Think of students from Kashmir and you would think of stone pelters and agitators. Atleast, that’s what the national media wants us to believe. That’s definitely NOT the case and I saw this first hand.
A few days ago, I was invited to give a guest lecture at Central University of Kashmir. It is one of the 13 newly established central universities in different states of India in 2009.
The Dean of Student Affairs and the Head of Placement was among the audience when I delivered a lecture at the Digital Marketing Summit in Srinagar, Kashmir. Over dinner that evening, Dr.Fayaz come over to me and said he would one day like to invite me over to the MBA department for a lecture. I told him that I’m staying over at Srinagar for two more days and would be happy to come over. I was interested to see what this whole media hulla bulla was all about. He fixed a guest lecture the next day and invited the students from the School of Business Studies and the School of Tourism
My first impression? It was business as usual. The university was bustling with students and it looked at just like any other busy university life.
Over the one hour session, I spoke on one of my favorite topics: Personal Branding using Digital Medium. I’m a life-long learner of this subject. I noticed that the students from this university are quite bright (only meritorious students are selected). However, because of the unrest in the Kashmir valley, private industries, and multi-national companies are almost non-existent. This meant that there are not many job opportunities and many of the youngsters are forced to seek employment outside the state.
My talk focused on using the digital medium to seek global opportunities. The medium lends itself very well to working on international projects without leaving the city. I was pleasantly surprised that almost all the students were active on social media. I reason why I was surprised is because this is in spite of the fact that the State Government has blocked most of the social networking sites in order to curb the unrest. Students are smart and everyone has figured how to circumvent the Internet ban using VPNs.
I expected a very conservative crowd. But I was pleasantly surprised that the students were very interactive and responsive to questions. Also nice to see that the boys and girls were mingling socially, something that’s a welcome change in a Muslim majority state.
Kudos to the women for being very proactive and very participative.
Kashmir Observer, one of the largest English Dailies in Kashmir, did a coverage of the talk. (please scroll to the second half).