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, April 12, 2008

A Young Man Probes into Global Passion for Work Ethic That is Sadly Lacking Close to Home

Feroz Paray believes society would have fewer problems if each person were committed to his work and avoided unethical methods of wealth accumulation

(Mr. Feroz Ahmad Paray, 22, was born in Kalampora in Pulwama District. He completed his B.Sc. degree (pre-medical stream) from the Government College in Pulwama, and is currently pursuing post graduation in Business Economics from Wigan & Leigh College in Srinagar. His personal interests vary from writing poems and playing cricket to net surfing and shopping. His favorite author is Khalil Gibran.)

Work culture, ours and theirs

Life is full of decisions and choices. The real question is not “To be, or not to be,” but rather “To do, or not to do?” For example should I buy a new car? Should I accept a new job? Very often, we are unsure of our decisions. In such cases, it is always better to choose action over inaction. In life, people more often regret inaction than action.

Europeans pride themselves on their quality of life, and rightly so. In a recent worldwide analysis of quality of life, the United States ranked 13th. The 12 nations that finished ahead of the US were all from Europe. Then where our region stands.

Many Europeans would credit their high quality of life to their nations free health care, more generous unemployment benefits, and greater emphasis on leisure as opposed to work. Consider that most European nations mandate restricted, work week hours and a month or more of vacation time, but Americans have the fewest vacation days and longest average work week in the world. Many Europeans nations also place limits on the hours employers can require employees to work. France, Germany and other nations limit the work week to 35 hours. Recently, after much debate, the French parliament voted to do away with the rule that set 35 hours as the maximum work week. The justification was that more flexible rules would allow French companies to compete more effectively. So that, if business required it, they could pay employees for longer hours. Opponents of the new rules argue that it puts the decision of how much to work in the individuals hands. These people argue that it will give employers power to exploit workers. A French union leader said, “They say it is the worker who will choose how much to work, but they’re lying because it’s always the employer who decides.”

Americans values are different. Americans are used to being criticized. After all, it was more than a century ago when the Irish playwright, George Bernard Shaw wrote; Americans adore me and will go on adoring me until I say something nice about them.”

Overall, the United States is wealthier than Europe and has higher productivity. But what is wrong with that? Well, certain things are not very positive. For example, compared to Europe, the United States is much more violent; it has 685 prisons for every 100,000 people, compared to 87 in the European Union. Also the United States has increasingly seemed to reward power with money. In 1980, the average CEO in the US earned 40 times the annual income of the average manufacturing employee. Today, that ratio is 475:1! By comparison, the ratios are 24:1 in the UK, 15:1 in France and 13:1 in Sweden. What about India? Don’t worry, it is 4:1!!! Finally, the United States contains 5 percent of the world’s population, but it is responsible for 25 percent of the worlds green house gas output, which is many scientists argue, responsible for global warning.

Values may account for some of these differences. In a study of people in 14 countries Americans were more likely to see natural resources as elements at their disposal. And compared to Europeans, Americans are more likely to believe that WAR is often necessary, that IT IS RIGHT TO KILL TO DEFEND PROPERTY, and that physical punishment of children is necessary. Do you think American values are an underlying factor behind some of these social phenomena? Or is this academic American bashing?

The Quran instructs people to honour and fulfill their obligations. Hence, violation of an agreement or contract would not only have legal but also moral implications; it would be a sin. Contracts are often not, then, in writing; a Muslim would expect another Muslim to fulfill the spirit of a verbal agreement.

With mass migration in the later half of the twentieth century, the Muslim populations of most European and North American countries have grown phenomenally. The globalization of the world market means that Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews and others have to do more business with each other. Powerful, monotheistic religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism) influence considerably the values and behavior of their adherents and how they prefer to do business.

Some of the Muslim psychologists have tried to translate Western Christian ideas for use in Arab countries, defining the Islamic work ethic as: Work is an obligatory activity and a virtue. It is necessary to establish equilibrium in ones individual and social life. Work enables man to be independent and is a source of self-respect, satisfaction and fulfillment. Success and progress in the job depend on hard work and commitment to ones job. Commitment to work also involves desire to improve the community and societal welfare. Society would have fewer problems if each person were committed to his work and avoided unethical methods of wealth accumulation. Creative work and cooperation are not only a source of happiness but are considered noble deeds too. In our KASHMIR, we don’t like to work the way others do, putting the best possible effort.

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