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.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Story of Hope and Inspiration: A Woman Named Sara

Sara shows the resilience of proud Kashmiri culture. There is beauty in her spirit.

A woman called Sara

(Even an ordinary person can teach important lessons of the life, Syed Sibghat Geelani, encounters one such woman, who taught her some basic things.)

Clad in a traditional Kashmiri dress, with kanwajis (long earrings) in ears, Kasab on head and with kangri protruding underneath her tattered Pheran, she presents a glum picture. Sitting on the busy Amira Kadal Bridge with a basketful of fishes, she aspires to sell them all by her selling abilities. Meet Sara, the fisherwoman.

The weather is vacillating and I can see she is wearing an old pair of torn slippers. Her feet are swollen, she doesn’t seem to bother. Even though she appears to be very strong and convinced but her eyes are narrating a different tale; a saga of uncertainties, miseries and poverty. I am observing her quite a while now and she thinks I have to buy fish from her. Her eyes lighten up when I ask her; why is she so sad? Within a span of few moments, she reveals her life, responsibilities, ordeals and struggle.

Every morning the suns rays fall upon the shimmering blue waters of Dal making the waves ripple beneath the doonga Sara lives in. It is the time when Sara leaves for work along with other fisherwomen. Her husband Altaf has already collected the days catch and now Sara has to sell them. Her husband is a fisherman and Sara has no option but to sell the fish to make their ends meet.

Her day is the beginning of a long and tiring work and she is not sure whether she will be able to sell the whole stock or not. Sara has been married for two years now and is the proud mother of a seven-month-old baby. Before venturing out to sell fish she keeps her child with her mother in another part of the lake. Then, begins her usual struggle for the day. Her days are hard and depressing. She dreams of a miracle to take her away from this sordid life. Everyday her destination ends at Amira Kadal Bridge that is where she gets a due sale. If she cannot sell the fish on the bridge then she goes door to door to sell fish. During the winter season, it gets even worse. At times it becomes difficult for her to sit on the bridge in cold with damp feet. However with all the hardships and ordeal in day- to-day life; at the end of the day she is a satisfied lady as her husband and son get their stomachs filled. It gives her pride.

I leave but her resilience and confidence gives me courage. Why is it that we get disheartened when we don’t get what we aim? This simple women taught me what exactly struggle is and at the end how striving for success yields results. I need to learn that there are no easy and readymade things for success, success has to be achieved.

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