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

Libraries in Kashmir are a Disgrace

Srinagar city’s central library lacks basic facilities

Umi Salma Reshi

The City’s Central library at Karan Nagar, considered to be an intellectual power house, is lacking basic facilities.

There are no proper seating arrangements in the library and the people visiting the library leave dejected as they cannot read their favourite books and magazines.

Arshid, a student, said, “When I visited library I felt suffocated because of the insufficient space available inside.” He further said that the library seems more a make shift arrangement than an established library. “It has a single room, which is utilized as a reference, circulation and reading room,” added Arshid.

The selection of site for the library is being termed a ‘terrible’ mistake by majority of people visiting it. It is situated in an area where traffic jams are frequent. “A perfect library is one which provides serene atmosphere for reading,” they said.

A visitor to library, Abu Turab said, “It is funny to see a chart in library reading “maintain silence.” On occasions, the noise around the library crosses the acceptable decibels. In such a situation one cannot expect to concentrate on browsing through books of choice”.

Umar, a computer professional said that the library ought to have the internet connectivity. “It would have helped in updating the knowledge of the people in general and younger generation in particular,” he said.

People visiting library asserted that its time for authorities to ponder seriously over ‘this missing link’ and initiate relevant measures to upgrade it.

Sakib, a student said, “The chief minister does not loose opportunity to review facilities available in Golf courses but never calls for upgradation of facilities in libraries”.

According to UNESCO’s manifesto, the public library must offer to adults and children the opportunity to keep in touch with their times, to educate themselves continuously and keep abreast of progress in the science and arts. “The public library should be well maintained wholly from public fund,” it adds.

When contacted Director Libraries and Research, Kashmir, Ghulam Hassan Khan said, “The department is working on the project to upgrade the facilities libraries.”
A project would be launched soon to ensure better space and equipments in the libraries. “The project will be completed within two or three years,” he added.

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