How millennials in Kashmir are being set up for militancy
Kashmiris share a collective memory of deep violence. Add a constrained opportunity structure and limited arenas for self improvement, and you see why Kashmir's millennials are so frustrated.
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Kashmir is in transition: its Generation X is on the cusp of giving way to the state’s millennials.
From a sociological and demographic perspective, 'Generation X' is referred to as the post-World War II generation of ‘baby boomers’, with the time range of their birth from the 1960s to the 1980s. 'Millennials' constitute the generation that follows Generation X. The precise delimitation and circumference of this generation is unknown but the datum of this generation blurs into the new millennium.
A protester throwing a stone at the police during a strike called by separatist groups against killings in south Kashmir. (Source: Reuters)
These are broad and generic terms that can be grafted and tacked onto different contexts. Given that the domain and focus of the analysis is Kashmir, I will use these labels and terms for the Valley and its generational cohorts. What defines a generation or even a cohort is its shared experience(s) — a set of experiences that each and every member of the generation can relate to and identify with.
A rather disjointed and paradoxical theme or a meta experience connects Kashmir’s Generations X and Y — both have and do experience violence, uncertainty and aspirations. Aspirational Kashmir has and continues to jar with a Kashmir laden with and defined by uncertainty, with violence in the foreground and background. (Whilst the graph of violence goes up and down, it never really is out of the picture in Kashmir. So, violence, in this sense, is structural in Kashmir).
The point of delineating the blur points of generations and the shared experience(s) of Kashmir’s various generations is to extrapolate future trends. Given Kashmir’s modern history and the shared experience of its generations, we can possibly arrive at a trend or a theme that may define Kashmir and its future. This is not to project the past onto the future in a linear manner, but to arrive at the theme that may define Kashmir through a generational prism and amateur analytical psychology.
The themes of violence and uncertainty that jostle with aspirational Kashmir naturally will have affected what Carl Gustav Jung called the ‘collective unconscious’ of a people.
'Collective unconscious' refers to the structures of the unconscious mind which are shared among beings of the same species. Jung held that the collective unconscious had a profound influence on the lives of individuals, who lived out its symbols and clothed them in meaning through their experiences.
Kashmir’s descent into spasms of violence after lulls of relative peace. (Source: Reuters)
There appears to be a correlation between 'collective unconscious' and ‘shared generational experience(s)’. Collective unconscious of a society or a group may, among other things, also be said to be determined by shared experiences of a generation.
In the context of Kashmir, a blurring of experiences has occurred in terms of the overarching experience(s) shared by respective generations (X and Y). These pertain to violence, uncertainty and aspiration — the troika that appears to have left an imprimatur on Kashmiris’ collective unconscious. This troika determines the psychical, intellectual and emotional universe of Kashmiris; the overall tenor and character of life in Kashmir is the accrual and compendium of these.
Can future patterns be determined from this?
Yes, but the pattern we will arrive at will be inferential. The jostling between uncertainty, violence and aspiration in the minds or collective unconscious of Kashmiris appears to have led to a conflicted psyche and a void.
This void is filled by themes of the moment, so to speak, but to employ Jung’s theory and use it metaphorically, uncertainty and violence is both in the foreground and background in the structures of the Kashmiri mind. This may explain Kashmir’s descent into spasms of violence after lulls of relative piece. A spark catalyzes the angst buried in the deeper recesses of the mind and lo and behold, violence becomes the dominant narrative in Kashmir.
Protesters throw stones on the police amid tear-gas smoke during a clash in Srinagar. (Source: Reuters)
This condition lends itself to the assessment that while the guns may be relatively silent in Kashmir contemporarily, this does not mean that insurgency in Kashmir will never rear its head again — in fact, the contemporary period may be one of deceptive and illusory calm.
Kashmir’s Gen Y or the millennials may be being set up for militancy.
The reference here is not to a conspiracy but to structural conditions that obtain in Kashmir. Kashmir’s millennials are more or less an educated cohort, connected, aware of the world beyond. Education among other things leads to heighted aspiration and a consciousness of opportunities. However, given the constrained opportunity structure in Kashmir, and very limited arenas for self improvement, Kashmir’s millennials are likely to be a frustrated lot.
Unmet expectations, unrealised dreams will lead to a piling-up of frustrations wherein the now dormant and latent themes of uncertainty and violence may get activated.
This may be then expressed in a more violent idiom. Kashmir will then revert to square one with violence and uncertainty spilling on to the next generation.
Admittedly, this is a bleak prognosis but given the paucity of evidence to the contrary, it is this scenario that may become the dominant and abiding reality of Kashmir. The vale’s moment of transition will then lead to both fusion and frisson.