THATHRI/JAMMU: Education Zone Thathri of Doda district which comes under the control of Zonal Educational Officer (ZEO) Thathri has once again invited the attention of authorities and public for its anti students approach. The academic session is about to end but the authorities at Zonal Educational Office (ZEO) Thathri have failed to provide uniform to students studying in the Govt Schools, thus denying them of their right to free uniform. 

Relevant to mention here that it’s a Govt policy to provide free uniform to the students of the Govt Schools. Talking to JK Monitor, ReT teachers’ senior leader of the Zone, Zakir Butt disclosed that funds have already been provided and transferred to the ZEOs accounts and with the start of academic session it was expected that students would get the uniforms during the month of March. 

Now the academic session is nearing completion but the concerned authorities in the Zone have failed to provide the uniform to the students.  The examination have commenced from October 15, and the students of class 5th of Primary Schools and 8th of Middle Schools of the Zone will have to take admissions in other schools for upper classes but they have been denied of their right to free uniform by the authorities at Zonal level. 

It will be worth pointing out here that if the funds for the same have already been provided and deposited in the ZEO’s account than why the students have been denied of their right to free uniform and where the amount meant for students welfare has gone.

This clearly indicates that the Office of the ZEO Thathri become a den of corruption which is being patronage by the superiors and the district level. The office has become free to do at will throwing all set norms, guidelines and rules to winds. The silence of the immediate higher authorities at the district level to make this office accountable and corruption free has raised many questions and gives rise to suspect their involvement too.

FOCAL POINT: 

  • If one case has come into notice, it clearly indicates that the practice of forging most important document of an employee is being actively done by clerks and employee are offering money for getting undue favours and illegal entries.
  • The departmental inquiry will not be a solution, as such practices are not possible until having support from immediate boss.
  • An inquiry under District Administrator assisted by a wing of Police Deptt will unearth larger quantum of scams.      

THATHRI/JAMMU: The Education Department in Doda district has remained in news in the past too for varied reasons with corruption in offices at top followed by misappropriation of funds, forging records, attachments of teachers in offices and absence of teachers from duties. Though the entire district Doda has many stories to tell about the Education Department but Zonal Education Office (ZEO) Thathri has always played a lead role in such corrupt practices.

I the past too JK Monitor has played its role as a responsible media outlet to expose such practices which has sent shockers across the district A link to news available on internet exposing the corrupt practiced in ZEO office Thathri is given here for those readers who wish to read it again to refresh their memories. 

(Exam fees overcharging nexus EXPOSED in Thathri Zone: Dy. CM directs DSE-J for inquiry) 

(https://dagmedya.net/2013/09/15/exam-fees-overcharging-nexus-exposed-in-thathri-zone-dy-cm-directs-dse-j-for-inquiry/)    

Continuing the past practice, sources told JK Monitor that some clerks in the office of ZEO Thathri have been misusing their official position and pressurizing the teaching community to get their paper work completed. 

These clerks further use to extract money as bribe from teachers and those teachers who pay money as bribe are given undue favours by making or skipping entries in the service books and other documents signed. 

The need of the hour is the entire records of the ZEO office Thathri should be seized and a in-depth inquiry shall be initiated so the records forged, service books misplaced, entries made and skipped the service books is probed and the real culprit are booked under the rule of law. 

Some teachers from the Zone through their Zone leader Naseer Ahmed Butt informed JK Monitor, that in a fresh controversy some serious allegations of corruption and mismanagement have been leveled against a clerk of the said office. 

The screen shots forwarded by Naseer Ahmed Butt and now available with JK Monitor established that a clerk has take money from a teacher probably to do him a favour. 

According to Naseer, in an Official Whatsapp Attendance Group and Alam Group some teachers have admitted that one senior Assistant namely Chur Chand Sharma has taken rupees 44000 from a teacher namely Romesh Kumar. 

It is visible from the amount which is not small, that this money might have been taken to do some favour to the teacher or doing some kind of fraud. 

In the group it has been further claimed that out Rs 44000, Rs 12000 were returned back to said teacher to either to silence him or some unknown reasons.

According to Naseer, referring to Whatsapp Group, another Teacher namely Nayeem Sadiq has also admitted that Rs 4000 were taken from him and his another colleague Asif to update their service records. 

Many teachers of the zone have also leveled allegations of overwriting, cutting and tempering on their service books against the clerk Chur Chand Sharma.

The service book of the above named teacher Romesh Kumar has been misplaced by the said clerk when he insisted clerk to pay back his remaining balance.

The said teacher went from pillar to post to find his service book but all in vain. The matter was been taken up with the higher authorities for which an Inquiry Committee has been framed but the report is still awaited, informed Naseer. 

Teachers of Zone have repeatedly requested the authorities to take charge of Service Record from the said clerk and handover to some another official because the clerk is involved in corrupt practices but the authorities are still supporting him due to the reasons best known to them, said Naseer. 

The allegations of the corruption leveled by the teachers against the clerk is an eye opener to the public as well as the teaching fraternity. It gives the foul smell of the scams and corruption in the education department, particularly in ZEO office Thathri. These allegations are of very serious nature and clearly indicates how deep rooted is corruption in this office. 

Regrettably from time to time while an elected Govts’ were in place, officials at the helm of affairs saved their subordinates and promote them to continue such practices but now under Governors administration, it can be at-least hoped that corrupt officials who support corrupt n their offices are taken to task and an example is set for others. Unfortunately the victims of this corrupt system are poor students of the government schools.

SRINAGAR: Youth are a prized possession of a nation, full of energy, ideas, and dreams. Yes, struggles too. Even Islam, the religion of peace, attaches great importance to this young age. It occupies first slot in the hadith in which Prophet Muhammad says, “Take advantage of five (things) before five,” and begins with, “Your youth before your old age”. Jammu and Kashmir is a young state which, over the years, against all odds, has produced some great names that have won many accolades and earned great respect in their respective fields both at the state as well as international levels.

Kashmir News Bureau (KNB) interact with two of youth – cricketer Parvez Rasool and businessman Javid Parsa – from the Valley whose journeys have been full of struggles, but whose dedication and perseverance got them through. They have not stopped where they have reached, but continue with their efforts to contribute and inspire many others to walk the path of their dreams.

“There is a lot of hard work behind any achievement,” began Parvez Rasool, who along with his fellow cricketer Irfan Pathan was waiting for the lunch when we arrived in Sher-E- Kashmir cricket stadium near All Saints Church in Srinagar. “All of us are aware that when it comes to cricket or any other sport, the infrastructure and facilities are equivalent to nil in Jammu and Kashmir. Despite this, choosing cricket as a profession was a big decision. But, the most important thing in my case was my father himself was a cricketer who has been a great support,” he said.

Parvez, who belongs to south Kashmir’s Anantnag district, added that he had to cover 50 kilometres in a bus with a hefty kit when he was playing for Under-16. “I had to face a lot of hardships,” the state’s star cricketer said. According to Parvez, he ‘exactly’ realised that he could take cricket as a profession when he played Under-23 and finished as a top all-rounder and scored 700 runs in the North Zone cricket for which his team had qualified for the first time.

“Then, I also had a good Ranji Trophy season. Afterwards, when Bishan Sing Bedi joined, he said several good things about me and my bowling, which made me take my bowling a bit seriously. That year, I took 33 wickets in seven games and scored 600 hundred runs. Thereafter,, I figured in India A and then in Board President’s XI in 2013 against Australia which had international players including Steve Smith on its side. I took seven wickets for 45 runs against Australia. This was a turning point in my career,” recounted Parvez.  “I was then selected in the national team for the Zimbabwe tour but, unfortunately, I couldn’t get to play any game.”

Based on his all-round performance in Ranji Trophy 2013-14 season in which he picked 27 wickets and scored 663 runs in nine matches, Parvez was honoured with the Lala Amarnath Award. He has, so far, played two international matches: an ODI and a T20 match against Bangladesh and England respectively. With the exception of last season, Parvez Rasool has also played with Royal Challengers Bangalore, Pune Warriors India and Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premiere League (IPL). “Definitely, when one puts in his best efforts, God also stays with him,” remarked Rasool. 

Sitting with his guests at a corner table in his single-room restaurant at Sarah shopping complex was the Managing Director of Parsa Foods and Beverages, Javid Parsa. Earlier, when we entered, we mistook him as a customer and went straight ahead to the counter to ask one of his employees where he is. The employee stretched his free arm and pointed towards where Javid was seated.

Our greetings and introduction was a kind of interruption as he was busy talking and listening to his guests, who he later said were going outside the Valley the next day. But he was decent enough to offer us a table next to his and requested five minutes to finish his meals. He ordered food (rolls) for us too. Javid launched his new brand Parsa’s in October 2017, doing away with Kathi Junction he previously ran.

“I want to expand my horizon and it is my dream to take this pocket-friendly menu to every corner of the state, while creating more businessmen,” Javid said. “Majority of the youth who are taking my franchisees have just stepped out of colleges. I want to create a pool of good, genuine and young businessmen”.

Javid has already set targets to be achieved by the end of 2018. “We are targeting around ten outlets and provide employment to around 100 Kashmiris, which is a moment of pride for all of us at Parsa’s,” the ambitious businessman said. So far, under brand Parsa’s, outlets in Baramulla, Leh, and SSM College have been launched. Another outlet is due to open at IUST on September 18.

When asked what massage he would like give to the youth of Kashmir, Javid said, “Life never comes easy. We fail but only to rise again. People, friends, businesses come and go. The only thing that stays with us is our honesty, hard work and determination. The most important thing is that you need to listen to your heart. It may not be always right but, at the end of the day, accept yourself as an imperfect human being”.

SRINAGAR: Meet Aadil from Bandipora who is a singer by passion, a Youtuber living his dreams and achieving all with his hard work. Aadil made his  debut with “Chand” on his Youtube channel in the year 2017. He completed his M.Sc. in  Environmental Science from Dehradun.  

Aadil set Youtube on fire by his song “Dupte Nunem”. His YouTube Channel has crossed 81K subscribers and counting.  “Dupte Nunem” was first uploaded on YouTube on March 31, 2018, and has garnered over 5,318,522 views and 46k likes so far.

Senior Editor, Kashmir News Bureau, Malik Sameed interviewed Aadil Gurezi. KNB produces the interview in full below..

How is life as a YouTuber? Tell us about your experiences?

Youtube is a very big platform and one can’t ignore the power of a quality content, sooner or later it gets noticed and all of  sudden you find yourself in the limelight. The road to success isn’t that much easy and I have faced my share of rejections but at the end of the day it is your will power & determination that matters the most.

In Kashmir, Do you think it is a challenge to sing?

In Kashmir, parents need to understand that there’s much scope in alternate careers and being doctors, engineers, and civil servants isn’t the end of world. We can contribute to our society in many ways like I represent Kashmiri language and culture overall through my music and stage shows. I am thankful to people of Kashmir who supported and posted my videos on their instagram pages and other social media sites as Jammu and Kashmir is only state where people have good number of followers and pages likes as compared to other state of India.

Has any music director approached you?

I never keep it in mind that Bollywood music director will approach me. I am doing it for my Kashmir to represent my culture, language. No doubt if you will work good, people will recognize you.  The ones who rejected me earlier are today willing to work with me today and I treat it as a blessing and at the same time I want to take this opportunity to thank all those people who have appreciated my work and share my videos online over the past many years.

You are now Youth icon in Kashmir, How do you feel?

I am thankful to people of Kashmir, they supported me in all ways. People supported during my tough times when I was suffering from throat infection. That is true I am getting good comments from Kashmir and as well as bad comments but I am focusing on good comments. 

What would be your message to the aspiring Kashmiri youth? 

Dedication and Confidence!

I always say, where there is a will there is a way. One who wishes to sing always finds songs.

 

Do well, represent your culture, language, don’t think Kashmiri language is only within Kashmir and only people of Kashmir will watch you.  Friends!  Don’t think less people will love us. Music has no language. After I sung Dupte Nunem, people across the world watched and appreciated me.

SRINAGAR: “Poverty is the biggest curse, the claws go deep and when poverty strikes, the ripples do not leave anyone untouched,” said Khatoona Begum with tears rolling down from her sunken eyes.

Khatoona Begum probably in her sixties ,a resident of Kupwara, while narrating her story  said “I along with my family were living a happy kind of life ,a life which was full of happiness ,we were happy in our small world, My husband was the sole bread winner for our family and we had everything, food to eat, shelter to live and clothes to wear, the basic necessities but time keeps on changing and destiny has its own plans. One day my husband met a massive stroke and lost his right side to paralysis and that day was the biggest turning point in our lives,” she added. 

“Soon after this incident the tale of our life completely changed,we lost our caretaker,the one who was feeding my family became unable to work, and He was just confined to a chair and was sitting at one place. Time kept worsening because of the growing needs and unavailability of money to take up the treatment of the paralyzed husband and a my daughter who is suffering from malnutrition”, Khatoona said. 

“The whole responsibility was now left on my shoulders, I was in need of work ,I tried my luck everywhere but could not make it , Months passed I was shattered after losing all hopes I was just praying to Almighty.It was July 2014 when ICRP team visited our village,The team members delivered speech regarding Umeed and aware us what this project ‘UMEED’ is all about and through them I got to know what this project is all about and how beneficial it is for people like us ,Within days me and other women in our village like me who were in need of money to survive ,we formed and joined Self-help group namely ‘Jasmine’ ,so After the formation of self-help group ,the first thing we all do was that we started saving 100 Rupees each and opened a joint bank account,”she said with smile on her face. 

“Days passed ,I along with my self-help group members started to attend regular meetings ,we just learnt what this project is and we followed all the Panchsutras (five principals of this project UMEED) and after three months our jasmine group was eligible for Revolving fund ,(RF) an amount of 15000,and JKSRLM department gave that amount to our group ,the amount was divided into three ladies by our group leader ,after some months again our group was eligible for Community Investment Fund( CIF) an amount of 40000 , I myself took an amount of 20000 from that and bought a candle machine and some material for making candles, and started making candles at home,” Khatoona recalled. 

“I along with my kids expensed  day  night in making candles of different varieties ,I could have utilized this amount in any other business but I started making candles because our village has scarcity of power and being not so economically sound people in our village prefer to buy candles ,so I thought that I will get good amount  by selling out these candles  within my  locality,” she said.

“After passing months my financial condition was a bit sound now ,but the problem was I wanted to setup a  shop ,apart from making and selling candles , so after some months our self help group was eligible for CIF 2(Community Investment Fund and I took 50000 from this CIF2 and set up a  shop with in my locality,” she said. 

On being asked how much amount you earn monthly and what JKSRLM project Umeed is for you ,she said that, “At present I earn near about 40000 per month and it’s all because of UMEED project ,I suggest people who are like me to get attached with this project ,take me as biggest example, there was time in my life when I had no money to buy basic necessities to survive, When I was wandering here and there but nobody was there for me ,everybody turned up their face against me ,and at that time Umeed project adopted me and now I own everything as I am owner of a shop and make candles which I later sell to  various villages of Kupwara and I have  made some savings of  around 1 lac Khatoona joyfully said with a shine in her eyes. 

SRINAGAR: A Malaysian group of 71 people who recently visited Kashmir showered praise on Valley’s beautiful landscape and hospitality. The Malaysia group was headed by Nursufinas Binti Othman Malaysian agent “She said Kashmir needs to be promoted at international level especially in Malaysia where from many travellers will love to visit Kashmir”.  He said Kashmir has beautiful landscape, culture and tradition which can attract tourists from around the globe. The group all come from Malaysia to listen the folk Music of Kashmir. 

The group also enjoyed hospitality in Kashmir. “We were surprised at the way Kashmiris are welcoming the visitors here. They give a home like feeling to tourists and are eagerly waiting to provide services at affordable rates,” they said. “It is surreal experience, there is no place beautiful than this Valley,” Mohyi Bin Mokmin says “hoping that he would come again to Kashmir more often and also promote it across globe so that more and more people come to know about the beautiful valley.”

“I had not heard about this place till my friend told me. But there were apprehensions about security as people keep telling that this place is not safe. But what I found here is totally different experience, the people here are hospitable and warm and also there is no threat,” he added.“We (Malaysian) are more comfortable in Kashmir than any other part because of religious belief and food patterns,” said Seriatin Binti Abd Rahim a female from Malaysian said. “Dresses here are quite cheaper in comparison to Malaysia. As a result of which I am working out on possibilities of importing stuff from here,” she said.

She added that “The folk Music it is really amazing I can’t understand but instruments was super”. “Kashmir needs to preserve its environment and essence to keep attracting tourists,” she said. The group stayed in Kashmir for three days and visited famous Mughal gardens, Dal Lake, heritage sites in Srinagar and also the prime tourist resorts like Gulmarg. 

The tour was organised by Sufindia Tour & Travels and also held event in Zarbarwan Park related folk Music and culture of Kashmir.  Managing Director Tauseef Ahmed Bhat, Sufindia Tour & Travels, While speaking to News Agency Press Trust of Kashmir he said that “this group is mesmerized by Folk Music and hospitability of Kashmir. They have promised to promote Kashmir tourism in their country.”

JAMMU: Aabha Hanjura, an award-winning singer, live performer, composer and songwriter who seeks her inspiration from the deeply embedded Sufi influence in the Valley of Kashmir launches her latest single, Khanmoej Koor.  The track is from her forthcoming album, Aabha Hanjura & the sound of Kashmir, a popular melancholic piece sung at most Kashmiri weddings. The song has been written by Lt Nazir Das, a poet from Kashmir.

 

Aabha's music is a unique mix of fresh modern and compelling vintage influences that render a matchless sound which has a universal appeal. Khanmoej Koor by Aabha Hanjura, captures the anxiety in the bride’s mind as she nervously embarks upon the journey to her new home. Its features her shyly imploring her brother to bid her adieu as she takes the long walk towards a new life, her feet and soul burdened by the weight of memories.

 

Aabha Hanjura’s Kashmiri Folk Ensemble a live project which features authentic Kashmiri instruments like rabab, santoor, Kashmiri saarangi and the percussions of Kashmir like, tumbaknari alongside a LIVE band that creates a unique sound that is truly her’s.

Sharing about Khanmoej Koor, Aabha says “Khamoej Koor is a deeply personal song for me & while it’s ready to release I can’t help but feel that with this track,I will be baring a part of my soul for the world to see, while this is an artist’s job, it’s a bittersweet feeling. Everything about the song & the video is a page from my own life.”

Over the years, Aabha has enthralled audiences with her concerts across India. An eclectic live performer, Aabha castes a spell on the audience with her inimitable ardour and breathtaking energy. ‎She is the founder and the front woman of India's popular Sufi, Folk rock ensemble, 'Sufistication'.  "Khanmoej Koor is the latest single from eclectic folk pop singer & composer, Aabha Hanjura’s forthcoming album, Aabha Hanjura & The Sound Of Kashmir.

 

A popular melancholic piece sung at Kashmiri weddings , the song has been written by Lt Nazir Das, a poet from Kashmir. Sung by a Kashmiri bride, to her brother, the song tugs at your heart, for its gut wrenching poetry. 

 

The poignant narration of the song captures the anxiety in the bride’s mind as she nervously embarks upon the journey to her new home. As the valedictory reality sets in, the bride is overcome by nostalgia as her mind wanders through the events that symbolize “bidding goodbye” & she warily takes leave. She hesitantly implores her brother to bid her adieu as she takes the long walk towards a new life, her feet and soul burdened by the weight of memories.”

  • Aabha Hanjura & The Sound Of Kashmir

An album in the working for 2.5 years, this album is a labour of love of eclectic folk pop singer & composer, Aabha Hanjura who is a pioneer in reinventing the rare and unique accents of long lost Kashmiri folk sounds and instruments.The album also features an ensemble of vintage instruments like the reflective 'rabaab' that embodies the depth of the valleys accompanied by the melodious "santoor" reminiscent of meandering wild rivers finished with the rustic sound of the "tumbaknaari" that evokes the calm sense of homecoming signified by the Dal Lake. A first of its kind, Kashmiri pop album, it consists of some of Aabha’s original compositions & some Kashmiri folklore , covering the work of some of the most prominent saints, poets & dervishes of the valley. The debut single, Hukus Bukus,from the album went on to become a viral sensation ,garnering more than 1.5 million views on YouTube.

  • About Aabha

Aabha Hanjura is the founder and vivacious lead singer of the eclectic folk-pop band Sufistication. An award winning singer, live performer, composer, and songwriter, she has established herself as a unique independent musician since starting off in 2012. She is a pioneer in reinventing the rare and unique accents of long lost Kashmiri folk sounds and instruments. Her latest single, Hukus Bukus, from her forthcoming album, Sound Of Kashmir, a viral sensation, went on to garner more than a million organic views on YouTube, reaching a global audience and not just her core fans in J&K and the rest of India. Aabha recently successfully concluded a historic mega concert in Kashmir, that was attended in large numbers by both her fans and the crème de la crème of the valley’s society & was also awarded as the Best Folk Artist of 2017, at the 6th Artist Aloud Awards. 

JAMMU: Neha Lahotra- a renown young theatre artist from Jammu, has become the only candidate from the state, who has been selected for Junior fellowship 2016-2017 for ‘’Scheme for Award of Fellowship to Outstanding Person in the Field of Culture’’ by Centre for Cultural Resources and Training (CCRT), New Delhi.

The CCRT has declared the list of 178 candidates, who have been selected for the prestigious fellowship in different sub-fields from different parts of the country on July 25. Neha Lahotra, is the only one from the state in the list of 178 candidates selected for the fellowship.

“It is a proud moment for me and my family, that I have got this fellowship with the blessings of my parents and my fans. I have been in the field of theatre for more than 11 years, and worked on different issues of the society. I will use my experience and art as a tool to highlight different issues of the society through my theatre,” said Neha Lahotra.

“It is a great opportunity for me to take Jammu theatre to another level and I will work hard to make my state proud,” she added. Daughter of Jammu- Neha Lahotra have been pursuing the theatre works in acting, writing, producing and directing various dramas on different and topical social, political and other allied issues.

She joined theatre in 2007 and started her journey in theatrics with participation in many stage shows related to drama productions as an actor. She received first State academy Merit Award in 2008 for a play performed in Annual Drama Competition of Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages.

Apart from her dozens of awards, she was honoured by the MoS Culture for getting “Best Actress Award” for the play “Swal Aur Swapn” performed in state academy competition in 2009, awarded with Best Actress Award for the play “Yatra” organized by Odeon Odyssey in collaboration with Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages,  awarded with Best Actress Award for play “Uljhan” organized by Dramitca Fusica in collaboration with Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages  and many more.

Apart from theatre, she had been actively working in commercials and also acted in Dogri, Gojri , Urdu, Punjabi and Pahari serials telecasted in Doordarshan. She also acted in “Savdhan India” for ‘Life OK’ and “Its Complicated” for ‘Channel V’.

She has also scripted first docu-drama on the communal brotherhood of Jammu and Kashmir on the backdrop of Amarnath land row – 2008 and Kashmir riots entitled Nashemann”.

SRINAGAR: No doubt, Kashmir is full of talent in every field, from last few years young Kashmiri youth are coming forward to show their talent in all aspects. The way Kashmiri youth are showing their talent is well recognized by government as well as people. Now, Meet Shah Faisal Khan of Hyderpora Srinagar who make every one proud by becoming the first Kashmiri Line Producer of India. Having background of Science, Faisal decided to step in Bollywood and within no time, he (Faisal) did more than hundreds projects.

In an exclusive conversation with Kashmir News Bureau Faisal said “I went Mumbai in 2009 to become an actor, but I was not easy, I struggled a lot and to survive in Mumbai, I joined a line production company “Roaring line Productions” which is headed by Gopal Rajpurohit and now I am holding the position of Director in same company.”

“We have done more than hundred projects in India as well as in Kashmir and to work in Kashmir, it is always amazing and I request bollywood industry as well as other film industries to come Kashmir and shoot the heaven, we are here to give you full support” says Faisal.

When asked about safety for industry in Kashmir Faisal said, “There is no other better place to shoot rather than Kashmir, before 1990’s maximum production house preferred to shoot in Kashmir because of beauty and hospitality but due to some bad circumstances in valley that time, now it is totally safe in Kashmir. I wish I could see the Kashmir Scenario like before 1990’s”

“It is very proud moment for me that my friend is holding such a position and working hard in the field of cinema, we wish him best of luck for future” said childhood friend of Faisal

Importantly to mention here that Faisal has done big project of big productions like Zila Ghazibad started with Sanjay Dutt, Tenu Weds Manu returns, directed by Anand L Rai, started with R. Madhavan and Kangana Ranaut, R.. Rajkumar, directed by Prabhu Dheva and many more. 

SRINAGAR: While it’s true that self-employment has been rising swiftly in the last decade, Mehvish Mehraj Zargar, a 25 Years old young girl went right ahead and started “Me N U” cafe, in Bemina area of Srinagar. Belonging from Lalbazar area of Srinagar, Mehvish is a law graduate student decided to open the café to support her mother and sibling.

In a conversion with Kashmir News Bureau, Mehvish said “After the death of my father, it was very tough job for my mother to continue our study, but still shed managed three of us to studied well,”. "I always had a dream to start a café rather than boutique and parlour, because I myself was addicted to going cafes."

“As a girl, some 10 percentage people criticize me and my family that how can a girl start a café of her own but thanks to almighty remaining 90 percent people supported and guided me and now after launching I am getting to appreciation and good response from people of my Kashmir,” said Mehvish further during conversation with Kashmir News Bureau.

No one can stop you expect yourself, work hard and realize your dream, don’t think what people will say, if you do good or bad people would talk, so set your dream and go on,” said Mehvish to those girls who want to start their own business. “Only boys can’t do business, we girls have capability to start our own like in other parts of world,” says Mehvish. Pertinently, many young women from Kashmir have started their own venture from last couple of years.

SRINAGAR: On 1st June, 2017 Kashmir’s rich art lost its great hand when Abdul Ahad Muran, a renowned walnut woodcarving artist passed away at the age of 61 after successfully upholding the long tradition of woodcarving of his family dating back to the middle of the 17th century. Hailing from Downtown Srinagar carrying the legacy of their family as members of third generation the two brothers Abdul Ahad Muran and Muhammad Yousuf Muran never let their disabilities to come in the way of becoming one of the most talented woodcarvers whose creations have made it to the prestigious global markets. Abdul Ahad was deaf and Mohammad Yusuf is mute. Their work has been recognized internationally and got only getting better and better with time. 

The wood work of Muran brothers spoke for itself and was of par excellent nature. Ranging From living animals to those extinct, from Greek Gods to Hindu mythological figures they have carved them all. They have even made carvings of Mahatma Gandhi and Saddam Husain. They made replica of Jamia Masid in Kashmir which was presented to Iranian Ambassador. The two were masters at conceiving and executing the art on walnut wood blocks and sheets with great ease and accuracy. 

Pertinently, the Muran family has a long tradition of woodcarving dating back to the middle of the 17th century. Arts and crafts have always played an important part in the life of the Mr. Gulam Muhammad Muran's father who was prominent manufacturer of this craft in Peshawar Karachi (before partition). As such Gulam Muhammad Muran became familiar with the skills of woodworking from an early age. After moving from Karachi to Srinagar through silk route, during which he developed great enthusiasm for this craft, set up his own business in 1906 in Srinagar. Thanks to his dedication and hard work, the business quickly grew and soon made a name for it carried forwarded by his two sons Muhammad Yousuf Muran and Abdul Ahad Muran and now young dynamic and energetic Mudasir Muran.

Due to the successful development of the business, in 2015 Mudasir Muran the young face of the fourth generation of Muran's family decided to involve his family craft to the next level of digital world besides setting up a showroom named ‘Paradise Wood House.’ Mudasir Muran, who owns Paradise Wood house states – “It is a great personnel loss to me and with tearful eyes I remember my late father who was a legend artist with virtually golden hands. Both my late father and uncle being passionate lovers of wildlife kept watching Animal planet on TV and afterwards they made craving of animals they see on it from walnut logs. It has been year since he left us and it is virtually impossible to fill his void both as great father and wonderful artist.” 

Mudasir Muran sells the ‘exclusive’ items produced by his father and uncle at a showroom just outside Srinagar. The items a big hit with locals and tourists alike. Pertinently, sometime back they had created a replica of Hangul; an endangered species of deer in Kashmir for free for a USA based NGO which had to run campaign to save extinct animals. In 2013 the duo had made a model of Kashmiri houseboat that was showcased at Mumbai airport. This model received huge appreciation from locals and foreigners. Kashmir certainly is missing Abdul Ahad Muran on his first death anniversary but his contribution in the field of Kashmir’s Art has made him live forever.

Analyze on few points.

  • The Kashmir no not an easy place to work for even profession journalists, why was she so much interested in Kashmir instead she can get the opportunity in metro cites easily?
  • When she was asked will she be comfortable in staying at residence, she said will talk to parents, why she didn’t replied straight ‘NO? 
  • Why she waited for the whole next day and did not posted on the social media?
  • And she has clearly mentioned in comment that she wanted to build pressure. For what purpose she wanted to build pressure?
  • And the important thing to note here is, internship in journalism is sought by those freshers who complete their degree in journalism and wanted to gain some practical experience under the supervision of a senior.  But when you will go through the resume of this girl, she has not any degree in journalism. Secondly in her resume and profile details she claimed to have worked as Editor, Editor-in-Chief and other positions, so what is compelling her to go for internship at own expenses? How convincing is this that an Editor-in-Chief seeks internship that too from a lesser known online outlet? Isn’t the intention questionable? 
  • If she was harassed, as she is claiming, then why she was waiting for our response whether we will offer her internship, check her last message, it clears everything.

JAMMU: Quite strange but it is a fact, these days few people with some hidden intentions to get publicity and sympathy across and develop pressure tactics on selected individuals to cash some benefits or favours have started approaching you on social media or on your personnel numbers instead of formal official communiqué emails.

Firstly they will approach in a humble way and pretend to be so innocent that you will think of helping them, they seek. But keeping in view the fake presence of such people on the social media, it is obvious one goes own way for inquiries, to find out the intentions of the person contacting you. In the process you inquire about every possible aspect, before offering help or assistance.

As obvious, ways may be different from individual to individual but one asks for purpose, interest, strategy, plan, type of person and other related things, which concerns you before taking a decision or agreeing to what the other person is asking for or seeking from you.

Similarly, instead of adopting formal procedure through official email to communicate, one of our employees received a message from a person who as per social media profile appears to be a girl from Kolkata.  (As per our policy we will not be naming her).

She sought help in internship at our organisation and wanted to work in Kashmir, which is not an easy place for an unexperienced and outside state person keeping in mind the day to day happenings and violence related incidents.

To be clear, before giving any sort of commitment, we have to be concerned about the person’s safety, like where the person can stay, and how the person wanted to work at a place which observes shutdown, witnesses’ stone pelting incidents and violence. The girl was clearly told that she will not be paid anything if allowed to work for the organisation as intern. To this without giving a second thought, she agreed.

This gave a bit doubt to our mind, and we asked why is she interested in Kashmir only, and she gave her own opinion on that which was not convincing enough.

She was asked, where will she live, she replied that she will go for paying guest facility. The paying guest facility is not much popular in Kashmir valley and if any not easily available.  This caused a bit more doubt in our mind that what is so dire need to do internship in Kashmir and that to without and payment for work with an online outlet which is not so much popular outside. We gave her a option that she keep working own way and mail us the material, we will keep publishing and at the end, we will issue a certificate to her for her work. But she expressed that she wanted to work under a senior team member of ours.

To dig out more from inside, she was asked, will she be any problem in traveling with man for reporting, she replied quick, and said, it would be not a problem for her.  

At the same time, to know deeper of her mind, she was told that will she be willing to stay at private residence, at the same time she was told that family will not be here as they will go to village. To this every girl would gave a straight forward answer with big NO, as it is not acceptable to anyone, but, instead she said,  will talk to parents.  Moreover what is wrong in offering someone to stay if the house is empty for some time, as choice rests with the individual weather the person is comfortable or not.  

We replied clearly that no parent will ever allow this to stay at residence of a man where he is alone and family is out. This can be seen clearly from the screen shot of her post on social network, if she has posted this too. (This question was deliberate. While the reality is no family is going out to any village and no one allows any stranger girl to stay at home.  But quite surprisingly, she further added if she would have been working with for a couple of months, she would have considered staying.

During the entire conversation which ended at 11: 43 night as this side was finished with the routine work.

The last message from her was she will be waiting for our response to offer her internship with end words “Good Night” which from this side was also replied with “Good Night”.

The chat ended at 11:43 and next day passed, maybe she was waiting to get response from us, but we didn’t responded, keeping in view several things in mind. The first thing was if we offer her internship, it would become our responsibility to ensure her security and safety, to which we were not convinced at own self. So we thought of not replying back, so she understands, we will not offer this help.

And since we started our operations, we have never invited anyone till date for internship; however, we gave chance to every volunteer to contribute the stories and articles.

We were not aware that her intentions were not internship but something else.  A message was flagged to us on social media that we have harassed her. Before judging anything, one should go through the entire conversation and read between the lines, then tag us.

The question arises here, why she waited for the next day evening and posted after 5 pm, if her intentions were so clear she should have posted all the screen shots right in the morning or at the same time the conversation ended.

But no, she waited till evening that we may offer her the internship, for which she approached and when she was convinced that she will not get any reply, she narrated the story in her way on the social media and started gaining sympathy. The expressing sympathy with her is not a bad thing one should be sympathetic and helpful but they should also see the other side of coin and analyse.

They should analyse on few points.

1.      The Kashmir no not an easy place to work for even profession journalists, why was she so much interested in Kashmir instead she can get the opportunity in metro cites easily?

2.      When she was asked will she be comfortable in staying at residence, she said will talk to parents, why she didn’t replied straight ‘NO?

3.      Why she waited for the whole next day and did not posted on the social media?

4.      And she has clearly mentioned in comment that she wanted to build pressure. For what purpose she wanted to build pressure?

5.      And the important thing to note here is, internship in journalism is sought by those freshers who complete their degree in journalism and wanted to gain some practical experience under the supervision of a senior.  But when you will go through the resume of this girl, she has not any degree in journalism. Secondly in her resume and profile details she claimed to have worked as Editor, Editor-in-Chief and other positions, so what is compelling her to go for internship at own expenses? How convincing is this that an Editor-in-Chief seeks internship that too from a lesser known online outlet? Isn’t the intention questionable?

6. If she was harassed, as she is claiming, then why she was waiting for our response whether we will offer her internship, check her last message, it clears everything.

In the concluding words, it simply looks a case of planned trap, to get publicity, sympathy and visibility on social networking.  

MUMBAI: Racing is considered a man’s sport in our part of the world and when it comes to the tough rallies, most of us disagree to even think of a woman daring to try it, however there are some inspiring women who believe in thinking out of the box and refuse to go with the typical mindset.  Amongst those league of women, is Sarah Kashyap, whom I call a “Chotta packet, dhamaka.” and rightly so. A short height Sara, took martial arts as a passion since her primary schooling days and took part in many competitions fighting many bouts of the toughest fights, survived and won many medals. 

After her schooling, Sarah went to the United Kingdom for her higher studies, but kept the passion alive and played martial arts in the UK also.  Adventurous nature made her try her hand at riding a bike and one fine day, she took the challenge of taking professional biking sport as her passion. Sarah, tried, fell, got up stronger and never lost the fire in her and after a long struggle with the wheels made the whole nation proud when she became the first woman to have completed the toughest “Raid de Himalya”.  

Sarah proved to be the ignition, to be the inspiration, to be the woman to give hope to the rest of the women to see the ray to have the freedom of think of the unthinkable. This season, at the conclusion of the India’s biggest rally competition “Desert Storm”, Sarah not only completed all the stages of the rally but finished at Number 8 over all. Desert Storm Stage 4 of India's biggest rally competition advanced between the dunes of the Thar desert. The route extended almost alongside the India-Pakistan border. 

The race started at Marriott Hotel, Jaisalmer. The fourth stage started off with the Moto category. The stage was split into 4A and 4B, with the latter being a night stage. The first section of stage 4 paced through the flatlands of Turkon Ki Basti. Tight turns and long straights made this section particularly interesting. Being a flatland, one could see the cars and motorcycles speeding from a distance towards the horizon. Adding to the drama was the dust cloud behind them. 

The next section stretched beside the dunes of Thar desert. The route of Maruti Suzuki Desert Storm 2018 has levelled up. The sun was really hot. The air was dusty. But the wind was cold. Visibility was hindered by mirages everywhere. In between all that aroused the sound of motorcycles and four-wheelers. That was the only signal saying that the contestants were coming. 

The sun was really hot. The air was dusty. But the wind was cold. Visibility was hindered by mirages everywhere. In between all that aroused the sound of motorcycles and four-wheelers. That was the only signal saying that the contestants were coming. Sarah, witnessed all of it and emerged as a winner and made us all prouder. I wish to see more and more feathers adding to her cap and wish the best possible to her in the days and years to come. And today let me officially change her alias from bada to bahut bada dhamaka. Well done “Chotta packet, bahut bada dhamaka”. This is what came from her on Instagram at the end of the rally:

 

 

It's said that world witnesses similarities in almost everything and almost everything has a twin made in this vast world. It's a common saying in our part of the world that everyone and everything has a twin and one could be lucky to witness a twin or two in his lifetime.

So in that case, lucky am I, who witnessed a twin, not of himself but his motherland. Yes, I am talking about a twin of my motherland, Kashmir. I have been travelling for the past one month and after travelling to a few countries, my last destination before heading home was Tajikistan, which was earlier a part of USSR and now an independent country. After taking off from Mashhad in Iran on an Aseman Air flight, I dozed off and after the flight landed in Dushanbe, my fellow traveller woke me up with full enthusiasm saying, "Roohullah, wathu thoad Ghare ha wotukh". Which means, Roohullah, get up, you have reached home.

I got up and without looking out of the window, I pulled my cabin baggage from above and got going half asleep. But what happened next was surprising, the moment I got out of the aircraft, I literally stopped and for a second thought that I actually landed at Srinagar Airport. The same breeze, the same light, the same atmosphere, the same view and the similar surroundings. 

Since my walking out of the aircraft at Dushanbe airport, there is just one sentence making a run in my mind, "Kashmir with an asterisk". The two places are so similar that anyone would get confused and anybody can be befooled with the pictures.  The Dushanbe city reminded me of Paris, same kind of streets, same kind of shops, same kind of the style and a similar kind of the nature in people that would make you hold your head because, even if they know English, they wouldn't respond, they would still talk in their own language. 

After spending one night in Dushanbe, the next day, early in the morning we started our 200 KM long journey and the more we were going away from Dushanbe and getting closer to Kulob province, we felt more in Kashmir and not once but a few times my fellow travellers and I repeated, "aes ma watav ghare?" That means "are we reaching home?"

The surroundings, the trees, the houses, the people, everything looks so similar that it feels that we are in Kashmir a hundred years ahead or at least thirty years behind. Don't get confused with the sentence the way we got with the place, I mean to say a hundred years ahead in terms of development and cleanliness and three decades behind in terms of the house structures. The same type of houses that we witnessed three decades back in Kashmir, but with a better strength I am sure of the architecture.

The muddy houses, the smoke coming out of the kitchen chimneys, people working in their farms, ladies carrying something or the other on their heads, similar faces, similar physique, similar way of walking, similar way of expressions, similar surroundings, same chinars, similar spring flowers on trees and plants, similar willow trees, similar grass, similar spring fragrance but not the similar concrete jungles.

After staying in Kulob, one fine morning we decided to take a day tour to a place around 75 kms ahead of Kulob. I wanted to sleep but the surroundings didn't let me. Such breath taking views of mountains, landscapes and nature that would take anyone's heart away and would make anyone want to live there in the lap of nature and feel peace. One of my fellow traveller said in humour, probably the Mughal king Jahangir didn't get a chance to witness this place that he concluded in Kashmir saying " garr Firdaus baroye zameen ast, Hameen ast o hameen ast o hameen ast". Another responded saying that it has been his short sightedness thinking that there couldn't be a better place on earth than kashmir forgetting that God is great and must have made a place that's better than Kashmir and which is perfect. We witnessed this and thought it was something out of the world but surely there would be places that are better.

Tajik people have for sure maintained their roots and taken care of them with off course a better understanding of the good and bad effects of doing so. Don't even think of letting a thought come into your mind that they are decades backward, no, not at all, remember they are well advanced and well exposed than us in everything and in maintaining their way of living, they aren't 3 decades behind us but 5 decades ahead of us, because we have started to feel the ill effects of going away from our roots and culture however it would take us two more decades for the complete realisation when we would have no chance of looking back.

I was lucky enough to witness a twin of my motherland, are you? If you have the will to replace your holiday to Delhi, Mumbai or Goa with a trip to Tajikistan with a little more money, do visit this beautiful country and you would get back with loads of memories to cherish for the rest of your life.

  • INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY

JAMMU: As the entire world gears up to celebrate International Women’s Day tomorrow, the State of Jammu and Kashmir which is already fraught with many challenges including armed conflict and violence, is facing many other confronting situations with regard to its girls and women. A major challenge that the state is witnessing these days is the abandoning of its new born babies in Kashmir. Mrs. Gulzara Masoodi, Member, J&K State Commission for Women who is also a well known educationist of Kashmir, speaks about all such challenges, on the eve of International Women’s day tomorrow. Excerpts from her interview.  

Kashmir has seen an increase in the cases of abandoning of the babies, especially the new born girls. How do you see it?  

My heart bleeds as I hear about the number of such cases wherein newly born baby girls have been abandoned in Srinagar. This is an alarming situation. Our Kashmir, at one point of time, had no such social issues which have turned into crisis. We never had orphans as joint families would take care of such children. But now this trend is disturbing. I am shocked to see the diminished values and ethos of our culture. This is not our Kashmiri culture. I exhort people to come forward on this International Women’s Day and put a stop to such things which are giving us a bad name. This degradation has to stop.  

Jammu and Kashmir has already seen a downslide in child sex ratio in Census 2011. How do you see this and what is the Commission doing in this regard?  

Yes. We saw a decline in Female Sex ratio and despite the provision of PC&PNDT Act to check all ultrasound clinics which are indulging in the unauthorized determination of sex of the fetus, these practices are continuing. We have to act as a society. How can we forget that if we kill the girls in the wombs itself, there will not be many of them left and this would create an uneven society resulting in the increase in the violence against women and girls? Already we are seeing a sharp increase in the cases of violence against girl child. Only yesterday, a 3 year old girl who was playing with her 5 year old brother in a state, was raped in front on him. What has happened to our society? I am aggrieved.  

But what are you doing in this regard?  

I, as the Member, of J&K State Commission for Women, am doing lot of counseling of young mothers, grandparents and the other members of the society. I make them understand that this disturbing trend of female foeticide in the state would create major problems which they are not able to apprehend right now. I am trying my bit.  

What need to be done in our society?  

Such things are not allowed in Islam and that’s why I exhort the Kashmiri society to put a stop to such practices. We need to check our evils also including dowry, domestic violence and now these issues. You cannot see any issue in isolation. All such issues are interlinked. The government had already tried to take the help of religious preachers but we need to go for it at a big scale as a society. The people need to understand that when a female like Ms Mehbooba Mufti can become the chief minister, why the girls cannot achieve what they aspire their boys to achieve. Today, girls are scaling the heights worldwide. So, the girls should be allowed to be born.  

Women of our state, especially of Kashmir are among the most vulnerable groups. We have widows, half widows, unmarried girls; displaced women due to border shelling, illiterate women and girls, the issues are many. Violence against women is increasing, she has poor and low status, lack of education is a major hindrance to her empowerment and there is not much awareness, so plenty of issues.

Our hon’ble chief minister Ms. Mehbooba Mufti is the first female chief minister of the state and she is also totally alive to the situation of the women. Women empowerment is one of the top agendas of her government. She has started a scheme by the name “Laadli Beti” on the name of her late father and former chief minister of our state Mufti Sayeed sahib under which Rs 1000 is being given to the family of the girl child. This remarkable social security scheme is aimed at creating a strong positive disposition towards the girl child and reverses the alarming trend of declining child sex ratio in the State. But the sad part is that many people living in far off areas do not know about such schemes. We at Commission need to spread awareness about these schemes which addresses the concerns of girl’s right from birth to adulthood by providing financial security to them.

What is your message to the people on the eve of International women’s Day?  

I just want to say that we as a society need to work collectively and handle all issues like late marriages of the girls; dowry, domestic violence etc; the patriarchal set up has to be sensitive towards all such issues. Islam says a father with three daughters will go to heaven. Then why this discrimination with the girl child! Why she is being abandoned! Let’s take a pledge this International woman’s days to work for these little girls and women. Only then we can have a society which is at peace with itself.

SRINAGAR: Hailing from a remote village of Jammu and Kashmir’s Bandipora district, the 24-yrs-old Shameema Akhter via her talent and exuberance has revived the love of music among millions of people and is emerging as a prominent Sufi singer. Shameema who has dozens of songs to her credit via her singing is on way to unite people with their roots through music under which she has now decided to release at least one song every month for her fans based in Kashmiris and outside the valley.

Taking note of her melodious voice, the Optimystix Entertainment India Limited have shortlisted Shameema for singing reality television show ‘Rising Star’ to be broadcast on Colors channel owned by Viacom 18 Private Limited. Recently Shameema Akhter came into the spotlight after she released a video song in Kashmiri language titled ‘Be Aar Madano’ on Youtube, written by Late Lala Sahib Aragami, a well known Sufi poet from north Kashmir. The song despite being in Kashmiri language touched the hearts of thousands of people outside the Kashmir valley. 

Shameema in a bid to revive the love of music has teamed up with a renowned musician Mazhar Siddiqui under the banner of SM Records where she not only sings Kashmiri language songs but also in various other regional languages including Hindi, Punjabi and Pahadi. Talking to KNB, Shameema Akhter stated that we the youth have to always come up with novel ideas to promote Kashmiri culture and music. It was easy because music is the easiest way to promote culture. Good lyrics, tunes and voice enthrall even those people who do not even understand your language. 

Her passion for music led her to many different places, traveling all over India. She presently resides in Lucknow city for the reasons what she says “to give wings to her career in music.” I love being in the studio. I’ve been afforded some amazing opportunities to record and explore my musical self with a great deal of autonomy and I am always open to sharing my part of knowledge with youngsters and ready to help them wherever they require it , but they should also be having a tough mettle to thrive and survive,” Shameema added. 

  • Kashmiri men by and large don’t misbehave with women 

JAMMU: Making clear that a permanent solution to Kashmir problem is somewhere else, a professional photographer, Saadiya Kochar, having her roots in Jammu and Kashmir State, opines that the promotion of tourism industry, through photographs, write ups, movies, may help to restore peace momentarily.

According to her, this generates income and jobs for the youth and the engagement makes the Indian civil society realize, Kashmiris are some of the most generous, hospitable people they’ll meet.

Talking to Ajmer Alam Wani, Editor-in-Chief of JK Monitor, Saadiya said that the art helps to spread awareness and it engages the subject, the artist and the viewer into a dialogue.

At the same time she advised that the nature of photography is such, that it can also cause harm by baring the truth in a way, which can be taken out of context or can aggravate people further.

“This is where the sensitivity of the photographer comes into play. The need to tell the truth is important, the capturing of the moment is important but we have to ask ourselves, before we release anything, if a particular image will do more good or cause more harm”,  Saadiya added.

When asked how photography can help in removing the negative points about Jammu and Kashmir state, Saadiya, elaborated, “If you are working for a newspaper, you don’t have that choice- you got to capture the moment. It could be a moment where someone is pelting a stone, or an official is tying a man to a jeep”.

“Both, those photographs depict the same thing to a layman. In the eyes of the Indian civil society, the young boy who pelts the stone is disrespecting a person- who has left his family and has devoted his life to protecting the nation”.

“On the other hand, to every Kashmiri, who sees the other image, it creates a bit natural sense of fear and insecurity about their wellbeing and the wellbeing of their loved ones”.

“I think more and more photographers, film makers and artists need to get involved. Let’s start telling the good stories, the ones where the Kashmiri Muslims and Kashmiri Pandits live together in harmony".

“Let’s concentrate on the story of an entire village that doesn’t celebrate Eid because a Pandit brother has passed away. The story of the officials who help rescue people during the floods. That doesn’t mean we don’t ask for justice for the Kunan Poshpora incident. But we need to pick our battles”.

“All of us who frequent Jammu and Kashmir have seen the beautiful calendars that are distributed every year. If more and more people outside the state were given those calendars, it would tempt them to visit. More travellers need to go back and write about their firsthand accounts of the place. Though, I drive to Srinagar every year, I’m accompanied by an assistant or a domestic help on that drive. This year I drove from Delhi to Kashmir and back by myself as I was on a solo drive through the country. Everywhere I went, after that people kept asking me how I managed to do it and I gave the same reply- Kashmiri men by and large don’t misbehave with women”.

When asked about the difficulties that came in her way, she recalled her Kashmir visit in the year 2007,   she narrated, “actually, initially, shooting in Kashmir was hard. I remember the first time I travelled for work in 2007. The first few days were terrible, since I was unaccompanied. People were very suspicious of me. They assumed that I was a spy. But once they realised that she’s just a bit nuts, nothing else, they warmed up to me, like I did to them. After a decade, Kashmir is like a second home”.

Saadiya claimed that she is not at all ambitious. Her only real aspiration, then as well as now, is to have the freedom to do as she please, tell the stories, she want to tell, in the way that she want to tell them, without concerning herself with the dictates and trends of the market.

She too faced the difficulties that most photographers’ face-criticism, financing issues for projects, ensuring no one meddles with her work etc.

As a child shed had no special inclination towards photography. In fact, she spent more time posing in front of the camera, since her mother enjoyed making photographs of her kids.

It was only when Saadiya was learning editing at the age of 18, that she discovered her passion for photography. It gave her a certain amount of freedom, which is what she loved about it. She didn’t have to be dependant on a team to create something. Her real preparation was taming and controlling the mind. Mine is like a wild, untamed beast, which has no discipline, she still find focussing the hardest thing to do.

“I don’t have any particular goal other than someday having enough money to start a private family foundation in my brother’s name. It would take me a decade I guess”, she said.

Replying to a suggestion sought for budding photographers, Saadiya gave important tips to stick to, “Just follow your bliss but never forget the power of the medium.  Used positively, it can change the world, on the flip side; your image may just become another brick in the wall, acting as a barrier between people.

When asked how difficult is it far a girl to be a successful photographer, she mentioned, “It use to be harder being a female photographer maybe a decade ago but now we are on an even playing field with the boys. Sometimes, we even have a clear advantage- in the case of wedding photography or maternity and children photography”. 

“It is hard to break into any market but I have realized that it is only as hard as you think it is! Sometimes, men do hit on you but if you are thick skinned and have a vicious tongue like I do, you know how to manage”.

While concluding, she underlined, “Don’t let your femininity define who you are. You are more than a girl, there are many versions of you lying below the surface, that you are not aware of".

"Surround yourself with male colleagues, listen to their stories and compete with them. That’s what has worked for me. I always wanted to play it like the boys".

"In-fact, someone from my gym drove from Delhi to Rameswaram last year. His stories and photographs inspired me so much that I decide to go on a solo trip myself. I recently returned after 54 days, having driven more than 12,400 kms. I am living proof of that fact that you can do whatever a man can!"

 "Having said that, if you keep a ‘don’t mess with me or I will beat the shit out of you attitude’, you will be fine".

  • Keep the spirit Kashmiris are not less than anyone in any field”  

JAMMU:  Being a girl from troubled Kashmir Valley and a dreamer from her childhood when she was just seven years old and wished to create history as a footballer, became victim of favouritism, lack of discipline among players, insufficient practice opportunities and at the top, lack of support from the concerned authorise thus all her dreams were shattered. 

Though she never faced any problem or difficulty due to troubled situation in Kashmir Valley, yet she admitted that being a girl that too from Kashmir itself is a difficult to make people understand that there is nothing wrong to be in sports.  

Qudsiya Altaf while talking to Editor-in-Chief of JK Monitor, Ajmer Alam Wani, recalled that when she was just seven years used to climb Zabarwan Mountain, which was the first sports activity she went for.   

But sooner she got inspired by one of the most popular footballer of Kashmir Valley Ahmad Ishfaq whom she saw playing football at Polo Ground Srinagar before that she never saw football player in her city.  Her passion for sports didn't stop here only, alongside football, she continued to get inspired by her younger sister and keep practicing Skiing.

 

No doubt, the dreams were big, high and firm to create some history in the upcoming football events but she lamented facing difficulties, problems and absence of support. “The most difficult problem I faced which became a reason I stopped playing football that time when I was on my peak to full fill my dream was favouritism, lack of discipline among players, lack of practice and lack of support from the concern authorities”, Qudsiya said adding that her dream to be an international player got shattered due to discouragement. 

Qudsiya feel proud while saying that her family always supported her whether she was in football or Skiing. They were always by her side to encourage adding that thought she didn’t face any difficulty due to troubled situation in Kashmir Valley but admitted that the troubled situation has not only affected the grooming sports but the whole system in the valley. 

She didn’t have support from any NGO, except providing her temporary football ground and few equipments by Secretary Sports Council, Waheed ur Rehman Parra / JKFA after completion of certificate course and it was her younger sister who was a constant source of inspiration for her as she too is also a sports person and has faced lot of difficulties but never give up and the result of patience and hard work paid her. 

In her message to girls aspiring their career in sports, Qudsiya advised not to bother about what people around talks, “trust yourself and go for your dreams in a proper way so that your family will be the first to be proud on you, whatever you want to be in your life just work hard and full fill your dreams. Keep the spirit Kashmiris are not less than anyone in any field”.  

While concluding she said that if proper guidance will b given, sports can keep the person away from all the ill habits  like smoking , drinking etc  which are now a days on its peak.

JAMMU: The first Saudi Arabian Director of Bollywood, writer and poetess Sameera Aziz is conferred with the Royal Title of Princess in Sultanate of Buayan Darussalam in General Santos, which is the southernmost city in the Philippines. She is a famous Business woman and media personality in Saudi Arabia. According to the royal invitation to the Princess Sameera Aziz, The Royal House of Sultanate of Buayan Darussalam held its General Assembly on April 22-23, 2017 at Mt. Sabrina Hotel and resort in General Santos with the theme: The Prospects of Federalism Among The Bangsamoro Communities for Just and Dignified Peace & Development. The grand event was attended by the Bangsamoro’s High Ranking Officials, and other National figures of the Philippine government like Presidential Advisor Sec. Jesus Dureza.

                                                                                                                                 L​ink for video footage: 

“Love and respect is always precious and I am lucky for constantly receiving this valuable treasure from world, thanks to my media activities. It’s an honour for me to be titled as 'Princess of Sultanate of Buayan' in Philippines. It has been my passion to be a bridge between my country Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world. This title of ‘Princess’ is a great satisfaction of my passion.

For me, the biggest achievement is to be the Princess of hearts, and I am feeling that I won the hearts which led me today here to become the Princess by title.  I believe ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’ And, I believe on fulfilling my responsibilities. Thank you so much for considering and honouring me. This is the great beginning of dignified relationship of humanity, peace & development with smiles,” said Princess Sameera Aziz.

 

Princess Sameera Aziz was born in Saudi Arabia and her forefathers belonged to Lucknow India. Therefore, she kept herself connected with Urdu language and her 3 books are published. Her widow mother brought her up with hardships. After her marriage at the teenage, she continued her higher studies and became a media icon in Saudi Arabia. She became the part of production of some films in women rights and currently she is making the first ever Saudi film in Bollywood which will be shot in Jeddah.

Moreover, engaged as a Chairperson of her Group of Companies besides some other media activities, Sameera Aziz has a considerable fan following from Filipino community. Therefore, The Royal House of Sultanate of Buayan Darussalam decided to recognise and confer her with the royal title of Princess. There are more than one million citizens of Philippine nationality working in Saudi Arabia and their population in Middle East is existed around 679,819. Despite the continuing decline of oil prices in global markets over the recent period, the Saudi Embassy in Manila, issues at least 1,000 work visas daily for Filipino applicants. 

JAMMU: In this male dominant code of culture where it is hard for women to survive especially when she hails from conservative society it becomes more harder to make her name and rise.  Tahima Qazmi, a strong radiant woman, journalist and anchor by profession refuse to let such adversities confined her.  Seldom are some lucky enough by their providence or by wisdom who make to the mark and are only those who toil under all pressures and adversaries to achieve the ultra mundane.

She is yesteryears a journalist in a conflict torn state of Jammu and Kashmir, a place almost in echo to any peace but surely in contrast to developing and progressing demeanor of any mankind. Yet the fragile, subtle, but strongly attuned to her journalistic pursuits, Tahima gave a dimensional perspective to her endeavors in the field, scaled successful milestones, and earned a distinct conspicuousness of high indelibility.

But proudly she says that all realistic pursuits in journalism should cut across the global barriers and contains a connect that gels loudly the love, unity and brotherhood. A multi faced journalist Tahima scored points ahead of all her contemporaries in the field by undertaking herculean tasks to cover the conflict zones in Jammu and Kashmir and reported events from the most impregnable locations where a normal would fear to venture. 

Sporting immense predilection to cover the highly volatile terrains terror attacks and risk  prone vulnerable areas in the conflict region, Tahima turn out to be a marvelous insignia for the her female fraternity to be followed by later of her clique. Reporting, anchoring performed extensive public speeches, developing creative news researches and stories of human interest and consumption, she jumped into electronic media functions while  analyzing and providing feedback for studio and sound techniques. 

She received high acknowledgement from her network directors’ elite professors’ staff and co workers for her superior job performance creativity work. Before flying to Toronto, Canada she had left behind an indelible mark of a great woman journalist. “Being with associated with state and national media I accomplished great recognition, Besides my association with many leading brands of India it has given me immense confidence which made me stand out of crowd”, she added.

Working for North America's third largest company broadcasting company in Toronto, Canada was a huge achievement for her. “During my  tenure in the company I worked for Disney Networks, Nickelodeon, YTV, CMT and many more wherein I supervised daily presentation schedule which includes commercials that goes on air. In addition I used to co ordinate with programming on air promotions which includes sales and media planning”, she said.    

She says while her journey around States and Canada she has come in close co ordination with women  ideology and their deportment towards life in foreign land facing situation that arise unconventionally yet fail to diffuse their spirit. She intends to shape her past experience and expertise in generating a consensus among the diametrically drawn women from different conflict zones of the world for the peaceful engagement in work culture.

This could lend a vision to establish women form my country and particularly Jammu and Kashmir to be empowered in a real sense and take back home a sense of realization, she talks from The States. Here Tahima turns out to be one among the "Chosen few" by the almighty who bestowed his choicest blessings upon her to pursue her unique conception for world peace order.

  • “Kashmir issue is not to be handled by kids, it will be resolved politically”
  • “Hartal, Curfew, Jihad etc words are carcinogenic for the roots of Kashmir”

JAMMU: Suggesting Kashmir youth to study well, have best education and stay away from drugs, Dr Heena Bhat advised the Kashmir youth that Kashmir issue is not to be handled by kids, it will be resolved politically. She said that the Hartal, Curfew, Jihad etc words are carcinogenic for the roots of Kashmir adding thatHum Kya Chahtey Azadi is the deadliest line for Kashmir which has given us graveyards. 

While talking to Ajmer Alam Wani, Editor-in-Chief of JK Monitor (www.jkmonitor.org), Dr Heena Bhat, a strong woman who contested last assembly election as a BJP candidate from Kashmir, is not only pained by seeing Kashmir burning but also has an ambition to bring change in Kashmir believes that talking about things with what today's youth is not even concerned, is ruining future of Kashmir.   

According to Dr. Heena, Kashmir has not right leadership which is resulting in loosing hundreds of loved ones every year and blamed the present leadership in Kashmir of misguiding and using embedded sentiment of Kashmiri for their own personal interests. 

Dr Heena boldly says that shutdowns are not going to help Kashmir issue and asked what have we gained since decades of hartal protests, except loosing loved ones, Economy loss, depression, drug abuse, mental harassment of youth. Dr Heena wants her son and other kids to breathe in peaceful air and grow happily. 

Stuck cause of unwanted social bonding, woman in Kashmir can bring change in the whole scenario, provided they are given wings to fly and support from family for doing best in every field, Dr Heena believe.   

Here are few questions which JK Monitor asked Dr Heena and here is what she replied, we tried to present her views in original form without any unnecessary editing so her real message and emotions can reach in pure form to the readers. 

Q: Being a doctor by profession, what compelled you to divert your career to be a politician, and what were the circumstances that played a role and influenced your decision? 

Ans:  I believe doctors serve people so does politics, but doctors are respected and politicians rarely respected. I was always interested in this field as my father late Mohammad Shafi Bhat, my mentor, my inspiration, my idol. I would always watch him doing best for people during peak militancy since 1990. I wanted to step into his shoe, his work, his idea of serving people, and my fathers’ health played major role. 

Q: There were many political parties like National Conference (NC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Congress and others but what were factors that motivated you to join BJP? 

Ans: National Conference (NC) leadership (Farooq Abdullah) changed in Kashmir, with rest of them I was not comfortable and PM influenced me to join BJP.  His vision of development, Atal Ji’s peace process movement for India Pakistan.  I sstrongly believe Kashmir issue will be somehow resolved during Modi Ji’s tenure. I thought things in Kashmir will change with change. My ideas match a lot with PM’s vision regarding Kashmir.  

Q: What basic differences you see in the policies of BJP, NC, PDP Congress with regard to Kashmir? 

Ans: There is huge difference in all parties in Kashmir. National parties vision is broader while rregional parties have only talked about history and are making history out of Kashmir every year.  

Q: The Kashmir sees bloodbath and violence almost all the time, what according to you are real reasons that are making the Kashmir society to go for routine shutdowns and suffer each time? 

Ans:  Hartal, curfew, jihad etc words are carcinogenic for the roots of Kashmir. Talking about history, talking about things with what today's youth is not even concerned, is ruining future of Kashmir. Loosing hundreds of loved ones every year, reason is that they don’t have right leadership. Present leadership in Kashmir are misguiding them and have been using embedded sentiment of Kashmiri for their own personal interests. Shutdowns are not going to help Kashmir issue. What have we gained since decades of hartal protests, except loosing loved ones, Economy loss, depression, drug abuse, mental harassment of youth.  

Q: What according to you, Kashmir issue or Kashmir problem is exactly, historically and presently? 

Ans: Kashmir is a political issue .it is a topic globally only discussed; political parties take advantage of every issue for their interests.  Who is talking about resolving the issue? Youth has to be guided for right path of education, success, normal life, which every Kashmiri deserves. We ourselves need to change the mindset, if we want our children, next generations to survive a normal peaceful life. Historically whatever has happened has happened, why we should suffer presently for past.  

Q: Do you think the peace will rule the Kashmir and violence will disappear completely, what measures you suggest for it and who are the real stakeholders who can contribute in maintaining peace in Valley? 

Ans: Why can't we think of bright future of Kashmir?  If it hurts the sentiment of anyone that Kashmir is integral part of India let's speak India is integral part and is with Kashmir. Every Kashmiri belonging to any party, cast, creed, is stake holder undoubtedly.  Politicians in Kashmir who have sold their souls to agencies are the ones who don’t want peace in Kashmir. Everybody is making money over dead bodies of Kashmiri and they are not outsiders.  

Q: Being a Kashmiri woman, how you see the plight of women in Kashmir, is there need of any change in their thinking, perception, and living style or everything is up to mark? 

Ans: Employment schemes for all sectors have to be introduced and upgraded. ‘Hum Kya Chahtey Azadi is the most deadly line for Kashmir which has given usgraveyards ,’Zindagi Se Hi Azadi Dila Rahen Hain’. We need to change slogan. We all Kashmiris can bring this change. In all these decades women have suffered as mother loosing son, sister lost brother, wife lost husband, daughter lost father, half widows. Women been tortured by both. Women have suffered the most.  

Q: How women of Kashmir can contribute in bringing everlasting peace in Kashmir valley? 

Ans: I believe woman is strong and can bring change in the whole scenario. And I see lots of women are coming up. They are homemakers they can make their country as well. We need good education system for women.  Shukar Alhamdulillah Kashmir is still safe regarding women as compare to other states. They should be given wings to fly, support from family for doing best in every field.  Lots of girls, women want to bring the change but are stuck, because of unwanted social bonding.  

Q: What message you would like to give to youngsters of Kashmir, especially girls and women? 

Ans: My message is study well; Kashmir issue is not to be handled by kids. It will be resolved politically.  Have best education, stay away from drugs, don want to see ‘Udta’ Kashmir.  

Q: Tell us about yourself as person, a human being and what are your future plans for Kashmir Valley in particular?  

Ans: As a person I am very strong woman, I will be in politics for rest of my lifeWill bring change in Kashmir.  Can't see Kashmir burningI want my son and other kids to breath in peaceful air and grow happily.

  • Women always have to remember to have their self respect intact, no matter what. If they start throwing themselves to wolves they won’t be spared for anything. You never have to be food to their desires but to be desirable to their thoughts to create the persona you want to be on screen.

JAMMU: The hardship and pain of Kashmir women has no comparison, they deserve salute. Glamour world is nothing, they have bigger and better platform of world with a small Internet connection in their hands. They are stars by birth. These were not just words but a real emotional outburst of actress/model/writer/directorAartii Naagpal, during an interview with Ajmer Alam Wani, Editor-in-Chief of JK Monitor (www.jkmonitor.org).

Actress by birth Aartii Naagpal

Born in the family of actor/writer /director /producer /silent film maker & freedom fighter Shri. Vitthaldas Panchotia, actress by birth Aartii Naagpal felt sorry over the happenings in Kashmir and expressed her solidarity with those women who are acting positively for growth.

In her message to the Kashmir women, Aartii said, “I have seen many you-tube videos of few women acting positively for their growth. I will say keep it up to them who are working for positive empowerment of Kashmiri women. They will see the light one day. My prayers are with them” 

As the youngsters these days are turning up towards glamour world with an aim to earn name, fame and wealth, here comes an advice from one among the senior actresses Aartii Naagpal who have seen many ups and downs in life and have established herself in the entertainment industry.

Aartii Naagpal, made it clear for the youngsters that there are no compromises in case of your prized possession that is your self respect. If you don’t wish to give in to the situation there is nothing and nobody can bend you down to their needs. Choice of action is very important in life always. 

She told JK Monitor that in glamour world, exploitation of morals exists, whether its new comers finding short cuts to reach their desires or the makers using the desperation of new comers it depends totally on the decisions each one has taken.

Aartii, advised that women always have to remember to have their self respect intact, no matter what. If they start throwing themselves to wolves they won’t be spared for anything. You never have to be food to their desires but to be desirable to their thoughts to create the persona you want to be on screen.

Being in the industry for so many years she noticed one thing thoroughly is no matter how much manipulation one does to get first chance in their life the only thing which will make them sustain is their talent, pure talent and nothing else.  There are many one film star boys and girls forgotten and gone forever.

Here are few related questions asked by JK Monitor and directly replied by Aartii Naagpal.

Q: Being the firm believer of the fact "Be the change you want to see” what you suggest, how the status of women in India can be brought at par with that of men?

Ans   First of all I am glad that my thought has inspired you to ask me about my own belief. There is so much happening outside (away from our souls) that we have forgotten we have the power within. Any movement or action which has ever begin its always have been from that one powerful believer who initiated the change first within himself. Then to the world we have many examples one of them is Mahatma Gandhi Ji.  I do what I believe in, I focus, I work & I activate all my action first from within myself then expect anybody else to follow me.

Q: As you are a writer by inheritance, what inspired you to go for writing and what was focal point of your first write-up?

 Ans:  Some people breakdown when they go through bad relationship.  I learnt a lot out of ugliest marriage I have gone through.  My first short film written by me ‘DAILY RAPE’ was an episode from my own life. I am my own inspiration. I choose to pick positivity out of shit thrown at me. My pain is my food for growth.

Q: Being in the entertainment world for a long time, what you observed and experienced, what are the basics that help new comers to be successful in the entertainment world and sustain for longer?

Ans After so many years I have noticed one thing thoroughly is no matter how much manipulation one does to get first chance in their life the only thing which will make them sustain is their talent, pure talent and nothing else. There are many one film star boys and girls forgotten and gone forever. ‘One step at a time ‘ that should be the mantra. Messed up people & actions don’t lead path of bright sunshine. 

Q: Do you agree that exploitation of new comers in the entertainment exists, and one has to compromise to keep going in the glamorous entertainment industry world?

Ans:  Yes exploitation of morals exists. Now whether its new comers finding short cuts to reach their desires or the makers using the desperation of new comers it depends totally on the decisions each one has taken. There are no compromises in case of your prized possession that is your self respect. If you don’t wish to give inn to the situation there is nothing & nobody can bend you down to their needs. Choice of action is very important in life always. 

Q: There have been occasional reports of compromise and exploitation of women artists in the entertainment world especially with those who are new to this industry, what is the reality behind it and who are those people who become easily victims? 

Ans: I think I answered your question in previous one already .one can twist & turn same thought in 100 ways answers will be same.  Women always have to remember to have their self respect intact, no matter what. If they start throwing themselves to wolves they won’t be spared for anything. You never have to be food to their desires but to be desirable to their thoughts to create the persona you want to be on screen.

Q: What lines would you like to draw for the new comers so they can not fall prey to those few who always look for opportunities to exploit of force the new comers for compromise?

Ans: New comers have to know first of all they are new comers & not stars.  They suffer coz they assume the moment they enter industry is sitting with red carpet to shower flowers on them. Every star which has shined has gone through the pain of sharpening the rough ends finishing was given to them by their makers. Patience plays powerful role in this. Finish your homework then jump for exams, there will be less chances of becoming prey to any odds. Now a days, internet is the biggest platform for nay new comer to prove themselves.

Q: What is your mission of life and what contributions would you like to offer for the welfare of women in particular and society in general?

Ans: I am still young enough to have mission but yes I desire to empower women in many ways. Any girl child should learn self defense compulsory. Their strength is their ability to believe in themselves and act upon their dreams later. I want all mothers to know their rights of being wife, knowing all the logistic of life, whether it’s their banking or earning money or saving for their own old age. Relationships have lost their vitality, being alert all the time with their documents and their monetary system is as important as taking care of their whole family. Being completely powerful in all dimensions is essential for all the women. I would like to work in this direction.

Q: Tell us about yourself as a person, what exactly you are as a person, as a human being?

 

Ans: I am simple soul, working towards my salvation.  I am trying to finish my karma, I try not to hurt anybody possibly with my will, if incase I do unknowingly I would like to say sorry here. I am done with human life and its all the relativity once I had hurt my mom in childhood then I lost her, since then I wish to move towards to meet her. I wish to slowly immerse in the sand where god lives. I have been luckiest child of god because he has always loved me more then I could to him. The simple reason is I am still alive with all the amenities I require without taking much effort. I am thankful for all I am today to him. I am an actress by birth as born in film background family but I would like to be woman with heart post my death.

  • “Innocent Kashmiris believe in what they hear, even the educated ones”.
  • “I was in Kashmir in February was saddened to see it dry and a bit life less. The faces of village people looked sad. It wrung a chord in my heart”.

Photo credit Shivam Saxena JAMMU: The European looks, hazel green eyes, sun kissed bronzed complexion, blessed by an Italian gene in her lineage, shaken and stirred with svelte figure, complimented with a dash of bountiful intellect, smoothed out with a sensuous and delicious crunchy voice, crooning out verses, is all you will find in Vandana Vadehra.

By profession, a playback singer, performer, award winning MC from JAI, Lyricist, composer and actress while talking to Ajmer Alam Wani, Editor-in-Chief of JK Monitor , said that the biggest obstacle to peace in Kashmir is its own people and the warped up wrong politicians. According to Vandana, innocent Kashmiris believe in what they hear, even the educated ones.

She suggested that if you learn to use your own discretions and not be swayed by instigation from outsiders, then make your own judgments.  She advised that they should fathom the fact that all answers lie within themselves, in their hearts if they just seek it with all honesty, then peace is not that hard to restore.

Replying to a question about her willingness to contribute to Kashmir society, she said, “I am a singer anchor actress, I also teach modulation phonetic diction communication skills, fashion, grooming, and etiquettes. One way would be taking such classes in schools and colleges and boot camps for women too. Second would be performing for the concerts and college festivals there held for a cause”.

When asked how she sees Kashmir, Vandana replied, “Well, not how I see but how I want to see Kashmir, well I want to comprehend Kashmir as an Unscathed Virgin with its splendor, as it was in the olden days gone by, as I had heard my grandparents, who hail from Peshawar, relate the tales of bountiful resources, hypnotic hills, verdant vales, lush greenery and vagrant flowers, innocent people with a beauty known world over.”

In response to another question, she suggested that Bollywood should promote oneness in their Plots based on Kashmir, just the way Bajrangi Bhaijaan did. That is the only way for people there and world over, to realize that we are one, Kashmiris are Indians, and Kashmir is NOT just an Islamic state, (“as most Kashmiris believe which I realized after being in conversation with several locals there”) it’s a part of what the world, especially Uzbekistan Afghanistan etc STILL refers to as ‘HINDUSTAN’! That is the name we were known by, for centuries.

On Kashmir tourism promotion across the globe, she said, “One way I feel is through Bollywood movies, documentaries, international film festivals and a strong marketing strategy by the Government of India at the Centre.

On shortcomings, she belive that shortcomings are there but none that cannot be overcome and suggested that attractive holiday packages with assurance of safety of tourists would help a great deal.

When asked about methodology that can divert Kashmiri youngsters towards entertainment world, she replied, “Its upon our directors and producers in Bollywood to give more and more opportunities to youngsters in Kashmir in all fields, be it music, direction, acting production, photography, cinematography etc. as it is the Kashmiri youth are very good looking and have the best of genes.

Summing-up about her recent visit of Kashmir, she recalled, “I was in Kashmir in February, was saddened to see it dry and a bit life less. The faces of village people looked sad. It wrung a chord in my heart”.

Relevant to mention here that with B.Sc Hons in Botany, LLB,[Law] , Diploma Fashion Designing  NIFT,  the name Vandana Vadehra is synonymous with sensual husky baritone vocals, ranging from a mellow soft key to a high pitched falsetto, traversing a plethora of musical range, emotions, modulations’ and situations, packaged in this exclusive singer’s and MC’s voice! A live-wire stage performer par excellence, she can belt out melodies in English, Hindi and Punjabi, the languages, on which she has impeccable command and occasionally chooses to have a fling with Telgu, Bangla, Marathi and Spanish too!

The wit in her anchoring shows, sense of humour, intellectual acuity makes her a favourite with all clients. Her impeccable baritone, vocals switching into a pleasant
falsetto enthral the audience in her singing events.  Be it English rock Pop, Ballads, Hindi Bollywood, with a band or on tracks, she enchants the crowd with her interactive performance even in the most sombre of shows.

The events she conducts as an anchor, for classy and panache crowd, leaves the audience mesmerised by her impeccable command on the English language, while her intonations, wit, subtle humour, pensive punches draw a splatter of understated mirth! She slips into the guise of a Hindi language host with equal ease and can hold fort with her clean diction, beautiful aura, and glamorous persona sprinkled with a dash of singing abilities need to make a perfect on stage recipe!

She has conducted 2500 plus Stage shows in 5 Continents, 18 Countries, 300 plus Cities for over 2000 plus happy clients and got 5 awards besides getting impressive over 3000 press coverages.

Being the great granddaughter of Dhyan Chand Malhotra, 1st cousin of the legend Prithvi Raj Kapoor, Art and Music flow abundantly in her blood. Her mother late Mrs Meera Vadehra being her teacher of English literature language, Phonetics, art and theatre, contributed to the artist in her and her father rendered the baritone voice. She has Anchored shows/Sung and shared stage with Hollywood stars like John Travolta, Jennifer Lopez, Foo Fighters, SMOKIE etc.

International Feathers in Her CAP:Photo credit Shivam Saxena

INDO-ATLANTA MUSIC FESTIVAL, IN GEORGIA ATLANTA, WITH INTERNATIONAL STARS LIKE, JENNIFER LOPEZ, JESSICA SIMPSON, FOO FIGHTERS AND THE LIKE in JULY 2004

-NEWYORK FASHION WEEK OPENING ACT-JUNE 2004

-MTV GRIND IN KATHMANDU AT HYATT…MAY 2004

-MUSCAT PERFORMING WITH SUKHBIR FOR THE SULTAN OF OMAN DEC 2005

-INDO US FESTIVAL COVERING CITIES LIKE CHICAGO, SAN DIEGO, PHILADELPHIA ETC

SHE CAME BACK FROM A ROCKING TOUR OF UK,IN APRIL 2006, AFTER ENTHRALLING AUDIENCES, WHERE SHE WAS THE ONLY PERFORMER TO BE FLOWN IN FROM INDIA TO PERFORM AT THE EASTERN EYE ASIAN BUSINESS AWARDS 2006, HONOURING THE LIKES OF LAXMI MITTAL CHAIRED BY PRINCE CHARLES AND CHERIE BLAIR-COVERED BY BBC, CNN, CNBC ETC.

-COVERED CITIES LIKE LONDON AMSTERDAM, FOR PRIVATE WEDDING DO’S IN AUGUST2006

-PERFORMED IN GREECE, ATHENS, AT THE ATHENS INTERNATIONAL CULTURAL FESTIVAL’2006!

-SHOWS IN MALAYSIA FOR HAVELL’S IN NOV 2006!

-NOV 3RD 2007 PERFORMED AT THE SINDHI COMMUNITY DIWALI BALL, AT MAYFAIR HOTEL, UK, MIDDLESEX, LONDON!

-4TH DECEMBER 2007, SHE WINS THE HEARTS OF THOUSANDS IN MUSCAT WITH HER CHARISMA PANACHE ELEGANCE N STYLE!

-14th FEBRUARY PERFORMED AND ANCHORED MUSCAT

SHOPPING FESTIVAL GRAND FINALE AT THE AMPHITHEATRE WITH BOLLYWOOD STARS LIKE ANNU MALIK, KIM SHARMA ETC.!

-HAMBURG-26TH 27TH APRIL 2008, 2009,  2011, SINGING AT THE DAMATOR AUDI FOR THE GERMAN PUBLIC AND THE AFGHAN HINDUS SETTLED THERE AT THE UNIVERSITY CAMPUS

-BERLIN 8TH AND AMSTERDAM 20TH MAY 2013, GERMAN INDO FESTIVAL

-BANGKOK FOR VIDEOCON R AND R AWARDS APRIL 2015, AND FOR ASIAN PAINTS IN 2010

-TASHKENT, SAMARKHAND AND ALMATI AND BALI FOR ASIAN PAINTS IN 2012, 2013.

  • “Kids in Bandipore are sharp and keen learners who if given the right opportunities and exposure can do wonders”

JAMMU: The Education is not merely for kids to clear exams and get degrees but also to open their minds and help them form opinions to make informed choices and that's where the difference between education and excellent education comes in. This was expressed by Jigyasa Labroo, a Teach for India fellow in Delhi, where she is committed to teaching children in an under resourced low income school for two years.

Presently Jigyasa Labroo is in Kashmir Valley’s Bandipore district working with Deputy Commissioner (DC) Dr. Shah Faesal's New Leaf Initiative (NLI) to improve educational standards in the schools in district of Bandipore by creating model schools and teacher training.

Talking to Editor-in-Chief of JK Monitor, Ajmer Alam Wani, Jigyasa expressed concern about state of education in Bandipore for which she mentioned that aser survey shows dismal results, one of the lowest in Kashmir.

Jigyasa observed is that the kids are sharp and keen learners who if given the right opportunities and exposure can do wonders. She further added that Teach for India along with the New Leaf Initiative (NLI) plans to impart the correct training to teachers so that the potential of these kids is realized.

Though born in Himachal Pradesh (HP), and brought up in Himachal and Chandigarh, Jigyasa is a Kashmiri by origin.

Jigyasa had come to Kashmir with an open mind regardless of what people had told her regarding the tension here and during her a month long stay here she was glad to do that because she found everyone in Kashmir friendly.

Having really great time in Kashmir she hoped that will leave Kashmir having contributed meaningfully by executing her project ‘Slam out Loud’ which she is executing these days in Kashmir.

In Kashmir, she has done two poetry workshops till now in Army Public School Srinagar and Government Higher Secondary School for Girls in the remote district of Bandipore for free.

Jigyasa told JK Monitor, that she started the initiative called Slam Out Loud, (SOL) which is a nonprofit initiative since December last year as project which aims to organize poetry as well as story telling events for children  to bring the art of Spoken Word to  classrooms and beyond.

She further added, “All we are trying at SOL is to build an arts community for our kids to collaborate, come and start projects together, meet, talk, learn and appreciate art. That is all we want to do-create a beautiful afternoon bimonthly, where our kids tell their stories through art, and we've begun by poetry and storytelling.  We are doing our events all over India, the last ones being in Delhi, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh and West Bengal”.

Jigyasa completed her education in Engineering from Delhi and have been living there since last five years. After Engineering, she decided to contribute to the society through a meaningful cause and hence joined the Teach For India fellowship.

  • Teaching being one of the noble professions has just become the job option for an easy going life

  • Teachers in J&K have an additional responsibility of bringing 
    the state out of crunches in order to build human resources to make it a prosperous state.
  • I have seen a general trend of people not calling others with appropriate names rather calling them Pahadi, Ajaska, Kaji, Haji, Nicka, Thaida, Mudd, etc. which a teacher should be 
    sensitive and conscious about.
  • Being respectful is the most important thing a student needs to learn during schooling.
  • Bringing politics into the classroom should be the most 
    dangerous thing to do it will lead to nothing but shear waste of child’s precious learning time.
  • Due to lesser student participation during the lessons they have stopped using their brains and have become less expressive
  • When I came to Kashmir for this project I could see a stark difference between the knowledge that I had and the reality here. The way certain teachers behaved, totally theoretical no trace of practicality, no accountability, zero responsibility, less sensitized regarding choice of words and lack of willingness to work.
JAMMU:   She was just 21 years old when for the first time visited Kashmir in 2009 as a tourist but eventually fell in love with the place and certainly felt like home. It was then that she could see the difference between the three provinces of Jammu and Kashmir state, and have a first-hand experience of the diversity.

During her visit, she just kept observing the places as these were the ones she had been hearing the stories about. Also, she could for the first time compare her life with that of her parents. Comparing the childhood setting was another incredible experience which she would have never thought of had she not visited Kashmir.

For her Kashmir was just incredibly beautiful place that she used to think about, mostly the Lidder Valley. The flowing water of Lidder still makes her feel refreshed.

Jeewika Bhat, who has recently joined Teach For India, Delhi chapter as a fellow, had decided to go for a project in rural area, though she had finalized Manipur and Jammu and Kashmir but when she came across the New Leaf Initiative (NLI) by the PMRDFs in Bandipore she saw it as an opportunity to serve her homeland and have a first-hand experience of how the things work.  Since, it was just a month long project; she was of the opinion that knowing the language would be helpful. 

Presently in Kashmir, Jeewika Bhat told Ajmer Alam Wani, Editor-in-Chief of JK MONITOR,  (www.jkmonitor.org) that she used to hear a lot of stories about how her mother, father and their siblings grew up in their respective villages and the way they used to go to school and how they used to climb on the trees for apples, their routines and how it was to have celebrate festivals and ceremonies, etc. Kashmir for sure was the land of her childhood stories and tales.

Open sky, vast fields of rice, magnanimous mountains, Pheran, Kangri, Dariya, Sheen, etc. were the elements she used to think of all the time when she used to listen to these stories. But it was only after she visited Kashmir she realized that how beautiful this place was!

Before her visit to Kashmir she had never seen someone who was a Kashmiri and not her relative. But when she went to her maternal grandfather’s place in Anantnag district, she could see the joyful and curious faces of the villagers who were part of her mother’s lifetill her marriage and they were overwhelmed with joy to see her and were awestruck at the fact that she knew the language so well.

She had a little idea of the issues that the Jammu and Kashmir state was suffering from but couldn’t understand and feel much of it. The words that she constantly heard and were associated with Jammu and Kashmir were militants, Indian Army, migration, Muslim, Pandit, etc. but being a constant visitor to Jammu she could not make connections. Also, she felt bad for the Dogras and other communities as they were equally from the state and were never talked of.

She spent her entire life so far in Delhi. Did her schooling from Sachdeva Public School, Rohini went to Ramjas College, DU for my Bachelors and GGSIPU, Dwarka for M.Sc. Environment Management. She stays with her parents and grandmother in Rohini, New Delhi. However, was working in Pune after her Masters in a start-up consultancy. Then she moved back to Delhi and joined Teach For India, Delhi Chapter as a fellow last year.

As a professional, Jeewika Bhat has worked as a Project Analyst with a Pune based start-up consultancy on several projects dealing on Sustainability Reporting, Carbon Accounting Management Systems and Off-Grid Solar. Thereafter, in 2014, she moved back to Delhi and joined Teach For India, Delhi chapter as a fellow. Currently she teach 40, 5th graders in Walia Public School, Kashmiri Gate.

As in Delhi they have a summer break in schools for the month of May and June, so the fellows go for various projects or internships.Jeewika Bhat too decided to go for a project in rural area. She had finalized Manipur and Jammu and Kashmir. Then she came across the New Leaf Initiative (NLI) by the PMRDFs in Bandipore and she could see it as an opportunity to serve my homeland and have a first-hand experience of how the things work. Since, it was just a month long project; her opinion was, for her knowing the language would be helpful. 

Analyses and experience about education in Kashmir: Jeewika said, the education scenario of the entire country is the same except a 1-2 states. The whole focus of this system should be on child’s learning and development while everything else being just a background picture. But sadly we do not a Child-Centric System. There is no incentive, consequence or accountability for learning. Teaching being one of the noble professions has just become the job option for an easy going life. As rightly said “Kunilagiy n Tebaniymashter”, in case of Kashmir it is the only profession the qualified ones could have.

The importance of being a teacher and feeling good about it is missing in general at all places however at administrations part there are a few changes that can be made so as to ensure accountability and focussed learning. In most of the Northern states there is a class teacher system till primary level (1-5) wherein one teacher is given the responsibility of one class and is responsible for all the admin and other requirements of that class for one academic year. In fact, we at Teach for India also follow more or less the same model, but for two years.

I think, this is one thing that can bring accountability for child’s learning. But above all being respectful and motivated is something teachers need to have within to bring that change. Though, the scenario everywhere is the same, however, the teachers in Jammu and Kashmir have an additional responsibility of bringingthe state out of crunches in order to build human resources to make it a prosperous state. As a matter of fact only ‘a teacher can make a difference’.

Basic things lacking: “I think the exposure to latest teaching practices is lacking along with the soft skills. I have seen a general trend of people not calling others with appropriate names rather calling them Pahadi, Ajaska, Kaji, Haji, Nicka, Thaida, Mudd, etc. which a teacher should be sensitive and conscious about. Being respectful is the most important thing a student needs to learn during schooling. But the brighter side is that I have come across some really dedicated and motivated teachers who are already using their B.Ed. practices in the classroom and a difference in the standard is visible. Also, putting efforts in right direction is really important i.e. towards all children getting excellent education. By saying excellent education I mean a holistic growth which enables a child to make informed decisions throughout his/her life.

The policies need to be child centric and revolve around how best a child can learn, but also keeping in mind the concerns of teachers as well. In context of teacher training and exposing them to different methods of teaching the District Administration of Bandipore along with PMRDFs started off with New Leaf Initiative (NLI) wherein people from different organizations like Teach for India, GyanSetu, Pratham, etc. have been visiting the various schools across the district and interacting with both students and teachers, doing science experiments, star gazing, teacher training, helping teacher to have differentiated learning in the classrooms and schools, introducing art and activity period in the time-table, etc.

This I feel is a great opportunity for both the teachers and students to get exposed to immense possibilities outside the state of Jammu and Kashmir and the opportunity to create off beat professions inside the state.

Areas that need focus: Jeewika stressed on soft skills and respectful learning, ensuring accountability, technical assistance so as to stop rote learning student participation and lesser teacher talking activity based approach. “A teacher can be a strong barrier between the turbulent and uncertain political situations prevailing in the state and the classroom full of innocent bright future. Bringing politics into the classroom should be the most dangerous thing to do it will lead to nothing but shear waste of child’s precious learning time.

The positive things in J&K Govt schools:  The students are very disciplined and loving. Though due to lesser student participation during the lessons they have stopped using their brains and have become less expressive but there is a huge potential lying out there and the teachers just need to tap it. Also, I have seen some teachers working really hard to make the kids understand the concepts in such cases they just need to know the smart way of doing it by addressing to the different learning styles of children like visual, kinaesthetic, auditory and read-write.

Difference between heard about and found: Well growing up as a Kashmiri was difficult as everyone around used to say Kashmiris are intelligent and highly qualified. Their regard in terms of education was too much to handle. I was told about various dedicated teachers and how people used to consider it a matter of pride to be able to teach. But when I came to Kashmir for this project I could see a stark difference between the knowledge that I had and the reality here. I could see a lot of things that I had never imagined to be true. The way certain teachers behaved, totally theoretical no trace of practicality, no accountability, zero responsibility, less sensitized regarding choice of words and lack of willingness to work.

VISION:  “I feel the quality of education has been suffering throughout the country. It is more saddening for Jammu and Kashmir in particular because this place has a history of having highly qualified men and women. But being one of the turbulent states excellent education is the only way out to uplift the society. Apart from having various teacher friendly but children centric policies sense of responsibility needs to be imparted in teachers and they should be aware of their superpower of getting this state out of a deep mess that it is into.

As per my observations there is a lot that is happening in terms of teacher training, visits by education observers, making learning fun, etc. but somewhere still we forget that children should be the centre of education system. Also, one of the major setback was that teachers need to be trained on soft skills and they need to be a little respectful to students.

There is a lot that government needs to do in terms of making the system more child centric and not just get politics into the classroom, but still there is a lot that a teacher can do in the class to make a difference as their superpower lies within.

 

Muslim women can do anything and everything with Hijab.  Be a moderate and highly educated woman.  Be ready to work hard and competent. You can be a good homemaker and career woman all together. But it needs your courage.  I want to say to the women of Kashmir that don’t lose hopes. The flood of water might have washed away your goods and assets but it should not flow over your courage, hopes and goals. Stand up again and move on.  The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. A life demands struggle”. 

JAMMU/ JEDDEH: Marriage can be an obstacle if your spouse and his family will not support you. So career oriented women should be particularly careful if they decide to marry with anyone. This was expressed by multitalented Jeddah-based Saudi citizen Sameera Aziz during an e-interview with Ajmer Alam Wani, (Editor-in-Chief, JK Monitor).

Famous Saudi media personality, Sameera Aziz is a highly educated Saudi woman, well known for her intellect, professional competence and integrity. She is a Journalist, film maker, director, script writer, radio presenter, novelist, speaker, social worker and activist.

During the interview she cautioned that sometimes, man and his family do the fake promises before marriage and then they create the hurdles after marriage. A document should be signed by husband before marriage to approve the conditions of bride, she suggested.  Moreover, after marriage, when you have children, it becomes challenging to maintain career and home together. A mother can decide the best”.

“ I don’t advise women to choose career in that time when the children are small. Children and home should be priority. Now everything is so easy by technology. So many jobs can be done and handled through technology and devices. You just need to be capable to use it wisely and perfectly. I managed and maintained my career, education, home and children. It was challenging and I killed my own rest and relaxation hours in life. However, I never compromised with the need of my children. I did it without any support and encouragement from any close relative, but I did it thanks to Allah”.

Here are the questions which were asked to Sameera and read what she replied to each one.

Q:        How you differentiate women life style in India, Pakistan, Jeddah and other European countries?

A:     The lifestyle of Saudi women, especially the women which belong to a developed city like Jeddah, is clearly different than Indian, Pakistani and European women. Since I have been travelling around the world and I am a journalist as well, I have been observing it very closely. Saudi women in Jeddah are very glamorous.   They are shopaholic, restaurant goers and love cosmetic surgeries. They are very cautious about their looks and since usually they are prosperous as well, they generously spend their wealth in their grooming.  They are very fond of education and career similar to the other women of the world, but what makes Saudi women different and appreciable is that, they are carving a niche in male dominated society and in limited resources. However, it should be mentioned that situation is going to be better and better for the women living in Saudi Arabia regarding the work, career, life and laws.     

Q:      Being Muslim, what difficulties you faced and privileges you enjoyed in your long professional journey?

A:    Being Muslim, I enjoyed the respect and honor in my professional life. However, the narrow minded, bad character and evil minded people tried to discourage me.  Bad character men do not like to be called ‘brother in Islam’ and they start making a Muslim woman victim with their feelings of rejection.  They made the false stories and rumors which never surprised me, nor bother me. Many evil people made the false excuse of Islam just to let me down. While, we all know that the first wife of Prophet Muhammad’s Khadija bint Khuwaylid ran a very wealthy and powerful business. In much of the world, like Malaysia, Indonesia, or the first world nations, Muslim women are very self reliant and are often just as wealthy and skilled as men.

Those negative minded and evil people who tried made my path difficult, were mostly belonged to South Asian countries rather than Arab world. But I did not stop and made my place as a winner. No doubt, there has been thousands and thousands of supporters and well wishers of mine, and many of them belong to the same South Asian countries.  

Moreover, those ultra narrow minded Muslim people also try to bother me, who do not realize the requirement of 21st century’s media. This is an age of visible media and entertainment. They don’t like me for using an entertainment medium for my goal to remove misconceptions about Saudi Arabia. They try to abuse me in different ways through social media, gossiping and rumors.

Since I am a social worker too, so if I help any victim, the opposite evil party starts making me their victim as well.  However, the fact that makes me feeling sorry is that, many women do not support me out of jealousy.  I have been mostly working for the support of women and I think women should support and encourage me than men. But I experienced that women tend to be jealous over everything. Overall, if you are a woman, you have to face the challenges and difficulties. It’s OK, I don’t care and nothing can stop me.

Q:       Does marriage help or becomes an obstacle in achieving goals and success in any field?

A:    Yes marriage can be an obstacle if your spouse and his family will not support you. So career oriented women should be particularly careful if they decide to marry with anyone. Sometimes, man and his family do the fake promises before marriage and then they create the hurdles after marriage. A document should be signed by husband before marriage to approve the conditions of bride. Moreover, after marriage, when you have children, it becomes challenging to maintain career and home together. A mother can decide the best. I don’t advise women to choose career in that time when the children are small. Children and home should be priority. Now everything is so easy by technology. So many jobs can be done and handled through technology and devices. You just need to be capable to use it wisely and perfectly. I managed and maintained my career, education, home and children. It was challenging and I killed my own rest and relaxation hours in life. However, I never compromised with the need of my children. I did it without any support and encouragement from any close relative, but I did it thanks to Allah.

Q:      Having been successful in a number of fields, what you suggest a better among these for aspiring women?

A.     Yes, this is right I have been doing lots of work but most of my works belong to Media field. Rest of the work is also somehow connected to my Media work. So I would suggest women to choose the Media path or Journalism field, then work hard and be creative. You will get the rest of the success ultimately because Media and Journalism will make you powerful, well connected and prestigious. This will eventually make you a successful woman.

Q:    In Bollywood, what things you observed are not good for females and also point out good ones?

A.      In Bollywood, I found people so professional, workaholic and realistic. It lacks sincerity. People are selfish and materialistic which is common in every field of present world. We cannot generalize Bollywood industry. Females have been working everywhere, not just in Bollywood. Every woman is mature and she has full right to work and live according to her own wishes. So I will not like to say anything to suggest Bollywood women to do this and to do that….!

Q:       What is the core difference between production houses in Islamic nation, India and Pakistan?

A:      Production houses of Islamic nations are careful about their strict censor policies. Islamic teachings and argument have been used to censor. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the world's second largest intergovernmental organization, has actively lobbied for a global ban on what it perceives as anti-Islamic blasphemy. Censorship in India involves the suppression of speech or other public communication, raises issues of freedom of speech, which is nominally protected by the Indian constitution. The Constitution of India guarantees freedom of expression but places certain restrictions on content, with a view towards maintaining communal and religious harmony, given the history of communal tension and it makes sense to me. Pakistan censor board is little stricter than India. The Pakistani Constitution limits censorship, but allows reasonable restrictions in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of Pakistan or public order or morality. Production houses of all those parts of the world have been obeying the policy of their countries otherwise; obviously they will not be able to work in their country.

Q:     If you have to serve long years militancy hit Kashmir valley, what will be your priorities for women?

A:   I would like to see the highly educated and very wealthy Kashmiri woman, same like Saudi women.

Q:     Your message for Muslim women and the women in Kashmir recently hit badly by floods?

A:     Muslim women can do anything and everything with Hijab. Be a moderate and highly educated woman.  Be ready to work hard and competent. You can be a good homemaker and career woman all together. But it needs your courage.

I want to say to the women of Kashmir that don’t lose hopes. The flood of water might have washed away your goods and assets but it should not flow over your courage, hopes and goals. Stand up again and move on.  The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. A life demands struggle.

PROFILE OF SAMEERA AZIZ

Sameera Aziz is a famous Saudi media personality. A highly educated Saudi woman, she’s well known for her intellect, professional competence and integrity. She is a Journalist, film maker, director, script writer, radio presenter, novelist, speaker, social worker and activist. She is a Jeddah-based Saudi citizen. She is most notable as a radio presenter of her weekly show ‘Marhaba with Sameera Aziz’ in Asian Radio Live, which is based in the United Kingdom. She is the Country Head of ‘South Asian Regional Information Agency’ (SARIA), an international news agency with voice of SAARC countries.

Sameera Aziz is also an owner of the production house ‘Sana Solkar production’ in Bollywood which is the first Saudi production house in India. She has been involved in film making in Saudi Arabia on women issues as an assistant director and production team member. She studied film making from Hollywood directors. She is a director, producer and writer of a Bollywood movie REEM, the first Saudi-Indo venture in Bollywood. She is recognized as a first Saudi female Bollywood director and writer.

Sameera Aziz is also recognized as the first Saudi novelist of Urdu language in Saudi Arabia. She is active in humanitarian work. She has written thousands of articles and fictions in politics, social and woman issues. She is a speaker regarding international, social, expatriate, animal, and women’s issues. She aims to give positive message through her media activities and to bridge the gap between the Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world.

She also acts as a consultant to various international organizations for social development and human rights like National Society for Human Rights (NSHR), We – The Youth and Society for International Peace, which is a think tank initiated to serve the humanity. She is also the special adviser of ‘International Affairs and Women’s Rights’ in Journalist Foundation, a professional federation of global journalists. She is also a business woman. She is married with two children.

Sameera Aziz has won many awards like The woman of today, humanity award, pride of the nation, first Urdu novelist, youth ambassador, Best Ind-o-Pak Friendship Icon award etc. She is recently nominated for the Best Saudi Female Journalist & Media Person Award in “Women Leaders in Saudi Arabia & Awards 2015″ taking place soon first time in Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh.

Sameera Aziz is directing her movie ‘Reem’ under the banner of her own first Saudi production house in Bollywood ‘Sana Solkar Production’. Her film Reem is the first Saudi-Bollywood venture in India.

ABOUT FILM REEM

 

(The first Indo-Saudi venture in Bollywood)

Saudi Writer/director: Sameera Aziz 

Sana Solkar Productions

Story of film REEM:

This story is based on the issues and effects of cross-cultural marriage.  This is a story of a Saudi girl, Reem; whose mother is an Indian woman.  After getting the divorce from Reem’s Saudi father, she returned to Mumbai, India – leaving her 8-month-old daughter Reem with her Saudi father and Saudi step mother in Jeddah. Reem has been living a happy life with her agnate siblings. In fact, one of her younger brothers is her good friend and she shares every secret with him. He supports the right of Reem to make her own choices.

One day, after her graduation, it coincidently revealed to Reem that her real mother was an Indian woman. Reem gets surprised and mystified. Now she wants to know her genuine identity.  She becomes curious to know about her real mother. Postponing her marriage, Reem goes to India with the excuse of taking further education.  She then starts searching her actual mother there with the help of the information she has gathered in Jeddah. Her father did not know her real motive of her stay in Mumbai until the last.

Will she find her mother? How? What kind of struggle she will do in India to reach to her mother? She has a maternal half-sister as well in India and she is the 2nd heroine of the film. She will also find her ‘Mr. Right’ in India who is an ‘angry young man’. Both ignore each other. He realizes his deep feelings for Reem only after her departure to Saudi Arabia. She returns to Jeddah just to obey her father’s order.

Now in this situation, Reem’s marriage with her love will be possible?

You will see it in the film.

The twist and turns in the film makes it an interesting entertaining family drama with the exposure of modern days developed Saudi culture and tourism. The lively Indian youth and their adventures will add the spice in the film. There are fighting scenes, melodious songs and comedy scenes in the film to entertain the audience.

• Reem will have a decent stay in Mumbai.  The character of Reem will be presented as a ‘Mohajjaba” (head-covered) Saudi girl. However, she will not wear Abaya in India. She is very beautiful, humble, confident and educated girl.  She will be wearing the trousers and long shirts, same as our modest Saudi-Arabian girls usually do when they travel abroad. Her expensive Saudi-Arabian costume will be the unique thing for audience.

• The other heroine, an Indian step-sister of Reem, belongs to a modern generation of Mumbai.  She is a glamorous singer, and she is a member of a band group ‘HEARTBEATS’. There will be another hero in the film who is a ‘HEARTBEATS’ member as well. The hero of the film is a rock star and a leading singer of ‘HEARTBEATS’.

Genre:

This is a family drama and an entertaining film with the melodious and lyrical music – which is a soul of Bollywood films. Hindi Film Reem will be dubbed in Arabic and English languages and it will be released worldwide including Pakistan. The script and storyline are very powerful and communicative.

Promoting Saudi Tourism:

Some 30 minutes’ shooting of this film will be done in Jeddah as per as the storyline.  I will take a good advantage to present the beautiful and positive things, happening and amazing locations of my city of lights ‘Jeddah’. My Jeddah is full with landmark locations, historical places and best infrastructure.

My goal and reason to write and direct this film:

Film is an animation of person’s imagination. The ‘writer’ can powerfully convey his ideas to his viewers by directing his film. For developing the better understanding, we should interact with the world and reach to the people by communicating with them in their language.  Therefore, with the mission of peace and love, and to present myself as a bridge between Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world, I aimed to enter in the Bollywood industry with a new, decent and powerful story.

My target is to present a modern and educated Saudi youth to show the world that – we, the new generation of Saudis, are not harsh and ignorant. We are not among those people who have spread the hatred by their terrorism acts. We are not abusers; we do love others; we do care others…. Our young Saudi generation is decent, confident, humble and highly educated. They have a sense to be socialized and to protect their values and identity at the same time. Each object in the camera frame and dialogue in the script will ultimately give some positive message to the viewers about Saudis. Lots of brains storming and communication technique is being used for this purpose. Being an experienced writer/novelist, I am confident for my job.

I have studied and learnt film making from the Hollywood directors and I have already assisted many directors of Saudi movies and plays such as Lamar and Hayath to name a few. I am into Journalism since 15-yrs and I know very well how to present the scenarios according to a Saudi policy. I have been presenting the news in an agreeable way. I know a Saudi way, and I have become enough confident about my professional expertise of ‘mind-building’ ability being a trained Saudi Journalist. My 15-yrs experience in practical journalism will be a back-bone in this film. I will strategically, usefully and wisely present the Saudi characters as a director and writer. I am a first Saudi novelist in Saudi Arabia in Urdu language.

Saudi woman at focus:

People want to know about the Saudi woman.  Their curiosity will be useful for this film. Saudi women are always being portrayed as a victim of social norms. Let the world know that our heroine ‘Reem’ – a Saudi woman of today – gets the liberty to find her identity. Let the world know about the real life style of today’s Saudi women.

New factors:

·         Bollywood has explored Dubai, Egypt as well as many other Arab countries. It is only Saudi Arabia, which is not being explored yet.

·         It’s first time that Saudi actors are acting in a Bollywood movie and they will deliver the dialogues in ‘Hindi’ without dubbing.

·         After 9/11 arena, Saudi-Arabian women get lots of attention of the world. Whatever the Saudi-Arabian women do; it becomes the talk of the town.

·         Being a Saudi lady journalist, radio presenter and film maker, I too have been getting lots of attention. I am sure that people will like to see that what I am going to present them in an entertaining film.

Sana Solkar Production:

Sana Solkar Production is the first ‘Saudi Production House’ in Bollywood owned by Sameera Aziz in Mumbai with the partnership of Mr. Aslam Solkar (an Indian producer). The creative team of this production house is very experienced, qualified, hardworking and professional from Bollywood film industry.

Cast from Saudi Arabia: Hamza Eskander (Saudi model and host of Coke studio), Muhammad Bakhsh (Saudi veteran and famous actor), Salem Bawazeer (Saudi actor) 

Cast from Bollywood: under process

Expected heroine for the main role: Wiam Dahmani (Moroccan actress from UAE)

Music director: Toshi-Sharib, Aslam Keyi

Singers: KK (and others)

Background music: Sanjoy Chowdhary