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 29, 2009

Surprise! Leading Separatist Voice Says There is More to Life Than Politics

An editorial in the Greater Kashmir pitches for ..... humanism and arts

Art Galleries Needed

It has not only been a season of ‘mellow fruitfulness’ but also a season of intellectual blossoming. The summer capital this autumn hummed with intellectual, academic and cultural activities. Kashmir University held many international and national level conferences, seminars and workshops. There has been hardly any area on which a conference or a seminar was held during the past few months. These conferences besides setting a scholarly tone in this highest seat of learning were also aimed at bringing the university on the academic map of world. The efforts made are appreciable but it is a long journey towards restoring the prestige that this land enjoyed as a seat of great learning during the period of the Sultans.

There was a time when scholars from many parts of the sub-continent and the Central Asia visited this place for acquiring knowledge. The glory of that time is to be revisited. Besides academic activities many notable cultural events that were reminiscent of the majestic past of the city were also organized by various organizations both from the state and outside. Kashmir, with its five thousand years recorded history, is proud to have its autochthonic art forms, theatre, music, musical instruments, and folk literature. The city of Srinagar for its thousands years rich history of art and culture is comparable to any great city in the world but for lack of modern facilities for promotion of art and culture it has failed to emerge as an international centre for art and culture. It is appreciable that some individuals and organizations have ventured into holding of photographic and painting exhibitions.

The Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah on Tuesday visited an exhibition organized by the Lalit Kala Academy, Delhi in collaboration with J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Languages in a private school on the outskirts of Srinagar. It is a major art event wherein more than 50 paintings of renowned artists of national and international repute have been showcased. Besides a rear painting by MF Hussain paintings of many other famous artists that included works of GR Santosh, Birveshwar Batacharji, J Swaminathan, Ram Kumar, Shuja Sultan, RV Bhaskaran, PN Kachru, Vijay Gupta, Manu Pareshkh, Tatin Das, Devan Seth, Shamshad, Himat Shah, BS Saniyal, SN Bhat, MA Mehboob and GM Sheikh have been exhibited.

A few weeks back a photographic exhibition by a prominent Kashmiri photographer of international repute was held on a club on the banks of Nageen Lake. Chief Minister was right in stating that such exhibitions in the state could encourage young lovers of art. Such exhibitions undoubtedly breed a sense of competition in young artists and help them in exploring their talent. It is ironic that such an important exhibition for lack of proper art galleries in Srinagar had been held in a private school on the outskirts of the Srinagar city. The city of Srinagar despite being a cradle of great culture does not have a cultural centre or an art gallery worth mentioning. As against the winter capital of the State has not only a couple of culture centers, theaters for performing arts but also three prominent galleries. It is no secret but a historical fact that some thirty years back the then Chief Minister; Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah had laid foundation of a culture centre in the Emporium amidst great fanfare. The centre was expected to be an icon of Kashmir culture but it was never constructed. And during the past thirty years almost all Chief Minister held promises of constructing a state of art culture centre with all modern amenities but the so far the promises have never been held. Notwithstanding the Chief Minister, announcing constructing of an integrated cultural centre in the city at the 17th Central Committee meeting of the Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Literature so far there is no progress.

To see the art and culture of Kashmir valley flourish, it is high time for the government to establish cultural centers and art galleries at all district headquarters. Let’s have a cultural complex with modern facilities in the capital city. Let’s have an art gallery that attracts all.

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