For the last three years, the Indian Army has been coaching students in Kashmir to clear the IIT Joint Entrance Exam. Now, with nine students having cracked the JEE Advanced, India's most competitive engineering entrance exam, the Indian Army has created a success story not just for the students, but also for itself.
For sometime now, the Army has been trying to adopt so called soft tactics in Kashmir. With the mixed reputation that they have earned over the years, it is not an easy task to woo the people in the Valley. Sincere promises of help aren't an easy sell to a people traumatised by pellet guns.
Among the 40 students from the Valley enrolled for JEE coaching organised by the Army to gain admission to the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), nine have cleared it this year.
This also happened to be the first time that five girls from the Valley had joined the Army's Super 40 batch. Two cleared the JEE Mains and are now eligible for admission to engineering courses in Jamia Millia University and Jamia Hamdard University in Delhi.
The nine qualifiers from the Kashmir Super-40 initiative are Aqib Amin, Mohammad Mussa, Bashir Ahmed, Nasir Ali, Imtiyaz Hussain, Feroz Ahmed, Maisam Ali, Shahid Sultan and Jahangir Shakeel, reports the Indian Express.
"The success achieved this year was overwhelming, with 9 out of a 36-student batch having qualified," an Army spokesman said.
On Tuesday, Army chief General Bipin Rawat met the Super-40 batch and congratulated them. General Rawat told the students that their success was not an easy feat and they have now become a shining example for the youth in the Valley.
"They (the youth) should either have a laptop or a book. Whatever time they get they should devote to studies," Rawat said.
The Army, along with the Centre for Social Responsibility and Leadership (CSRL), conducts 'Super 40' programme in Jammu and Kashmir. Funded by PSU Petronet LNG Limited, the programme aims to train students in the state to help them clear the notoriously daunting IIT entrance test.
In the initiative's first year, no one managed to crack the JEE. Meenakshi Shai, chief manager of the Army's Super-40 batch project (CSRL), told the Times of India that 30 students from the batch had appeared for JEE Mains last year, out of which 25 had cleared JEE Mains and seven had cleared JEE Advanced. However, the results this year have set a new record.
In 1998, amidst violence in the Valley, the Indian Army had launched Operation Sadbhavana, a goodwill programme that endeavoured to bridge the gap between the jawan (Army) and the 'awaam' (people).
The operation was mainly focused on education, medical facilities, small-scale infrastructure and national integration. This was a way that the Army was trying to woo the civilians in Kashmir. While the Army maintains that Sadhbhavana has been a success and helped local people in the conflict area, not too many agree with it.
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