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.

Friday, March 20, 2009

J&K State Fails to Understand Tourism 101

Charging registered local tourist guides for accompanying visitors on gondolas in Gulmarg is a bad policy

Gulmarg Tourist Guides’ Appeal to Chief Minister

"We are a group of 25 local youth, earning our livelihood by working as tourist guides here at Gulmarg for past over six years. The previous government had accorded a concession to us that we were not charged any money by the Gulmarg Gondola. However, of late some people have been pressing the authorities at Gondola to charge Rs 300 in lieu of each ride from us. Given that we hardly manage to make Rs 300 a day while working as tourist guides, we are in no position to may this money. Those pressing for this measure are doing so with the sole aim of earning a bad name to your government by creating a wedge between the government and the unemployed people. We are therefore requesting you for a similar concession as was given by the previous government.

It is also brought into your notice that Tourist Department had conducted our interviews some months back so as to regularize us as licensed guides. However, so far nothing seems to have moved in this regard. We, there, appeal you to kindly look into the matter personally so that we are given proper licenses to work as tourist guides.

Local Tourist Guide Association,

(Kashmir Images)

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