< Previous |
| Next >

Omar Abdullah

See more videos


The Savvy Scion

“I am a Muslim and I am an Indian, and I see no distinction between the two”, Omar Abdullah said in a widely acclaimed 2009 Lok Sabha speech.

It may not sound much to those unfamiliar with the intricacies of Indian—especially Kashmiri—politics, but to those in the know, it was an unmistakable pronouncement: Omar had arrived.

Young, articulate, and an ardent fan of technology (he is prolific on Twitter), Omar, 41, is the youngest Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Born in the UK in 1970, he’s the grandson of Sheikh Abdullah—Kashmir’s first Prime Minister and founder of Kashmir’s first political party—and son of former J&K Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah.

But to write Omar off as a product of lineage alone would be to underestimate his resilience and commitment to making a difference in his trouble-ravaged state. He leapt into the political fray at age 29, an astonishing feat of confidence given that most Indian politicians at the time were twice, if not thrice, his age. After becoming the youngest Member of Parliament, he went on to be the youngest Union Minister to hold the External Affairs portfolio. In 2002, he resigned to concentrate on party work. Later that year the National Conference, headed by him, lost assembly elections; he lost even his own seat.

Typical of Omar, though, he went back to fight. “It was ego. I went to a school whose motto was ‘Never Give In’, and so I refused to give up,” he later said in an interview. In the years since, he set about putting his party in order—successfully, since he now finds himself Chief Minister of J&K. As CM, things haven’t always been smooth—but then, despite his easygoing manner, Omar has never shown an inclination for the easy route.

< Previous | /
| Next >