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.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Blockade or Whatever .... the Indomitable Spirit Lives!

Ajaz proves that we Kashmiris can hold on to our humor as well as Russians to their vodka ...

Invitation Cancelled!

Dr. Ajaz A. Baba

Wait! No need to get alarmed, all you with bared teeth and barely restrained salivary glands! This is not yet another wedding invitation that has been cancelled. I know the last few weeks have been pretty disappointing for all of us…No indeed!

That is putting it too mildly! The last few weeks have been a torture if ever there was one what with all our fantasies, which were aroused by all those fancy invitation cards, dashed to ground by the cancellation notices in various newspapers.

Can it be mere coincidence that the cancellation notices feature invariably on the pages usually reserved for obituaries! Pretty appropriate place that if you ask me, for what can be more mourned than a platterful of mouthwatering Wazwaan! Talk of national tragedy, zoom in the cameras and there it is, the Wazwaan that isn’t, couldn’t be because of the embargo! Those rowdies out there really ‘kicked us in the belly’ (to translate a popular colloquialism!)!

Ah! All those invitation cards bombing like bad cheques! What a catastrophe! Everyday I scan the ‘obituary’ pages to see if any of the weddings (or rather the accompanying feasts!) that I have been invited to have been cancelled. Honestly a guy wouldn’t scan these pages with more trepidation if he were expecting his own obituary out there!

We might have forgotten many a slight of the past, many an oppression and injustice, why even recently we were in the process of soothing our wounds (real as well as imaginary!) by applying neat little strips of plaster named, no not Johnson and Johnson or Band-aid or whatever, but Sentiment and Reality! But this time things have gone too far! An embargo! That too in the season of weddings (read Wazwaan!)! They say ‘discontent of the belly is the most serious of discontents’ (another popular colloquialism translated to express the strongly felt local sentiment!). This time the oppression and injustice will not be taken lightly. It will not be forgotten either but remembered for long! Forget about placards, future demonstrations will see us holding these invitation cards (announcing the subsequently cancelled feasts!).

It is not that we as a nation lack fortitude. Trust me it is not that. We can withstand any embargo mind you. Ask any common man, you won’t so much as hear a whisper of a complaint about the scarcity of say petrol (Big deal! We will just call for a never-ending hartal and nobody will need any petrol anyway!). No it is not even about the lack of life-saving drugs. In any case there wasn’t ever a life-saving drug patented (or even invented for that matter!) that can stop a bullet or lighten the blow of a policeman’s well aimed blow when a stick comes crashing onto a bare head! Life-saving drugs aren’t much of a protection against that deadly stone either that comes flying out of that alley over there and reduces your eye to gooey pulp! We can hold out…I tell you forever if need be! But stopping those truckfuls of sheep, all that mutton! Now that is criminal!

In fact, one can smell a conspiracy in all this provided one sniffs long enough and at the same time firmly puts aside the memory of the delicious smells of Wazwaan! Meat eating, and its most vivid manifestation, Wazwaan, is a part of our national ethos. This embargo on meat is an attack on our national identity! Did somebody talk about the revival of the turbulent nineties?! Well yes there it is! That time you had these very pages full of small time politicians declaring their non-alignment with all and any sort of political parties, some even claiming that they had actually never been members of any political party and that it was just a rumour and somebody trying to defame them and all that. This time the bugle may very well be sounded by these ‘invitation cancelled’ notices!

Meanwhile we might do well to remember that in our religion weddings were supposed to be rather austere affairs. After all what is religion if not a great comforter in times of adversity and all that? Why with no meat to sell even the president of some meat dealers association has turned an ad-hoc preacher! The fellow made history (as well as to the pages of most newspapers!) by exhorting people that in view of the embargo we should celebrate our weddings with simplicity in accordance with the Divine law. Readers are however requested not to miss the ‘in view of the embargo’ part, for no adversity lasts for ever. This embargo won’t too. Happier, meatier days will be back again. Meanwhile let us recall the forgotten divine injunctions (at least for the time being!).

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