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.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Lousy Health Policy

An editorial in the Kashmir Images says it all

Lousy health policy

Everyone seems to be taking advantage of the ignorance, innocence and unawareness of the masses in Jammu and Kashmir. Exploitative elements have a free run in this land of unaccountability. And people in general too have given up the fervor of resistance to meekly compromise with the circumstances that are ubiquitous. With the greedy and unscrupulous elements making the best of everything by preying upon the general masses, and those at the helm having perfected their own style of being the silent spectators, people have been left at the mercy of their own fate.

The herds of quacks scattered all around with their medical and drug stores used as practicing places have deteriorated the general well-being of the inhabitants of the state so much so that not a single bed in any of the hospitals can be seen vacant. Almost 70 percent of the population is on medication here, which has not only tortured them physically and mentally, but their economic condition too is dipping with each passing day.

Needless to say that life for entire family becomes living hell when its members have to consume expensive drugs to keep themselves moving. Some people are seen selling the hard-earned assets to procure drugs once they find themselves lodged with a disease that could have been easily avoided had there been timely and proper checkup from a trained doctor. But what is very common here is that for warding off pain, people consult quacks which at times may give them temporary relief but suppression of symptoms with the help of drugs by untrained practitioners often worsens the problem. And by the time a person comes to know about the disease, it has taken hold of him/her and the result is sorrowful sobs.

No other state consumes more medicines as does the state of Jammu and Kashmir because the medical policy here seems to have shunned its rules and regulations.

Anyone who works as medical assistant opens his medical shop and starts treating the sick. There can hardly be any village in the entire Jammu and Kashmir which is without a medical shop. Now question can be raised as to who allows such crass proliferation of medical shops and drug stores? And now when there has already been so much mushrooming of medical shops, mostly run by quacks, why is the government acting as a mute spectator?

When government officials, who draw hefty sums in salary to check the illegal medical practices by non-professionals, exhibit a lack of commitment towards a healthy generation, it only points towards an unhealthy nexus between quacks and officials? By allowing medical practice by untrained people, government is tacitly tempting and facilitating masses to fall in their lap wherefrom they leave with incurable diseases.

This sick policy needs to be replaced with a strict regulation of a healthy one. The quality of drugs also needs immediate attention. The quacks are more concerned about commission rather than the benefit of patients. They resort to sub-standard drugs where they get 100-400 percent profit. Without bothering about the ill-effects of spurious and sub-standard medicines, it is a common practice for the doctors here to prescribe same to the people for want of hefty commission and other perks from their makers. Action needs to be taken against such doctors as well.

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