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.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Kashmir's Loss is India's Gain

For internally displaced Pandits, parting with their sacred books is almost like giving away a treasure

Kashmir’s tribute enriches country’s manuscript coffers

Nearly three decades ago, when the militant struggle in Kashmir made fleeing an honourable option, Dr B N Kalla came to live in Delhi with his family and many prized manuscripts that had been passed down by his father, a Sanskrit scholar.
Today, Dr Kalla is among an army of Kashmiri pandits, whose manuscripts — pages of history that have captured the social and religious mores of a race — are the biggest contributors to the National Mission for Manuscripts. Not any other ethnic community, a survey held by by the Mission declared recently.

Its Assistant Director Dilip Kumar Rana said some Kashmiri families have had these manuscripts for centuries. “They are also worshipped,” he added.

Manuscripts from Kashmir were written in the Sharda script, seen as a predecessor to Gurmukhi, the script of Punjab. It is older than Devnagari and is the predominant source of the region’s history for researchers. Some in Kalla’s collection — among the biggest in the city — are from the 12th Century which talk about religious pilgrimages of those days.

Kalla has not counted the pages with him but they fill up a big almirah. Recently, in order to facilitate research, he donated nearly eight from his personal collection to the Mission.

Sarbanand Kole, who passed away last year, has also left behind a wealth of the past with his family in Safdarjung Enclave.

There are many more, who might not have a substantial collection like Kalla and Kole, but the few threads they cherish bind them strongly to their roots. Aswaita Vadini Kaul works at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts and has at least four miniature paintings of gods and goddesses that are almost 200 years old. The paintings have been with her family for as long as she can remember and are now worshipped.

S S Toshkhani, of Vasant Kunj, came to Delhi in 1984 and brought along with him two or three manuscripts. He worships them too.

But it has been an uphill struggle to preserve the pages of time. Several have been lost in transition, to accidents and even to termites. B N Kalla’s son Kiran said: “We put up in rented accommodations in the early years. We gave away several trunks full of manuscripts to relatives for lack of space. Many have been lost. Some were ruined by termites, and some we burnt to save other manuscripts from getting spoilt.”


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