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.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Civil Disorder Yes, Civic Sense No

Kashmiris borrow books from public libraries and keep them for good. 15,846 books have taken flight that way

Book borrowing goes wrong

Srinagar: If your bookshelf includes some borrowed from the government libraries it’s high time you saved yourself from the embarrassment. The department of libraries is likely to publish the list of defaulters along with their photographs in local newspapers. The harsher plan is being conceived after the officials found out that at least 15,646 books had not been returned for over a decade and, interestingly, the defaulters included celebrities including politicians and bureaucrats.

Officials say a huge number of books that would account for at least two libraries are yet to be recovered and the process of recoveries would soon be implanted.

Talking to Rising Kashmir Deputy Director Libraries, Bashir Ahmad said that a deadline has been set for the burrowers to return the books failing which their names along with their photographs would be published in the newspapers.
Bashir said that the government should ask top officials to get a no demand certificate from the Department of Libraries.

“Appropriate punishment should be given for failing to return a library book as all borrowers and guarantors are educated,” he said.

As a pressure tactics, the department may also publish names of officials who have acted as their guarantors. “If the burrowers don’t return the books after our first warning, we may have publish names of all guarantors too,” said Bashir. The guarantors are usually officers of the gazetted rank.

District Library Islamabad has 1590 defaulters followed by City Central Library with 1473 and SPS Library Lal Mandi with 1350. Besides, most burrowers of all major districts, tehsils and border libraries are defaulters.

The librarians say that the burrowers who withhold books of libraries create problems for those who are in dire need of these books.

“Burrowers don’t consider retaining a book as crime although it is equivalent to a criminal offence,” said a librarian. “People here are not responsible and honest.”

They say it is not east to put the estimated cost of these books as the present market price of these books is difficult to evaluate.

The officials informed that some high profile people too are defaulters of various state libraries.

They said some former ministers and present legislators too have not returned books from the State Legislative Assembly library.

Giving details, officials point out that of the total 12,000 books on record of the civil secretariat's library nearly 3,000 have been taken away by politicians and bureaucrats, who included even a former chief minister and some ex-chief secretaries of the state.

As junior rung officials manning the library dare not to call upon these influential people, the legislators and bureaucrats do not return books borrowed from the library.

Officials said a number of these borrowers have retired or even expired and that the books pertained to references on Kashmir.

Some of these were published over 50 years ago and as such are not available in the market.

Giving instances, sources point out that former chief secretary Moosa Raja has taken away 10 books while another ex-chief secretary M P Khosla has to return 11 books. The books are so old that many of them carry the cost value as Rs 12.50 to Rs 15 only.

(Rising Kashmir)

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