No hope for a Kashmiri

Middle East couldn”t be our savior – thanks to official apathy!

Dr. Rumana Makhdoomi

No hope for a KashmiriAs you land in Saudi Arabia right from the airport, you are greeted by Urdu/Hindi speaking people who happily help you carry your luggage or guide you to the nearest ‘Gate’.  You pay them a little sum and they give you a warm smile.  When you hire a cab to your destination, the driver invariably turns out to be a ‘Pathan’ speaking fluent ‘Pushtu’ or a very accented ‘Urdu’.  And, if you don’t encounter a ‘Pathan’, you meet a Bangladeshi guy who speaks to you in a broken Urdu with a stretched and stressed ‘O’.  He may be a salesman.  In markets, you find Keralites and in hotels guys predominantly from South Asia.  Shops belong to people of varied nationalities too and restaurants are owned by Pakistanis, Afghanis, Turks and Indonesians etc.  McDonald and KFC are hardly behind.  When you enter the holy cities of Makkah and Medina, you encounter people of all nationalities – many pilgrims are from the subcontinent working in Saudi Arabia.  In this sea of varied nationalities, I look out for a rare race i.e Kashmiris.  I do find a few in groups or individually recognizable by their attire and looks.  I wonder why there are too few of us in Saudi Arabia when so many of us could have been there. I don’t mean just for pilgrimage, I mean for work too!  Are we not able enough to work in Saudi Arabia or are we not given an opportunity to work there?

A few Kashmiri doctors work in Saudi Arabia and so do a few professionals.  I met a few of them and they told  me  how difficult it was for a Kashmiri to gain entry into Saudia.  All recruiting agencies were located in Delhi and Mumbai, the interviews too were conducted in Delhi or elsewhere.  Medical tests too were done at Delhi and visa too was stamped in Delhi.  For any  Kashmiri aspiring for a job in Saudia Arabia, it meant taking several turns to Delhi for all this stuff.  If the aspirant wouldn’t get selected for a particular job, it would mean a repetition of  the entire exercise.  When recruiting agency owners are asked why they can’t conduct interviews in Srinagar, they reply softly, “For security reasons we are not allowed to go there”.  So, with no industries in place, no institutions thriving, no project heading towards completion, Kashmir is going to drown in a sea of unemployed youth.  The numbers are expanding and respite is nowhere near.In this scenario wasn’t  it a duty for government to help educated unemployed youth get jobs in Middle East?

Thank God! someone has thought over it and there is a department created to facilitate the youth(educated/labour class) to get overseas employment.  I read regarding JK overseas employment corporation.  I heard this organization’s name for the first time.  While crores are spent on its maintenance, it has failed to recruit a single person from the state for a job abroad.  No wonder, no one knows about its existence.No one is held accountable for doing nothing-its typical of Kashmir.  Kashmiris are a hard working lot, they excel in favourable circumstances and there are educated youth all over Kashmir begging for jobs.  Why hasn’t an organization that is meant to facilitate the overseas recruitment of our youth done its duty?  When a Keralite could make to Saudia, A Bangladeshi could do it, a Pakistani could do it, why couldn’t a Kashmiri make it it Saudia?  Middle East is full of people from South Asia; from executives to doctors, from businessmen to menial staff -but you hardly spot a Kashmiri there.  All Kashmiris’ who work in Gulf make it to that place with a lot of difficulty – and others who do it, do it because Kashmiris’ working there help their relatives and friends back home. State Govt. or any of its corporations were never interested to tap a large job share that could be made available to Kashmiris overseas. So whoever from state is working in Gulf is because of his own efforts.

Kashmir is a synonym for delicacy, for superior taste, for class and for beauty.  Whatever is being sold in the name of Kashmir outside Kashmir is non-Kashmiri – from chilies to scarves, from Kehwa to Kababs, from almonds to apples – nothing ethnic to Kashmir is available in Middle East. Why doesn’t Middle East have Kashmiri food joints, Kashmiri fruits or Kashmiri bazars when they are so much sought out there? While  Kerala has an economy that is robust because of its workforce in Gulf ,while as Kashmir – much richer in potential and heavier in talent is sinking in poverty – Middle East could not be our savior – thanks to official apathy!