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

Misplaced Priorities in an Agrarian State

Proof that the State bureaucracy does not cater to the agricultural sector which is the back-bone of Kashmir's economy (and the reason why)

Mission failed

Directorate of Agriculture must explain its failure to utilize the funds released under Technology Mission

Economic exploitation and pathetic scenario of development in Kashmir may have its roots firmly placed in the depths of the conflict politics but it has become an excuse for us to desist from digging into the mismanagement of economic opportunities by our officialdom. Why a significant portion of funds remains unutilized in Kashmir is a question that needs to be asked with an increased vehemence now. Without taking our gaze off from more violent and devastating ways of economic exploitation, media and civil society need to engage with this matter.

The story about the funds released by the Central government under the Technology Mission Scheme for procurement of hybrid seeds reaming unutilized this year also is an indicator of how a common man in Kashmir is losing an opportunity just because certain officials don’t pass it on to him. Since our bureaucracy and the ways in which funds come and go have remained a mystery land for a commoner in Kashmir, it hardly becomes known how much money is siphoned off, how much is wrongly utilized and how much gets lapsed. Otherwise a scandalous act, here it passes off as something of a routine. Take this Technology Mission case and it becomes clear that how deep the rot is. An amount of one crore, according to the officials, has been sanctioned by the Government of India to the Directorate of Agriculture for procurement of hybrid seeds from various MNCs.

These seeds are meant to be distributed free of cost among the farmers of the Valley. If the Directorate spends all the money and produces the utilization certificate more funds can pour in, meaning an expansion in the circle of beneficiaries. Since the seeds are high quality and yield more produce, it can significantly add to the vegetable production of the valley. The advantage from marketing point of view is also huge. The time when vegetables are produced here is the lean period of production for outside Kashmir areas, because of the temperature factor. This could easily mean a ready market for our vegetables outside.

The benefits of this scheme, thus become easily understandable, but what pesters is the fact that still the funds have not been utilized. Contrary to Valley the same scheme is being briskly followed in Jammu. Here the comparison between the functioning of departments in Kashmir and elsewhere becomes sharp. Now that the funds remain unutilized farmers acquire seeds of lesser quality from the open market on meaty prices. This way we lose from both ends. The officials of the directorate must explain their position on this matter and ensure the procurement of seeds and their distribution among the farmers of the valley.

(Rising Kashmir)

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