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, July 29, 2008

Are Kashmiris Obsessively into Excessive Socialization?

Personally I do not think so, but Afshana thinks otherwise and seems to have lined up some good reasons

(Ms. Syeda Afshana, 34, was born in Srinagar. She attended the Vishwa Bharti High School in Rainawari, Srinagar, and the Government Women's College in Srinagar where she received a B.Sc. degree. She completed her Master's degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from the Kashmir University in 1999 and was the Gold Medallist (first position holder) in her graduating class. She is currently a Lecturer in the Media Education Research Centre (MERC) of the Kashmir University and pursuing her doctorate on the role of internet after 9/11.)

Whiling away time is unpardonable

Life just seems
so full of
Most of the time
we don’t even pay
attention to the
depth of life.
We only see
flat surfaces.
(Colin Neenan)

The bug is here! A niggling and nagging one. Too trenchant and troublesome. And too domineering!

Life gets out of gear just because you are supposed to ‘socialize’. The bug drains you out in all ways. Energy, Time, Money—you are clutched to cry hoarse and collapse. They say socialization is a process by which we learn from others. A kind of social learning method that is based on experiences, usually the pleasurable ones. However, the same social learning turns painful when we accumulate bitter encounters of sham socialization.

Of course, we are ‘social savages’. We cannot afford living in isolation. But what sense it makes in thronging places/occasions where we get only appalling things to be weaved into our lives.

And do we necessarily need to be at every place, attending each and every social ceremony?

The reply is shrilling NO. In Kashmir, this answer may invite brickbats. You have high chances of being labeled as ‘social outcast’, the one who is a downright kill-joy, swarming with ‘unsocial attitude’.

Nonetheless, the fact is that we as a nation have yet a lot to learn and dispense rightfully. Our priorities are never set and we have enough time to squander in so-called socialization. We feel at leisure, waiting hours for that special lunch that becomes dinner because of its serving schedule. Wishing the host, with all your heart, in brief and rushing back to other business of life, is something that seems strange and shameful to us. We cannot skip talking endlessly here and there on such occasions, meddling in gossip and grapevine. Boring ourselves to death, we stay on, on and on.

Our events of marriage have turned into ostentatious walking and talking carnivals. We literally fritter away our brains and bucks at such social shopping sprees. Painfully even our deaths are an occasion for hosting wazwan, not to speak of Hajj and other similar occasions; and then you will have endless justifications, religious and otherwise, for all the mockery we make of such events.

And additionally, the baggage of false traditions, that we own so imprudently, leaves only the social mess behind. Nobody is happy with anyone. Host is annoyed. Invitees are irritated. Everyone is heated inside. Always and ever.

Still, the phony pleasantries and smiles greet everybody. We emerge as ‘natural social actors’, scoffed at nothing and fretting about everything! How shallow is our socialization! We go on just building the ‘connections’ without going into their soul, and as such fail to sustain such social relations that are unconditional, kind and thoughtful. We hardly try to discover and understand the skills most effective in guiding our socialization towards the valued goals.

By the way, do we have any “valued goals” at all? The type of socialization that can help alleviate some of our collective pain and allow us to build a more positive and creative future is badly missing. We socialize simply for time pass, freaking out; and easily pass over the serious matters at hand, rambling so casually over the realities.

How amazing that we atrociously waste the precious commodity called Time! People in developed nations cannot even imagine spending hours in social gatherings, not to speak of celebrating for several days altogether. Though their socializing ways may be different and also unacceptable to us, but we cannot deny their prodigious sense of valuing time.

Perhaps, people there understand and realize each others’ demands and priorities. Social relationships are limited but equally meaningful. Unlike here, they don’t pester and push people to attend each and every social function at length, recognizing and accepting gracefully that they may have other pressing tasks to carry out at that point of time.

This culture is not visible around. There is a need to cultivate it. We don’t have to be socially ‘nonconformists’. We cannot even afford that. However, what is required is to be pragmatic and try to assimilate appropriate role playing for every one.

Even the ‘excessive socialization’ has lessons for us, which can potentially lead us to alter our beliefs and personality. We can learn to capture time and set targets for greater good. We can track down output in our meaningful activities and get identified as result-oriented community.

Perhaps even those coming here on official visits as professionals and consultants are amazed at our working habits. And they too begin to take things as a matter of fact. Maybe this is one of the primary reasons why no major projects or schemes of vital importance are completed on time. Inertia and no prioritization of tasks put vital things in dock coupled with our comfortable complacency of wasting time over prolonged socialization.

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