Friday 13 November 2020

The failure of British Kashmiri Youth

There is a huge difference in attitudes and behaviour when you compare today's British Kashmiri youth with their parents or grandparents. Years ago, the elder generation made the brave decision to leave their country of birth and landed in Britain, not knowing what kind of future to expect. They were unsure about what was going to happen - they didn’t have the qualifications or the opportunities that are easily available to youngsters today and their skill set was limited. But one thing was for sure, they were ready to work as hard as anyone could possibly imagine. The attitude they came with is what gave them the strength to put up with numerous obstacles and major issues such as racism and remain focused no matter what. To put it simply, they were outsiders who came with the will to succeed. So despite not being prepared for the challenges of life in Britain, they came with the right mindset as well as honest intentions; putting the needs of their families ahead of everything else.

From the moment they came off the plane - they were stared at for being different; looked down at for being natives of poor countries. Many thoughts would have unsettled them. How would they cope in freezing cold England? Would the white people let them stay for long? Despite all the uncertainty and being thousands of miles away from home, without social media and phones, they were mentally strong and that is what kept them going for years. They didn’t know the language; they didn’t understand the culture and they certainly didn’t have the liberty of choosing from a list of halal restaurants. They sat in the corners of factories, tucking into their tiffin tins, whilst their bosses made jokes about them and the smell of their curry. Work was hard: difficult tasks and long hours, but that was the only reason they came, so it didn’t matter. If somebody insulted them on the streets, it would be wise to keep their heads down and walk away. Racism was the norm; nobody would come to help them and even if they dared to complain to the authorities - it wouldn’t make any difference. Initially the goal was to earn money and send it back home to make life easier for family. Over time, the hard work paid off and many of the men began to invite their families over to live with them. After all, it wasn’t easy to live so far for so long.

Fast forward to the current generation and you find that things have changed significantly. Many of the grandchildren of those hard working, honest men, are not quite the same and unfortunately, lack the qualities that their elders possessed. Today, the younger generations have plenty of opportunities to take advantage of - they’ve got a massive head start compared to their elders. Many of them have parents who have done exceptionally well, either those who gained academic success in the form of degrees and worked in professional careers or those who after years of hard work and experience, worked themselves up to prominent jobs. We also have those successful people who worked in factories or even as taxi drivers. Over the years, they saved up to help build a brighter future for the next generation. It seemed as if generation by generation, progress was being made as one generation looked back and learnt from the previous one. However, despite there being plenty of examples of highly successful individuals to learn from, for the current generation, the outlook seems pretty gloomy. Too many youngsters have simply adopted the wrong approach to life; completely neglecting the lessons they should have learnt from their parents and grandparents. These are people who went through years of school without any desire to learn anything. They simply did not see the value and the purpose of education. Many of them grew up seeing their young and trendy uncles and cousins driving flashy cars that cost more than even the terraced houses they lived in.

Why do they need to work hard? Why do they need to pass exams? Why do they need to get a job? Once they’ve failed at school and come out with next to nothing in terms of skills and qualifications, what opportunities do they have? Well, they could try some training as an apprentice? They might do that for a while, only to find that they weren’t the top two or three who were chosen for the job at the end. It’s hard work to learn something new - can they become an electrician or a plumber? Not with that attitude of theirs. Wat u mean? That’s how they will respond to a customer asking for help, that’s if they get a job at the local superstore that now has an assessment centre as part of the recruitment process - something that will expose their lack of communication skills. So that kind of job is not going to happen for them. They don’t have the basic etiquette needed to answer calls at a call centre. So they try for a while but nothing comes up. They have no choice but to take a job at the local retailer but it’s boring and the pay is peanuts; they also make you mop the floor and clean the bins.

These are young adults who have never paid a bill in their lives - their elders have made enough money to protect them financially so there is no real pressure to work. Perhaps that’s why there is no desire to succeed and no signs of striving for success. How could we forget? They already have everything they need. There is plenty of money in the pot and it won’t run out any time soon. However, their parents still want them to do something so they can become responsible adults. But it’s embarrassing for them to work at the local takeaway especially when their rich cousins walk in and ask for donner meat and chips. People in the community will laugh. Look at these people - they have several properties and lots of money but their son works at the chip shop. There is nothing wrong with working at a takeaway. Hard work is rewarded no matter where it is done. However, these kids are spoilt. They’ve had it easy all their lives. They can’t work for more than a week at the chip shop - it’s too hot, the boss is messing me about; they’re not paying enough. Excuse after excuse as job after job goes.

One day, they sit down with their super rich cousin and explain how they’re sick of spending a week’s wage on their Versace and Armani clothes; something they wear as if it’s their uniform. Let’s remember these are the grandchildren of the same people who would wear the same clothes for months, only so they could save up to send money back home to their relatives. How can these youngsters who have been brought up with the love of designer clothes, expensive cars and luxury holidays be taught the skill of living within one’s means? It doesn’t matter if you don’t drive a Mercedes or a BMW like your relatives. There is nothing wrong in buying clothes from Asda or Primark so that you can have some money saved up for a rainy day. You don’t need that holiday to Dubai if your salary isn’t up to it. You can live a happy life without having to spend more money than you can afford. But sadly many youngsters do not see it this way. They know that they do not have the skills or the qualifications required to get the jobs that pay well enough to allow them to afford such lifestyles.

There is nothing wrong with not progressing through the education system because there are many other paths that lead to success. The elder generation didn’t know how to speak English but they worked hard and became successful. There is also nothing wrong with not having money or earning a basic wage. It is important to be happy in oneself - if you couldn’t get a job at one place, try again later or try elsewhere. Keep working hard and no matter what kind of job it is, as long as it is a pure income that is earned with good intentions, you will be at peace. Even if you simply do not want to work or just need a break, that’s your personal choice. Regardless of your education and financial status, you can be a good person and lead a successful life. It’s your mindset and attitude towards life that defines you. Learn to be happy in yourself and with what you have. Do not look at others or listen to others who attempt to derail you with their opinions.

No doubt it is difficult to explain such concepts to the youth as they have conflicting ideas being thrown at them from all angles. So when the rich cousin sits down with them, he tells them one thing that is simple enough for them to understand. It’s easy bro, every manz doing it these days. You got to sell it for some time and watch how your life changes. But it’s wrong and illegal to sell drugs and forbidden by Islam. Look bro, look at me. I sold the stuff for a few years now I got my own legit businesses. You can do the same. Not only do these people ruin their own lives but they become a nuisance for society as a whole. Nobody wants their loved ones to be hit by a car being chased by the police. It’s the ultimate tragedy when someone knocks your door to give you the bad news. But this is the outcome of a failed generation - it affects people who have little to do with it.

So the youngster goes away and thinks about it. One option is to go back to the chip shop or the cash and carry and get pushed about. Get paid enough in a week to buy an Armani tracksuit. Forget about the Audi R8 dreams. Continue listening to the taunts of your relatives. Look at him, he doesn’t even work. He can’t work. He doesn’t know how to keep a job. He has no money. He probably lives off his parents’ bank account. Look at him at the job centre - benefit hungry. Relatives can put a lot of pressure on the youth and as it builds up, they feel that something must be done to shut them up.

Suddenly the rich cousin option doesn’t seem like a bad one. Why not give it a try? The cousin tells you that you’ll be working all your life but won’t be able to save up to buy a good car or a big house. He reminds you of how your other relatives are on big salaries and have moved up in their lives. But you know that you cannot compete with them - they are lawyers, doctors and engineers. You will be on a minimum wage and after a few years of working, you might not even have enough money to insure a small car. There is a massive gap between the life you actually want and the life that is in front of you. You need to escape it as quickly as possible.

All communities face issues and the British Kashmiri community is no different. The elder generation didn't focus on educating the youth. Instead they focused on making enough money to feed the next three generations which was very kind and thoughtful of them. Given the circumstances they faced, one cannot blame them for giving money the utmost importance. They didn't want their future generations to face the financial hardships and challenges they had to endure. However, if you give money to irresponsible people, it does them more damage than good. It’s not only about money and education - it’s about attitudes and values. History demonstrates that people with good values and positive intentions can survive through difficult times. The sad reality is that the thousands of pounds that may have taken the elders years of blood, sweat and hard work to earn, will be spent by the next generation without much thought. If you give a responsible person some money, they will think before they spend it. Perhaps they will invest it in training or education or invest it in shares or property. However, the youth does not think in this way. They prefer to spend it on hiring expensive cars for temporary pleasure. You’re spending your father’s money on something you enjoy - there is nothing wrong with that. But one has to prioritise; when you don’t have the income to put food on the table, it is irresponsible to flash your cash as if you’re a millionaire, simply for the sake of attention and perhaps fitting in with the clan.

The community has changed over the years - hard working people of the past are now having to put up with a generation which has an idle and ignorant minority who cause problems for not only themselves but for the entire community. You only have to drive down certain roads in specific areas of Birmingham and Bradford to find that these youths have blocked the roads and as a line of cars forms behind them with people horning, they talk to their friends as if the rest of the world is unimportant. Chillin bro…jus chillin. They block roads because they are inconsiderate and arrogant. They see themselves as better than others. Just because they have designer caps and modified cars with loud speakers. That is their claim to fame. The sad reality is that despite having opportunities to succeed the proper way, they chose the short cut. Drugs and gang crime are obviously related. The rich cousin didn’t tell them about the fights and the prison sentences that come with the job. Not everyone becomes a drug dealer - many choose other ways to make a quick buck. However, the real issue is the poor mentality that these members of the youth have picked up. They have badly let down their elders in every way possible.

By selling drugs to the youth, the problem only gets bigger with time. Youngsters who start smoking weed at the age of fifteen will be smoking it when they are fifty. It’s not a short-term habit. It’s a life long contract. The moment a youngster takes a puff, often out of curiosity, he doesn’t realise that this is a big disaster and the implications will be faced by his family too. The biggest tragedy is that such negative attitudes are spreading like fire and sadly becoming the norm. Too many youngsters simply don’t care. They don’t care about the parents that brought them up; they don’t care about the police arresting them; they don’t care about what people will say or think; they don’t care how their money is made and the list goes on. This attitude of not caring about anything is dangerous and concerning. Perhaps the attitude is a way of covering up failure and knowing deep down that you’re not good enough to do something worthwhile. It’s easier to just act as if you’re not bothered than to sit down and reflect upon what went wrong and how changes can be made.

Perhaps the elders should have taken more time off work to spend with their children so they could focus more on teaching them life skills and beneficial values. But they didn’t because they thought that money would be enough to secure the future. Perhaps it was the fear of their children having to face the same hardships as they once did, that motivated them to focus purely on building up wealth.

However, there is some hope. We find that more people are realising the benefits and importance of education. They are motivating their children to work hard at school; encouraging them to achieve. Despite being financially comfortable, such parents do not spoil their children. They reward them for certain accomplishments which helps to build up an appreciation of hard work. This is significantly wiser than simply giving everything on the plate. It enables the youth to learn a life lesson i.e. you must work hard to achieve something. Parents are investing in academic private tuition as well as Islamic education and sports activities outside of school. This helps to keep minds fresh and active and promotes competitiveness. The previous generations were unable to engage the youth in such activities. They just about had time to see them. Even if the money runs out, hard working people with positive attitudes will find a way. Whereas shallow-minded individuals who turn to extravagance will find a way to fail regardless of what is given to them.

Sameer - Dadyal Online

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