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.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Brisk Business in Outdated Medicine Sales in Kashmir

An unspoken corollary from the massive exodus of Pandit chemists is the sad truth that many replacement chemist shops do not hold to the same highest ethical business practices that departing Pandits did

Illegal medicine business continues as authorities lament staff inadequacy

Zeenat Zeeshan Fazil (Kashmir Images)

Srinagar: Notwithstanding the mushrooming of unlicensed chemists' shops and sale of spurious and substandard medicines, the “unconcerned” Drug and Food Control authorities are seemingly in deep slumber.

“No they are not slumbering, they actually are the ones who patronize lawlessness in the business here,” says a chemist who didn’t want to be identified for obvious reasons.

“It is the officials of Drug Control Authority who have issued licenses to unskilled and ‘illiterate’ people and they obviously get regular commission from those indulging in the sale of spurious drugs,” the chemist alleges.

And as if this was not enough, there is practically no check on chemists’ shops supplying addictive drugs over the counter to their clients, young people in particular.

However, the Drug Control officials refute these allegations saying they are keeping a constant check on unruly elements in drug trade.

In April 2008-March 2009, they say the department sealed 105 unlicensed chemists’ shops and cancelled nine licenses under various provisions of Drug and Cosmetic Act, 1940.

During the same period, the checking squad of the Drug Control department, while inspecting various drug shops in Karan Nagar area sealed two drug firms dealing with highly addictive drugs.

They say a team of the Drug Control officials inspected various drug shops in and around Srinagar city. The team found a firm - S. S. Traders - of Nursing Garh (Karan Nagar) stocking various addictive drugs like Recodex, Corex, Rexcon, Ensdyl and Siricodin which was seized and later a case was filed in the court, officials says, although the incident they are referring to dates back to the winter of year 2006.

In April 2008, again the department was able to seize highly addictive drugs from the firm namely Sajad Ahmed and others (at Nursing Garh), officials claim, adding in these two cases the department seized highly addictive drugs worth Rs 5.20 lakhs.

Deputy Drug Controller, Kashmir, Nazir Ahmed Wani, told ‘Kashmir Images’ that the drugs that were recovered from these two firms at different times were sold to registered sales outlets and the money thus earned was deposited in the High Court.

Official records suggest that during April2008 -March 2009 the department has lifted 527 samples of drugs, out of which 335 have been analyzed in the state laboratories. About 320 samples were found to be of standard quality, while 15 were found to be of sub-standard quality and the reports for the remaining samples are still awaited.

Wani informed that in the last financial year 12 cases were registered by the department in which two cases who were found violating the drug norms and were fined Rs 6000 by the High Court. He informed 109 cases are still pending in the High Court.

The Deputy Drug Controller warned all the chemists to maintain proper purchase and sale records. He cautioned that laxity in this regard would warrant severe action from the administration.

“Whenever any such practice came to our notice we suspended licenses and also closed down their shutters as we can’t accept unethical practices,” he added. “I have already warned all the chemists to maintain proper purchase and sale record in order to avoid trouble,” Wani added.

He also informed that the department suffers on account of inadequacy of human resource as a result of which it is not able to monitor chemists properly or have full control over the trade.

“We have one drug inspector for two districts which hampers our job,” he says. Long time back 72 posts of drug inspectors were created by the administration; even the applications were invited for the post but until now no interview has been conducted by Subordinate Services Recruitment Board (SSRB).

“If SSRB conducts interviews the department will have 40 drugs inspectors for Kashmir Division which will ease our work,” says Deputy Drug Controller.

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