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, September 6, 2008

Governor Vohra's Personal Agony

In a private conversation with the author on September 4, Governor Vohra laments about the disruption in academic career of students because of lengthy shutdowns in J&K

Disturbed academic calendar leaves students in lurch

Mehboob Jeelani (Rising Kashmir)

Srinagar, Sep 05: The education sector in Kashmir valley has been severely hit with educational institutions remaining closed for a duration amounting to five months till August leaving a working period of just four months in the current academic session.

Till August this year, strikes and curfews have taken the number of holidays observed in educational institutions to 164 days, which includes 90 days of winter vacations, 11 days of state holidays, 7 days of summer break, 26 Sundays besides about 30 days of strikes and curfews.

Loss of working days for such a long duration is bound to affect the academic calendar and thereby the education sector of the valley.This undue break in the academic calendar has created difficulties particularly to those students who are about to appear in the secondary, higher secondary and university level examinations with major portion of syllabus still incomplete. “Now I don’t think about my school. Every morning we expect it to be an off day and having excessive holidays is no fun,” said Heeba Shafi, a 7th grade student of New-Convent high school.“We could have completed our syllabus in private coaching centres but due to curfews and strikes it was impossible to leave home,” said Shahid Rafiq, a 12th grade student of Sri-Pratap Higher Secondary School.

The brunt of the situation is borne by the students who are completely dependent on the school teaching. With hardly 50-days of working days left, these students are concerned fearing worsening of the situation in the valley. “Due to some financial problems I can’t go for private classes. I can manage to pass few subjects but I am naive particularly with physics, chemistry and mathematics,” said Mudasir Hussain, a 10th grade student.

Meanwhile, Secretary Education, GA Peer said that for a time being stress has been laid on all the educational institutions to take extra classes to compensate the loss.“We are holding a meeting on September 15 with chief education officers, educationists and senior academicians to discuss the situation. I appeal the teacher community to put extra efforts to complete the pending syllabus,” said Peer.

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