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 14, 2009

Waiting for the Next Big Idea

Afshana recounts challenges in keeping creative juices flowing

(Ms. Syeda Afshana, 35, 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.)

Deadline pressures disfigure the creation

Here I sit, head bent, writing to you. I sense your presence, even you aren’t around. I haven’t seen you. But I feel we have known each other much before becoming absolute strangers. I envision you as a loving soul, possibly a noble one, somehow plodding the tortuous path of life.

Every week, I recall you. My desk awaits your arrival. You never turn up. The deadline freezes me. You still don’t come. Hopelessly I set out to search you. Stumbling upon the disarrayed thoughts, rummaging in the weird ideas and wading through the abstract words, I found you nowhere. I try hard to weave you. My imagination dazes, my endeavor wobbles. I disfigure you. I carve out something that’s not even a slightest shadow of your magnificent Mother Eve. It’s something that suffices only the deadline, not my mind; the harshness of editorial desk, not my imagination. I feel dissatisfied, dispirited.

Perhaps I am trying to address you: A difficult process I embark upon every Sunday, and which is still far from over. I guess you take trouble in listening to me. I am never interested in wrapping you in hackneyed issues, puffed up politics, over- rated statistics, alien doctrines or subjective interpretations. The fact is that I heard no one speaking bitter truths of life in an affable voice. I don’t know what I needed to know in order to understand myself or for that matter anybody else. May be in writing to you, I wish to correct that, for making amends.

I know you believe you can “have it all”: a pious living, a good career, a loving lifelong marriage, healthy children, and happiness, too. Your dream is not chimerical. However, it is not a piece of cake either. You cannot display a bystander behavior while living in an ambience that dampens your every kind intention. Morally, you must “take sides”. You have to be unequivocal in your stand. You may be looked down on, but there is a great advantage in knowing that at any moment you may become a casualty in this struggle. If you know that this can happen, that there s nothing you can do to avoid it, you can then learn how to sidestep some blows and endure the unavoidable ones, by keeping your eyes open, maintaining clarity, and naming each blow accurately, for what it is. You do this to aid yourself in remembering that you have not caused your own pain. It’s psychologically crucial so that you don’t blame yourself and take things personally. The truth, rather the bitter truth, is that many so-called personal things prove quite impersonal in the long run! This doesn’t mean to say that you should become fatalistic or go limp in the jaws of events. While you must understand reality with some detachment, you must, at the same time, learn how to take radical a responsibility for what you do or fail to do. You have a responsibility to see that your wounded self does not get in the way of your warrior self.

There is a great task in the way of your warrior self. There is a great task of learning about what it takes for a woman to become whole, to stay whole, and to survive with dignity. What we don’t know can hurt us. Forgetting, not knowing your own story, is dangerous. If you do so, you will have to reinvent the wheel, suffer the humiliations again and again, with no guiding motto for a purposeful life. You will continue offering yourself for exploitation, and people will keep exploiting you. It is a grave paradox confronting you.

Perhaps no one ever told you, or me, that loud words and preachy tones are only loopy notions until human being test them on the ground; that social norms and taboos are only hypocritical devices until individuals forsake dichotomy in their words and deeds. Nobody around inspired us to see our place in the historical scheme of things, so that we may choose whether and how to stand our ground in history. No doubt, one fine day we opened our front doors, came out boldly, and like Ibsen’s Nora, simply walked out. Unlike Nora, we were not alone. There were many accompanying us, rubbing shoulders with men in every domain. We named it as ’Emancipation’. We joined the bandwagon fervently. Thereupon, what followed is an open secret. Barring a few positive achievements here and there, it is not a bright story at all. You know it. I also do. And truth eludes us still!! It’s dishonesty in style.

I am reluctant. I can’t leave you mid way, undelivered, unframed and unhallowed on the lines I had conceived. You are already living a life of any “brave son” of Adam. You are experiencing the trauma of this unnatural crossover. I can see you in the dismals. I can decipher your pangs.

Yes, it’s time for you to bloom. You are still a minute seed, yet to sprout out and manifest your existence. My acquaintances accuse that I overdid you. But I feel I have yet to scribble your proper silhouette, not to speak of drawing an accurate portrait. I have yet to find right colours and tones to fill you with. Your past and present; making and breaking; tears and smiles; pains and pleasures; woes and joys; solitude and companionship; failures and success; ups and downs; blacks and whites—All dissolves in my blank papers, producing just a raw expression of what I still fail to come out with.

I am sure you know my predicament. Only you can understand. And you are entitled to. I cannot, in good conscience, send you into battle without giving you a clear idea of what may happen there. I cannot mince words for merely leading you superficial colours and deceptive contours. These will not protect you from the ravages of changed times. Nothing can. But an honest motivation and proper objective will allow you to fight back and to keep sane, to keep going, no matter what happens, no matter how critics fumble out.

Nevertheless, there is no denying the fact that I was incredibly gullible when I thought you would create ripples by your humble presence on a sheet of newspaper. I was foolish, but human, for wanting that. The flush of exuberance cooled down, like many other things. It took me time to understand that unless your brain-child speaks truthfully from your own depths, unless it stands on a solid ideological base and asserts itself with some cherished beliefs, it can hardly create even a whiffle somewhere in some way. It turns to be yet another midget addition in the clutter of words, concepts, ideas, and sermons.

It passes unnoticed, unmarked. But I don’t want you to meet the same fate. Please, come out of the veil of vagueness. Help!

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