Introduction to KashmirForum.org 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.
www.kashmirforum.org

Sunday, March 15, 2009

An Ode to Women

Afshana adds her voice in glory of her gender on the International Women's Day

(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.)

Woman: colourful contradiction

People of different idiosyncrasies have described woman differently. From ballads to odes, plays to novels, she has been portrayed in various roles variably. Whether it is Maxim Gorky’s heroine Nilovna, Bathsheba of Thomas Hardy, Lady Macbeth of Shakespeare or Keat’s La Belle Della Sans Merci—no holds have been barred by whimsical wordsmiths to highlight, delight, slight and blight woman!

Fiction apart, in factuality woman is much more than a bundle of traditional fables and over killed clich├ęs. She is a special creation of Almighty with an extra special purpose of life, contrary to what drowsy poets and demented feminist writers have been aligning to her. She is the perfect workmanship of God; the true glory of Angels; the rare miracle of Earth; and the sole wonder of the World. Mankind is indebted to her: first for life itself and then for making it worth having. Aptly said—
Wajood-i-Zan Say Hai Tasweerey Kainaat Main Rang….

Down the memory lane, one can trace out her journey, when not long ago in the West she was tied up to a horse and carried through the streets. Those were the times when Christianity had declared her as Devil Incarnate and the church authorities were seriously discussing if she had a soul at all. She wasn’t any better in the East where she was burnt alive with her dead husband. However, that was the ephemeral dark period in the history of her existence. Perhaps. Since then she has been going ‘up and up and on the ladder of emancipation’.

Initially she had individual champions speaking for her. John Stuart Mill and Mary Wollstonecraft, for instance. Today she has whole organizations working for her ‘cause’ such as the Women’s Lib or the United Nations and has the entire media in her support. In addition to much-talked international conferences every year, March 8 is celebrated as International Women’s Day for her betterment. Indeed, it appears as an enviable privilege for the Eve of today, who is always lamenting and clamouring for her ’rights’. She barely misses any opportunity to present herself as the most ‘oppressed and deprived’. Women’s Day, in such context, fortuitously comes in handy for her to sell hogwash slogans and mottos of ‘rebellion’ against all.

Rallies, seminars and debates mark the day which she brags wholly as hers. And seemingly at odds with the whole world, she leaves no stone unturned to hold all and sundry responsible for her present ‘plight’.

Woman’s at best a contradiction still – this is what Alexander Pope opines in his moral essays. Does not his assessment about woman sound solid and relevant? It’s really damn difficult to suggest ‘woman’s nature’ in abstraction. In the contemporary world, there are any numbers of stereotype images ranging from King Lear’s wife (Schemer) to Portia (dispenser of justice) in Shakespeare’s plays to Hardy’s women like Bathsheba wherein Hardy expresses a certain cynicism with regard to their conduct to the Victorian prudishness.

Once one descends into history to look for the essence of woman, it becomes a strenuous and an uncertain exercise, for woman has always lived by her heart and not head. One fails to understand, even today, the intricate psychology of woman, especially that of the East. On one hand, she is out and out intoxicated with the concept of liberalism, and contrarily she blames others for the deplorable fall-out of such intoxication. How crazy!

In fact, the problem with her is that she isn’t able to identify and sense the consequences of rubbing shoulders with men in almost every field. To satisfy her false ego, she cares a tinker’s damn for her identity. In the pursuit of so-called emancipation and freedom, she is, in fact, seeking slavery to world of hypocrite and lustful men. Hardly does she realize that true freedom is in refusal to sell one self and true solace in recognizing the poverty of her material affluence.

No doubt, today’s woman breathes and lives amidst the concept of feminism. ‘Don’t make coffee, make policy’—such slogans are continuously being injected into her mind. She is being bombarded with ‘Hate-Man-Hate-Mankind’ type of rabid feminism.

However, to sustain the aura of her individuality, and above all, the essence of her womanhood, her feminism should be of different kind, beyond the comprehension of the high academic culture of so-called feminism. Because she must know that she is neither competing with men nor trying to show them down. She should simply realize and value what she has been gifted with: the infinite power of life-affirming love and maternity. Her language should not be the language of separation, narcissism and competition; it should be the language of love, patience and generosity.

So, let her formulate good policies. Without forgetting how to prepare a cup of coffee as well! Let life and its pristine melody touch her. All along the years, and not just on the eve of March 8.

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