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.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Sad State of Cooperative Societies

Musavirr exposes yet another racket in Kashmir

(Mr. Musavirr Wani, 27, was born in Srinagar and attened the Burn Hall School. He graduated from the Meerut University and joined the Kashmir Times as a reporter. Loves driving his car and surfing internet to seek out workshops and fellowships so that he can travel and present the true picture of Kashmir.)

Cooperative societies in J&K bogged down by malpractices, bunglings

SRINAGAR: The cooperative movement was supposed to be a backbone in a country like India and it was supposed to reach the people living in far off areas of the country, but when talking of the state it seems that such an assumption was just a myth and nothing else.

Cooperative societies were set up in all the districts of the state and people were expected to get essential items of daily use from such societies, but with passage of time, these societies turned defunct. Malpractices, bunglings and scams hogged the functioning of these societies and within no time this venture faded out from the scene.

"I remember the days when we used to buy items like wheat flour, kerosene and sugar from the cooperative societies, but with the passage of time all this vanished in the thin air. We even used to get cloth on subsidized rates at these societies, but somehow this arrangement did not last long with the result people were left high and dry", said Mohammad Subhan, a resident of Budgam.

Cooperative societies were supposed to provide items of daily use in villages and far flung areas, but due to some reasons this venture did not click for much time. This led to problems as well as hardships for the people living in the villages as well as far off areas.

"In the other parts of the country the cooperative movement is progressing by leaps and bounds, but in the Kashmir valley its condition is deteriorating with every passing day. The cooperative societies had come up in the Kashmir valley in a good number, but they could not withstand the market pressure and lost out in the competition", said Ghulam Mohi-ud-din, a resident of Jawahar Nagar.

It would be in place to mention here that a cooperative milk federation was operational in Cheshmashahi in Srinagar and it was doing very well in its initial years during 1980s. But some years later the quality of the milk being supplied from this federation was not good and it had to be closed down.

"Sincerity was expected from the people running the cooperative societies, but due to one reason or the other it was lacking. This became the reason for the closure of the cooperative milk society at Cheshmashahi and it was only in 2004 that the same was restarted. But once again the key factors are fairness and sincerity and it is expected to be followed by the concerned people", said Ghulam Qadir, a resident of Pulwama.

There is a section of people who believe that there is a tremendous potential for setting up cooperative milk societies in districts like Pulwama and Anantnag. These people argue that the societies should be set up in villages in these districts and there is no need for the people to run from one place to another in this regard.

"This is good that the Cheshmashahi milk society has been started once again with the collaboration of Gujarat Cooperative Consumers Milk Federation, but it would have been better if such societies where the milk is available in plenty. The milk producers have to reach Srinagar with milk and here the milk is processed and it consumes a lot of time", said Mohammad Ahsan, a resident of Anantnag.

A good chunk of people are of the opinion that soft loans should be provided to those people who want to set up their own milk cooperative societies. These people should be able to process the milk in these societies and once this is done it would fetch them a good amount for their hard work and they would be able to send the milk packets to other states.

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