A Century Later: Colonial approach to education continues to divide Kashmir

Vaibhav Karajgikar

The continued tensions between Pakistan and India may not be at the point of a full scale war between the two nations yet. However, regular skirmishes and cross border shelling in one of the most militarized regions in the world is continuing to affect the economic, social and cultural lives of over a million people, with little hope of any immediate respite mediated through political discourse (BBC News, 14th November, 2016).

The religious connotations of the conflict continue to polarize the population due to policies of the Indian Government that are preventing a certain section from observing their religious rights (J and K Headlines, 25th November, 2016). The resulting trauma and social conflict is serving to alienate Muslim youth, further aggravated by separatist propaganda. The lack of a cohesive approach over the last sixty years to educate for peace and co-existence is an underlying factor that continues to hamper peace process in the region. Given the lingering history of the conflict, there are many issues affecting the educational development in the state. In the case of Kashmir, the beginning of modern education system traces back to religion and colonialism education in Jammu and Kashmir, which was modeled after the British education system due to the effects of colonization. A movement towards the western definition of education marginalized the traditional religious schools, and had a modernizing effect on the population educated by western standards. In the late 19th and early 20th century, mission schools in Kashmir were educating and modernizing a selected group of elite Hindu class, with the Muslim majority ignored by the leaders. The 1965 Indo-Pak war led to the creation of the current Line of Control between Pakistan administered Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir .The war also uprooted many students from their homes, and negatively affected their school routine, a trend that continues even today. It is of critical importance to assess the various impacts of the military bunkers established within and in the vicinity of schools and exploring the link between the presence of the military and the growth of the various psycho-social problems among the student community in the Kashmir valley. Furthermore, the educated yet unemployed group is a recurring phenomenon in Kashmir, where educational development has preceded economic development.

Recent endeavors to bring the issue to the attention of the international community are faced with limited success, with key officials from the UN urging for sustainable peace (NDTV, 25th November, 2016). There is however, a lack of consensus on what measures can be implemented to curtail the violence and provide a platform to start rebuilding the region (Dawn, 21st September, 2016). The case presented from the Indian perspective includes accusations leveled against Pakistan towards funding military groups in the region to create instability, waging a proxy war, spreading anti-India sentiment among the people of Kashmir through media and consistently breaching the terms of the UN Resolution 1172 passed in 1948 which accepts India’s stand regarding all outstanding issues between India and Pakistan. On the other hand, Pakistan claims that according to the two-nation theory Kashmir should have been with Pakistan, since it has a Muslim majority. Allegations also include inhuman treatment of Kashmiri civilians at the hands of the Indian Armed Forces (backed by evidence from humanitarian agencies).

Whether it is by religion or region, Kashmir is not a unified voice on the matter of its future. Apart from the unending call for democracy and human rights standards, Kashmiris differ in their opinions all over the territory. This continues to complicate matters, with very little importance being given to the voice of the people most affected by the ongoing conflict, in discussions regarding solutions.


  • Anwar Iqbal and Masood Haider, “US expresses ‘concern’ over Kashmir violence”; 21st September, 2016; retrieved on 25th November, 2016 http://www.dawn.com/news/1285043

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