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.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Breaking Down Societal Barriers

Imtiyaz's gaze is transparent. He wishes others would also do away with barriers of caste, creed and color

(Mr. Imtiyaz Ahmad Aafreen, 25, was born in Kanir Chadura, Badgam. He completed his schooling from the Government Higher Secondary School in Zoohama, and graduted from the Amar Singh College, Srinaar. He has received the following degrees: M.A.(English), M.Phi and B.Ed from the Universiy of Kashmir. He teaches English at the Government Higher Secondary School Surasyar.H as received several inter-college awardfs in various debate seminars and essay competiions. His interests are literature, Sufism and oter spiritua philosophies, and ejoys writing poetr and exploring nature. He wites under the pen name, Mir Imtiyaz Aafreen.)

Of ‘unnatural’ barriers

Robert Frost (1874–1963) is considered as the most popular and successful poet of America. He is the only writer to have won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry four times. Frost often creates dramatic situations by exploring the myriad binary oppositions of life and human nature and uses them effectively to make his readers rethink about some basic problems and complexities of human life. These dualities and contradictions find a beautiful expression in famous poem “Mending Wall”.

Mending Wall is an allegorical poem set in the countryside in which there is an extensive contradiction between two different but very interesting viewpoints. The poem is about one man questioning why he and his neighbor must rebuild the stone wall dividing their farms each spring. The stone wall separates the speaker's property from his neighbor's. In spring, the two meet to walk the wall and jointly make repairs. The speaker sees no reason for the wall to be kept as there are no cows to be contained, just apple and pine trees. He does not believe in walls for the sake of walls. The neighbor resorts to an old adage: "Good fences make good neighbors." The speaker remains unconvinced and mischievously presses the neighbor to look beyond the old-fashioned folly of such reasoning. The poem's narrator displays a disdain for the walls erected between people, and yet he also shows a grudging acceptance (albeit sadly) of the adage's truth in its application to human relationships.

Due to the emergence of Darwinism, Materialism, Pluralism and other anti-spiritual attitudes of life, man lost his faith in spirituality and religion. Religion and culture used to play the vital role of uniting the diverse threads of humanity but the material interpretation of life emptied the human heart of love, compassion and mutual- understanding. Cultural values lost their grip over the minds of the people and humanity not only disintegrated into sections but every section experienced endless disintegration yet further. The superficiality and selfishness crept into human relationships and man learnt to distinguish himself from others, he leant to ‘wall in’ and to ‘wall out’, by accumulating the material objects. It started an endless rat-race within the human species where the survival is only for the fittest and those who lose the race are reduced to the ashes of nothingness. In old times, there were no walls among human beings; people shared their ideas, feelings, customs, festivals and all other day to day socio-cultural activities.

In the past people behaved as if they belonged to one sacred family of God and considered each others houses as their own but today in the words of an Urdu poet,"kitney tukdun mein bat ta hua eik hi aangan dekhun." These concrete walls of today, according to Frost, are an expression of the mental and psychological barriers among human beings of the modern world which hinder free, natural and informal interaction. The wall is a symbol for barriers created by man on the basis of caste, creed, color and religion. A wall in “Mending Wall” has been consciously constructed in violation of nature which “doesn’t love the wall.” To the narrator, the wall serves no useful purpose and is only an annoying reminder of his neighbor’s foolish platitudes and the inability of the neighbors to communicate except once a year at spring mending time.

The wall is unnatural- nature wants it down and topples it every winter thus there is an opposition between man and nature. The persistence of ‘unnatural’ barriers, like the wall, reminds the narrator that he cannot explain the existence of contraries anymore than his neighbor can explain why good fences make good neighbors, but he does know that in contraries lie the secrets of living; that through the self-conscious process of witnessing contraries one is most likely to discover one’s own life’s forces rather than any profound secrets of life. The poem suggests that although we can not demolish the walls which separate our houses (as they have become a necessary evil) but we must look forward to break the walls which separate our hearts. We must learn to live cooperatively and peacefully so that the Evil One does not sow discord among us.

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