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.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Frequent Shutdowns Zap Economic Vitality

Frequent hartal calls by separatists take their toll on Kashmir's economy

4000 shutdowns since '89 cost Kashmir Rs 60,000 crore

Srinagar: A recent survey undertaken by some media agencies has revealed that the economy of the Kashmir Valley has suffered a loss of Rs 60,000 crore as a result of around 4000 shutdowns that have taken place during the last two decades.

The survey also points out that some “mysterious hands” are working to bring the Kashmir’s tourism industry to a grinding halt. Each individual Kashmiri has suffered an average loss of Rs 20 lakh, the survey observes.

Traders associated with the tourist trade, the hotel industry, the houseboat industry, the handicraft industry and the carpet industry have claimed that the 120 shutdowns that take place annually, has affected their livelihood drastically, so much so that a majority of them have come below the poverty line.

According to the survey, the tourism trade in other states have prospered in the same period and are now running their own helicopter services, and chains of five-star and three-star hotels.

The media survey reveals that in 1989, some of today’s Kashmir’s richest families were economically very poor, but two decades later, they have accumulated riches beyond their wildest imagination. They have become owners of huge tracts of land in their respective areas of operation.

The damage caused by the shutdowns is monumental, affecting the social, education, cultural, commercial, intellectual, philosophical, regional, scientific, sports and other sectors.

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