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 8, 2008

Since the Darbar has moved, it is open season at the "Vatican of Corruption," popularly called the Civil Secretariat

Javaid Bhat does a tour de force


Javaid Iqbal Bhat (Rising Kashmir)

“Fifty percent of the Kashmiris would end up in the prison chambers. Ninety percent of the houses constructed over the past twenty years would have to be demolished.” These figures have not stemmed from the dreamland of vengeance against the sloppy governance. The speaker is none other than Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad (the name recalls the image of some bohemian poet-cum-saint with refuge sought in the Zabarwan forests meditating on the recondite dialogue between nature and God).

The statement is an immutable emblem of helplessness at the helm. The captain of the doddering ship pleading innocent at the direction into which circumstances have driven him and his state. The erratic waves and the winds guiding the sale and the sale watching in desperation as the control is gradually slipping away. Honesty is not a sacrosanct word in politics, however in this case the helmsman cannot be accused of even an iota of dishonesty. He may, as he has already done, pass the buck, and shut himself away from the murky phenomenon yet the dead obvious fact remains: Whereas in other places it might be character, but here it is corruption which shapes the destiny. From an ephemeral phase elsewhere it is an established sacralised way of life.

The valley bathed bright by the relentless clarity of mountain sunlight is now awash with the stygian tentacles of the goddess of corruption. When the curtain goes up you note it everywhere. Lines are clearly drawn. The geometry is unambiguous. It is the warp and woof of the public life. The durable web seems to have been wrought from the finest looms of Lancashire. From the Excise and Taxation counter at Lakhanpur to the Shankaracharya Temple and from thither to the Zojila Pass, it swathes the entire topography. One secular binder. Even if entire valley is swallowed by the Jhelum river still these high pockets would be sufficient to poison the submerged landscape.

At the core is the very Vatican of corruption, the Civil Secretariat. It is unholy to be incorruptible inside its cool sanctums. It is the sanctuary of the seasoned. Proffering proof of the institutionalization of the practice of corruption, and its easy normativisation. The impulse of the ethnic Kashmiris towards immoral development and self indulgence has nowhere so powerfully manifested itself as in the bureaucracy dominated Secretariat. A competitive economy of corruption is the hallmark of its extensions in various departments of social and political life. A religious zeal to extort money at any cost from the poor and the gullible is pursued in good faith.

Azad earnestly wanted to make the war against corruption the “core issue” of his regime. Saw his conscious descent from the national to regional politics as a step in the direction of enforcement. The battle has not been won (was it ever started? Shoaib Lone and Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed kindly stand up to answer), main points have not been carried, its advance has not been stopped, no victory march over its conquest. Struggle against it has been at the bottom of our attachment to so many beaten causes. The greasing continues, the palms have deepened, the methods unwilling to flinch from the course adopted, “encored” them deep, and it seems the practice would survive the dust of pyramids, let alone leaving behind Bihar.

The silliest cant about the vice came from the helmsman himself. It will not stop unless the Caesar’s wife remained “above suspicion,” said he with tongue well in cheek. In the play ‘Julius Caesar’ Shakespeare probably went a little off the mark. Before the Caesar’s wife it is the Caesar himself who has to remain above suspicion. Unlike Prophets of the yore, petty mortals like us and our ministers and their Chief Minister have to begin from the top and grind our nose and cure the unutterable external hideousness and the internal canker of the villages and cities. Because the accepted morality called corruption stems from the top.

The virus has nerve centre in the highest office, and a stubborn irritating tail in some remote clerk’s office. Twist to death the nerve centre, the tail would stop wagging, and the clerk’s tongue ironed straight. Act against the rear part, and see how it re-emerges with renewed stolidity. For it is a species which recoups its energy and body parts without fail unless the head is broken to pieces. Without this do whatever you wish, the virus would remain until the last drop of water in Sheeshnag.

Bribe of forty thousand from Shoaib Lone to P.M.Sayeed is a stupid sum when it comes to money minting at the peak. Each one of us has a narrative mocking the sum involved. A road bisecting your village or one in your town. That has guzzled crores. Road construction of one kilometer bill furnished of ten kilometers. Water supply scheme which refuses to come off the foundation stone laying stage has become a staple joke for your evening walk. Money consumed, water yet to arrive into the utensils. On the pages made to dance merrily over meadows and pastures.

Houses silhouetted against the moonshine like medieval castles without electricity. Those who could have ensured live wires and luminous bulbs are busy elsewhere. Readying their palms to be greased. Remind them but don’t rule out the repercussion. Of, yes, reminding. That is not your business. What ought to be is servitude. Lick their shoes till they feel tickled enough to listen and levitate things into action. No big deal, hence, these forty thousand. But there is one. It is startlingly indicative. Bribe from a sitting MLA (Shoaib Lone) for sister’s job?!!!!! Had heard of money extortion from social invisibles. Those cramped in the interstices of the lower strata. Ones down, licking the bottom of the fame barrel.

If a sitting MLA could be compelled to shell out money, how about the other sitters. Poor farmers sitting on their shrinking land. Gujjars and the Bakerwals sitting on the hills and the mountains far away from the centres of power where even the echo of shoddy governance does not reach. Those families where tragedies are sitting heavy. Born of the calamity into which Kashmir descended in 1989. And those unemployed educated heartbroken youth who are sitting on their impressive degrees. Receiving baton charge in rain and sunshine. All this when it is known that the neighbor across that street, a clerk, has hoarded crores. Has sent his children to prestigious public schools. Has a car. Owns a posh house. From a salary of no more than rupees ten thousand each month!!!! Bribe from folks like these is backbone breaking. And for what in return? Not a wish granted. But ground to powder between the counter motions of hope and greed.

Hope of thousands and the greed of a handful.

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