Moulding ideas into Innovations, Kashmir

Afoot through the Kashmir Valleys’ (1902) by Marion Doughty rightly describes the forgotten Kashmir that unfolds under “the walnuts and the mulberries, shady and fruitful, ready to aid the hard lives of the people by their bountiful stores of food stuffs.”
These old books remind us of different times in the Kashmir Valley and will make you wish peace prevailed forever in our Paradise.Kashmir has walnut tress everywhere and a lot of people in the village and even the rest of Kashmir are involved in cultivating and selling walnuts. In fact it is one of the major sources of income for people of Jammu and Kashmir.
But, Kashmiri walnuts are a tough nut to crack. Manual walnut peeling and cracking is a tedious process. Also the sap of the walnut skin burns hands and stains clothes. So, the need of the hour was a WALNUT CRACKER which could easily crack, peel and wash walnuts saving huge time and manual labour.

mushtaq_dar

Oh wait, but Dr. G M Bhat, Director of University Science Instrumentation Centre (USIC) and Advisor, Entrepreneurship development Cell (EDC), University of Kashmir, says: “Such walnut cracker isn’t available even in China, where there is a flourishing walnut industry”.
Then how will we have it here in Kashmir???
‘Eureka!’ we have MUSHTAQ AHMAD DAR!

“Must is a hard nut to crack, but it has a sweet kernel.”
A walnut is totally tough on the inside but once you manage to crack that shell, then you are in for a treat. Keeping that in mind Mushtaq came up with a practical technological solution to the persistent problem. His keen eye for the problem led to an innovation which every Indian is proud of today.

“Innovations which help the poorest and the most deprived, are true innovations. India specialises in such innovations, though not many are widely known.”

Kreeri village in Shahabad area of South Kashmir, Islamabad district is no different in its beauty and allure than other places of Kashmir, but what sets it apart is that the place has given birth to a lot of innovators; three persons have come up with five interesting ones in last few years. Among those inhabitants is Mushtaq Ahmad Dar, who had a fondness for putting his creative ideas to practice right from his childhood.

Since he was a keen observer, he thought a machine that would help mechanically peel walnuts would be a great idea. So he developed a manually-operated walnut cracker, peeler and washer machine that can peel, wash and crack up to 80 kg of green walnuts of various sizes, shapes and thickness per hour without damaging the fruit inside, a process which would take days if done traditionally by hand.

Walnut cracker

“I used two wooden drums between whom the space can be adjusted according to the size of the nut. Walnuts are cracked between them as the drums start rolling while the cracked nuts are left beneath,” he explains.
This crude model of his walnut cracker machine was further modified by Dr Bhat and his team to increase the efficiency.
This home-grown technology has made life a lot easier. His innovation has made sure that walnut cultivation and production thrives and we can feel proud to serve the perfect gift from the Chinar country that anyone would be happy to snack on.

premium-quality-kashmiri-walnut-without-shell-gift-pack-6-97

The creative genius has participated in a workshop on Inventors of India, organised by prestigious Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad and was awarded a certificate for ‘knowledge network for incubating innovations into enterprises’.
The innovation impressed agencies from many countries including Gigi Cheung of China, Joe of Australia, Papakonstantinou A of Greece and Peter Kondrat of Poland have approached Dar for manufacturing rights of walnut cracker.

I feel elated. It is great feeling when requests for manufacturing rights by international agencies come,” Dar says.

He has received many accolades for his innovations and says it only increases his drive.

His mind was always open to the problems faced by people around him and he took interest in solving them. Dar did not stop there and went on to inventing a Pole climber for electricians as well. It could also be used for tree climbing.

“I am working on making a mechanical washing machine that can wash bulky clothes, particularly carpets. The machine should be ready in a couple of months”, he says.

Innovating better ways of living have made a qualitative difference in the lives of the local communities. All these inventions were in direct answer to a felt need, which obviously wouldn’t be addressed by formal channels. Adversity brings out the best in us, that’s why I guess Indians are innovative, even in such adverse circumstances.

“Every once in a while, a new technology, an old problem, and a big idea turn into an innovation.”
Keep coming back for more such hidden jewels

Beginning of Film Making Courses in Kashmir

Beginning of Film Making Courses in Kashmir

“Ye chand sa raushan chehra zulfon ka rang sunhera,

Ye jhil si nili aankhe, koi raaz hain inme gehra……….”

This song reminds the older generation of Shammi Kapoor singing to Sharmila Tagore in Kashmir Ki Kali in the midst of serene Dal Lake, Srinagar, and the younger ones of Ranbir Kapoor imitating Shammi Kapoor in Rockstar. In both the conditions the setting of Dal Lake and its magnificent beauty remains contagious. I can’t really hide my excitement when it comes to film shootings in Kashmir.  It happens often that we come across actors of the Bollywood industry. We have also witnessed various films being shot in our beautiful valley. Many of us have seen the snippets of shooting of popular films like Rockstar, Haider, and Ye Jawani Hai Deewani in the past years. Kashmir is not just a scenic beauty but also a hub of talent, which given an opportunity and right guidance will glow with names of its people.

Beginning of Treasure Hunt

Beginning of Treasure Hunt

Beauty & history of Kashmir leading to film shooting in the valley, and recognition of Kashmiri descent actors like Raaj Kumar, Jeevan, Anupam Kher, Manav Kaul, etc. is a renowned and recognised phenomenon. The dynamics of genius began to show when in 2011 Parallel Post, an e-magazine, in collaboration with Islamic University of Science & Technology (IUST), Awantipora organised a film festival called Verite Film Festival. The festival is held every year since its inauguration in 2011. It is aimed at exploring the hidden and budding talent in the field of film making among youth. The objective of the film festival is to brush and groom the potentials of short-story or documentary film makers across the country, especially from Kashmir. One such awarded film screened by Verite Film festival is Life on Wheels by Adil Shah.

 

Initiative of FTII- Film and Television Institute of India

Initiative of FTII- Film and Television Institute of India

Though held every year, Verite did not suffice the exposure that the youth required, they were missing the availability of guidance while opportunity was in abundance. Recently and for the very first time, FTII (Film and Television Institute of India) collaborated with Indian Army in Kashmir to roll out short-term Film Making Courses for the students interested in acting, smartphone filmmaking and screenplay writing. The initiative is engagingly welcomed by the students in Kashmir as a large amount of participants enrolled for the courses that will begin from 25 June, 2018 extending to 15-20 days of classes.

Object and Benefits

The short-term courses will help the students to realise their skills and potential in film making and learn about the right forms and methods used in the field. These courses will provide them with exposure and the opportunity to learn from highly qualified experts in the subject. I myself aspire a career in Film Making, to document my childhood experience of living in Awoora, Anantnag with my nain (grandmother), capture her delicious recipes and instil her Kashmiriyat into my film. FTII courses will give students like me the opportunity to learn and accomplish our dreams in the field. Once we learn well, we will be able to showcase better. There are platforms like KIFF (Kashmir International Film Festival) where the skills of Kashmiris in film making are exposed to entire world. KIFF serves as a huge platform for recognition of the potential present in Kashmir.

Vote of Thanks

We students, are all very eager to attend the courses presented by FTII in the categories of acting, film making and screenplay writing. The initiative will help in reviving the culture of Kashmir, the more students take part in it- the more native stories will come forward. In 2017, the film, Kashmir daily, of Kashmiri director Hussein Khan hit the box office in 2017. Hussein is an inspiration to the youth of Kashmir who despite having shifted to Mumbai after schooling decided to come back and produce a Kashmir based film. FTII will provide students with a platform to groom their talent and help them to explore the infinite boundaries of Film industry. At New Age Kashmir we appreciate their endeavour and aim to spread a word about the opportunity at hand.

Kashmir Super 30 Medical Project, 2018

Kashmir Super 30 Medical Project, 2018

Blessings come in all shapes and sizes. In the holy month of Ramzan, and very near to Eid, Indian Army gifts a bunch full of joys wrapped with opportunities, to the youth of Kashmir. The initiative to develop Super 30 programme from engineering to the field of medical has become a reason for the smile on the face of thousands of students; adding splendid joy to the festive occasion.

Super 30, the initiative by Anand Kumar, a mathematician, aims at providing entrance exam coaching for IIT-JEE to support the economically unprivileged students.  He is recognized world-wide for his mentor-ship and efforts.

A similar platform, Kashmir Super 40, was adopted by Indian Army for the student of Kashmir to help them achieve educational success. The initiative began in 2013 in collaboration with the Center for Social Responsibility and Learning (CSRL) and Petronet LNG Ltd. (PLL), solely for engineering students as “Kashmir Super-40”. The project was a big success. In 2017, 28 students from Super 40 had cracked IIT-JEE Mains exam while 9 got into IIT.

IIT/JEE in Kashmir

 

After the triumph of engineering project, the Indian Army inaugurated “Kashmir Super 30” on 12th June 2018 for medical aspirants in the valley. The entrance exam coaching programme for NEET is being managed by an NGO, National Integrity and Educational Development Organisation (NIEDO), based in Kanpur. The NGO will avail teachers for academics while the Indian army manages the overall logistics, administration and infrastructure of the programme with the funding from Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL).

Super 30 Medical in Kashmir

 

“I will be very happy to see you all joining the medical colleges across India next year”, says Chinar Corps Commander as he applauds, compliments and wishes luck to the selected students of Kashmir Super 30 for their final training period of 12 months. The selection process that began after signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on 15th March 2018 was lengthy and yet vigorous. NIEDO conducted a written test for over 14,000 applicants lead by an interview and screening test for 170 shortlisted students. They were finally able to select 30 skilled, bright and aspiring students from the huge crowd of enthusiastic candidates of Kashmir Valley. The fact that so many students were looking forward to career opportunities in medicine was inspiring. The whole procedure turned out to be one of the best event to be held during Ramzan.

Indian Army in Kashmir

 

We whole-heartedly thank our Indian Army for their support and productive vision for our future as they take another initiative in the field of academic development of Kashmir. The Kashmir Super 40 project have proved to be an effective tool in transforming the society and we hope the same from Kashmir Super 30 as well. We believe that the endeavour will infuse a new ray of hope in the lives of under-privileged students. It will not only help them in recognising their talents but also make them able for better employment opportunities. At New Age Kashmir we cherish the efforts of Kashmiri people, Army and look forward to more generative developmental ideas.

Khuram shafi mir

High-Density Apple Orchard Inaugurated in Kashmir

“Waqt lagta hai, par ho jata hai.”
says the protagonist, Shahid, of the Bollywood movie Shahid. Read the article to find out why I have opened my article with the above quote.apple orchards 

The apples of Kashmir do not need any introduction. The stories of the taste of its divine fruit are popularly spread across the globe and thus, are in high demand, especially, in South Asia. Jammu and Kashmir is famous for producing a wide variety of apples which serves as a direct or indirect source of income for farmers. It is in the apple-picking season, which is from late July to October, that the actual joy of farmers can be seen. The green apple orchards, the dew drops on the fruits, and the sun kissed trees magnify their happiness with the beauty of Kashmir.

To keep the craze of apple farming intact and to nurture the productive growth of apple plantation, an US-educated Kashmiri born engineer, Khuram Shafi Mir, has taken revolutionary actions towards it. He is the son of a farmer from Penjoora village, district Shopian, who from an early age of 17 has been making efforts to enhance the plantation of world-class apples that ripen in the arms of Kashmir. His achievements begun from establishing a Control Atmosphere Store (CAS) in 2009. After working hard for 9 years to revive the apple industry of Kashmir, he finally set up a high-density apple orchard in June 2018 in Leh region.

 

high density orchard

 

Khuram, for a very long time, wanted to set up a high- density apple orchard, which is different from traditional orchards. A high-density orchard gets sunlight from all directions which helps the apples to ripen in same colour from all sides. The dream has finally taken a shape with the help of Ladakhi engineer, innovator and education reformist, Sonam Wangchuk, whose vision has served as a guiding star for Khuram’s ideas.

The high- density orchard, initiated by Khuram, has been set up in Phyang village of Jammu and Kashmir, 19 kilometres away from Leh at the university campus of Sonam Wangchuk’s initiative, namely, Himalayan Institute for Alternate Learning (HIAL). The plantation began with planting 264 trees of Gala Redlum, Red Vilox, Fuji and Golden Reaindeep apple varieties. Khuram mentions that they have changed three layers of barren soil successfully to ensure healthy plantation. And, thanks to Wangchuk, as his innovation of irrigating the orchard with the strong trellis system that receives water from “ice stupa”, has added more motivation to the initiative.

 

ice stupa

 

Nazi Ahmad, the horticulturist and head of the task force for high density plantation, has estimated that by 2050 the demand for apples in the world will reach up to 160 lakh metric tons. The current production is of 35 lakh metric tons. As per Ahmad, this is the perfect time to choose contemporary technique of high-density orchards over traditional orchards. Even the locals have begun to realise the importance of high-density apple orchard and have already adopted to it.

 

apples

Khuram and Wanchuk are two Kohinoors (Diamond) of Kashmir. They continuously remind the youth about the necessity of education, the resulting economical and national growth that comes from it and the hard-work that eventually pays off. Khuram becomes an inspiration to generations for his vision as he takes revolutionary steps towards the development of his state and country altogether.
New Age Kashmir happily represents gems like Sonam Wangchuk, the great engineer who inspired the character of Phunsukh Wangdu in “3 Idiots”, and introduce sprouting personalities like Khuram Shafi Mir, who have over and over taught the lesson of hard-work and dedication.

Kashmir International Film Festival, in the valley without a cinema hall.

Kashmir International Film Festival, in the valley without a cinema hall.

 

The 1st Kashmir International Film Festival of short and documentary film took place in December, 2013 at the Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Centre on the banks of Dal Lake. I might sound a bit too excited but in reality how many of you were even aware of this event? Not many, I can bet.
I would like to tell you why, but before that let me quote a spectacular soliloquy by Mark Antony from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, after Caesar had been murdered: “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.

Quoting the line is self-explanatory.

Young people resent the fact that when some masked youth take to the streets to pelt stones or brandish flags, national news channels flash the footage for days together. However, the same media ignores any positive developments happening in Kashmir.

We the people from the Valley of Saints and Reshis have had enough adverse publicity through a cynical prism that is challenging our warm ‘Kashmiriyat’ that still defines the Valley.

New Age Kashmir will not let the good of the Kashmiris be lost amidst today’s prime-time TV debate.

 

 

Let’s present to you today, Kashmir’s only independent and non-commercial film festival, Kashmir International Film Festival.

Founded with a mission to celebrate the cinema & work of aspiring, young, independent & professional filmmakers. Its aim is to recognize the informative, entertaining & progressive new age cinema of youth & experienced filmmakers.

In Kashmir, where there are no cinema halls, in a bid to revive the dwindling theatre and film culture in the Valley, the first four day Jammu & Kashmir International Film Festival was held in October, 2014, here in the SKICC auditorium in Srinagar.

The purpose of this film festival is to promote new movie makers, exchange of knowledge, information, ideas & culture between different nations in context of their social and cultural ethos. Film is the most democratic art, thus film festivals can help maintain democracy, peace and freedom.
The purpose of our KIFF is sharing. It helps promote friendship and cooperation among people of the world through the medium of films & documentaries.

 

 

Our aim is to organize this Film Festival just to get Filmmakers from across the world to Kashmir and show them what Kashmiriyat really means
Aamir Rafiq Peerzada – Festival Chairman

While the festival is open to filmmakers of all age, it becomes a great meeting place for all film-makers and audiences who are interested in film as a medium and a tool of social expression. Film festivals create dialogue between people and encourage cultivating the future members of this creative industry.
Besides screening films, a workshop is also organised to make students aware about aesthetics of film-making.

In this hope to revive the dying culture of cinema in the valley a Five-day-long international film festival ‘Kashmir World Film Festival’ kicked off in November, 2017, with the screening of ‘Meanz Raat’ Kashmir’s first full-length feature film made in1964. It has even screened 30 films of different International languages.

The Kashmir shown in news channels and newspapers is just a projection of through a pessimistic glass which is being countered by the youth of the Valley. It’s a source of angst for them that the national media consistently plays to a negative stereotype where Kashmir is concerned.

Kashmiri youth are not all violent stone-pelters, they all-encompassing achievers.
The world media hardly ever mention that.