Healing Touch: Indian Army and Khadi are changing lives of youth in strife-torn Kashmir

Project Sadbhavana: Two unlikely institutions have joined hands to help thousands of youths in insurgency hit Kashmir in securing livelihood, the attempt is aimed at weaning them away from militancy and violence and bring back in mainstream. Indian Army, which is trained to fight the enemy by using all kind of weapons, has joined hands with KVIC, an organisation that works in the field of promoting Khadi and village industries, to generate livelihood and employment opportunities for Kashmiri youth. Under the project Sadbhavana (Goodwill) Indian Army has been training thousands of young Kashmiris across the state. A beneficiary of Indian Armys capacity building initiative, Zahoor Ahmad Mir, a 25 year old youth from Kupwara district in Jammu Kashmir, said unemployment is the biggest problem for Kashmiri youth that draws them towards militancy. Zahoor is among 23 youths from the state who recently completed training in producing handmade papers in Jaipur, Rajasthan under a joint project of KVIC and Indian Army. READ ALSO: While talking about the business potential of handmade paper, Zahoor Ahmad says that he has already identified the potential buyers in the state and also the states from where he plans to source raw material. Tamil Nadu has a strong base of cotton producers so I plan to source raw material from Tamil Nadu, Zahoor, who has a masters degree in public administration and a diploma in disaster management hopes to become entrepreneur after receiving the training. The joint venture between Indian Army and KVIC could be useful in Zahoors quest. Indian Army not only helps Kashmiri youth in acquiring training and business skills but its programmes and policies are also aimed at arranging soft loans for these volunteers. READ ALSO: Imparting skills for producing handmade paper is just one of the several initiatives taken by the KVIC in the state. KVIC is also building capacity of local artisans by providing training and equipments like electric powered potter wheels and honey bee boxes to support local cottage industries. KVIC has trained 32 members from the local Kumhar community in use of electric powered potter wheels. Indian Army and KVIC are also planning to send around a dozen local artisans for getting advance training in pottery making at Central Village Pottery Institute in Belagavi, Karnataka. READ ALSO: For decades, the country is fighting a bloody insurgency in the border state. Successive governments have blamed Pakistan for stoking violence and terrorism in the Himalayan state that has become the countrys biggest security challenge. While Indian security forces have killed more than 22,000 local and foreign militants in the state, they too have lost more than 5,000 Jawans. According to some estimates, more than 40,000 people have lost lives in three decade long bloody insurgency in the state. Winning hearts and minds of Kashmiri people is crucial for the success of governments strategy to contain militancy. Indian Army has completely overhauled its approach in the state to wean the youth away from militancy. The second largest standing army in the world has reoriented itself to help Kashmiri youth in securing livelihood that is expected to reduce the support for militancy. READ ALSO: READ ALSO:Pie in the sky? Rahul Gandhi will need Rs 17-18 lakh crore to implement Congress manifesto