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, May 22, 2009

Success by Hook or Crook

Those were not just "good old days" but compare today's photographs with the past and see how ugly it has become

The idea of Kashmir

Nadia Shah

It is so unfortunate that young people are a part of my generation, and the ones who came and will come after us don’t have even time to indulge in a sweet feeling of nostalgia about what Kashmir used to be as reported to us by our elders. We have not seen it with our own eyes; we did not get a chance to see it. Kashmir is not only a physical or a geographical space; it is also a very beautiful idea cherished by people throughout the world, meaning that even a person who has never visited Kashmir can, in his imagination, derive pleasure from the idea of Kashmir.

Not only this, the same person would wish to visit this place provided he is given a chance for the same. The pictures, feelings and emotions that come to ones mind with the pronouncement of the word ‘Kashmir’, however, do not correspond to the present day picture of Kashmir. It is true that those do correspond to Kashmir of our elders but not to ours. The irony is that we—the new generation of Kashmir—do not have a primary or first hand source with which we could compare our condition and get overwhelmed with a sense of loss, repentance and waste. Again it is true that change is the law of nature and change takes place everywhere but Kashmir has not changed for good.

Kashmir might have achieved progress and increase in the level of development in certain sectors of the society, like education sector, private sector and few more but I believe that none is flawless; every sector of Kashmir is plagued with this or that loophole. What we call progressive decadence characterizes the present condition of Kashmir. If we now zoom on Kashmiris, they have also changed.

No doubt, the economic condition of an average Kashmiri might have improved but as far as morals and emotional health is concerned, that has worsened. The question as to what has happened to us haunts us as we are all aware of it but none amongst us is brave enough to face it. Here Eliot’s line from The Waste Land comes to mind which says- “After such knowledge, what forgiveness”. One way or the other we are evading it; trying to look as cheerful as anything but what we call a normal healthy condition has skipped from our lives. We might proclaim ourselves as the denizens of “modern” Kashmir but the cost at which this “modernity” has been achieved is very huge. We have involved ourselves in reckless competition and mad rat race for money and power; forgetting morals and basic humanity we have got converted into Mammon-worshippers.

Today the key word for each one of us is success”. Nobody wants to live an average life. Success is a blessing but the means we employ to achieve it have demeaned the very idea of success. Blindly we are following the Machiavellian dictum of “ends justifying the means”. Further we have become emotionally bankrupt and spiritually barren resulting in alienation and estrangement. Voluntarily we have turned ourselves into introverts; we prevent ourselves from showing concern and love for others fearing that the other person would take it as an attack on his privacy.

Concern nowadays is being interpreted as a threat to ones freedom. Individualism has become the norm. Our relationships have lost meaning and value. Disjointedness has set in the families and in such a kind of situation one would not even dare to expect an organic bond between the relatives. Get-togethers and marriage ceremonies have become formal, boring days and for some a wastage of a day or two. It seems anxiety is ruling rampant at personal level which is an outcome of the homage that we thoughtlessly pay to materialism. Further, when it comes to assessing our leaders and representatives, one is forced into silence and bewilderment because we don’t know who our leaders are. Those who claim to be our leaders don’t even know the meaning of leadership; they are just busy pinpointing each others errors and shortcomings and in the process degrading themselves in the eyes of ordinary people.

There is no dearth of intellectuals who deserve to be leaders but they are not being provided with opportunities and congenial atmosphere. In the absence of proper leadership and direction, anarchy has set in. In addition to the people, Kashmir consists of the element of nature and various natural resources. Have we spared these? Is it the same as it was before we were born? It has also changed and in this case also change has occurred in a negative aspect. Our tourist resorts have got converted into most polluted and corrupted areas. They have lost their charm to a very large extent. Even the air at these places has lost its purity and in fact people could be seen wearing masks at places like Pahalgam and the Mughal gardens at Srinagar. Is it not an irony?

Gone are the days when a trip to these gardens would refresh our minds and revitalize our whole body. What about our water bodies? Are they safe and sound? NO!! We selfish people have not spared those as well. We have transformed Dal into dull lake and the shrinkage in Jehlum is a very well known fact. Our Manasbal and Wullar lakes are being absurdly “decorated” with colorful polythene bags, plastic bottles and other things. We are not able to tolerate the natural beauty and clarity of these water bodies. Our forest resources are fast vanishing, such is the degree of desire for possessing or rather owning more and more land.

Hence, neither the human resources nor the natural resources are intact and healthy in Kashmir, and these two elements constitute the idea of Kashmir. Both are diseased and the idea therefore too is a diseased and a fake one. It is a fake because the real picture of Kashmir as known to us is the opposite to the idea of Kashmir as cherished by the people other than Kashmiris. Word Kashmir is loosing its positive connotations but I can still see a ray of hope, that is, if the whole of Kashmir is taken as a house and Kashmiris as its inhabitants, then my advice to the rest of my family members would be, “world knows us for our beauty, warmth and simplicity but now we have degraded ourselves hence are in trouble because we are inflicted with serious ailments. Although a trouble but it just we who know about it yet, others just suspect it. Beware, world should not get confirmed in their suspicions. It is high time we reform ourselves; we trace right paths and directions. Today just our family members know about the rottenness that has engulfed our hearts but when rest of the members of the world-society will come to know about it, problem would become big. Let us all then shoulder this responsibility of rebuilding ourselves and rebuilding Kashmir. Fate has chosen us for this task; let us not turn our faces”.

Shakespeare has an apt comment on the scenario that we are the denizens of
The time is out of joint; O’ cursed spite,
That I was ever born to set it right -Hamlet

(Greater Kashmir)

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