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, August 18, 2009

Kashmir's Troubling Work Ethic

An editorial in the Kashmir Images addresses a burning issue of the day

Antidote needed!

On Friday, Aug 07, 2009, around 12:00 noon, a young girl of Rainawari area was rushed to the Jawahar Lal Nehru Memorial (JLNM) Hospital after she complained giddiness. Even though the poor girl was still somewhat OK and could move around herself, but the doctors referred her to the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital, citing she needed specialised investigations.

At SMHS Hospital , the doctors after examining her suggested immediate CT Scan. By the time she was brought to the CT Scan unit of the hospital, it was around 1:00 0’clock, so the staff there had a readily available excuse: “It’s Friday today and we are going out for prayers; come around 2:30 PM and we will do the scan.”

It is pertinent to note that the Friday prayers at the nearby mosque start at 2:00 PM and it does not take more than 15 minutes to conduct CT Scan on a patient! Obviously the requests and pleas of the patient’s relatives fell on deaf ears for they couldn’t move the hospital staff to do the needful. Unfortunately this ‘enforced wait’ proved too long for the poor girl. By the time the CT Scan unit resumed work after Friday prayers, the patient was already discharged from the hospital -- her cold body wrapped in a bed-sheet to serve as her temporary shroud brought home for last rites…! Period.

This is Kashmir and such things keep on happening without any respite. Some of these unfortunate incidents make it to media and attract some sorrowful sighs while the rest go unnoticed. The ones that get noticed also slip into oblivion within no time as nobody cares and certainly no one is interested in fixing responsibility for any wrongdoings. In fact fixing of responsibility is a philosophy we have not known and collectively we are resistant to any change that promises honest and accountable systems!

Poor girl, who was getting engaged soon (in next three days) died simply because of someone’s negligence and brazen lack of sense of duty. May be she would still have died even if the CT Scan was conducted in time, but in that case her death wouldn’t have been a ‘murder’ which otherwise it is.

The incident might no doubt seem pretty ‘ordinary’ – ordinary because, as mentioned earlier, people in Kashmir are yet to realize what call of duty means and what it entails. In fact all government offices, hospitals certainly being no exception, are plagued with the culture of unruliness and unaccountability which is otherwise also pervasive here even in private enterprises. While the government misses no opportunity to stress that it means business and wants to evolve a new work-culture that’s people-friendly and oriented towards alleviating their problems, these political statements have so far miserably failed in bringing about any visible change on ground.

Obviously nothing is going to change unless government sets some heads rolling here and there to assert its resolve of affecting change. Jammu and Kashmir could evolve healthy systems only if correct templates are set here. Although it would be only to na├»ve to expect things changing overnight, however, talking about the wrong and naming and blaming the wrong-doer is an antidote this society so desperately needs to neutralize the poison of wrong work ethics, corruption, dishonesty and unaccountability. A beginning needs to be made in this direction – sooner it’s done, better it will be.

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