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

When Radio Kashmir Symbolized Kashmiri Psyche

Afshana notes that passing away of Machama symbolizes a loss beyond merely a Radio Kashmir artist named Pushkar Bhan

(Ms. Syeda Afshana, 34, was born in Srinagar. She attended the Vishwa Bharti High School in Rainawari, Srinagar, and the Government Women's College in Srinagar where she received a B.Sc. degree. She completed her Master's degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from the Kashmir University in 1999 and was the Gold Medallist (first position holder) in her graduating class. She is currently a Lecturer in the Media Education Research Centre (MERC) of the Kashmir University and pursuing her doctorate on the role of internet after 9/11.)

Just listen and feel the difference

Dark nights alone
yet we dream together.
Our vision not a fluke,
No ghost in the snow.
Finding her. Can we?
Her touch
that shall enliven.
Her presence
that shall remit
the loneliness.
I had heard
She will!
Radio Kashmir said-
“She loves us all.
Loves Raheem,
Loves Raina.”
Passions ruffled
blood trickles
houses smoke,
As we drift, alone.
Our vision
a mirage in the desert.
Darker nights,
now we dream alone
trying to avoid sleep.
Waking un-desirous
moving into oblivion.
Radio Kashmir
really sings.
So they say.
Darkest nights
now our fate
and we stop
even dreaming alone!

Machama is no more. Radio Kashmir announced. The sad news made me nostalgic. It pushed me back to the days when the people of my generation were in their school, faintly mature to listen and comprehend the character of Machama.

The Zoon Dub of our childhood was also lively. It resonated with the spirit of the times: calm and complacent ambiance with no idea of an unforeseen edgy future. Everything was quite typical. Everyone lived a habitual life. The humdrum social and economic affairs dominated the scene. The commentary on them was simply conventional, with the main character Mame playing an idealistically satirical role.
Life of a common Kashmiri family was full of vibrancy. From a small celebration to any grave sorrow, family was strongly interlaced in an intimate bond. Social affairs were exemplary. Neighbourhood bubbled with the cultural camaraderie that knew no barriers of religion or caste. Friendships were clean and sincere. Learning and earning was wholesome as well as innocent.

Dealings within and without family were honest and candid. Levels of trust and expectation were high, and genuinely so. Blithe and beautiful, the life was touchy towards even the minute things and happenings around. A cry somewhere would hardly go hoarse; an ailment anywhere would rarely go unnoticed; and a problem wherever would barely go unattended.

Jhelum thumped down silently, whisking the reflections of the then Kashmir with the unsoiled waters. Dal waved around softly, mirroring the tranquility and stability of the noble musings. Zabarwan mountains illustrated the force and fortitude of the people. Every Chinar burnt with a loving desire of self-sacrifice. Anything around was just symbolic of undaunted survival.

Places were yet to be polluted. Minds were still untainted. Life was hassle free, and so were the people. Radio Kashmir delivered accordingly. Creativity was preferred and promoted. Dreams were painted and projected. Unforgettable masterpieces were honed and styled…Lala Joo and Sons, Veath Rouz Pakan to name. The connection between the people and the place seemed deep-rooted.

Today, we cannot dream. We cannot even dare. Dreams were all that we gave for free to our masters. The robbed and ravaged souls, hence, lack both the conviction and composure. Raheem is in a moral dilemma. Raina is in an identity fix. And Radio Kashmir is facing a professional predicament.… Today, we don’t have the songs. Hollering and howling have become our songs. Our songwriters are wearied and wordless. Our singers are voiceless. The whole orchestra possesses dubious credibility. And the dull surprise is that Radio Kashmir feigns to know nothing of this sort…

The sense of reality evades us. It posits two opposing worlds: one idealized and forward-looking; the other dark and foreboding. We are held up in a position that banks nowhere in the middle. Our issues and problems are umpteen. Our concerns and solutions are scanty. And Radio Kashmir continues to be a mute spectator to this imbroglio...

Our individual self has no narrative to narrate. All our narratives are buried down the ‘enforced’ oblivion. The irony of times has consumed the vigour to relate and recount the barrage of ingenuous experiences. Though our collective has an influential say but it has chosen to be sightless. And Radio Kashmir prefers to be tacitly blind…

Mosaics of memories tell that there is a downslide in everything that can be remembered, and the actual undercurrents behind this downslide are not truthfully reflected anywhere. We even fear narrating them to ourselves! Meandering away from the candid confessions, we are in fact caught on a greasy ground of genuine and blurred history. So far we have failed to acknowledge and exploit the confusions that have emanated out of this dilemma. Instead of using them for conjuring a simple and effective way to break up the chronic stalemate we are meshed in, we continue to harp on ridiculous exits.

……Radio Kashmir has stopped singing for us. All subjects have gone lackluster. All themes have lost the romance. A strange banality has hit every melody.

Of course, during yesteryears Radio Kashmir reverberated the ethos of the era, rather than singing the alien tunes. There was, perhaps, no poignant pathos to project!

Those were the days of yore. Machama is no more. So is the Radio Kashmir.

And so is the Kashmir, lost somewhere in the vast obscurity which looms on a future that neither the present nor the past can dictate

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