Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

God Save my Land!

Kashmir has many challenges - here are two on eradicating corruption and preserving heritage

God save my land!

Imtiyaz Ahmad (Rising Kashmir)

Kashmir may be known throughout the world as paradise on earth but the question is how it turned to a wasteland: a land devoid of all its fertility, growth and power of regeneration. The uncomfortable truth is that it has really turned into a wasteland. “The wasteland” is a long poem written by eminent poet cum critic of twentieth century T.S.Eliot. The poem talks about human bareness and spiritual sterility.

All along we have been known for our rich spiritual values but now we are suffering from the spiritual sterility. It is a disease symptomatic of complete breakdown of contact between man and his creator. It expresses itself in the form of immorality, wickedness and of course betrayal. The man suffering from this disease knows nothing, sees nothing and also remembers nothing. He is not aware even of even his own life. Corruption in its literal sense as well as in metaphorical sense creeps into the whole existence of human life.

There is hardly any part of human existence which has not been infected by this deadly disease. The corruption of human mind or human soul results in the corruption in all those spheres where humans display their physical and intellectual capabilities. It may be education, public services, health care; all the departments of human engagement are eaten up by the disease of corruption. There is hardly any department left which remains immune to this menace.

Keeping these things in view, when we look at the contemporary situation of Kashmir it won’t be wrong to call this city “unreal”; a city which is slowly falling down from the pristine spiritual standards. We have of late seen our social order fracturing in the face of those embarrassing sex scandals. Our moral sensibilities are on sale. No doubt this is happening and has led our society to blind commercialisation and degradation of our society and human values.

My land has a sacred identity. It has been identified with peace and piety. But now, the present Kashmir differs completely from its past. The present is devoid of good human beings not to talk of Sufis. It is now a land that shelters immorality and corruption, a land where human life has got no value, a land completely taken over by those who don’t bother wasting this land. In this situation a person gets confused for he has no ready made answers to the question that what he shall do? Should he ignore all this and live a life of his own? Should he silence his conscience by being oblivious of what happens without?

In this condition a person neither stands nor sits because he who was living is now dead. We, who where living, are now dying; our prayers are no longer answered.

Shall I not, at least, set my land in order? But we are so much gotten ourselves used to the chaos that the question haunts me that if we really need order! God save my land.


Every conscious nation displays a very serious attitude toward preserving its past. Any threats to the continuity of national ethos have dangerous fall outs on the future of the nation. Kashmir, like other nations around the world has its heritage sites and symbols. Notwithstanding the fact that overemphasis on past makes one lose the sight of future, saving the heritage sites is a collective responsibility.

In Srinagar city one of the popular outing spot was once known as Badamwari, Almond Grove. Our elders regale us with the stories of the lovely springs of their times when the families of Srinagar would visit Badamwari and enjoy the colourful nature. The fragrance of the memories still seems to be fresh. With the passage of time this wonderful outing spot lost its charm and people only lived with the memories of olden days. For the new generation of Kashmir, especially Srinagar, Badamwari was a fairy tale of by gone era. No spring, no bloom and no almonds; just the stories of it that every household would recount with a sense of loss and nostalgia as well.

But now past is ready to bounce back to life. Badamwari will bloom again this spring. People will flock the spot that once their elders did. It is quite heartening that the efforts of J&K Bank to preserve the heritage sites of Kashmir are coming to fruition. This organisation deserves public appreciation for reviving the heritage of Kashmir under its Heritage Preservation Programme. It has actually set a trend in this direction and others should also join them to contribute towards this collective cause. In fact the movement has started gaining momentum. It may be pertinent to mention here that the Department of Tourism J&K, in collaboration with Intac, J&K chapter has taken up the task of reviving Aali Masjid. This is a mosque, located adjacent to Eidgah, Srinagar and was believed to be haunted by ghosts. If symbolism is in anyway important, then a mosque and a grove can be taken as the representative of spiritual and temporal dimensions of our heritage. It augers well if both the sites are thrown open to people in the same time period.

All said and done the task of reviving the forgotten and abandoned sites is Herculean. Just an organisation or two can not do the job that is actually meant to be done by all. Little efforts from all the segments of society can result in a huge outcome.

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