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, November 14, 2008

A Personal Billboard?

Nida sees walking billboards all around her

(Ms. Nida Rafiq Shiekh, 22, was born in Srinagar. She passed her Matriculation from the Presentation Convent High School and completed her 12th grade from the Mallinson Girls High School, both with distinction. She recently graduated from the Women's College, Srinagar, and is enrolled in the Media Education Centre (MERC) of the University of Kashmir pursuing a Master's degree in mass communication. She is a free lance writer who likes writing about the Kashmir issue and other topics like communal violence that have torn apart the Kashmiri society with tragic consequences. She loves writing and reading, and hopes to become a serious journalist and a documentary film maker some day.)

T-shirts Talk ....

“I am here for fun” this was the line that a young teenage boy was flaunting on his t-shirt during the recent protests in Kashmir. Contrary to that another exuberant adolescent was showing off his t-shirt one liner “I love freedom”. I don’t know whether these one liners were intentional or accidental but, somewhere it struck my mind that they can leave an impact and catch attention. That’s why sporting of t-shirts with an attention grabbing one liner is so much in vogue worldwide.

It began in the 1950s, when T-shirts became extremely popular both in Europe and America, and advertisers realized that they were a great way of promoting products. Soon we had T-shirts with slogans written on them. The title of a well-known book on communication published in the 1990s is called "Can you put it on a T-shirt?"

Throughout the 1980s and ever since in Japan, T-shirts have flourished as a personal expression. T-shirts with bold slogans were popular in the UK in the 1980s.
Since the late 1980s and especially the 1990s, T-shirts with prominent designer-name logos have become popular, especially with teenagers and young adults. These garments allow consumers to flaunt their taste for designer brands in an inexpensive way, in addition to being decorative.

In the US open of 2006, Sania Mirza’s t-shirt one-liner made headlines in the American media. It was “Don’t stand in my way”. This made her ambition for reaching to higher levels evident.

Screen printed T-shirts have been a standard form of product advertising for major consumer products, such as Coca-cola and Mickey Mouse, since the 1970s. However, since the 1990s, it has become common practice for companies of all sizes to produce T-shirts with their corporate logos or messages as part of their overall advertising campaigns.

The early 2000s saw the renewed popularity of T-shirts with slogans and designs with a strong inclination to the humorous and/or ironic. The trend has only increased later in this decade; embraced by celebrities, such as Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, and reflected back on them, too.

The political and social statements that T-shirts often display have become, since the 2000s, one of the reasons that they have so deeply permeated different levels of culture and society. The statements also may be found to be offensive, shocking or pornographic to some. Many different organizations have caught on to the statement-making trend, including chain and independent stores, websites, and schools.

Today, wearing a t-shirt with message is very common globally. They say they wear it on their sleeve and their t-shirts talk about them. In Kashmir also people wear these “talking t-shirts” as I call them. They are flaunted by boys mostly because of the cultural, religious and social guidelines that Kashmiris follow. However, some girls also wear them.

Everyday on my way to the university I come across many people wearing t-shirts with one-liners. Recently, I read this line on one t-shirt “Girl friends are like medicines. They come with expiry date.” Another very interesting t-shirt one-liner that struck me was “I was born intelligent. Education ruined me.” Other interesting t-shirt one-liner’s that one can come across on the streets of Kashmir are, “Cereal Killer” “Give my money back” “My mom thinks I’m cool”.

Wearing of these kinds of t-shirts is not a rage in the valley still; one can find people wearing them occasionally. The people from the valley mostly do not prefer t-shirts with strong messages or sayings. The small populations of people who do wear these kinds of t-shirts prefer humorous lines like “Everyone has a photographic memory. Some don’t have film.” Or “I couldn’t repair your breaks so I made your horn louder” or “God must love stupid people, he made so many” Or “I have a blood group with an attitude…..B+ve” Or “Hell was full so, I came back.”

Since, the talking t-shirt culture is a fast growing trend worldwide and a very popular trend in advertising and propaganda in the west. It could be well implemented in our valley as well. The college and university students can wear them as a style statement as well as for displaying their thoughts and beliefs. One thing that students like me can write on their t-shirt can be, “Hard work has a future payoff but laziness pays off now” or “Hard work never kills anybody…..but why take a chance.” Today, you can get anything written or printed on your t-shirts according to your needs and desires so; it wouldn’t be difficult to get a “talking t-shirt.

As we are all aware that it is extremely difficult for students like us to take away the current conditions of our Vale from our mind so while writing this it came to my mind what if the current key players in the affairs of our State would create t-shirts with one-liners depicting their ideology and stands? So, what would be the one-liner for the t-shirt’s of our mainstream political parties? Probably…., “I don’t have a solution but, I do admire the problem.” And the one-liner for the t-shirts of separatists would be, “All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.” And then the ordinary citizens of Kashmir could also wear a t-shirt with the message, “Eat well, Stay fit………Die anyway”.

Now, I am also thinking of buying a “talking t-shirt” for myself and the one-liner for that may possibly be, “I am nobody & nobody is perfect……….therefore, I am perfect.”

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