A young Kashmiri’s ambition has led to the most popular news page about Kashmir on Facebook. Tasavur Mushtaq talks to a young visionary about ‘J and K Now’.
When children his age were reading books and preparing for exams, he was busy chasing his dream—a dream of becoming a journalist. Today, that dream is shaping into reality—and at a very young age. Vijdan Kawoosa, 18, is the founder and editor-in-chief of the online news website, JandK Now.
In October 2009, Vijdan was in 10th at Burn Hall School. During that time, he launched a free SMS news alert service and website. In just the first few days, his services received more than a thousand SMS subscribers. In just six months, his service crossed the one lakh subscription base, and in the next two months, it surged to two lakh subscribers. When the government-imposed ban on pre-paid text messaging began, Vijdan’s service saw a setback. But today, it is still operational for thousands of Kashmiris who are subscribed to it from other states of the country.
The messaging ban did not deter Vijdan. He moved to the social networking site Facebook and creating the JandK Now page—which is now a popular name amongst thousands of Kashmiri Facebook users. The page has more than 38,000 followers, making JandK now the largest followed news page of Jammu and Kashmir on Facebook.
Vijdan says about 2,000 people visit the site per day, which has about 10 to 15 new items up on a daily basis. He says the website may not be as up-to-date as one would want, but the news is authentic. “My major advertisement is word of mouth, as people believe that I update only reliable news.”
Vijdan says this is just the beginning. “I plan on expanding my services after I am done with my education,” he says. He had opted for the science stream and recently appeared in his 12th class examinations. But he says he will switch. “I am planning on going outside of the state to pursue a degree in journalism,” he says.
Vijdan balanced the news website and his academics tactfully. While strategising to carry both his studies and passion, he emphasised more on English and less on science subjects
Vijdan balanced the news website and his academics tactfully. While strategising to carry both his studies and passion, he emphasised more on English and less on science subjects. “I didn’t focus on other subjects except for English. The reason was that I had an inclination for journalism,” he says.
The young editor-in-chief believes he is an average student. Initially, he was nervous about convincing his family—but now they encourage him to excel in his chosen field. “My family was not too supportive, as they think journalism doesn’t pay well,” he says. Determined to excel he said, “let us make it high paying.”
His website is now generating revenue to sustain its operations. Not divulging in the details of how much he is making he says, “It generates what it requires.” Having Jammu and Kashmir as its chief operational locale, JandK Now is considered to be a credible source of news. “People trust us when it comes to authenticity of the latest happenings across the region.” It takes him around eight hours a day to update the website, as he is the only person working. But he is online for most of the time. “I have to be online always to see if there is some latest development,” Vijdan told Kashmir Life.
Vijdan’s father is a retired chief manager of J&K Bank, and his mother is a retired government teacher. His family is originally from Nowhatta, however, they now reside in Baghat
Vijdan is happy with the way things are going for him. He is not lured by other careers and says he is satisfied with opting for journalism as the profession. Taking the hard work in the field as a challenge he said, “I know there is no social life in journalism and one has to put in a lot of hard work. I am ready.”
Vijdan’s father is a retired chief manager of J&K Bank, and his mother is a retired government teacher. His family is originally from Nowhatta, however, they now reside in Baghat.
Vijdan is considering different online ventures as well. He says he is developing a travel portal- flywaytrip.com, in association with a Gurgaon-based company in the first month of 2012. This will be a flight booking search engine. “We will sell tickets at the cheapest possible rates,” he says.
The JandK Now founder advises youth not to succumb to pressure and to just follow their hearts. “Choose a path which is positive and you are comfortable with, you will enjoy every bit of it. Parents should allow their children to pursue what they are comfortable with, and not impose their ideas,” he suggests.