Touseef Mehraj

Touseef Raina, Vice President of Policy Institute of Jammu and Kashmir is a dynamic young change-maker with an outstanding record of shaping a positive, forward-looking cultural, social, and political milieu in Kashmir. He is a self-made leader and thinker who remains deeply rooted in his humble beginnings, with a thorough understanding of the weft and waft of the fabric of Kashmiri society. Touseef is an activist and organisation-builder of proven merit, with over a decade of experience in leading change through bold initiatives. He founded the advocacy group, the Global Youth Foundation, which worked for peace-building in the Valley through myriad creative activities like peace marches, a Youth Against Corruption movement, and an anti-drugs campaign.

He his striven tirelessly for inter-community harmony and social justice through the organization, which he founded. Trained as a professional journalist and having an academic background in Mass Communication and Video Production, Touseef has also been mindful of the application of mass communication tools in building a sense of community. In this context, he founded the media portal Alternate Kashmir to provide a platform to the youth for expressing themselves with a focus on problem solving and building an aspirational narrative that is home-grown in Kashmir and reflects the diverse voices in the valley.

As a youth leader, Touseef has always boldly stood for the rights of the downtrodden and marginalised, discriminated and disenfranchised stakeholders of society. He has served as General Secretary at the Downtrodden Vendors Union to push for the rights and benefits of hand-cart vendors, acting as their chief interlocutor with the local government. As a leader who had emerged in the context of conflict, Touseef had also worked to address the issue of radicalization of Kashmiri youth and is a strong advocate of promoting the syncretic culture of Kashmiriyat by bringing relevant stakeholders to promote inter-community and intra-community harmony. He had served as advisor to J&K AIMA Association convening dialogues between Imams from all over Kashmir. He also initiated vision-building conversations with Kashmiri Pandits to restore confidence between the Kashmiri Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh communities.

He was selected to train alongside other youth leaders from the South East Asian region in the Dialogue for Peace workshop organised by KAICIID in Rishikesh in February 2020. Touseef's leadership skills and passionate work has also been commended by networks such as the United Religions Network which invited him to its National Assembly at Varanasi in 2019. Also in 2020, Touseef travelled to the US at the invitation of the State Department as a Fellow for the prestigious International Visiting Leadership Program.