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

Smart Ads

Monisa suggests a change for the better

(Ms. Monisa Qadri was born and raised in Srinagar. She has been a Mallinson Girl and studied bio-chemistry at the Women's College, Srinagar. She has studied mass communications and journalism from Kashmir University, and subsequently worked in the Corporate Communications and Public Relations Department of the J&K Bank. She currently teaches at the School of Journalism, Islamia University of Science and Technology, Awantipora. Monisa writes as a freelancer.)

‘It’s a visual torture’

It is believed ‘smart people advertise their offerings’, I simply think, ‘smart people do it smartly’. It seems, may be, we still have a long, long way to go before we can do things that way. Hopefully enough, we get there soon with fingers crossed! Rather toes too!!

Kashmir has a peculiar style of doing ads. And when it means electronically, either there will be music and music and some ir-‘relevant’ clips and distressfully mis-pronounced dialogues, especially those in Urdu or English, that lead to some all time creatively done lexicon-blunders. One such ‘dramatically out-of-place’ gimmick just doesn’t seem to go to sleep now. ‘Yaar chalo cable car…’ goes the Gondola song, which plays on local TV and radio channels quite often these days. Often is too less a frequency, for the intensity of the ache that it causes to the grey matter is way too much. Not just sleep, it deserves to be killed for ever.

Every time you graze through the channels, it will be on -for sure. This is a promotional video produced by the J&K State Cable Car Corporation. Filled with all those things, which they thought would make it speedy and fast and with quite enough of music, the video shows ‘their’ perspective about Gondola- that is hopeless. This ‘promotional stuff’ is promoting what- Gondola? It does anything, of course it publicizes the singer and the model. The name is enough- GONDOLA.

I thought about assessing its response and my very first sample plainly refused to even watch it, excuse me I meant ‘bear it’, for more than 6 seconds and I was told, “It’s a visual torture too”. “Too”, oh, it meant aurally it already was. The message was clear. Rather than inflicting this torture on Allah’s best creation through humans’ worst, I gave up the idea of asking this person.

It is a song. So, it has some message, which would have its ‘target audience’ too. A well-known singer and composer of the valley, Waheed Jeelani has composed this track. Averagely composed, badly sung and mockingly presented. The lyrics are in ‘Urdu’ and God knows which ‘English’. Perhaps it is that style which even embraces the language itself. This video makes me recall all those frightening local TV ads of one or the other English learning academy, claiming to teach us ‘how to converse in English’. Someone told me, “I wish Mr. Waheed would have sung it himself, preventing such a disaster,” because the male voice in this video sings in the gentleman’s language and I truly believe he would have been to one of these institutes. He raps, which is so embarrassingly done. And more appropriately, this singer would have picked this knack of hip-hop style from some English music in addition to being a part of the locally advertised local ‘English-speaking institutes’ that believe in training people to talk in English, walk in English (I guess, because its not the language that is funny, but they themselves are). People with obnoxious on-screen presence and the way of speaking, with completely erroneous punctuation and the ‘lifted-wala-pseudo accent’, were shown trying to sell-what? Quite ironically- tongue!! They have themselves taken-up the responsibility of correcting people’s speech. But, don’t they know that the way they spoke in their promos was enough a sample of how we might actually end-up being with them. We have a sample.

With simple words like ‘move’, ‘snow’, ‘go’, ‘America’ blah, blah, blah… pronounced in the best possible irritating accent, this entire song is a clear example of an attempt of Englishisating the Kashmiri, which does the reverse. This is to get some publicity by way of appearing as being professionally trained in American accent and slang. The most common perception says it is to get (cheap) publicity. Some ‘Jantee’ person, who might have screamed over a similar example of a creative murder, somewhere on earth said, “The very minute a thought is threatened with publicity it seems to shrink towards mediocrity”.

The female portion of the song is recorded in Urdu, but there is a trick in this too. A model has been shown, who dances to it. It is strongly believed that Gondola belongs to Kashmir and the host is to be played by a Kashmiri only. So, a) what is she doing there? b) If she is one, why does she not appear like a Kashirr koor? c) What does she depict? I think, there is only a single answer to these and other question- another cheap publicity stunt. But, hey wait, interestingly her wardrobe comprises of a Kashmiri pheran too with pootch. Now, that’s smart. Creating a delusion of culture and of a traditional look. Her clothes, her expressions, her moves all speak of ‘promotional tactics’. These are unlike anything that would symbolize ‘Kashur Gandola’. Nonetheless, she offers to take us all over Apharwat and into the skies in Cable car.

The video has clippings of Gondola, few snow-sledge shots, a lot of skiing is shown and those of the dancing girl. Now a bigger question is who is the audience? What is this message aimed at? There are two probable options: locals- who even refuse to see this video, or non-local tourists- who don’t watch your local cable channels, or simply your own self-the producers- who already have enough copies of this ‘innovative way of annoying people’ to cherish.

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