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, July 17, 2008

No Surprises, the Human Development Report Highlights the Pathetic State of Literacy in J&K

The Draft Report, assembled jointly by the Universities of Kashmir and Jammu, projects a grim picture of GDI and HDI in various districts

Literacy picture of JK

Srinagar: Governor and chancellor of the Universities of Kashmir and Jammu N N Vohra attended an interactive session on Jammu and Kashmir Human Development Draft Report, which was put for discussion at a function held at SKICC on Saturday.

Vice-chancellor Kashmir University Prof Riyaz Punjabi, vice- chancellor Jammu University Prof Amitabh Matoo, chairman J&K bank and economic advisor to J&K Government Dr Haseeb Drabu, Chief secretary S S Kapoor, principal secretary planning and development Iqbal Khanday, member Planning Commission and eminent economist Prof Abijeet Sen, Prof. Jayti Gosh from JNU, Delhi, director school education Muhammad Rafi, registrar Kashmir university Prof Syed Fayaz were present on the occasion.

The governor appreciated efforts of the both universities for preparing the report and hoped that it goes a long way to benefit the policy makers and helps shape the lives of people.

Vice-chancellor Kashmir University Prof Riyaz Punjabi termed the report as open and transparent and said the Report develops the Human Development Index (HDI) and Gender Development Index (GDI) for the districts of the state and also the HDI for the State from 1960-61 to 2005-6. He said the report is going to be a path breaking exercise in Human Development as it, for the first time, empirically measures freedoms, securities and happiness in the context of Jammu and Kashmir state and its various districts. Prof Punjabi said the report makes a net addition to the existing stock of knowledge on the subject and also offers some new methodological insights. “It is expected to be useful to both academicians and policy planners not only in the State, but elsewhere as well,” he said.

Prof Abijeet Sen, Member Planning Commission termed the report as exemplary and said that it is for the first time that academicians here are interacting in some broad way with the state government. The day long interaction was aimed at inviting serious comments, suggestions and further additions on the Report before it is made public for wider dissemination.

The Jammu and Kashmir Human Development Report has been prepared by the experts from the University of Kashmir and University of Jammu consisting of was put eminent experts and officials from J&K for discussion. The responsibility of preparing the Jammu and Kashmir Human Development Report was given by the Government of Jammu and Kashmir to a team of 5- members from the University of Kashmir and University of Jammu. The team members are Prof R L Bhat, Prof A S Bhat, Prof J R Punda, Prof Jasbir Singh and Dr Bashir Ahmad Bhat from Kashmir and Jammu Universities

The report says that the State presents a very grim picture in terms of literacy in spite of unflinching political support to education. It says that the malady lies more on the demand side rather than the supply. It says the thrust area seems to be on higher education rather than of literacy and the primary education particularly in quality. The Government schools in the state particularly the primary schools are having a poor infrastructure in comparison to private schools. The performance of the children in the private schools and the level of satisfaction of their parents with the performance is higher than in Government schools says the report.

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