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, July 7, 2009

Crisis of Confidence and Credibility

Afshana says that the biggest tragedy of changed Kashmir is that most of its intellectuals and thinkers are on the payroll of different public and private sector companies

(Ms. Syeda Afshana, 35, was born in Srinagar. She attended the Vishwa Bharti High School in Rainawari, Srinagar, and the Government Women's College in Srinagar where she received a B.Sc. degree. She completed her Master's degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from the Kashmir University in 1999 and was the Gold Medallist (first position holder) in her graduating class. She is currently a Lecturer in the Media Education Research Centre (MERC) of the Kashmir University and pursuing her doctorate on the role of internet after 9/11.)

Kashmir: A changed land

In the prevailing scenario in Kashmir, the cynicism has crept in inevitably. The flux of sorts has, over a period of time, interjected with our thinking patterns. The continuous spate of violence has also undermined our creative capabilities.

Of course, the ideological and doctrinal causes as well do play a part in framing our responses. However, the daily spontaneous reactions usually don’t conform to any rational stimulus. For instance, the unstructured and unprompted strike calls or street outbursts don’t wait for any logical explanation. They just happen; they are rarely engineered. And then, the dynamics of mob psychology often do work in to producing a reaction.

Without entering into futile debate about ‘Hartals or no Hartals’ at a juncture when lot of blood has flown down the Jhelum, the only disturbing point about Hartals is that it has now started reflecting the anarchy within. The way each and every group, from Majlis bodies, Coordination committees, Lawyer associations, Shopkeeper chambers, Huriyat G and M down to a handful of residents from South or North, every one seems to have involuntarily assumed the authority to call for a Hartal anytime.

The parallel calls, at times, have added to the already confounded confusion. The loss of sense of purpose and direction is becoming more obtrusive. The common masses are perplexed at the emerging situation. The recurring strikes have eventually blunted their thinking prospective. They don’t have the grit to speak up against anyone.

By the same token, the kind of fear unleashed by the brutal use of force by the State against the commoners has also taken away their tenacity. The minds of people are suppressed. The whole nation seems pushed into a dark, dead end.

Perhaps the government in the State mistakenly believes that the people’s confidence can be earned merely by stringent laws or police forces. The notion that use of force is permissible and can add glory to the operating ideology is not long sustaining. The supremacy of fearless governance lies in governing in the people’s interest and not playing to power politics, stalling political compulsions to come in the way of making and taking of some vital decisions connected to the sentiments of common people.

It is astonishing that both the actors, from State and Separatist camp, claim a moral basis in the present situation in Kashmir. Both are, however, fielding on a flimsy ground. The general mood of the population is a grim reminder towards the failure of the both in holding up a certain mundane level of integrity and probity in their approaches. The bubble of their persuasive charms and powerful arguments has got somewhat pricked. Both have actually crossed the paradigm of political gimmickry and customary pretensions.

Kashmir today is a changed land of changing perceptions. People have, undoubtedly, grown in their political acuity and outlook. Nonetheless, this kind of political maturity that discerns each and every political move is, ironically, unable to assert itself openly. The atmosphere of paranoia has slanted the experiences in a deceptive ignorance. The self-censorship has made things quite fuzzy.

It is really hard to crack the shell of fear, and fume out the core realities around dispassionately. There are scores of reasons to remain silent, detached; and, there is conversely immense rationale to break the ice. The type of milieu, engineered or otherwise, makes us think hundred times before we finally decide to mean to say something critically meaningful.

That’s perhaps why we are left with very few individuals, who possess the nerve and knack of speaking out truthfully. And, they are the only ones amongst the multitude of so-called thinkers, who can talk without any sugar or salt coatings. It’s because they are not snarled by the trappings of ‘blind-loyalty-towards-boss’ mindset. They are the independent thinking persons, who can afford to talk their minds without ambiguity. Perhaps the biggest tragedy of changed Kashmir is that most of its intellectuals and thinkers are on the pay-roll of different public and private undertakings. Their role within and without is quite contradictory and confusing. Something that explains, and even “justifies”, their vagueness!

There is a crisis of confidence and credibility. Today, no one takes voices from Kashmir seriously. From international to local level, Kashmir has no genuine and honest voice to project and pride on. The decent and respectable ethos of this nation stands mired in the distressing waters of reliability. Unless that is resuscitated, Kashmir will continue to lose everything from material to moral.

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