Young leaders, old cadres

– independently and collectively – a major bearing on the core of the Kashmir issue? Or will it heighten these tensions? While a view of the broad political culture appears to have been passed from one generation to the next, will the most salient issues shift along with a change in the agents of politicisation?  We hope not.
However, what we do hope that there is a complete break from the past in the manner in which the issue is conceptualised, the politics conducted, and the conviction communicated. For what the previous generation has done is to bring the issue into disrepute and the individuals into disgrace.  
To do so, the new leadership needs a new following. And it is here that the biggest paradox emerges: even as the leadership is young and politically aggressive, the rest of the new generation, not surprisingly, appears to have enshrined political apathy as a way of life. Having experienced stupendous failure of government, it’s no wonder that they are cynical about politics.
The younger generation in Kashmir is less politically or civically engaged, exhibit less social trust or confidence in government, have a weaker allegiance to their cause or to the political parties, and are more materialistic than their predecessors.
Sure, there will be an attitudinal change; but that will not be enough. The agenda has to change. What the new leadership, irrespective of their political affiliations and goals, needs to do is to combine globalised aspirations of the youth with the localized sensibilities.
If this is the agenda, it will help banish cynicism and apathy toward a resolution of the conflict.  For this, aside the political leaders, we need a “a generational spokesman” who will articulate the aspirations of the young men and women in their 30s and 40s.
And here in lies the hope. For unlike the earlier generation which was shut out of the media – a factor that led to most Kashmiris constantly being on the defensive — the younger generation of Kashmiris have the advantages of being bicultural: a citizen of Kashmir and the World.


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