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, July 23, 2009

Surviving a Paradigm Shift

Kashmir's libraries have to offer more than new magazines and old books to pull in interested readers

Declining reading culture affects attendance at libraries in Kashmir

Farzana Syed (Kashmir Images)

Srinagar: The public libraries in the Valley are witnessing a continuous decline in the number of visitors although there has been some increase in hr number of libraries.

Experts believe that the decline in the number of the library visitors is due to the decline in the reading culture and availability of other alternatives like internet to the people.

The library officials at various libraries say they don’t receive even an average number of the visitors which they directly attribute to the declining reading habits among the people.

The chief librarian of the Allama Iqbal Library at University of Kashmir, Riyaz Rufai says, “With easy access to the computers and the internet people prefer surfing the net which they could do anywhere” – at home, office or even sitting in a garden. “This is perhaps less cumbersome and that’s why it’s preferred over visiting the libraries”.

Rufai also feels that the library systems all need to be quite advanced and updated as per the requirements of the people. “The libraries should upgrade and update themselves as per the needs of the readers so that the readers find them reasonably exploitable. The library staff also should be qualified enough to cater to the readers’ needs reasonably well.”

As per the varsity library officials, the Allama Iqbal Library is the only library that gets somewhat handsome chunk of readers. However, they too point out that students visit libraries mostly when the exams are around or underway.

Talking to ‘Kashmir Images’ many of the university students and scholars said that other than the university’s central library, they don’t even know about the existence of other public libraries.

“I visit only Allama Iqbal Library because it has got many facilities available for the students and it is updated as well,” said a student.

Out of the 77 libraries present in the Valley, only the Central Library and the SPS Library of the Department of Libraries have got the internet facility, while all other public libraries throughout the Valley ate without the facility.

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