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.

Friday, June 27, 2008

International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is a Local Reality in Kashmir

Afsana shares a deadly reminder about a silent menance stalking our young on 25th June which is observed as the International Day against Drug Abuse

(Ms. Afsana Rashid, 29, was born and raised in Srinagar and attended the Minto Circle High School. She graduated from the Government College for Women with a Bachelor's degree in science, and completed her post-graduation degree from the University of Kashmir, obtaining her Master's Degree in Mass Communication and Journalism. Ms. Rashid works as a senior journalist in the Daily Etalaat. She has received numerous world-wide recognition and awards for covering economic depravation and gender sensitive issues in Kashmiri journals, which include Sanjoy Ghose Humanitarian Award, Bhorukha Trust Media Award 2007, and the 2006-07 UNFPA-Ladli Media Award. Her work on "Impact of conflict on subsistence livelihood of marginalised communities in Kashmir and Alternatives", was recognized by Action Aid India in 2005-06. She has travelled abroad attending a workshop on "conflict Reporting" by Thomson Foundation, Cardiff, UK, and a seminar for women in conflict areas by IKV Pax Christi, Netherlands. In February 2008, she compiled a book, "Waiting for Justice: Widows and Half-widows.")

Drug menace goes unnoticed, entangles Valley youth

Srinagar, June 25: International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is being observed today. Over the years, Kashmir valley has witnessed increase in the number of drug addicts.

Going by the statistics, the problem has gone worse from bad. Some pockets have been found particularly vulnerable.In a survey conducted by a city based de-addiction and rehabilitation centre, 70 per cent of youth in Mehjoor Nagar locality of Srinagar city are drug-addicts, out of which 26 per cent are females in the age-group of 18-22, and rest are males within the age-group 18-32.

“As per the findings drug-addiction seems to have become a fashion among girls, which was quite unexpected,” says Dr Syed Shabir, founder chairman De-addiction Treatment and Rehabilitation Charitable Centre, Raj Bagh.Shabir says that more than 400 drug addicts have been treated at the centre since December last year including both men and women.

The centre has organized de-addiction camps in areas like Raj Bagh, Nowgam, Nowhatta, Mehjoor Nagar, Dalgate, Budgam, Ganderbal, Pampore, Jawahar Nagar, Lal Mandi, Shopian and Pattan.

According to Dr. Shabir, more drug addicts are found in these areas. “Mostly youth were found addicted to various forms of drugs. However, the age-group was found between s18-50,” he says.Various substances like morphine, talgesic, fortvin, brown sugar, corex, synthetic, narcotic, alcohol, charas, gsssanja, analgesics, volatile (polish, computer ink, perfume etc) are consumed by addicts.

Based on the survey, Dr. Shabir says that unemployment, depression, anxiety, household disputes, bad company and failure in love-affair are some of the major reasons leading to drug addiction. Quoting another survey, he says that out of 172 calls (toll free calls) that the centre received from drug-addicts, 154 were satisfied on-phone whereas others were asked to report at the centre for treatment “Helpline has turned effective as some drug-addicts are shy to come to centre and share their experiences. As such, they seek assistance without visiting the centre,” Dr. Shabir adds. He says that people who were affected due to drug addiction and have been counseled and treated at de-addiction centre have now assumed a new role in the form of volunteers. “They have turned better counselors as they have themselves suffered at certain point of time,” adds Shabir.

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