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.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Kashmir Hopes to Regain its Multi-dimensional Personality one Student at a Time

The Institute of Kashmir Studies (IKS), that was set up by the University of Kashmir three years back as the Centre for Kashmir Studies, receives international recognition and funding from the South Asia Foundation to promote composite culture of the state

Notable extracts from speeches made on the inauguration day, May 26, 2008.

State Governor and the University of Kashmir Chancellor, Retired General S.K. Sinha:

Today from the ancient city of Srinagar founded by Emperor Ashoka, the unique Prince of Peace in the history of mankind and from the city where the great liberal and popular Budshah ruled, we are striving to get that light of hope to illuminate the world.

Institute of Kashmir Studies will promote the spirit of Kashmiriyat and strive for disseminating this message not only in South Asia but the world over. Rs 1 crore has been obtained from the Centre for the purpose. A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed with the South Asian Foundation (SAF), which has promised a grant of Rs 4 crores. The Centre has been registered as an autonomous institution and re-designated as the Institute of Kashmir Studies.

Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh:

I hope the institute contributes to strengthening the composite culture of the state. The institute is primarily designed to promote 'Kashmiriyat', based on the state's age-old 'Bhakti-sufi-Rishi' traditions and culture. This unique electism in Kashmiri tradition and natural beauty of the area has not only made Kashmir a 'paradise on earth', but also a microcosm of the secular, pluralist traditions of India.

The initiative to resuscitate the age old traditions of Kashmir by setting up an institution like this was very well-timed as it would serve as a melting pot of ideas and learning not only from different parts of the country but also from the neighbouring countries.

President, Pratibha Patil:

Kashmir has had a rich and vibrant cultural history and a tradition of learning and scholarly pursuit since times immemorial. Its enchanting beauty has attracted thinkers and philosophers, seers and sages, kings and noblemen, travelers and traders, from far and wide. Through the ages, it has been a melting pot of ideas, which have been distilled into the finest traditions of learning, tolerance and cultural cohesion.

I am confident that our unity in diversity will lead the country to greater glory. I am also confident that the spirit of Kashmiriyat will flourish and the fragrance of mutual love and affection will spread beyond the precincts of Jammu and Kashmir. Kashmiriyat is a living legend that is an amalgam of pristine beauty, enchanting landscape, rich culture, seat of learning and a melting pot of ideas. Kashmir has lived as the finest centre of learning, tolerance and cultural cohesion be it Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism or Budhism, all these religions have for centuries been a part of the spiritual landscape of the state and evolved into the unique concept of cohesive historical-cultural identity of the people of the state, which represents the ethos of liberal values, religious and social harmony, mutual co-existence and brotherhood. It reflects the contributions made by thinkers and men of letters like Charak, Bhartrihari, Bilhana and Kalhana and saints and sages called Rishis and Sufis, in whose name Kashmir is still known as ‘Reshiwari’ or abode of Rishis.

In the words of poet Ghulam Mohammad Mehjoor: "Vwolo haa baagvaano, navbahaaruk shaan paadaa kar, phwlon gul gath karan bulbul tithe saamaan paadaa kar (O gardener, create the glory of spring, make the flowers bloom and the birds sing, create such haunts).

Spiritual thinkers such as Lal Ded and Nund Rishi spread the message of love, tolerance and compassion, which left a deep imprint on the lives of the people of J&K. Their legacy, over a period of time has etched itself so much into the collective consciousness of the region, that it cannot be eroded. Kashmiriyat is a living legacy. It has withstood the test of time, and it is now for us to continue to nurture it so that it is preserved for future generations.

The Institute of Kashmir Studies, in a sense, continues this rich tradition of learning and scholarship.

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