Are Kashmiri students living by their career choices?

Despite the challenges, Gowhar ended up working as a petty clerk in a school, lacking the sense of contentment and liveliness he once yearned for.

He keeps a hawkish gaze on his students locking horns over a mock trial. As their passionate arguments resonate and graduate them from classroom to courtroom, Prof. Mohammad Hussain smiles with contentment. 

Before holding an esteemed chair with his three-decade-odd Law teaching tenure at the University of Kashmir, the professor was in his students’ shoes—dreaming to live by his career choice. He grew up in a different era—the hippie seventies—when boys of his age were toiling hard to sustain the academic flame amid poverty and pathos. But one thing set him apart from his peers.

While many of them were wondering about their future choices, Hussain had his eyes clear on future. He was ready to take call on his career choice. A chance happenstance only fuelled his desire to be a campus lawman.  

“I remember once having lunch with my Botany classmates,” the professor recalls. “While discussing our future plans, a sudden remark was made by my friend who was studying Law, questioning my value of delving into the intricate world of Oospores and Zoospores (basic structures of plants).”

He asked in return to this remark, “What’s your plan for future?” To which, his friend replied, “I’ll be embarking on a journey of practicality, immersing myself in the lives of others, lending an empathetic ear to their problems and engaging in meaningful conversation.” 

The answer evokes the image of an ideal campus learner, but in Hussain, it sparked a cascade of thoughts and made a profound shift in his plans. He soon found immense fulfilment in imparting knowledge, particularly in the field of Law. “Sometimes, you just need a small push to pursue your passion,” the professor says. “And it’s worth all our effort. But then, I do understand how different factors deny such choices.”

In a world where dreams collide with societal expectations, the pursuit of a desired career can be a transformative journey. It’s a path filled with passion, sacrifices, and the potential to make a lasting impact on both individuals and society. 

Within the academic walls. [FPK Photo/Shaista Altaf.]


Shafin Abdullah, a third year student of Music and Fine Arts at University of Kashmir, Naseem Bagh Srinagar, explores the new visual ideas in the form of paintings. The greatest asset of Shafin is when words fail to express, the artwork conveys it all.

His expressive art depicts a narrative art through the themes of joy, sorrow, love, conflict, and variety of emotions that reflect the human conditioning.

Painting being his favourite hobby since childhood gradually attracted the idea of choosing it as a career. Inspite of being listening to ongoing loud voices all around, asking him to do the stuff of painting in his leisure time and rather focus on his academics, Shafin found where his love of life resides and that was painting.

Workshop of a free-spirited soul. [FPK Photo/Shaista Altaf.]


Career choice is a very complex chronicle in Kashmir. A lot of dynamics come to play to determine it. Apart from domino effect, a make-believe notion and a compulsive decision-making regulates its course. This was exactly the case for Maleeha Sofi, a Journalism student at Cluster University, Srinagar. 

In the shade of crimson Chinar, she sat to tell her story of self-discovery—a journey of choice over expectations. “As a child,” Maleeha begins, “I never had the typical aspirations of becoming a doctor like many kids do. When I finished my 10th class exams, everyone around me suddenly insisted that I pursue Science. Without much resistance, I went along with it.”

However, during her time studying science, she discovered her love for writing and news reading. In the gap year of 2019, she delved deeper into her interests and realized that journalism was her true calling. “I’m incredibly grateful that I didn’t rush into following the expectations of others,” she says. “Instead, I took my time, carefully considered everything, and ultimately found my passion in journalism. I knew deep down that it was the only path for me.”

Maleeha believes that every student should have the freedom to choose their own career. However, she insists, these choices should be backed by logic and ability. “It’s important to make informed decisions that align with our interests and capabilities.”

In all honesty, she says, the freedom to pursue desired careers should become a culture in the valley. “The opinions of others hardly matter in such cases,” Maleeha says. “I’ve faced taunts and criticism from people for not choosing Science and opting for a subject in the field of Arts. But I’ve come to terms with it. What matters most is that I’m happy and satisfied with my choices, and so are my parents.”

A mock trial. [FPK Photo/Shaista Altaf.]


By embracing one’s true calling and pursuing what brings one joy, people can create a life filled with purpose and contentment. On a societal level, the impact of going according to an individual’s interest can have a profound impact. When individuals pursue their passions, they often bring innovation, creativity, and new perspectives to their respective industries. 

This can drive progress and advancements in various fields, leading to economic growth and societal development. Passionate individuals can also inspire others, serving as role models and catalysts for positive change within their communities. But those pushed into conveyor belt often ends up losing their gold.

Sameer Ahangar, the cricket enthusiast, once had big dreams of following in the footsteps of his cricket idols. He dedicated himself to honing his skills, emulating their practice routines, and finding inspiration in their success. At around 17 years old, Sameer was a socially vibrant person, full of life and passion for the game.

But as Sameer reached the 12th standard, his dreams began to fade. There was no supportive atmosphere for him to pursue cricket, and societal pressures started creeping in. The weight of expectations, like getting married and taking on huge responsibilities, gradually forced him to make unwanted career choices. He obtained a Psychology degree, but it felt empty, just a piece of paper. The same happened when he pursued a Master’s in English Literature.

A different ball game. [FPK Photo/Shaista Altaf.]


Moving from one unsatisfying career to another, Sameer now finds himself as an educationist—coaching students with no real fulfillment. The struggle has taken its toll, turning him into a recluse who no longer feels the urge to socialize or engage in conversations. This lack of satisfaction has even affected his love life, leaving him feeling entrapped in a monotonous cycle of earning a living.

His case sheds light on the challenges many face when societal pressures overshadow their true passions. It serves as a reminder to pursue what truly brings a person joy and fulfillment, rather than succumbing to the expectations of others.

Meet Mehnaaz Khan, a 27-year-old who grew up in a troubled family. Her father’s abusive behaviour, including violence towards her mother, created a chaotic environment. To protect Mehnaaz from this turmoil, her mother sent her to live with her grandmother.

It was in her grandmother’s home that Mehnaaz discovered the enchanting world of Kashmiri tapestry. Mesmerized by the intricate designs, she realized her true passion for fashion designing. However, her family discouraged her from pursuing her dreams. She was coerced to pursue Integrated MBA. But after five years of struggling, she felt no sense of worth in her degree.

Feeling lost, Mehnaaz attempted to explore other avenues and appeared in competitive civil service exams. Yet, her life became a series of unwanted choices, leaving her unfulfilled. Even working from home failed to bring her inner satisfaction.

Now, at the age of 27, Mehnaaz finds herself at a crossroads. While her family searches for a suitable match for her, she feels a deep sense of emptiness and regrets the choices she has made.

Sometimes, the path to discovering one’s true calling can be a winding one. For instance, Gowhar, a compassionate soul from Baramulla, witnessed people facing tough times, which fuelled his desire to lend a helping hand. He discreetly assisted those in need, particularly in managing marriages for those less fortunate.

However, his aspirations to formalize this as his social activist career were met with opposition. Like many others, he was pushed to go against his own dreams and desires. This forced him to question his own identity, leaving him feeling lost and unfulfilled.

Despite the challenges, Gowhar ended up working as a petty clerk in a school, lacking the sense of contentment and liveliness he once yearned for.

Expression of a creative career choice. [FPK Photo/Shaista Altaf.]


At the University of Kashmir, where the mock trial is getting argumentative, Prof. Hussain reflects on the trend and tradition troubling the career choices in Kashmir for years. But he sees a resolve in young generation to advocate their own cases now.

“In the intricate realm of career choices, opting for what truly resonates with us can be a transformative experience,” the professor says. “It opens up endless possibilities and empowers us to make informed decisions that shape our future.” 

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