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, September 22, 2009

Not Bad, Even a Beggar Can Make Rs. 10,000 a Month

In a perverted way there is more open and fierce competition on the street than in offices that are occupied by babus running fiefdoms of inefficiency and corruption

Non-State beggars to have field day on EID

Srinagar: Unsatisfied with Ramadan earnings, the non-State beggars are all set to have a field day on Eid-ul-Fitr. “Eid al-Fitr is a three-day celebration and we are here to stay,” a beggar from Rajasthan said. The lucrative profession is giving these beggars more returns than the skilled laborers who come from outside states.

Reason, they say, is locals’ ‘power to donate’. “People give us money. Unlike other States, people here are generous,” was a common voice from a group of non-local beggars from Haryana, which consists mostly women and toddlers.

But what is the total number of non-state and local beggars who have been begging these days and what has been their earning power during past month may be a mystery, but here is what an independent researcher has to offer.

“Currently there are 4500 local and non-local beggars in and around city centre alone. Their average earning each day is 300 rupees. While the total beggar industry is 3.5 crore monthly,” says a social activist Abdul Qayoom Shah, who has done a detailed study on the professional beggars.

Shah said during Ramzan, Sadakat-ul-fitr, which is obligatory for every Muslim to pay before Eid prayers, is the key reason why a large chunk of non-local beggars are here.

“They virtually leave no stone unturned and reach almost every Masjid let alone places where large eid congregations are held,” he says. Shah, however, says that it would be better if government could come up with the actual figures of local and non-State beggars. “That would actually clear how much they earn a day. And government can easily do it,” he says.

Meanwhile, the emergence of non-State beggars has influenced the income of local beggars, who now are looking forward towards the next two days. Salam Ganaie, a local professional beggar from Sopore, is hopeful that on Eid he would earn good bucks. He also accepts that the local beggars lack begging skills when compared to non-locals “who even drag clients by their clothes when needed.”

Ganaie, who keeps himself near the shrine of Hazrat Dastgeer Sahib (RA) at Saria Bala, said, “There is a good competition from the large number of non-local beggars in Srinagar.” He said that there is a stiff competition between local and non-local beggars owing to which, “Our income has gone down considerably.”

(Rising Kashmir)

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