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 6, 2009

Saving Kashmir by Preserving its "Green Gold"

Iftikar suggests a model for preservation of forests based on experience in India

Need of a Chipko Movement

Iftikar Rashid Wani

During the United Nations Conference on Human Environment at Stockholm in 1972 when there were hectic deliberations to formulate the strategies to protect the human environment, perhaps nobody was aware about a powerful grass roots level environmental movement that later came to be known as Chipko Movement. Emerging in the isolated Garhwal (Uttrakand), a Himalaya hill village thousands of kilometers far from the Stockholm Conference, it was actually started by the illiterate villagers who were totally ignorant about the major event, but were the victims of highly destructive floods and land slides because of destruction of forests.

This movement was started by the people against the cutting down of trees for sports goods by the contractors. It soon became a popular movement to protect trees from being felled, and women of the hills took active part in it and mobilized others to put a stoppage on tree felling. Many social activists dedicated their services for the noble cause of tree protection; however, it was Sunder Lal Bahuguna, a prominent social leader who raised the slogan Chipko. The inhabitants of the hilly area responded by declaring trees as their brothers and formed a human chain around the tree when influential contractors used official machinery to crush the sentiments of people about protection of trees.

The situation is not so different in Jammu and Kashmir. Here the forests which harbors most of the biodiversity and are rendering invaluable services to the humanity are at the verge of extinction. Forest is the most important natural resource gifted by the God to mankind. They are considered as the most valuable assets of a nation. They influence and reduce the extremes of temperature. The forests have rightly been termed as the “Green gold”. Recognizing the importance of forests great Kashmiri saint, Shiekh-ul-Aalm, hundreds years ago has rightly said “Un poshy tely yelay von poshey”. Notwithstanding the goods and services provided by forests their destruction is rampant through out the world. The plunderers are looting the green gold to satisfy their greed.

In the name of development we are destroying these forests that represent life. Richness of natural resources is past now in Kashmir. That was the time when we used to value natural resources. They even worshiped trees and forests as for them they were sacred. But over the period of past two decades things have changed drastically. Now human beings have started cutting the branch that they perch themselves on. This has lead to the environmental catastrophe and is posing a great threat to humanity. We have converted our forests into lifeless tracts. This is the state of affairs in spite of recognizing the importance of forests in maintaining the ecological balance and economy of the state by us.

Our state which was once abundantly endowed with natural resources is currently going through a critical stage. With the blessing of beautiful landscape and wealth of natural resources comes the responsibility to ensure their preservation. In the new knowledge based technology driven global economy this can be achieved only by planning our economic and environmental policies at various levels. The goal of environmental security can be achieved if all of us get serious about the problem. In the exploration and exploitation of natural resources, care needs to be taken that there is no degradation of land, contamination of aquifers, serious damage to vegetation and pollution of atmosphere. The sustainable development is guaranteed if there is balance between the human activities and nature’s ability to cope with them. This planning demands the environmental protection and ecological harmony by protecting our forests. Remember if we lose forests we will lose everything because without forests there will be no Kashmir.

Painfully enough once charming and fascinating forests of Kashmir Valley are now presenting a horrifying picture. Our selfish actions have resulted in degradation of 10 lakh hectares of forest area which constitutes about 50% of the total forest area. It is irony that the Kashmiris are unable to protect their forest area. No significant damage has been reported from Jammu Division which holds 60% of the forest area of the State. The official reports from Jammu and Kashmir Government have put the forest cover of the State at 19.95% which according to researchers is untenable. According to recent analysis our State has only 13% as forest cover even though both figures are far less than the average of 60% for a hilly state like Jammu and Kashmir. It is a fact that those 25 countries in the world which have lost their entire forest areas over a period of 50 years still survive. But in Kashmir we cannot sustain if forests are extinct.

In recent past Kashmiris have witnessed irregular climate; less snow in winters, frequent rains in odd seasons and snow even in April and May. Nature has sounded an alarm and if we still remain ignorant towards the problem there would be no Kashmiris in coming years. Thus it is now the need of the hour to start a public campaign on the pattern of Chipko Movement so that the forests thrive. For that prominent section of the society like religious preachers, imams, respected elders of the locality can play the role of saviors by awaking the people at grass roots level. Besides electronic and print media, NGOs, teachers and students are the other vital parts for promoting this noble cause of protecting the forest; and together we can ensure and compel the government to think about the revival and the future safety of forests for our own safety.

(Rising Kashmir)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment.

Industrial Society is destroying necessary things [Animals, Trees, Air, Water and Land] for making unnecessary things [consumer goods].

"Growth Rate" - "Economy Rate" - "GDP"

These are figures of "Ecocide".
These are figures of "crimes against Nature".
These are figures of "destruction of Ecosystems".
These are figures of "Insanity, Abnormality and Criminality".

The link between Mind and Social / Environmental-Issues.

The fast-paced, consumerist lifestyle of Industrial Society is causing exponential rise in psychological problems besides destroying the environment. All issues are interlinked. Our Minds cannot be peaceful when attention-spans are down to nanoseconds, microseconds and milliseconds. Our Minds cannot be peaceful if we destroy Nature [Animals, Trees, Air, Water and Land].

Chief Seattle of the Indian Tribe had warned the destroyers of ecosystems way back in 1854 :

Only after the last tree has been cut down,
Only after the last river has been poisoned,
Only after the last fish has been caught,
Only then will you realize that you cannot eat money.

To read the complete article please follow any of these links.

Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment

Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment

Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment

Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment

Delhi, India