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, June 25, 2009

Committing Harakiri

Why is the Broader Civil Society silent when the state is gasping for economic revival?

Grenade Incident Attempt to Paralyze Tourist Industry

Srinagar: Several tourist trade organisations and prominent citizens of society have condemned and expressed deep anguish over the grenade attack that took place yesterday at Dalgate, the tourist hub of Kashmir.

President, Travel Agents Society of Kashmir, Mr. Abdul Khaliq Wangnoo expressed surprise that whenever tourist trade starts picking in Kashmir, particularly tourist hub of Srinagar area, these anti-people incidents occur, which are directly against the economical interests of lakhs of people, whose trade is associated with arrival of tourists in Kashmir.

Wangnoo said that it is unfortunate that on one pretext or the other, uncomfortable atmosphere is being created by vested interests for large number of tourists, who are destined to come to Kashmir, particularly in summer months.

Wangnoo said travel associations have invested a lot of money in travelling abroad to convince people to visit the State, but incidents like these drift the tourists away from Kashmir. “This is the peak tourist season. We receive pilgrim tourists as well as those on pleasure trips. Yesterday’s grenade attack has been of concern to them and they are already shortening their stay,” he added.

Chairman, Travel Agents Association of India, Mr. Ghulam Nabi Siah, while expressing shock and anguish over the Dalgate incident, said that projection of violence and such grenade incidents directly affect the psyche of lakhs of tourists, who make schedule every year to come to Kashmir. He said that consequently for the last several years, people have suffered huge losses because of some abrupt incidents of this nature.

Thousands of persons associated with tourist trade, industry, handicraft and other related business establishments were of the opinion that during the tourist season, violence of any kind or any nature is not good to survive this tourist industry in Kashmir for long.

The parents of school and college-going children were also of the view that these types of incidents create scare among student community to go to schools as well as colleges due to which their education is directly affected and we are leading to such society where our educated youth will not be able to compete with others in this competitive world.

Siah said it is unfortunate that whenever tourist season starts in Kashmir, such incidents push away tourists, incurring huge loss to the people involved with tourist trade. “Thousands of people plan to visit Kashmir every year and once grenade attacks like these occur, they cancel visits and go to some other place, collapsing the State’s economy,” he said, adding people in Kashmir are of considered view that no such incident should happen again.

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