Anil Thakraney: Media should highlight Kashmiri achievers

15 May,2013

By Anil Thakraney

 

The last time I went to Kashmir was nine years ago. This was for the shoot of a Nestle Polo commercial (I was employed with Lowe, Delhi, at the time). One morning I woke up late for an early shoot, and missed the last Gondola cable car, which was to take me to the hills of Gulmarg, the shoot location. This compelled me to hitch a horse ride, and this one-hour-long journey gave me a chance to have a detailed conversation with the horse owner, Mohammed. On the state of things in Kashmir. What he told me was heart breaking. Let me skip the gory details and get to the main point he made: Most Kashmiris felt a terrible sense of detachment from India, there was absolutely no sense of belonging. This feeling got further reinforced in my conversations with the other locals.

 

I believe things are far better now, the Gujarati tourists are back, and so are the Bollywood filmmakers. However, we are very aware that all it shall take is another massive terror strike to move things back to square one, Kashmir is such a fragile state. It’s been a long time now and the politicians have totally failed to deal with this mess. Which is why the role of the media becomes crucial. Two recent success stories from Kashmir caught my attention. One is about the Kashmiri cricketer who’s currently playing in the IPL: Parvez Rasool. And the other is about a lady doctor, Ruvaida Salam, from the strife-torn Kupwara district, who has managed to pass her IAS exams against all odds.

 

These are fantastic stories, and I would urge the nation’s media (both, print and television) to not report them as regular snippets. The media should help turn these two (and others like them) into national celebrities. We must run a series of huge stories on their achievements so that Rasool and Salam become household names in India. This will inspire other Kashmiri youth to forget about militancy and Pakistan, and instead aim to become successful professionals. If this happens, over time, it will help demolish the one thing that keeps the Kashmiris from kicking out the militants from their soil: The sense of alienation.

 

I do think these success stories are a superb opportunity for the media to directly affect the fortunes of this nation. And we must not allow them to slip by.

 

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PS: Evian has revived the dancing babies that were such a rage ten years ago. Simple, cute idea: Find a baby version of yourself in the mirror. Purity of water, purity of thought. Nice.

 

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