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.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Interesting Study of Social Trends

Unfortunately, the news is not good

Kashmir on brink of social precipice

Zulfikar Majid/ Gowhar Bhat (Greater Kashmir)

Srinagar: Acute poverty, unemployment, dowry, modern education and the about two decades of conflict are some of the major reasons for late marriages in Kashmir with a nasty fallout on its socio-economic fabric. The trend has had devastating consequences like psychiatric problems, suicides, drug addiction, pre and extra marital affairs, sex scandals and a spurt in divorces, reveals a recent research.

“The decrease in population at family level, mental depression, increase in suicide rate, encouragement to immoral activities and pre-marital sex are some of the consequences of late marriages which we found during the survey,” the principal investigator of the empirical survey, noted sociologist associated with University of Kashmir, Prof. Bashir Ahmad Dabla, told Greater Kashmir.

“The socio-economic and politico-educational developments in Kashmir had radical changing impact on the practices, rituals, values and norms of marriage especially related directly to late marriage. Also, political developments in last 20-years of militancy had further changing impact on the traditional pattern of late marriages,” the research titled “Emergence of Late Marriages in Kashmir” revealed.

The other factors responsible for late marriages, according to the research, are illiteracy, modernization impact, health abnormality, customs, traditions, caste considerations, search for proper match, irreligious attitudes, preference for an employed women with permanent job, love affairs, illegal sex relations and huge marriage expenditure.

The late marriages have had devastating consequences on the society. “Decrease in population, psychiatric problems, increase in suicidal rate, immoral activities and pre-marital sex relations are the major long term and short term consequences of the trend,” the study reveals. Some of the minor consequences of the trend include abnormal child birth, lack of child care, increase in crime, frustration among youth, and disturbed social and family life, it reveals.

The survey was conducted by a team of 30 students led by Prof Dabla of the University’s Sociology department from June to October 2007 in all the districts of the Valley. A total of 1500 respondents belonging to varied social categories were interviewed. Of them, 52 per cent were males and 48 per cent females. It shows that the average age of marriage for males in Kashmir is 31.53 years while as for women it s 27.83 years.

An overwhelming 88 per cent of the respondents were of the opinion that the conflict situation contributed to the emergence of late marriage trend. However, 12 per cent of the respondents opined that the conflict was not directly responsible for it.
On dowry as one of the chief reasons for delayed marriages, 92 per cent respondents said that it had created numerous problems for individuals and families. The other major reason for the trend is unemployment. Over 90 per cent of the respondents were of the opinion that rampant unemployment had created the situation which seems to be getting out of control by the day.

The other alarming aspect, the survey reveals, is the emergence of pre-marital sex in an otherwise conservative Kashmiri society. “There is an inverse relationship between late marriages and the practices of pre-marital and extra marital relations among the youth. More than 64 per cent respondents revealed that late marriages caused and effected the pre-marital relations among the youngsters,” it says.
Out of 1,500 respondents, 768 said that since sex was a biological need, they wanted to satisfy themselves through any means. At least 182 respondents said that sex control wasn’t possible as it was at its peak at younger age. Another 219 respondents revealed that late marriages had led to extra-marital relationships, especially among the elder and married members of the society.

On how to overcome the problem, 29.93 per cent respondents said that there must be complete ban on dowry, 18.40 per cent said parents must arrange marriage of their children at an early age, 17.66 per cent said adherence to the tenets of religion was the remedy while 13 per cent said that government should create employment opportunities for the youth.

“This is leading the society to a disaster, as people are exercising abnormal ways of sex. Pre marital sex and immoral practices have shown an upward trend and it is increasing,” warns Prof Dabla, adding, social practices, would make marriages possible at an early age. “The initiative has to come from the society.”

Prof Dabla said the demographic composition of the Valley was getting affected due to late marriages. “Sociologically, it affects the most active group in terms of roles, as they become less contributing,” he added.

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