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 13, 2009

Living the Life to the Fullest

Dr. Beg addresses how golden age is really a golden period in personal development

(Dr. Mirza Ashraf Beg, 69, was born in Sarnal, Anantnag. He did his primary schooling at the Primary Hanfia School in Anantnag and completed his F. Sc. from the Government Degree College in Anantnag. He completed his medical degree (MBBS) from the Government Medical College Srinagar, University of Kashmir, in 1967, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Pathology from the Government Medical College Jammu, University of Jammu, in 1981. He served as the Medical Director of the Civil Hospital, Pahalgam, until 1983 and subsequently held senior administrative positions in the health service system of Saudi Arabia, including participation in a joint program with the Johns Hopkins University and the University of South Florida for a United Nations project related to environmental and ecological impact of the 1991 Gulf War. He is an Executive Member of the Jammu and Kashmir Red Cross (nominated by the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir), Member of General Medical Council, Jammu and Kashmir, Medical Council of India, Saudi Medical Council, and General Medical Council, London. He is proficient in Kashmiri, Urdu, Hindi, English, Arabic.)

The Driftwood and the Deadwood

"If you plan for hundred years plant trees. If you plan for thousand years plant industries. If you plan for generations plant humans" - Mao Tse Tung

While traveling on the national highway from Qazigund to Varmul one can see thousands of poplar trees and scores of Chinars on both the sides of the road that have lived their life. The tall poplars in their youth looked like angels of peace clad in greens welcoming the guests and the majestic chinars provided cool breeze and shelter during rains and snow for the pedestrians. Nature has a fixed life span for all the living things in this universe. Thus every soul that takes birth has to die and once dead the body has either to be cremated or buried howsoever dear or important. Looking on the dead poplar trees on both the sides of the road gives a horrible look and reminds as if they have none of their own to burry or cremate them. Even when lifeless we could make them beneficial to mankind and essentially to environment and ecology of the universe by putting them in a carbon sink pool usage.

A Chinar tree once in majestic gigantic robes is not only a carbon sequestration factory but provides shelter to huge populace of fauna and multiple organisms thus creating a niche unparallel of. The chinar of Kashmir is matching with our Himalayas in its grace and grandeur. I have seen its siblings in Syracuse New York too, again not as graceful as a Kashmiri chinar at Naseembagh or in Mughal gardens at Achabal, Shalimar and Padshahibag at Bijbehara. The old poplar trees that we see on the two sides of our highway are indigenous Kashmiri popular. Poplar that has broad leaves and is more robust in girth (green tunnel near Sangam) has been imported and are hybrids from Russia, Italy etc. It consumes more water hence sets up sever competition for other vegetation.

Similarly humans too have an active role up to a certain age when retirement should be accepted gladly. That way one can make room for the new incumbents that not only brings forth fresh ideas and spirits for the growth of future but also utility of vibrant energy bestowed in the youth by the Almighty. Retirement in no way means that the person has become redundant or outmoded. Neither does it mean that the person has become useless. In fact at the age of superannuation the person becomes more matured and experienced and can play a better role in a different field that needs less energy and requires lesser working hours such as social service or community development on voluntary basis.

One can make the best use of his/her lifetime experience and can invest his deposits in a better way. Under the present circumstances when both husband and wife are forced to go out of home to their workplaces a retired asset at home can render a helping hand by looking after the younger generation such as grand children. That is what we mean by planting men for future generations. Do gardening and grow vegetables in your kitchen garden that keeps fit and happy. For city dwellers where gardening or kitchen garden is not a possibility helping patients in hospitals is one of the best options and for a change read books. Develop a hobby for writing that is the best treatment for depression. Never forget to take a walk, play a sport and visit your friends.

For politicians too we need to have an age limit for active politics. Otherwise they become a liability rather than an asset. There are some people whose memory is affected in old age and they can’t keep a balance in their utterances resulting in to a great national loss. That is one of the reasons we witness unruly scenes in our parliamentary and assembly sessions. (It was tragic to see an angry Somnath Chatterji the speaker scolding the hooligans in the parliament other day. He also wished that the geriatric lot is not voted to power in the coming elections.) The sever degree of the forgetfulness is called Alzheimer’s disease in which sometimes the patient forgets even the way to his/her home.

No doubt we must respect our national heroes in politics but it is no use to keep them on board even when they are on ventilators. Here I must say that driftwood and deadwood are two different entities. Driftwood too serves a lot of useful purpose. We do get a blessed grandeur by their mere presence in our drawing rooms and are the sources for many inspirations. Thus we must use their presence to get to inspirations which can produce advancement and growth for the benefit of the future generations.

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