May 2013

Youth in Srinagar city are fast
losing connection to the past.
Knowledge of people, places
and structures of historic importance are fast declining
among the new generation,
which has witnessed a war like
situation. It has taken a toll on
people’s propensity to understand surroundings and relate
with it. Consumed by political
chaos and bleak future, the systemic failures are nursing a
generation with no idea of history.

Protracted Kashmir conflict seems not only consuming men and material but also the
memory, which is very important to remember and recall past for a better future. Political chaos
and bleak future coupled with society-level community and institutional failures are nurturing a generation completely disconnected to the past in Srinagar
Srinagar may take pride in 5000-years-old documented history, dozens of shrines, temples, mosques
and ruins built in different eras, replete with history
of those times, but new generation, despite living
closer to these historical symbols, are oblivion to
their surroundings. Apparently the conflict has
taken toll on people’s propensity to relate and narrate
tales of its surroundings. With violence taking a centre stage in the past two decades, the history seems to
have taken a back seat in the lives of war-torn people
of Kashmir.
The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural
Heritage (INTACH), an institution behind reining
the valley’s lost historical glory, has of major reasons that kept new generation
painted a grim picture on how new gener- away from historicity of old parts of the
ation and new residents see the city, which city. “Besides, educational infrastructure
is mired in political crisis and two decades has hampered here,” said Beg.
of violence. The survey is based on interview of
According to INTACH’s report on sample group of 1500 in 16 mohallas (colurban renewal of historic Srinagar, there is onies) of old parts of the city, spread
increasing trend of sense of discontinuity around five square km.
with Srinagar’s historicity among new gen- The survey pointed out that 90% of
eration. the youth above 18 years do not do any
“The new generation is living in dis- formal outdoor sport. “There is hardly any
jointed cultural islands. We took Class sports infrastructure worth the name. We
Seven girl students of the most prestigious have lost open spaces rapidly,” said Beg.
public school on a cultural tour to the city. Most inhabitants of uptown Srinagar
We found that 95% of the girls could not hardly visits old city or are aware of its hisname more than two shrines of despite the toric value.
city housing around a dozen significant “98% reported that they never enshrines,” said INTACH’s Kashmir chapter gaged in any community or social serhead Saleem Beg. vice,” says the report.
At least four of them mentioned Kath Around 30 percent people intend to
Darwaza, a Mughal era fort’s entrance, as migrate from the downtown because of
a shrine. poor infrastructure and below standard
Beg sees two decades of turmoil one living conditions.

The disconnection even from
foot habits, Beg pointed out, can be
gauged from the fact that people
come to Fateh Kadal harisa wala
(breakfast meat variety consumed in
winters) late evening to buy the
breakfast delicacy for dinner.
Author of ‘Srinagar: My City,
My Dreams’ Zahid G Muhammad
blame the state government for this.
“By introducing NCERTin the state-
the history and geography of the state
was taken out of curricula after the
1975 accord- and then education minister was passionate about removing
Kashmir history which was from
class 2 to 10.”
Writer and thinkers are calling
for rethinking on how to revive the

connection. Well-known columnist
Abdul Wahid said, “We have to tell
our youth about our culture. Those
who have come to live in city have to
know what city life meant in real
terms. We may devise some methods
to do that. We must take our schoolchildren and show them the historic
places, various shrines and other interesting locations of Srinagar.”


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