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

A sad Commentary on the Official Website of the Jammu and Kashmir Government

Muzaffar Bhat discusses the chasm between a 21st century necessity with the 15th century thinking.

(Dr. Raja Muzaffar Bhat, 33, was born in Wathoora village in the Budgam district and matriculated from Tyndale Biscoe Memorial High School in 1993. He completed his Bachelor's degree in Dental Surgery from from the Karnatka University in 2000. He has a private dental practice in Chandoora and is a social activist dedicated to educating public on the Right To Information legislation.)

Official website of Jammu and Kashmir

Among the many thousands of people, who no doubt, turn to the state's official website across the world, there must be many international travellers looking for information to the possibility of visiting Kashmir. Their first impression must be most discouraging. We are already being labelled as backward, illiterate people. We seem determined to encourage such impressions.

The official website of the Jammu & Kashmir government ( is a good indicator of the state government's performance in the entire information technology (IT) sector. On the very first page of the site is a small column marked "what is new". Clicking it, one finds the final list of candidates for the municipal elections of 2005, the new industrial policy of 2004 and other events and programmes that took place three to four years ago. That is how recently the site has apparently been updated.

It is a crying shame. For the IT sector is driving the high end of the global village, which is bursting with opportunities and potential for prosperity. We have a full-fledged Information Technology department in Jammu & Kashmir and our state government spends millions on the development of this hi-tech sector. The result on the ground - virtually nothing. Most government officials do not seem to know the existence of internet, email etc.

The condition of the state's official website is not unique. That sort of apathy is common in most of the websites of the state government. Worse, almost none of the top government officers whose email contacts are shown on the website respond to mails from the public. Even our Chief Minister and chief secretary, who have batteries of personal and other assistants at their beck and call, do not respond to emails from the public. No doubt, these include computer operators – all of whom are paid from public funds. Yet, as if to rub salt on wounds, there is a separate column on the official website of the state government that invites one to contact the CM or the chief secretary, but a score of mails to both over the past five years elicited not a single response.
Surely, it would not be too much to designate officials to read emails to the CM and Chief Secretary, place grievances and issues before them and, once action has been initiated, respond to the sender. As it happens, however, only a few officials respond to mails. These include the principal secretary, GAD, the secretary health, the IG CID and the DC Baramulla. Kudos to them but one wishes their colleagues take a lesson from them.

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