Has the academia failed Kashmir?

Prof Ashraf Wani
Dean Academics, University of Kashmir
Prof Ashraf WaniFrankly the academia has not played its role. We are in a problem since 1947. Academicians in Kashmir have not come up with any solution to this problem. They have remained silent and turned a blind eye to the happenings, to the loss of lives here. The academia’s role is to provide ideas to the society and enhance its intellectual growth. But here, academicians reacted to the situation as ordinary persons. They behaved exactly like ostriches by hiding their heads in the sand.
They were supposed to play a creative role in the society. They were supposed to be at the forefront to give sacrifices. Have they given any sacrifice? No, they have not. So how have they played their roles? Yes, you may say that the literacy rate may have increased in the Valley but the problem is still there. These academicians ran after worldly possessions and ignored the sufferings of the people. More and more doctors, engineers are coming up but the age-old Kashmir problem is still there.
If you to do a survey at Kashmir University about what the academia has been doing here,  all the hidden truths will be out.  I mean the image public has of academicians will be shattered. Research done by academicians is irrelevant and substandard.
The educated elite has remained very close to the political elite here and has therefore disregarded important issues. Perhaps they fear for their families, as the conditions are hostile here. But at the end of the day it is these intellectuals who have to rise to the occasion and give sacrifices, which they have not.

Asif Khan
Coordinator, Convergent Journalism, Central University of Kashmir
I don’t agree with this preposition. Academicians have done their part at each and every step. You need Asif Khanto understand the context in which they have played their role in Kashmir. In that sense, academicians have not failed Kashmir at all. The facts speak volumes about their contribution. We have Kashmiri academicians who have excelled in their respective fields.
In the field of research we had Prof Bashir Ahmad Dabla who was a great researcher. There are other examples though they are not in the limelight. I also don’t agree with the contention that the research done by academicians is either substandard or socially/scientifically irrelevant. Again you need to understand whether they have the resources to conduct their research work. With meagre resources they have done wonders in the field of research.
Take for example Central University of Kashmir.  With little infrastructure compared to other universities in the Valley, we are doing a wonderful job, even better than Kashmir University. In comparison to Jammu Central University we are way ahead.
Academicians have done their job. Unfortunately their research findings and recommendations are not implemented. You can’t blame academicians for this.
As far as Kashmir conflict is concerned, yes academicians have not done anything in this regard. But again the blame falls squarely on the system. An academician won’t be allowed to undertake a research topic that revolves around Kashmir conflict. Either (s)he has to waste his/her talent by not cooperating with the system or choose a topic of their choice. So you can’t blame the academia for failing Kashmir.

—As told to Aasif Sultan

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