Peer Viqar Ul Aslam: Technology Journalist from Kashmir
By Hirra Azmat
In a jam-packed classroom of eighth graders, the bespectacled science teacher meticulously explains the working of a human eye. Via a diagram, he explains how light falls on the rods and cons of retina, gets converted into electric signals that are passed on to the brain. In the midst of this explanation, a confused student stands up, scratches his head and poses a question, “Sir, if the light gets converted into electric signals, then why don’t we get an electric shock?” The whole class becomes quiet as a mouse. A bright smile crosses the face of the exhausted teacher. He tries to explain, but the student is hardly convinced. The teacher is increasingly exasperated. After almost all the class is exhausted in the argument, the teacher issues marching orders to the student. What are things made of and how they function? These two questions invariably haunt his young mind. Over the years, he learnt to be less stubborn but the inquisitiveness remains unabated.
Peer Viqar, 27, a co-founder of Eridanus Software solutions, has developed numerous apps. Presently, he alternates between being a technology journalist at Moroccan news agency and a reporter at renowned local daily Rising Kashmir.
Treading the path of various career options
The obsession with machines and gadgets increased after he completed his schooling from Walden higher Secondary school. He aspired to be a computer professional but couldn’t persuade his parents.
“I remember thronging my neighbour’s place who owned my favourite machine: a Pentium 3 PC. It was the only computer in the entire neighbourhood. Those days, a game called “Project IGI” was a rage and I too was an ardent devotee. I wondered what went into its making. I knew one day I would choose technology as my career option but my parents always opposed my aspirations”
He was forced to study science after his matriculation. His lack of aptitude made it clear to his parents that science was not his cup of tea. They yielded to his wishes
“I didn’t fare well in my 12th class examinations as I was hardly interested in the subject. That gave my parents a clear idea of where my interests lay. So finally I decided to go with BCA”
Peer Viqar co-founded Eridanus Software Solutions with his elder brother in 2008, understanding the importance of technical knowledge to run a tech company he graduated with bachelors of computer application in 2011 from Amar Singh College.
“I didn’t like the idea of masters. I thought it was futile. I thought I was good at programming and had the required technical skills for a job. I started a software company with my brother which did nicely in the coming years. Later, I realized I was wrong as the situation in Kashmir hit hard on the IT businesses. Many clients withdrew their projects after repeated blanket bans on internet.”
In 2012, he decided to venture outside Kashmir. He worked hard, and secured good positions in renowned IT companies. This helped him acquire sound technical, administrative and communication skills.
“I have worked in multiple companies training hundreds of candidates enhancing their skills. Being good at sales and marketing proved useful, as it honed my communication skills. I have held many workshops in Delhi and other states. my prime focus has always been personality development of the candidates I had chance to interact with.”
Three years rolled by, and the urge to learn rose again. He felt strangely inclined to writing. He started working as a free-lance technical writer for Moroccan news agency, which eventually prompted him to seek a formal training in journalism.
“In 2015, I somehow felt that I have an inadequate knowledge regarding certain things. I was drawn to writing. I started working as a technical writer for Moroccan news agency but deep down I knew there was a lot to learn. This made me pursue journalism”
Viqar is currently perusing his post-graduation in Mass Communication and Journalism from MERC, University of Kashmir. He also works as a reporter in Rising Kashmir and covers both technology and conflict based stories.
The absence of technology journalism in Kashmir prompted him to take to journalism and start narrating stories of tech geeks like him, the challenges and the struggle that every technocrats goes through!
“Practicing journalism is an entirely different experience. Every day brings something challenging and new. Everyone you meet carries a story, and every story is worth sharing”
Ups and Downs
There were times when he was taunted by friends and family for not sticking to one job. But it didn’t deter him from experimenting, and going places.
“A few closet relatives labelled me as vagrant. They thought I didn’t stay with one job for a long time. The harsh comments hurt, but I always believe in myself. I don’t idolize anybody and strictly believe in following my heart. This has always worked for me”
In 2015, Viqar was awarded the best youth icon award organised my J &K innovators Forum and Department of lifelong learning. He was awarded for “Engineering category”. Among the many apps developed, two apps became quite popular – JK Meeqat and City FM JK (An app developed for a client and is the first online radio for Kashmir)
He was also awarded NFK ‘Best Entrepreneur’ award for his tech company – Eridanus Software Solutions.
He was recently covering Budgam by polls when cops aimed guns at him for shooting pictures as they were engaged in fierce clashes with protesters at Nasrullapora. He received injuries while running for cover as the situation was very volatile in that area.
“The SOG cop really meant his words, insisting that I stop taking pictures or he will shoot me. A stone hit me on the nape and another on the leg, but we kept on doing our job and one of those pictures was on the front page next day.”
The other funky side
The light-eyed guy sporting a half beard, and a well-built physique is full of dark humour. He mostly dresses in denims and T-shirts. He enjoys listening to soft music, and is crazy about cars and bikes.
“I enjoy traveling and long drives. Earlier, I used to get thrilled by speed. I would literally drive my car at a neck-breaking speed. But now I see a change in me. I have become more responsible and follow traffic rules religiously after coming in Media. You never know when you might be targeted,” he concludes jokingly.