Kashmiri researcher secures over Rs 1 crore grant for migration studies at University of Leeds

Srinagar: A young researcher from Kashmir has secured a significant grant from an English university for his research project. Danish Zahoor, 33, a resident of Soura in Srinagar, has received funding of INR 1.3 crore to pursue his research in Migration Studies at the University of Leeds Business School in England.

Speaking with KNO, Danish said this research project became possible after two years of continuous efforts, applying for research grants, and submitting multiple research proposals. “Receiving this funding will aid in investigating various aspects of modern slavery and human trafficking,” he stated.

“Human migration is a crucial aspect of globalisation. However, immigration has become a hotly contested and controversial issue in Western societies like Europe and the US,” he explained.

Danish highlighted the problems accompanying migration, such as modern slavery and human trafficking. “In the UK, the Seasonal Worker Visa Programme (SWVP) has been notorious for issues like exploitation, control by farm owners, abusive behaviour, limited access to healthcare, poor housing, and work-life balance,” he noted.

The researcher added that these problems are compounded by the fact that workers migrate to the UK mostly during the harvest season on a short-term visa of six months, making them more likely to accept exploitative conditions silently. “Language barriers, lack of education, and awareness about their rights further exacerbate the problem. Often, they are charged exorbitant prices by unscrupulous brokers in their own country, leading to indebtedness and nullifying their months of efforts and earnings in the UK,” he said.

“My research seeks to investigate these critical issues and whether the agricultural seasonal worker programme in the UK amounts to a form of modern slavery,” Danish added.

He said thousands of workers migrate to developed countries like the UK from poor and developing parts of South Asia and Central Asia. “Their efforts contribute significantly to the UK’s economy and benefit their own countries through substantial foreign remittances. Ensuring their work and living conditions meet globally accepted human rights norms can ensure all-around benefits and bring the fruits of globalization to all,” he added.

Danish believes that research in the fields of social sciences and humanities has immense potential to improve lives through informed policy-making and governance.

Reflecting on his journey, he shared that he completed his schooling at Burn Hall School in Srinagar and graduated in Business Administration from the University of Kashmir. He then cracked the Symbiosis National Aptitude (SNAP) Test and pursued an MBA in Marketing & Finance at Symbiosis International University, Pune.

“After completing my MBA, I was recruited by Ernst & Young and started working in Mumbai as a Business Consultant. However, my interests always lay in research, writing, and academia. I soon quit my job and started working independently as a Content Writer and Strategist while pursuing my Masters in Political Science through correspondence,” he said.

“After returning to Kashmir, I joined the education department where I taught Political Science and worked as a Teacher Trainer,” he said. Danish concluded by stating that his research project at the University of Leeds aims to bridge his interests in both political science and business.

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