Activist, Author, Motivational Speaker and penning down his debut book The True Purpose of Life at tender age of 17, Yaquine Al-Haq Ahmad Sikander is a personality of sheer dynamism.
In an Exclusive Interview with The NewsKashmir Yaquine Al-Haq Ahmad Sikander talks to Rameez Makhdoomi.
A bit about yourself?
Well, I was born and raised here in Kashmir. I am the youngest of three siblings. My father is in the business of pharmaceuticals while my mother is a home maker and my parents are my greatest mentors. My eldest brother MushtaqUlHaq is a Political Scientist & Social Activist while the other one, RaiesUlHaq is an advocate in New Delhi and their support helped me achieve heights in my life. Under their tutelage and that of my parents, I acquired essential insights about life and everything else.In the fall of 2010, I went to pursue my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from International Islamic University Malaysia. I was very active in campus, lecturing and delivering workshops in Malaysia and abroad on Personal Development, Love and Spirituality which led to the formation of Inspire ME Global in early 2012. Right now, we shifted the Head Quarters of Inspire ME to Kashmir and I am full-time working to expand our operations here along with our team.
2 What is Inspire ME™ initiative all about?
I founded Inspire ME in early 2012. Before that I was very active in attending youth conferences and workshops and then I realized the need to form an organisation for Youth Empowerment that assists youth in realizing their optimal potential and help them in developing a vision for their lives. Inspire ME wants to provide a platform for talented youth to be the agents of change and social transformation. Right now Inspire ME HQ is based in Srinagar, Kashmir. We are registered as an Educational Trust under the name Inspire ME Foundation. We are also internationally active as Inspire ME Global in Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and few other places. We conducts various workshops, programs, seminars, conferences, reading and discussion groups etc related to youth and other intellectual and social issues. We are being very warmly received by the youth of Kashmir and we already have a lot of success stories and I guess that’s what drives us to do more for Kashmir as we belong here and not many platforms are available to youth, despite of the enormous talent, in this part of the world.
3 How did the idea of writing your debut book The True Purpose of Life came at such early age?
Well, I am often asked this question. I published the book when I was 17 and wrote it when I was 16, immediately after passing my 10th class examinations. I used to think about serious existentialist questions unlike my peers and I felt the need to come up with a book that explains various perspectives on life meant for a serious teenage reader. I started writing and in a month it became a whole book which was initially rejected by 13 publishers due to my age but was finally accepted by a publication house based in New Delhi. Currently, I am revising it and the revised edition will hit the markets next year, being published from Malaysia.
4 Activist, Author, Motivational Speaker- Where from such versatility came?Is it imbibed in your nature?
Well, I believe rather than nature, it is the nurture part that helped most. It was the family support especially that of my parents paired with the inspiration which I derived from great authors and personal mentors that made me who I am.
5 How would you describe your leadership style?
My personal leadership style is transformational and democratic leadership comes in handy as well. Each member of Inspire ME is autonomous. We don’t believe in a strict hierarchy, rather each person is assigned a job which they are supposed to finish before deadline. Besides, each Inspire ME member gets time to work on new ideas and we help in their implementation. We believe that we are as strong as our weakest link. So the team cohesion must stay strong and we have trainings each week for the team to stay dynamic, active, productive and innovative.
6 What do you want to achieve in the next 5 years?
Well, actually a lot. Just wait and watch. With time, things and plans become clearer.
7 Is too much Social media making our youngsters lazy and unimpressive?
Definitely! Youngsters are living dual lives. One is the real life and the other one is a virtual life. Youth with low self-esteem find a safe-haven in social networks but excessive use of internet and social media leads to depression and isolation. We need to be active and become a generation of doers. Social media makes one passive. Instead of wasting time online, I would advise the youth to volunteer for social causes, learn a new language, play sports and do real things.
8 What are your hobbies and what inspires you to create a routine?
Well, my temperament is sanguine and as such I find it hard to stick with a routine. I am a very free-spirited person and I love reading books, solo travelling, mountain climbing, trekking, motivational speaking and interacting with youth. There are a number of things that inspire me. When I wake up each morning and think of how much is there to be done to make a difference, it drives me and keeps me inspired.
9 What is a piece of advice would you give to someone who is currently struggling in life?
Well, we all have our internal battles to fight and struggles to carry on. Maybe the struggle of other people is harder than ours. So always be kind and remember nothing stays forever. Believe in yourself and the collective mistakes we do is what becomes our life experience. Robert Frost said, “In three words I can sum up life – It Moves On.”
10 If you could be on TV show for a day, what show would you be on and why?
I would love to be on Oprah Winfrey’s show because I love her personal journey and it’s inspirational. If not, I would love an interview on BBC Hard Talk