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.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Celebrating Wildlife Week in Kashmir With Words and Little Action

During the Wildlife Week, the need of the hour is to change the mind-set of people, and for that we need to go beyond the blame game and perhaps look to invocation of moral and ethical teachings - two reports

Global Concern

Srinagar: It is a ritual that is being observed every year in the first week of October. Like all previous years the Wildlife Week was kicked off on the first Saturday of the month in the summer capital by organizing a function at SKICC by the State Wildlife Department.

Though ostensibly there was not much difference in commemorations held in connection with wildlife weeks in the past and the one but it was revealing on many counts. The presentation made by the Chief Wildlife warden exposed yet another dimension of the prevailing political uncertainty in the state. It revealed how the heavy presence of in the state was taking a toll of fauna and flora of the state and how it ultimately was posing threat to the global environment. In his presentation he made it public that besides encroachments and increased human activities how presence of troops in the forests had drastically affected the wildlife in the state. The heavy concentration of troops in forest during past eighteen years has disturbed the eco-system of the state. The permanent settlements of army in the forests and their movement experts believe have caused disturbances in the natural habitats of the wild animals forcing them to move in the lower areas for food thus.

The wildlife outside its natural habitat is the most endangered. Since there are no organized game reserves and wildlife sanctuaries in the state for preservation of wildlife as in advanced and developed countries it is the most endangered. Kashmir forests are home of some rare species of wild animals. The animals that inhabit in the upper reaches of forests in the state include the endangered Snow Leopard, Brown Bear, Musk Deer, Hangul, Chiru and Markhor. The Hangul that once upon a time was sometime declared as a protected ‘national’ animal is on the verge of extinction.

Seen in broader perspective the wildlife of Kashmir is a part of global wildlife and any animal facing extinction should cause concern to the world. Though the state wildlife department and other agencies have been claiming of taking all preventive measures to protect this animal its population has considerably dropped during the past few decades. Yet another negative dimension of the heavy presence of troops in forest the Chief Wildlife warden explained had increased the possibility of man-animal conflict. At least 30 persons have died and hundreds injured due to attacks of the wild animals during two years. Scores of wild animals, including 25 leopards also lost their lives during the past few years. The presence of troops and encroachment of forests by civilians besides endangering animals is one of biggest challenges to the environment of the state.

Notwithstanding the Wildlife department having drafted actions plans for conservation of wildlife, eco-tourism, reducing pressure on wetlands and forest the fauna and flora of the state is facing worst ever threats. It is high time for the international wildlife organizations to get involved in protecting the fauna and flora of Kashmir. The state wildlife department need to persuade organizations like the Wildlife Trust, the Wildlife Trust Alliance and the Consortium for Conservation Medicine and many other important organization having both expertise and resources for getting involved in the state.


Nature - we live with it, in it, and by it. Some of us take deep delight in hiking through the woods in groups or solitary walks along vast beaches, others enjoy weekend bird watching events and some of us are employed to take accurate counts of wildlife and to protect it. There are still others who see nature in an entirely different way; to them, nature is to be dominated and exploited.

Entire species of animal and plant life have been destroyed, and continue to be destroyed, by humans who hunt them to extinction or have obliterated the habitats that allowed them to thrive. If man originally hunted to survive, now the profit motive is often the ultimate reason for these acts of destruction. Others simply seem to derive some satisfaction from the very act of destruction. Humankind has altered the environment around the globe and has been responsible for both deliberate and unintentional acts of destruction including the destruction of wild life habitat.

However, humans have also known that nature, in both its obvious details and the mysterious "laws of nature" that man has always struggled to comprehend, is vital to our survival — as individuals and as a species.Trees are being chopped and put up for sale, the fishes are killed in the lakes by water pollution, the skins and bones of tiger are exchanged in the border areas and the rare migratory birds are captured and sold in the black markets around the world.

Yet, every year around this time, (October 2 to 8) governments, environmentalists, and activists to accelerate the awareness of wildlife conservation among people, observe Wildlife Week. NGOs or self-claimed conservationists can be seen busy in sponsoring the Wildlife Week celebrations and papers are full with the write-ups on wildlife conservation, but all with insufficient results. Why government is not able to curb the growing extinction of wild species and destruction of habitat thereof? It needs to be analyzed. The mandate to conserve the wild species is given to the NGOs or self-claimed conservationists, who have only financial and materialistic benefits in handling the projects of wildlife conservation; columnists are just exercising their word gymnastics by writing on the issue. It needs deep change of mind-set of the people while dealing with the problem and this job can be done at a popular level by spreading the basic moral and ethical teachings. With a growing urge among the Muslims for a better understanding of the ideal, but practicable, way of life, the study and relevance of such teachings has added importance. The environment is central in Islam. Due to the growing impact of deforestation, continuous efforts are being made by some anxious animal lovers to protect the endangered species of wildlife as well as those that are on the verge of extinction.

Wildlife is important for four main reasons.

Beauty: By their unique way of existence, wild creatures enhance the natural beauty of the earth.

Economic value: The financial value of wild species is important to the economies of several nations, as it provides many valuable substances like wood and other plant products, fibres, meat and other foods, and skins and furs.

Scientific value: By studying wildlife, scientists have gained valuable knowledge about various life processes and discovered important medical product.

Survival value: Wildlife helps in maintaining the balanced living systems of earth, which consequently ensures survival of life.

All these four main reasons are encompassed in the ethical and moral teachings. Take for example teh behaviour of Zoo officials; they keep animals confined in limited space do not consider the 'agony 'of the animal. Now a clue can be taken from this prophetic message' it is a great sin for man to imprison those animals which are in his power'. Even non-Muslim environmental ethicists like, R.P Misra adhere to the bio ethical theme and states that justice, indeed is one of the corner-stones of the Muslim religion. Since environmental abuse or destruction is more often a form of injustice, the grand principle of Justice can be invoked to ensure that environment and wildlife is not subjected to any kind of abuse.

To promote environmental, especially wildlife awareness among the people, the Indian government has started various natural projects and programs such as Project Tiger (formed in 1972 and launched on the 1st April 1973 at Corbett National Park), Project Elephant (a centrally sponsored scheme, was launched in February 1992 to provide financial and technical support to major elephant bearing states in India for protection of elephants, their habitats and corridors).

Besides this, there are also various NGOs working on wildlife conservation in India, how much these Projects and NGO's are successful in protecting the wild life can be notices by the fact that between a quarter and a third of the world's wildlife has been lost since 1970, according to data compiled by the Zoological Society of London; populations of land-based species fell by 25%, marine by 28% and freshwater by 29%, it says. Humans are wiping out about 1% of all other species every year, and one of the "great extinction episodes" in the Earth's history is under way, it says. Pollution, farming and urban expansion, over-fishing and hunting are blamed.

In India where Wildlife Week is celebrated with great pomp and show, the National Animal (Tiger) and National Bird (Peacock) is on the verge of extinction. Moreover, other animals such as elephants, musk deer, Tibetan antelope, rhinoceros, red panda, Ganges river dolphin, etc., without getting proper care are getting endangered. In these circumstances when so-called conservationists and NGOs keep eye on their own benefits rather than conserving the wildlife, then the moral and religious applications become more meaningful and needed. When the mass awareness programmes and observance of days and weeks in the name conserving the natural and wild life prove ineffective, an alternate way of convincing the hearts and minds becomes a necessary imperative.

It is the need of time to underline the religious and bio-ethical teachings of conserving the wildlife rather than solely insisting on using conventional and unplanned methods, which have proved, and are proving ineffectual, as surveyed by the international and national wildlife forums and societies. If people are to awaken to the challenges of preserving the wildlife and its habitat, modern wildlife conservationists and scholars must illuminate the ecological and wildlife conservative principles embedded in moral themes as they apply to contemporary environmental and wildlife issues.

The world now is undoubtedly more complex than it was a thousand years ago when the industrial revolution had not taken place and the earth's resources had not been strained. For example the wildlife consciousness in Islam is reflected in one of the familiar instances of life of the Prophet when, during a journey, one of companions removed a baby pigeon from a nest. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) confronted and gently returned the bird to its nest. "For charity shown to each creature with a wet heart, there is a reward," the Prophet declared. Let us hope a day will dawn when we shall see the start of a new era; when man accorded to wild life the respect and status they deserved and for so long have been denied.

(Rising Kashmir)

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