Vote Of Confidence

An ambitious man who has achieved much—and he’s not even 30. Nazir Ganaie talks to a young Kashmiri who believes in the power of positive thinking.

Have you heard US President Barack Obama’s famous speech which he delivered in Cairo University, Egypt? This speech was carried live from US embassies across the globe. The man who devised the media strategy to cover that speech in India,particularly in the Andhra Pradesh Consulate of the Embassy was a 28-year-old Kashmiri who hails from the remote village of Tarzuwah in north Kashmir’s Baramullah district. His name is Showkat Nabi Rather.

Rather’s journey from Government Degree  College, Baramullah, to Foreign Service Institute, Washington D.C. is a story that will inspire Kashmiris for generations to come.

Rather is currently Senior Media Advisor/Officer, Asia for International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, or ICRISAT—a UN organization based in Hyderabad. Prior to this, he was working as an Assistant Media Advisor and Manager/Editor-Web in the public diplomacy office of the U.S. Department of State, and Consulate General in Hyderabad.

Rather studied at the St. Joseph School in Baramullah, and pursued Mass Communication and Video Production at the Government Degree College in the same town. He then received his Masters’ in electronic media from the University of Bangalore.

“I was like other students, always thinking about what subjects I should take up. I studied medicine for two years and took the medical entrance exam, which I couldn’t crack. I always had Journalism as my second option, which I later pursued,” said Rather.

Rather credits his teachers and friends for his success.“Professor Ismail,the principal of my college at the time, and Mr. Tariq Masoodi, have been very instrumental in giving us opportunities to explore the field of Journalism when we were in the college,” he said. “The department would provide us several opportunities and co-curricular activities, which helped us in shaping our future,” he added.

Rather said aspiring journalists in Kashmir should work hard. “There are many opportunities in the media.You can go into radio, you can be a reporter and you can work with any magazine. You can even have your own news website. Online journalism has picked up enormously. Everyone has become a journalist, so we need to have more sound professionals in this field,” he advised.

He believes like other services, journalism in Kashmir has a great role to play.

“Aspirants should take their profession very seriously. This is the only profession where you get a chance to question policy makers, where you can raise an issue and solve the issues. Being whistleblowers and watchdogs, journalists can change the fate of Kashmir,” said Rather.

Rather grew up in Kashmir, and he says the turmoil affected every household in the valley—including his own. “Whether I am in Hyderabad or in any other part of the world, I would remain emotionally attached to my family because there is a sense of skepticism growing among Kashmiri parents, especially mothers. Even if you are in the White House, a mother will enquire about your safety. Parents expect your call thrice a day, which isn’t the case with my other colleagues who are from different parts of the world,” he said.

“There are a few Kashmiri who have joined the US Embassy but they are US citizens.I can say I am the first from Indian-Controlled Kashmir to join the prestigious US government in India as a Media Advisor in Andhra Pradesh consulate.”

“There are a lot of Kashmiris who want to work outside and there is a mindset that Kashmiris don’t get hired by International organizations but I have proved that this is not true with everyone,” he said.

During Rather’stime with the US State Department, he would regularly contribute to the State magazine and magazines like The Span, in addition to providing inputs to the US cables.

“Every individual of our generation needs to do something different for our motherland Kashmir, so that our voices and screams are heard across the world,” he said.

Rather dreams of working in Kashmir, and says Kashmir has always been a priority for him.

“I am very concerned about my place. I was on vacation when there was unrest in Kashmir during 2008 and as a Kashmiri; I also faced the same problem. I have a dream that we too will have embassies here and we as Kashmiris can also work independently,” he said.


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