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, August 13, 2009

"Our Present Has Vandalized Our Past"

Afshana laments about the downward spiral of a place of sages and saints, and an abode of dignity and decency, pulled into an ugly abyss by dubious politicians from mainstream and separatist camps

(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.)

Reality versus Assertion

Time brings
change in us;
A fissure glides
the dream away, slowly....
now stuck up
in a deadwood frame.
Today I stare it,
peep into its
unpredictable contours;
mock its false form
weep at its emptiness.
People die for dreams;
water them with their
tears and blood.
But dreams still die!
Revolutions are aborted.
I find this revelation sad
yet shed no tear;
Rather I dance in
the dusty ruins of my dream,
drink from its dropped wounds,
and ridicule my silly creation.
I laugh at it, tragically...

Political histrionics are not new to Kashmir. People have been deluded to think the way politicians want them to. However, this time the political opportunism happening around is beyond compare. It’s disgracefully and debasingly unique. The defeated are not ready to reconcile with their loss of power, and the winners are terribly hypersensitive about their image and interest.

In Kashmir polity, it’s the theatre of absurd. People in politics are rarely consistent in their viewpoints and positions. Big lies and little lies; half-truths and twisted truths: There are no permanent points of political belief. The level of plausibility is so much exploited that the masses become abysmally credulous.

Of course, all the politicians have eventually the foul agendas to pursue. What makes the difference is the degree of camouflage that the politicians belonging to various camps practise in the realization of their agenda. The mainstream politicians in Kashmir are nearly power corrupt. They have failed to hide their lust for power, despite lot of masquerading. From ‘healing touch’ slogan to ‘public servant’ smokescreen, they stand exposed in their political designs. The masses are disillusioned with their authority.

However, it seems that the same holds true for many belonging to the separatist camp. Except for a few, their agenda remains obscure, almost invisible. Their confusing and contradictory position over different issues/events renders their agenda oblique. From prickly bothered about their personal visa/passport problems to establishing of commercial plazas and hotels, their real politics remains blurry. Politicking for them is somewhat slithery as well as a smooth shady walk. Time and circumstances decide for their cover ups. The masses are perplexed over their credibility.

The scenes in Kashmir politics appear no more spectral. Right now things have become so baffling and mysterious that the actual politics about the actual issue has been plastered with a pack of propaganda from all sides. The actual stories are viciously dumped down, whilst the fake ones float around conspicuously.

Truth has not been the only casualty in Kashmir. Our value-system too has been the target. And, it is a bigger damage. Almost, irreparable. A growing disguise in every role at every place, has become our hallmark. Swathed in numerous layers of superficiality, the reality of ours has got deeply buried in irretrievable chasm.

The reality that this was a place of sages and saints; the reality this was an abode of dignity and decency; the reality that this was a home of nice people; the reality that this once beautiful vale was a proud dwelling of good politicians, leaders, preachers, elders and youngsters equally. Today, this all seems a chimera; a wild imagination that wrestles to coat the contours of ugly reality with the texture of a fascinating dream.

If the reality has been our history, then why this painful tussle between the two? Surely, there is little point in striking our heads against walls and feeling betrayed. Our present has vandalized our past. The lumpenization is thriving in all aspects. We have been left rootless and roomless. We cannot hark back to anything sans message and moral. We are even helpless in nurturing anything for the future. Whenever such a kind of ethical dilemma rolls up in any society, it is to be taken as a distress signal. A forewarning buzzer of a menacing situation!

The facade of bluster and bravado has to go. The deception of manipulative elements has to be unveiled. It needs assertion: A strong assertion of our reality. Any such assertion is likely to be attacked. We may find this divisive and disruptive. But, it has to be pursued relentlessly. Following a wrong kind of approach can cultivate a wrong reality in the minds of people and it may be too late by the time a rectification is made.

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