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.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Misfortune Meets Indifference in Today's Valley

Where are the NGO's?

Valley's lone leprosy hospital remains a neglected lot

Syed Yasir (Kashmir Times)

SRINAGAR: The leprosy patients, admitted to the valley's lone leprosy hospital, continue to remain a neglected lot. The hundred odd leprosy patients in the hospital suffer because of the lack of very basic facilities like proper accommodation and medical facilities.

The patients admitted in the Leper Colony have been the worst sufferers. After getting shifted to hospital here from various far-flung areas decades ago, they have struck quite a chord with each other. These patients, after having formed strong social bonding over the years within the hospital, believe that this place is more than a home for them. But today these patients feel absolutely neglected as this place continues to degenerate due to a poor infrastructure.

Situated on the banks of Dal Lake, the hospital campus has become a route for the foreign tourists to commute to the nearby houseboats, troubling the patients with vehicular pollution and moreover a risk to life. "A huge number of vehicles pass through the hospital campus every day and it becomes quite risky to even go for a walk on my wheelchair," said a patient in the hospital, who is living in the hospital for more than 45 years now and has lost both his arms and hands due to leprosy.

The patients are blaming the successive governments for the improper functioning of the hospital. They, however, praise a number of local NGOs and people for their voluntary support. "Although we have a support staff to serve us here, the higher authorities don't even visit us", the patients said, adding that leprosy patient who along with her family, stays in one of the congested mud houses constructed decades ago.

Apart from the few newly constructed rooms, the Leprosy hospital presents the look of an ancient heritage site, with the patient wards housed in muddy structures and improper drainage system running across the campus. Ironically, while a huge water filtration plant, based right in the hospital campus has been a great menace for the patients, their taps often go dry.

The patients after strongly reacting to the concerned authorities proposed plan of moving this hospital to Khonmoh a few months back, seem to be stuck between an absolute political and bureaucratic failure to properly run the only leprosy hospital of the valley. "They (authorities) wanted to shift all of us to a nine room health centre away from the city. Rather than taking us to such an odd place it is better if they develop this place," said another patient.

With every passing day, the degraded leper colony instead of a redressal is receiving more wounds and the patients continue to bleed (literally). Most of the patients suffering from various skin and eye ailments complain of inadequate drugs available at the dispensary and have also stressed for an ambulance at this residential hospital

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