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“Building a future of hope for J&K a collective endeavour”

Shujaat Bukhari

— Photo: PTI / S. Irfan

President Pratibha Patil at the inauguration of the Institute for Kashmiri studies in Srinagar on Monday.

SRINAGAR: President Pratibha Patil on Monday said building a future of hope for Jammu and Kashmir was a collective endeavour and praised the resilience shown by the people during the two-decades-long violence.

Inaugurating the Institute of Kashmir Studies at the University of Kashmir here, Ms. Patil stressed the need for involving the youth in building a new Jammu and Kashmir.

For achieving this goal, “the Institute of Kashmir Studies will provide a platform for scholars regarding ideas on pluralistic cultures and tolerant societies,” the President said.

Lauding the people for managing to steer through the violence, she said it was now time to go in a new direction. “Building a future of hope and optimism is a collective endeavour in which every person is a participant and a contributor. It requires that the government, civil society and all communities and sections work together.”

Rich culture

Ms. Patil said Kashmir had a rich and vibrant cultural history and a tradition of learning and scholarly pursuit. “Its enchanting beauty has attracted thinkers and philosophers, seers and sages, kings and noblemen, travellers and traders, from far and wide. Through the ages, it has been a melting pot of ideas, which have been distilled into the finest traditions of learning, tolerance and cultural cohesion, whether it is Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism or Buddhism.”

Secure environment

“The State has tremendous potential in horticulture, floriculture, handicrafts, tourism and IT, among others. Equally important is our determination to create a secure environment and to defeat the divisive designs of terrorits,” the President said.

Spirit of Kashmiriyat

Governor S.K. Sinha, who is the brain behind the IKS concept, said the institute would promote the spirit of Kashmiriyat and strive to disseminate this message not only in South Asia but the world over. “The aim is to study Kashmiriyat in all its aspects of culture, literature, history and philosophy.”

Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said: “The cultural heritage of Kashmir beckons students and research scholars to unravel its richness and present it to the world. The setting up of the IKS is a right step in this direction.”

In his message, UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura said the institute would undoubtedly make a unique contribution to the promotion of research and education in the region.

Vice-Chancellor of Kashmir University Riyaz Punjabi said: “The Institute of Kashmir Studies has to undertake a focussed study on varied aspects of Kashmir, including its history, culture, sociology, and its great contribution to strengthening the Sufi-Bhakti-Rishi tradition of the sub-continent.”

UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Madanjeet Singh, the former Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga, Afghan Minister for Women Affairs H.B. Gazanfar, Union Ministers Mani Shankar Aiyar and Saifuddin Soz, the former Chief Minister, Farooq Abdullah, Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu N. Ram and other dignitaries from SAARC countries, delegates from the South Asia Foundation and academicians and intellectuals were present.

Authorities had made elaborate security arrangements and all roads leading to the university were sealed off.

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