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

An Excellent Commentary on the Red Cross Movement in J&K

Volunteerism in non-political NGO's is always a challenge in Kashmir

Red Cross Movement In J&K State

G. J. Nahvi (Hony. General Secretary of Red Cross movement In J&k State)

Voices have in the recent few weeks been heard about the State Red Cross not forthcoming with assistance at the hot spots or the hospitals where people in distress needed it. While not justifying any such absence, it is desirable to understand the role of the Red Cross in the State and its performance so far. It is worthwhile to fix reasonable level of service as should be expected of this Society and the support as the people are expected to offer to make it a better service organization.

The J&K State Red Cross was established in 1947 with its State Office at Srinagar. The Governor and the Chief Minister of the State are the President and the Vice President of the Society respectively and the Honorary General Secretary its chief executive functionary. The Society has a 45 member Managing Committee that include senior officers at the State level and 7 non-official members. The State Branch looks after policy formulation, ensures its observance, networking for programme implementation and liaison at the state/national level. The Society has 2 Regional and 22 District Red Cross Committees with the Divisional Commissioners and Deputy Commissioners as ex-officio chairmen respectively. The district committees work at the grass root level and thus efficiency of the Red Cross operations and Society's credentials with people largely rest with these committees.

The Red Cross mission aims to inspire and initiate humanitarian assistance to alleviate human suffering wherever the need arises and without discrimination. The Movement is universal in nature and has the power of humanity behind it. The current mission objectives are:
a) Promote humanitarian values and execute humanitarian assistance programme for people in need.
b) Increase disaster response capacity to reduce vulnerability of the communities in any disaster situation/area.
c) Work for people's health and supplement efforts at improvement of health conditions of vulnerable people and communities.
d) Raise capacity of the Red Cross branches at the districts and institutional levels through identification and training of volunteers and building resources locally to meet emergency situations.

Whereas the J&K Red Cross has rendered valuable services to the people in need, the shortfalls have perhaps been greater. Reference is invited to the Society brochure titled "Mission Activities 2004-2007 & Current Programme 2008 - A Review" that explains the work done during the last 4 years. The mandate for the Society, however, sets wide scope for such humanitarian services. This State, pitted as it is with potential disasters both natural and man made, give rise to peoples' expectations from Society. This demands situation analysis and find ways and means to strengthen the organization so that the role assigned to it is performed well, timely and efficiently. Hence the need to draw this short duration Vision Document 2010. The Red Cross has a reason to be the largest and dependable humanitarian service organization in the State. It is therefore, desirable to consider the strength and weakness with this organization in the State as should help assess its case correctly.

• The Red Cross is the •world's largest humanitarian organization with established network at the national and global level.
The Society has a statutory status and a defined legal base. It works as an auxiliary and in cooperation with the State authorities.
It has a well defined and designated organizational pattern.
• It has an increasing strength of trained volunteers to execute humanitarian assistance programmes.

Lack of mass awareness about the Society and its specific role. People consider it as part of the government when it is not. The Society doesn't get any funds assistance from the State.

Lack of pragmatic volunteer policy. The committed volunteers are the strength of the movement and their collective competence level only can assure good results.
The State authorities at the districts level exhibit apathy toward the Movement and its operations.

The Society suffers weak monetary support. The district/divisional committees do not effect in full collection of donations and other funds.
Based on this analysis, it is worthwhile to consider and adopt the following Vision 2010 statement for this Society as should further strengthen it to be a dependable humanitarian service organization in this State.
1). The State Red Cross should aim to be the leading humanitarian organization in service of people here. It needs awareness among people widely about its principles, its mandate and the working strategy so that the expectations with it are level and met with.
2) Sustained efforts are needed to identify and promote committed volunteers as the human force behind the movement. Committed volunteers will enhance social competence to execute the Red Cross mandate. It needs a policy for the Youth Red Cross and their training as part of social development.

The Society should be effective in disaster management which needs improving preparedness and disaster response within the organization and its volunteers.
The Society should build up adequate relief stock at the state, divisions and the districts level. The District Red Cross Committees should come up with data on human and material resources for better disaster response.

All the branch societies at the regional and district levels should be self-sufficient in resources locally and able to take up the programme execution.
The Society works as an auxiliary to the State authorities so as to supplement their efforts in social development generally and disaster management specifically. This is possible when the State authorities exhibit better level of commitment toward the Movement and its organization hierarchy, volunteers particularly.

Where-as the issues have been deliberated upon and in-house exercise initiated at preparing strategies in each case, the objective here is to ensure issues specific awareness among people -volunteers particularly, inviting suggestions at improvement of the Society performance and seek their effective association in its service delivery.

(For further information visit the Red Cross Committees at the District / Divisional level or the State Office at the Red Cross Road, Srinagar 190001 (J&K) Telephone No. 0194-2473910. Hony. General Secretary)

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