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, October 19, 2008

Public Gets What Public Wants

An Editorial in the Kashmir Images puts the blame for corruption entirely on the bureaucracy when in fact general public shares part of the blame

For how long…?

Nothing seems to work here in this God-forsaken land. Each field and every sphere of human activity here is corrupted with so many vices that one really wonders about the possibility of things changing for any good.

Making the matters worst for the common masses is the fact that those at the helm, who are supposed to act as watch-dogs and set the wrongs right have long stopped to think in terms of public good. If at all anything moves them, it is their own petty and selfish interests. Otherwise there is a frustrating inertia that has become as a characteristic feature of more or less each and every wing of the government.

Of course those placed high up in the administrative echelons will like to differ with what popular perception about the scheme of things is, however, this hardly impacts the reality on ground. Reality is what people experience in real life and it obviously has very little to do with what the bureaucracy would want to see on paper or otherwise like to publicize. This marked gulf between the actual and the perceived reality is what is resulting in peoples’ disenchantment with the government and its systems.

Takes for instance the rates fixed for chicken and mutton in the Valley. And interestingly those at the helm of affairs both in Weights and Measures as well as Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution (CA&PD) departments have as if presumed that their rates are being adhered to. However, the reality is that for every kilogram of chicken sold here, people have to shell out Rs 20-25 more than what is the prescribed rate and for each kilogram of mutton they have to chip in Rs 70-85 more than the rates fixed by the government. In such a situation isn’t it natural for the common consumer to question the very efficiency of the concerned agencies and doubt the capacity of the government on the whole? If a government can’t make chicken- and mutton-sellers to abide by law and instead prefers watch ordinary citizens being cheated without much ado or respite, does it really have any moral ground to be in the ruling chair? And by the way, it is not only those selling chicken or mutton who are on a looting spree, in fact the entire market places have been transformed into big dens of gambling where people are cheated on one of the other pretest. Gambling dens - because it is a real gamble to shop here, and obviously the one who loses the least in the bargain is the luckiest!

One more instance is that of the public transport system. Transporters have perfected the habit of humiliating and cheating the commuters and this is done without any remorse and respite. And it is certainly with the help of the concerned agencies that a nauseating status quo has been maintained. Even as everyone knows how insulting the behaviour of the transporters is and how much immunity they enjoy even after brazenly violating all laws, rules and norms, why is it then that the authorities are doing nothing to tame this unruly lot? The concerned departments – both Transport as well as the Traffic Police are so neck-deep in corruption that expecting them to bring about any change in the situation is certainly like expecting the impossible to happen.

Again a similar question can be asked: If the government and its agencies can’t bring about any semblance of law and order on the roads and streets, isn’t it impossible for them to manage the affairs of entire the state? ‘Good beginning is work half done’ and unfortunately here one really wonders how long people will have to wait to see any ‘good beginning’ beginning!

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