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, October 8, 2009

Farming in the 21st Century

Iqbal finds Kashmiri farmers every bit as "modern" as their counterparts in the rest of India

(Mr. Iqbal Ahmad, 48, was born in Parigam Chek, Kulgam. He is a graduate with Diploma in Numismatics, Archaeology and Heritage. He is an archaeologist, writer, and a cultural historian. He is employed by the Jammu and Kashmir State Government. Mr. Iqbal Ahmad has published 12 reference books on Kashmir archaeology and heritage.)

Farmers Embracing Technology

Life in this ultramodern age has become very fast. It looks as if one has lost his patience.

There is no wait. If you are slow you have to give way to others. Nobody is to be blamed. Things and necessities of life have undergone a considerable change. Gone are the days when you had to wait for the reply of your letter for weeks and months together. The communication network has become so fast that you have, reply to your queries within no time. There is now direct contact with people around the world.

The slow-based mechanisms have become outdated.

`This phenomenon is not only observed in communications but even in other fields of life as well. Every one wants to achieve maximum in minimum times. For example, a businessman who invests hundred out of it wants to earn thousand that too in minimum times, so does vows a transporter, an engineer, a doctor , a professor or even a non technical labourer.

The farmers and Zamindars in this race are not far behind. They are also making better usage of their forms and prefer to cultivate such produces which have a quick growth and better yield. They have been transforming their agricultural lands into orchards, where only commercial fruits are grown. Similarly, they have also shifted towards commercial plantation and tree culture in their forest lands and nurseries.

The plant growers prefer such variety of seeds and plants in their forms, which have a quick growth. They cultivate such forest nurseries in their forms, which are fast in growth and better in demand, The traditional plants with slow growth are being discouraged. Yearly number of plantation forms are cultivated and distributed on vacant land. The plant growers which mostly comprise farmers and few government based agencies get involved in various plantation projects.

They have been encouraging such new varieties of plants in their forms, which grow in less times. For this purpose Rosi and Bulgarian varieties of poplar are being favoured because they have 'most fast growth then the locals varieties of popular. Fortunately such, varieties of foreign origin trees have also found here the favourable soils and climate and are grown here in large numbers.

No doubt it has been a successful initiative towards protecting environment and meeting the growing consumption of wood. Besides a step towards protecting forest degradation. But the present trend of encouraging foreign varieties of trees has effected the local tree culture of the land. The valley is fast loosing its centuries old local varieties. Their propagation has already collapsed. The standing one's are also left without care.

In this context mention may be made of local varieties of popular called Kashur phras. The minister of the kingly plane trees which grows great height and girth was once very" popular in Kashmir. It grew at all elevations from 5000 to 7500 feet. Although it is esteemed for wood however it was also used for house buildings. There were several varieties, cultivated of this tree here, Kabuli varieties of this tree was very beautiful, with its white bark and silvery leaves it was; giving a fine look and considered suitable for the local environment.

It was grown more commonly in rural areas and believed to had been introduced here by later Mughal or early' Durani Shah's. These varieties of the popular has almost disappeared from valley lands and rarely are found standing anywhere. One another favorite tree o£ Kashmir is called Brenn (Elm). 'It usually grows at all elevation-upped 9,000 feet. Like Kashmir pharas it also attains a great height and girth and is also used for wood and building constructions. It has also remained saints tree in Kashmir, many such trees are still regarded in great esteem and believed to, have been planted by some Sofi saints of Kashmir.

The Hindus also regard this tree as sacred to Ganpati, one of the Hindu deities. Although still quite a number of trees of Elm are seen standing on several valley lands, but no attention is paid on its positive propagation. Bremiji, the centuries old tree of the valley was usually grown in graveyards and in the vicinity of shrines. It has a slow but natural growth to the extent of a magnificent tree. The tree is said is very soft and cool and deeply attached with Kashmiri graveyards.

Few specimen of the tree are still to been seen in olden Mazar's of the valley. The historical graveyards of Malkh'a, Mazari Qalan, Mazari Sulateen exhibit a few rare magnificent Breimji trees. The local trees no doubt have a slow growth and cannot standby the fast growing phenomenon. However, their survival is also necessary for the local environment. The plant growers and the government agencies involved in plantation should not forget the local trees altogether but shall also provide-some space to local plants in their forms, and nurseries.

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