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.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

We Lack the Courage of Conviction

Afshana highlights a weakness that has taken its toll

(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.)

Conviction, right or wrong

"He who believes
is strong;
he who doubts
is weak.
Strong convictions
great actions."
(Louisa May)

We all are made of convictions. A certain set of beliefs that guides our actions day in and day out. Whether those convictions are appropriate or wicked, is not the point of argument. That how much sure and convinced we are about them makes the row.

This is perhaps the cruelest tragedy. Most of us barely own up our convictions, strong and loud. We stand nowhere in holding our viewpoints very dear. With each passing day, we change our say and style.

Perhaps, we are never confident about anything we claim to believe in. From religion to politics, we keep on 'fine-tuning' our beliefs in tandem with the prevailing situations. At times, the petty self-interests entice us to take a volte face. However, we hardly seem to comprehend and realize the larger ramifications of our continuous U-turns upon some section of people, or for that matter, the whole society.

Teachers, they say, are the builders of nation. What happens when this 'special creature' breaks the valid norms and becomes a tool for initiating and establishing a wrong precedence? It may raise certain eyebrows or kick up a lot of dust or just get hushed up slowly. But if the same wrong is undone under the influence of some, with the 'wavering' teacher taking another stand over the issue, it smacks of fickle-mindedness. Independent thinking and decision-making get stripped off from such a person who has no conviction to stand for his/her act. And in the process, the mockery is made of our educational degrees and discourses.

The same vacillation is depicted in our relations and associations. Our friends and foes are never permanent. We cross over the floor ad nausuem. We befriend our worst rivals and betray our best pals. Again, since there is no moral principle on which we can base our love and hatred, friendships and rivalries, we continuously construct and deconstruct our relationships/acquaintances as per the demands of timely interests.

Small wonder, we keep shuttling between camps. Today here, tomorrow there. A big lobby, a small lobby; a powerful lobby, a dominant lobby—we keep revolving in deception. We obey our bosses, and we get a reward from them. We oppose our bosses, and we get a prize from their opponents. Both ways, our loyalties are not lasting but our interests are secured. No matter we lose the image of credibility.

Our politicians have 'colourful' conviction. It is pink before elections; and dark post elections. The different versions of 'promises' and 'pledges' eventually throw up a plethora of shocking surprises for the common masses. Doublespeak mars the reputation of turncoat politicians but it adds to the panorama of their flimsy convictions. Hollow slogans of 'autonomy' and 'self-rule' prove as nothing but the gimmicks of vote-bank polity.

And then, how our leaders delude their convictions is equally astonishing. Having a cozy style of living, from palatial houses to expensive healthcare, globe-trotting to NRK life partners, the noisy symbols of 'achievable nationhood' and 'third option' have failed to prove the conviction of being wedded to the struggle, to the suffering masses, and to the numerous half-widows and orphans. Again, a camouflage of convictions has been the slippery ground for all the heat it has generated, and for all the moments of absurd theater it has provided.

Our intellectuals seem immersed in the sea of swindling. Rather than the hard and solitary work of writing and thinking and achieving an output that far overshadows their cheap publicity, they have succumbed to mediocre culture, haranguing aimlessly on stages and podiums than arguing their ideas in books or in the pages of magazines or newspapers.

We also have a creed of apparently broad-minded fellows, who swank their 'knowledge' at every occasion, but ultimately turn out to be the petty obstructionists who leave no stone unturned to gag the minds and mouths of others by raising trivial objections. They are actually the people with a yellow streak and sham high ground.

Our current crop of young generation is absolutely ignorant about the meaning of conviction. Goalless and confused, they are trapped in the miasma of western impressions. Their worldview is bereft of any conviction, and their world itself is quite a godless midget.

There is nothing new about all this. We seem destined to hurl anathemas at each other, for the very disgusting and deceptive acts of ours. The high point is that we don't have courage of conviction. We cannot concede our faltering. We cannot acknowledge our misdoings.

A weary and weird state of affairs around, does call for some kind of redemption. A quest is to be made. The grim and pessimistic journey through the abyss has to have an end. We cannot resurrect our past glory. We can, however, try to locate our history profoundly and get connected with our roots. By this, the best ever moral lessons can be unearthed for the heady ideas and convictions to rule us and our dealings.

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