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.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Pathetic State of J&K's Historical Archives

Yet another example of public indifference exposing the shallow character of people around

Bird droppings, dust, moths ruining historical documents in archives deptt

Asifa Amin Koul (Kashmir Times)

Srinagar: Heaps of dust, bird droppings and fodder for moths and silver
fish. This is how Kashmir’s rare and historical documents are deteriorating in
the dilapidated building of Archives department. But the deplorable condition of
the building as well as the key documents housed in it fails to hook the
attention of the helmsmen.

Over the years bird droppings have also posed a big threat to these unique and
rare documents and manuscripts of Maharaja Hari Singh’s time. Pigeons, without
seeking anybody’s permission, make an easy entry through the broken ceiling of
the repository wing of the building and do not mind easing on these historical
documents without any hesitation.

Established during the Maharaja’s rule, the key documents housed in the Archive
building include Maharaja’s confidential records, state department records,
military records, ex-governor records and the famous Glancy Commission report. How these precious documents have been preserved so far can be well gauged by the fact that many pages of the Glancy commission have faded away. Likewise, some of the documents in various shelves in the halls of the building are moth- eaten. Reliable sources told The Kashmir times that no combing, documentation and cataloging of these documents have been done so far. “There is a complete mess here. The documents of Records section can be seen in Finance section and those of latter in the Revenue section,” sources said.

They added that no official has been assigned the job of looking after the
Records section. Interestingly, the vacant post of the superintendent of records
section has not been filled so far. Sources said that the unbearable stink of
bird droppings coupled with damp and dark rooms of the building of the Archives
department repulse the employees of the department not to talk of researches.
Such is the condition of the rooms housing the key documents that the employees prefer to wear surgical masks before entering into the rooms.

The main source of light in these poorly lit and suffocating rooms is few
windows and the broken ceilings. Though there are some lamps, they hardly make any difference as they barely glow due to low voltage. “The employees refuse to go inside as the rooms are suffocating, stinky and the documents are dust-laden. Touch any document, hands get dirty with bird droppings and dust. These are posing a serious health risk by causing allergic reactions,” the sources said adding that the suffocation inside the rooms or halls gets worse during summers.

To eradicate insect infestation for preservation of documents, the department has no fumigation chambers. It has been learnt that the only fumigation chamber procured way back in early 1960s is not functioning properly. When contacted director Archives department, Khursheed Ahmad Qadri, said, “For some time we are doing some repairing and modification of the building to assuage the problems that we face in preservation of these precious documents. We have also sent a proposal to the government for undertaking renovation of the building without touching its original heritage sanctity. We want to preserve it as a heritage building.”

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