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.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

When a 14-year old from Kokarnag comes up with a new gadget it is time for the Kashmir University to develop enterpreneurs

Two related stories of Cheer and Hope

14-year-old comes up with an idea of cheap ‘solar sprayer’

S F Ahmad (Kashmir Images)

Soafshali, Kokernag: If you are a fruit growers and buying spray pumps burns a hole in you pocket, here is some good news as you may soon own a “solar sprayer” to relieve you of the burden of shelling out big bucks. And the credit for creating such an innovative sprayer will go to a 14-year-old boy of Soafshali, Kokernag, some 40 kilometres from the main township of Anantnag.

Pir Showkat Ahmed, a class 8th student of Boys High School Sagam, has come up with the idea of what could be called “solar sprayer”, and the experts at the Kashmir University’s Science Instrumentation Centre (USIC) term his idea a “big idea for invention”.

Director USIC, Prof G M Bhat says that Showkat’s idea is of great importance from the technological point-of-view. ”After some testing at USIC, the efficiency of this sprayer will be tested, only then this will be in the market,” says Prof. Bhat. “Yes I know Pir Showkat,” said Prof. Bhat, adding “when I saw him at Sagam with this idea, I was very much impressed. Now this idea needs to be converted into a product which we will do provided he approaches us.” Prof. Bhat further says the need for such a product in the market is very high and “I am of the opinion that this product would serve the purpose of thousands of the farmers because it will be very cheap in the market."

Pir Showkat was also discovered last December when National Innovation Foundation (NIF) Ahmadabad, in collaboration with USIC Kashmir University, organised a two-day workshop titled “Gross-root Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development" at Sagam. Pir Showkat is not only getting appreciation from Kashmir University’s USIC but his Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Form has also been forwarded to NIF Ahmedabad.

When ‘Kashmir Images’ contacted Pir Showkat, he said, "I am very happy because I cannot believe that people you like want to project me! I am grateful to NIF for having brought me in focus.” And believe it, the little boy wishes to “invent a train engine which could run on water".

Entrepreneurship: It can only develop when there is necessary support system

In all vibrant economies world over the contribution of entrepreneurship has been central. It is a known fact the economy of any people gets strengthened if people participate in it. Entrepreneurship is in essence a better way of participating in economy. People in Kashmir usually tend to benefit from economy, rather than contribute to it. This has resulted in the shrinking of economy and there by reducing the opportunities of earning livelihood.

It is the demand of times that youth in Kashmir change the mindset of becoming parasites. The workshop started in Kashmir University by the Entrepreneurship Development Cell (EDC) in collaboration with Co-ordination Federation, an NGO, to provide an opportunity to the unemployed youth of state is a much needed step. As stated by the G.M. Bhat, the Director University Science Instrumentation Centre (USIC), Kashmir has a fertile soil for growing medicinal plants and with only 1000 out of 4000 varieties known to the experts the field can accommodate a large number of people. Furthermore, if systematic cultivation of these plants can be done it can constitute a promising rural industry.

If such programmes can really make our youth understand the importance of developing industrial units that can process different medicinal plants, it can revolutionize our economy. In all this government is under an obligation to provide the necessary support system. It may include providing land for establishing the units, making the necessary formalities easier and speedier, providing financial assistance and regular inputs of knowledge and information.

In Kashmir it has been observed that those who are inclined towards establishing their own industrial units get discouraged by the kind of difficulties they encounter from getting the necessary projects reports prepared to availing the financial assistance from different financial institutions. Government must take initiatives to clear the blocks in the way of entrepreneurs. Otherwise in presence of such dampers the talk of developing industry in Kashmir will always remains hollow.

(Reported in Rising Kashmir)

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