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, May 27, 2009

International Collaboration on Energy Research Awareness in J&K

The University of Kashmir joins with institutes in U.K., U.S.A., and Italy to create a new consortium

Energy Research & Training Consortium Being set up

Gulmarg: Universities of Kashmir and Jammu have agreed to collaborate and work together to set up "Energy Research & Training Consortium for Jammu and Kashmir" for conducting scientific research in the field of energy sector.

The main objective of this collaboration is to establish collaborative links among the two universities with support from the University College London, University of Durham, UK, University of Utah, USA, Italian International Energy Development Corporation (ENI), Italy, Getenergy, UK and various other national institutes.

A consensus to this effect was reached on the 3rd Day of the Workshop on "Energy Challenges: A case for Energy Research Institute", in a meeting of the Core Group comprising of members from the two Universities and the Collaborating organizations held at Gulmarg. It was decided at the Core Group Meeting to take forward the mission under the name "Energy Research & Training Consortium for Jammu and Kashmir". The Core Group meeting was attended by Professor Riyaz Punjabi, Vice Chancellor, Kashmir University, Professor Varun Sahni, Vice Chancellor, University of Jammu, Dr. Haseeb Drabu, Chairman J&K Bank, Dr. Jonathan Craig, ENI, Italy, Dr. Richard Davies, University of Durham, Dr. Peter Mckenzie Smith from Get energy, Dr. Joe Moore from the Utah University, USA, Prof. Juergen Thurow and Prof Bindra Thusu from University College London, Dr Shakil A Romshoo , KU, Prof. G. M. Bhat, JU, other top officials of both the Universities including Registrars and Dean Academic Affairs of KU and JU and other senior professors.

This strategic and important decision to set up of the "Energy Research & Training Consortium (ERTC) for Jammu and Kashmir", besides other things, would ultimately pave way for the establishment of the Energy Research Institute in the state in the years to come, thus promoting and enabling teaching/training, consultancy and research in the field of Energy resource assessment, Energy Planning and conservation, alternate energy resources, environmental concerns etc. This Energy Institute, first of its kind in India, would be developed on the pattern of Energy Research Institute developed at University of Utah, USA, Durham University, UK and UCL, UK. Under this initiative, which is being seen as a major achievement for the state of Jammu and Kashmir, both the prestigious and leading universities of the state are going for a major collaborative work, the partners will work towards sector wise resource assessment, building the capacity of the state power development agencies, generate the accurate and credible data for formulating energy policy in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

This Consortium will have two coordinators, one from each University, who would coordinate with international collaborators. While Dr Shakil A Romshoo would be the coordinator from Kashmir University Professor G. M. Bhat will be the coordinator from Jammu University,. Besides, it was decided that there would be ten core group members that would include geologists, life scientists, organic chemists, physicists, anthropologists, economists, hydrologists etc.

The establishment of the "Energy Research & Training Consortium for J&K" is a first step towards setting up of the full-fledged Energy Institute in J&K and would among other things, go for an independent assessment of the resources on which one can rely on; it would help to generate data that is extremely useful for the researchers, government, policy makers and would provide a realistic and holistic view of the Energy Scenario in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. There would also be exchanges of academic staff and students from the two University to the Collaborating Universities abroad for the purpose of promoting research and capacity building under appropriate bilateral agreements. joint conferences, seminars and symposia on topics of mutual interest would be organized by the KU, JU with support from the Collaborating institutes.

Vice Chancellor Kashmir University Prof Riyaz Punjabi termed the development as unique and significant and said that he is trying to set some benchmarks in the University to ensure that the Scientific outputs are used for the environmental friendly socio-economic development of the state . Saying that innovation is his objective , Prof Punjabi felt that despite tremendous energy potential in the state, the scenario is very grim as no concerted efforts have been made by the state to harness and optimally utilize the energy potential for laying strong economic foundation for the industrial growth of the state. Prof Punjbai hoped that the "Energy Research & Training Consortium for J&K" shall give boast to research related to the environment friendly exploitation of all form of energy resources in the state.

Professor Varun Sahni, Vice Chancellor, University of Jammu, while underscoring the need to collect data for further research and impart teaching, suggested the introduction of a short-term course on energy through distance education mode in both the universities. "As the distance education modes of both the universities are very strong, I think the introduction of a short 3-5 month course on energy would help in a big way in capacity building of the people interested in the theme," said Prof Sahni adding such Consortium will have a huge multiplier effect.

Dr Jonathan Craig, Italy, while lauding the idea mooted by Prof Sahni to start a short term course on energy, said that developing a strategy for research, assessment and training was an important part of their deliberations during the 3-Day International Workshop. He said as they have to train the researchers for future, it was a good idea to start such a course. The Consortium in the days to come, could play the role of an independent authority for information to the Investors., felt Dr Craig.

Earlier, Dr Haseeb A Drabu Chairman J&K Bank on behalf of his organization offered to fund one chair for the upcoming institute. While spelling out the framework of action for the consortium, he said that Consortium could provide valuable information to the policy makers, investors, energy administrators and the general public on various aspects of the Energy and could serve as the First Guide, if the Consortium comes up with guidebooks on various aspects of the Energy. He said publishing an energy hand book, a practitioner’s guide and investors resource book should be the first priority of the Consortium .

"To generate and disseminate research and independent and holistic information and opinion on energy issues for enabling policy and investment decision for sustainable development of energy sector in J&K state " reads the mission statement of the Energy Research & Training Consortium for J&K and was unanimously agreed upon by the core group after hectic deliberations.

The Universities from UK and USA offered Collaborations to the Universities of Kashmir and Jammu. MOU was also signed between the University of Durham and the University of Kashmir at the Core Group meeting. Both the Vice-Chancellors were invited to send a delegation to visit the Energy Research Institutes being run at the University of Utah, USA, University of Durham, UK and The University College London, UK.

(Kashmir Observer)

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