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.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Society Without Respect for its Heritage has no Bright Future Either

Irfan points to a shortcoming that has made Kashmiris poorer in more ways than one

Europeans preserve our heritage, we don’t care

Irfan Naveed (Greater Kashmir)

Some days back I received an e-mail from a friend of mine who lives in UK. His name is David McDowell and is an authority on the Kushan Coinage. The email was about ancient coins of Kashmir he has came across a board of ancient Kashmir coins of Kushana period in a museum of Oxford University. He had written in his mail, “these days I am working on a coin hoard of Oxford Museum which had been purchased by stein during his stay in the summers at Srinagar Kashmir, these are Kushan coins, and if you can help me in establishing their find sports I would be then highly indebted to you”.

Dr. David McDowell has already done tremendous work on world ancient coins, and wrote several monograms on Afghan and Indian coins. He is an authority on Kushan cons, and has documented and deciphered maximum Greek, Scythian, Kushan and Hindu Shahis coins found in Kashmir. Dr. Michael Mitchnar and K Wings are other contemporary numismatists who have deciphered and documented most of the ancient Kashmir cons found in European Museums and coin collections.

The Kashmir coins, which have paved or are paving their way to the museums and markets of Europe, have got better treatment, and stands not only catalogued but interpreted well in historic literatures of the sub-continent.

I have met most of the archeologists and numismatists of contemporary Europe who are very concerned about Kashmir coins and archeology. One can also understand the concern of European experts through the contents of David’s letter. Thousand of Kilometers away and representing quiet a different culture from ours, these Europeans are interested in research and documentation of Kashmir ancient coins, and have written number of monograms on Kashmir finds. Not only the European experts, the general Europeans are familiar with Kashmir coins and have been taking care of this heritage.

These are outsiders and these people have no responsibility to take care of distant heritages, besides their own ones. The entire European heritages stands already explored and documented. And now they have shifted to other Asian and African heritages; because we are the people who never took care of our land and peoples’ heritages. We served our heritage brokers, and we sold it to the Europeans. By heritage we meant business, either by selling heritage relics to Europe or by creating NGOs in the name of culture and heritage to beg for donations.

A century is now over since scientific explorations and excavations extracted heaps of archeological and numismatic materials.

About eighty thousand ancient coins, which include number of highly priced gold cons, are housed only in SPS Museum at Lal Mandi, without any cataloguing and documentation. The entire numismatic and archaeology heritages of this land housed in its local museums and private collections have got no documentation. There are heaps of coins found, but there are no takers.

What is a coin? Perhaps only few people have understood its proper concept, while for most of the people these ancient coins are nothing more than outdated money, which has no value. For general public, these coins are useless, but for copper and gold smiths, these coins have got some metallic value and are re-used in making copper, silver and gold items.

It is only very few people of my land who are aware of their numismatic and historic value, while rest of the Kashmiris are totally unaware of their numismatic heritage.

These people are unable to understand Kashmiri panch marka, dirham, dinar, panchi, sansu dam, rupee, tanka and Mohur. Thousands of coins struck in Kashmir mints, during ancient, mediaeval and early modern periods of history by hundreds of Rajas and Maharajas are not known to Kashmiris. These people are quite unaware of their this rich heritage, and hardly know that ancient coins of Kashmir besides depicting political, economic and socio-cultural picture of olden Kashmir are the main and authentic source to our history.

The general people of this land are not too blamed when your institutions do not work. The institutions and departments who are the either custodians of coins or are related with archeology should learn a lesson from European institutions and experts, and come forward to share their moral responsibility. If these people have technical know-how to deal with ancient coins, they should learn it and work sincerely to preserve the dumped treasures troves of this land.

To decipher and identify an ancient coin no doubt is a very difficult job. It requires certain technical trainings in numismatics and ancient scripts. The departments concerned with archeology and museums may have the expertise to deal with this neglected heritage because this was the main purpose behind the creation of these institutions. If European are so concerned about our heritages, why can’t we?

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