “ This would not be the easiest of theses to write, or to supervise; the social marketing literature with which I was familiar had little to say about conflict resolution, and my knowledge of Kashmir’s troubled history was sketchy, to say the least.”

Once Mehboob completed his Masters in research (M. Phil) in 2011, he decided to come back permanently.

“Once back, I got job as Dean Students Welfare (DSW) at SSM College of Engineering where I worked very hard and it earned me respect from student fraternity,” Mehboob says.

Mehboob took up DSW’s job to use his experience and international exposure for good of local students. But his dream of helping Kashmiri students did not go down well with all.  He says that some elements in management department at SSM College of Engineering had felt uneasy with his work culture and growing popularity among students. “An atmosphere was created around me where I could do nothing but put in my papers.”

Mehboob says his colleagues felt their jobs insecure with him joining the college. “Disgusted, I had to leave,” a calm Mehboob explains.

After serving the institution for eight months, Mehboob joined Kashmir Centre for Social and Developmental Studies. “The members of civil society encouraged me to turn my thesis into a book,” says Mehboob.

Dr Fiona mentioned about Mehboob’s book in an article published in a Kashmiri newspaper, “However, the student’s (Mehboob Makhdoomi) motivation and passion for the topic convinced me to agree to supervise him – and that is how I met Mehboob Makhdoomi, and how this book started.”

Mehboob credits civil society members for helping him realize his dream. “It is because of their motivation that my book became a reality,” he says.

He is very kind to Gulshan Publishers who published his book.

Mehboob during the book release function informed the jam packed audience that he is working on Islamic banking in Kashmir. “I had no problem in US and UK.  But it is ironical that Muslims majority Kashmir doesn’t have a single bank based on Islamic sharia’ah,” he told the august gathering. “I met J&K Bank officials. We are working on it. Civil society is highly supportive of my initiative.”

Mehboob is presently working as a consultant with an MNC in Saudi Arabia. “Next year I will be again working on the concept of Islamic banking and how we can apply it here,” he says.

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