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.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Can Art Survive in a Weak Civil Society?

Following story illustrates a yet another aspect of Kashmir's tragedy where press releases from dubious characters living in far off lands generates more headlines than cultural events closer to home

Public apathy killing Kashmir theatre

Afsana Rashid

Srinagar, April 12: Lack of public recognition coupled by absence of professionalism is impeding survival of theatre in Kashmir.“Public recognition is the biggest challenge to the theatre in the valley. Local audience here is not so conscious about the theatre culture,” said Bhavani Bashir Yasir, Director EKTA School of Drama, Srinagar and the first Muslim Kashmiri pass out from National School of Drama (NSD), New Delhi.

Yasir blames media and state for such a plight of theatre in the valley.“People in the valley lack theatre-culture but they are not responsible for that. The state and media ought to be hold responsible in the sense that they have not duly recognized it so that it could be held in high esteem by the common people,” Yasir said. Concerned people, he said, are least bothered about theatre festivals and the progress about schools of drama.

Referring to another challenge, he feels, the theatre artists ought to open themselves to gain professional expertise.“Had there been any professional approach, the condition of the theatre in the valley would have been better off,” believes Yasir.

Theatre, is believed to be the strongest medium that has direct impact on the human mind.“It is the strongest medium for building a nation as it helps to develop the mental make-up of the nation. Theatre is an amalgam of drama, music, debate, argument, protest and deliberations. It determines the mental status of the nation,” Yasir added.

Theatre is a social institution, believes Yasir adding, people consider only as a source of entertainment but it is complete social science. “A nation without a living theatre is a dead nation. It helps to generate debate as well as awareness, besides, educating masses,” he said.

When asked about professionalism in the field, he said, “We are working for the same. Efforts should be laid on institutionalization and professionalism,” added Yasir. The director said that theatre in Kashmir has not yet grown. According to him, people associated with the trade are more concerned about their own interests. “Lack of professional commitment prevails, only amateur enthusiasm thrives. The moment professional institutions will not come up here professionalism will not set in,” he said.

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