Srinagar, Sep 28 (UNI) Despite the almost 18-year-old violence in Kashmir, the younger generation in the trouble-torn state has kept its hopes high for the peace in the valley as the students overwhemingly came up in support of the Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy of non-violence.
The debate on 'Gandhian philosophy and its relevance in the 21st century' has evoked tremendous response in schools and colleges, with over 50,000 students participating in different tiers of the competition across Jammu and Kashmir.
Interestingly, Muslim students have fared well with six of the total eight school category finalists and six out of the 11 college level finalists of the debate that started on September 1. Girl students constitute 50 per cent of the finalists in the school category.
The concluding round of the debate is scheduled for October 2, which would be telecast live by Doordarshan in Srinagar.
''The overwhelming response is an indication of popularity of the Gandhian philosophy, especially his doctrine of non-violence, among the younger generation'', says Chief Minister on whose idea the state-wide debate on the topic was being organised.
He even proposed the highest award money for the winners of the final round.
The debate was being held simultaneously for school and college students with prize money of Rs one lakh as First Prize, Rs 50,000 as 2nd Prize and two 3rd Prizes of Rs 25,000 in both the categories.
The enthusiasm shown by the students throughout the state, particularly in Kashmir, has overjoyed the officials of higher and school education departments.
''As many as 47,924 students of high and higher secondary schools, including 23,352 from Kashmir division, took part in various tiers of the debate'', says Mr Khizr Muhammad Wani, Secretary School Education.
The competition was organised at school, zonal, district and divisional level. The divisional level round was concluded on September 22.
Altogether, 1508 higher secondary and high schools participated in the debate. Of this, the majority of 834 schools and 31 colleges were from Kashmir.