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.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Turning a new Leaf: 30,000 Books Sold in Five Days

Sahitya Akademi book exhibition generates good response. Kudos to Ajim Hajini, the convenor of the event

Umi Salma Reshi (Rising Kashmir)

Srinagar: The five day book exhibition cum sale organised by Sahitya Akademi in collaboration with Meezan Publishers at State Institute of Education came to conclusion amid huge response from book lovers.“We have sold nearly 3000 books from the whole lot,” Stall owner Meezan publishers, Shabir Ahmad said. He said that a good number of books were sold during the exhibition where he had kept more then 5000 books available for sale “Seeing the response we offered 20 percent discount on the printed price of the books,” he said, adding, “the books were priced between Rs 10- 350 with an intention to make it affordable for all.”

The books put on sale mostly included English, Hindi, Urdu, Kashmiri, Punjabi and Dogri titles. The stall owners said that, besides Urdu and Kashmiri books, some people also purchased Hindi books. “Most of the visitors demanded that such exhibitions should be conducted at district levels too”, Ahmad further added.

Meanwhile the organisers said that the books saw a huge sale testifying that book reading culture still exists in the valley despite internet facilities available at the door steps.“Almost 30,000 books were sold. We saw a thumping sale. Not only have the locals but outsiders too thronged the exhibition,” the convenor of the event, Azim Hajini said. He said the rush of the visitors in the exhibition has inspired them for sending proposal to the government to organise mobile sale units of the books especially to cover the educational institutions which will ultimately attract and benefit students. “This testifies that the book reading culture still persists in the valley despite other facilities available,” he added.

Even buyers of these books say that the exhibition has been a tremendous experience for them since they have bought books of all tastes and varieties at reasonable rates.“Every one is coming here. This gives me immense pleasure to witness such activities being organised and attended by all,” Muhammad Shafi Mir, a retired government employee said. He said the collection of Hindi books available in the exhibition has allured him for purchase. “I have purchased more then 10 books in other languages, because they are not available in the market,” he added.

Not only locals, Non Resident Kashmiri (NRK) also found the event of immense benefit and were excited to have landed up here in the exhibition.“I have bought Kashmiri books with the intention of taking them to London,” Muzaffar Ahmad, an NRK settled in United Kingdom said.He said buying in this exhibition would help him refresh and disseminate the importance of Kashmiri language among the Kashmiri community along with his children there.

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