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

Educating Youth on the Impact of Global Warming in Kashmir

An Editorial in the Kashmir Images highlights a major challenge facing Kashmir today

Climatic Worries

It is heartening to note that Kashmir University is gearing up to the challenges of climate change and has formed a working group which would suggest strategic plans to and outline the policies and actions required to be taken by the different organizations in the state to undo the climate change impacts. It is for the first time that an issue as grave as that of climate change is getting focused here as till date beyond debates and discussions, nothing serious has been done on this front.

While the climatic changes are fearfully threatening to impact the Himalaya’s natural resource base particularly the water resources and forestry, the concerned agencies and the authorities have, by and large, remained unconcerned to this grave problem. Convener of the Kashmir University’s working group has presented a very alarming scenario which needs all the concerned to pull their socks and start working to mitigate the impacts of climatic changes. The glaciers are receding and as per the recent study by the working group over 16 per cent of glaciers have been lost in Suru basin during last forty years while as 18 per cent have been lost in Kolhai glacier, the main glacier for the irrigation and drinking water supplies of the valley.

It is for the first time that a serious study is being made to see the impact of climatic changes, identify the sensitive areas and suggest measures to deal with the impact. Kashmir University needs to involve the government agencies and environment related non governmental organizations to make the things happen.

Chewang Norphel of Ladakh, fondly known as a glacier man, a retired civil engineer, who figured out a way to trap the waters that melt down the high mountains should be an inspiration for all the working groups and concerned citizens. He turns the water chunks of ice or artificial glaciers, which in the summer irrigate the water-starved fields. Though Ladakh is a place of immense natural beauty, but for locals it is a cold desert where survival depends on careful use of sparse natural resources including water as there are little or no rains and the villages are perched at a height and the rivers are too low. The region acute crisis of irrigating agricultural land as the high glaciers melt in June, but the sowing period starts months before. Here also the people are face to face with this crisis because of receding glaciers. To counter this crisis the first artificial glacier was created in Phuktse Pho village in 1987 and six more followed after that and these glaciers have started taking care of irrigation in several areas.

While one should appreciate Kashmir University for forming the working group to study climatic change, need is to make people aware of the crisis so that they too join hands in saving Kashmir’s water bodies. Everyone may not be a glacier man like Chewang Norphel, but everyone can contribute his/her bit, atleast, in preservation of existing water bodies like Dal, Wular, Jehlum etc.

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