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 8, 2008

Rebuilding the Past Glory called the Sharda Peeth

Sharda Peeth to be replicated in Srinagar

Yusuf Jameel reports on an extra-ordinary gathering of Kashmiri intellectuals to discuss the rebuilding of an icon of Kashmir's rich history.

(Mr. Yusuf Jameel, 50, was born and raised in Srinagar. He completed his B.A. (Humanities) from the Kashmir University and went on to complete a Master's degree in Political Science from the same University in 1980. He served as an Assistant Editor of the Urdu daily, Aftab, during his student days, and afterwards did some freelancing before joining the Daily Telegraph in 1983. Since 1993, he is a special correspondent with the Asian Age and its sister publication, the Deccan Chronicle. He has been a frequent contributor to the BBC, the New York Times, the Voice of America, the Agency France Presse (AFP) and a number of other national and international news agencies. He received the International Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in New York in 1996, and the SAFMA Best Reporter Award in 2005. Mr. Jameel is noted for his fearless reporting that has earned him the ire of both authorities and militants, but takes his leasure time in stride with photography, fishing and trekking.)

Srinagar, March 6: Sharda Peeth, the oldest and most important learning seat of Kashmiri Hindus and the old script of Kashmiri language Sharda, now in ruins in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, will be replicated in Srinagar.

Prominent Kashmiri Pandits, together with academics from within the community and outside it, have taken the initiative to set up a new Sharda Peeth university here on the pattern of Mata Vaishno Devi and Islamic universities being successfully run in the state with or without government help since their inception a few years ago.

"But in this case, it would be a purely private initiative involving Kashmiris, not necessarily only the Pandits. Sharda Peeth will be open to all, irrespective of their faith, region or ethnic background," said one of the promoters of the project.

Governor Lt. Gen. S.K. Sinha (retd), who visited the proposed site for its campus in Baghat area of Srinagar on Wednesday, has agreed to be the chancellor of the university, while well-known academic from the Valley Amitabh Mattoo will be its pro-chancellor. He is presently the vice-chancellor of Jammu University.

"The vice-chancellor for Sharda Peeth will be chosen purely on his or her professional footing," said Vijay Kumar Dhar, one of the architects of the project. To start with, bio-technology, computer science and MBA will be the taught at the proposed university to be followed by the setting up of other streams of learning.

The financial and other resources for the new university will be mobilised from within the community and its well-wishers under the auspices of the recently-launched Sharda Peeth trust.
Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had, last month, while announcing in the state Assembly of his government’s resolve to prevent the sale of properties of temples in Kashmir, welcomed the demand for a separate university under the name of Sharda Peeth to be run by a proposed trust like Islamic universities set up at Awantipore near Srinagar and in the frontier Rajouri district.
Reports emanating from Muzaffarabad said that the PaK government, which had brought Sharda under the archaeological map some time ago, is spending a huge sum on the renovation of the ancient and historic temple, which is now in ruins, and has also decided to throw it open for pilgrims. Sharda is about 150 km from Muzaffarabad, the capital of PaK.

Situated at an altitude of 1,981 metres, Shardi and Nardi are actually the two mountain peaks overlooking the Valley, named after legendary princesses Sharda and Narda. It has a captivating landscape with numerous springs and hillsides covered with thick forest.

Over the right bank, opposite to Sharda, the river Neelam (known as Kishan Ganga on the Indian side of the LoC) is joined by the Surgan mountain stream along which a track leads to the Noori Nar Pass and through it to Kaghan valley.

In Sharda, the ruins of an old Buddhist monastery and a fort are located. It was also an important learning seat of Kashmiri Hindu and the old script of Kashmiri language Sharda and older than Taxila.

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