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, May 29, 2008

Only in Kashmir: At a College Convocation, the Chief Minister reminds students to join protest marches for employment

Mr. Azad tells students, "Today many students received degrees but unfortunately many among them would join the youth demonstrating outside the Secretariat and seeking absorption under Rehbar-e-Zerat for a meager sum of Rs 1500." The real misfortune is that the concern regarding haphazard rezoning of farm land for housing and industrial use was not adequately highlighted

‘Shrinking agri-land a grave issue’


JAMMU: Governor Lt Gen S K Sinha and Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad have described shrinking agricultural land in the state a grave issue and emphasized the need to go for research-oriented agri-practices to increase productivity.

While addressing to second convocation of SKUAST-J, Chief Minister, who is also the Pro- Chancellor of the varsity, maintained that in J&K, there is great scope for agriculture but unfortunately, the land-holdings here are almost negligible. “Almost 75 percent of the area comes under forests and hills. Even out of the available 25 percent land, the maximum land is being utilized for constructions. The land is shrinking as the population is increasing. Colleges, hospitals, buildings etc are being constructed on the agricultural land. Moreover J&K does not come under surplus food category states. The number of agricultural labourers is also on decline,” he stated.

Pointing towards the grave problem of unemployment in the state, Azad maintained, “Today many students received degrees but unfortunately many among them would join the youth demonstrating outside the Secretariat and seeking absorption under Rehbar-e- Zerat for a meager sum of Rs 1500. Reason being majority of them would prefer off-farming jobs as their career. So the emphasis should be to make agriculture a viable profession.”

Chief Minister impressed upon the agricultural scientists to come out with extensive research for tackling the problem of shrinking agriculture land leading to decline in food grain production all across the globe. He said the massive infrastructural development as well as improved living standards of people have resulted in encroachment over farm land leading to global food crises.

Expressing concern over the looming food grain crises, Azad said that Prime Minister has announced Rs. 5000 crore Food Security Mission and Rs. 25,000 crore Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana for focusing on bringing about a second Green Revolution. He said that optimum utilization of agricultural land, improved seeds, better water management and scientific farming are the key areas which the agriculture researcher should target.

He also called for diversification of agriculture as the state boasts of immense potential in horticulture and floriculture. Recalling the increase in suicide rates amongst farmers, Azad said that the agriculture universities should aim at transforming agriculture into an attractive and viable employment ventures. Chief Minister said that research should be linked with ground realities so that optimum yield from squeezed farm land can be achieved. Besides, youth should be channelized to agroeconomic viable ventures, he added.

Sinha, who is also the Chancellor of the SKUASTJammu, recalled the growth of the university from an embryonic state when he took over 5 years ago to a vibrant university fostering research and new advancement in agriculture and veterinary sciences. Repeating Malthus Principle “Population increases in geometric proportion while food production increases in arithmetic proportion’, he said that the mantle lies on the shoulders of our scientists to meet the increasing demand of food grains through concerted and dedicated research.

Sinha asked the scientists and graduates of the university to accept the challenge and come out with strategies for boosting farm produce through better crop management and agriculture practices. Earlier welcoming the President on her maiden visit to the state, the Chief Minister said that it is for the first time that any president of India has come to the state on a 5-day tour and traversed its different regions. He said that addressing the convocations of 3 prestigious universities of the state apart from inaugurating a campus of Jammu University at Bhaderwah is not a small feat and brings out her unparallel interest in the growth of higher education in the state. “This happened because our President is a woman,” Azad maintained.

He also appreciated the strenuous efforts of Chancellor and Governor for showing exceptional interest in capacity and skill building initiatives taken by different universities and organizing convocations regularly from time to time to inspire budding minds to strive for perfection in respective fields.The Chief Minister also congratulated noted economist Deputy Chairman Planning Commission, Dr Montek Singh Ahluwalia and President Veterinary Council of India, Dr. A.L Chowdhary for receiving Award of Doctorate of Science- Honoris Causa by chief guest stating that contribution in their respective fields is exemplary.

He specially appreciated the role of Montek Singh Ahluwalia who is an eminent economist occupying a key position in the Government of India as Deputy Chairman Planning Commission for liberal grants in favour of J&K state which have speeded the pace of infrastructural development of the state.

Earlier, the President awarded Doctorate of Science Honoris Causa to Deputy Chairman Planning Commission, Government of India, Montek Singh Ahluwalia and President Veterinary council of India, Dr. A.L Chowdhary and to Secretary, DARE and Director General ICAR, Government of India, Dr Mangla Rai in absentia. Besides the gold medals and PhD degrees were also awarded to students of Agriculture and BVSc and Animal Husbandry. Vice Chancellor SKAUST-J, Nagendra Sharma presented the report of the university highlighting the programmes and infrastructure in advancement registered by the university.

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