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 1, 2009

Wisdom may Come with Age, but Intellectuals Exist at all Ages

Muneeb examines the often held belief that young minds can never be intellectuls

(Muneeb Jeelani Khan is an ex-student of Law, University of Kashmir.)

Intellectual Monopoly

Our intellectuals usually complaint against and show their concern about the intellectual stagnation or mental bankruptcy confronting our society. But the question is, how far do these intellectuals fulfill their own responsibilities. Their responsibility is to see the younger ones grow and bloom.

These experienced intellectuals with their huge store knowledge and experience can and ought to impart it to the young and blooming intellects who are always in search of the elderly expertise advice to fulfill their intellectual cravings. But alas! Except for a few, the majority of them are never interested in sharing their ideas or imparting their knowledge to the young thinkers because they want to be the sole owners of the intellectual treasure.

Thus, we most often witness the intellectual monopoly or intellectual hegemony while having an interaction with such senior, elderly and respected cream of our society. When the young scholars having huge expectations from such senior and elderly think tanks knock their doors to gather some intellectual crumbs, they are treated in such a scornful and disdainful manner that they never dare to visit their chambers again.

For a moment their intellectual dreams get shattered, their pursuit of knowledge is throttled and the most unfortunate thing is that, the whole scaffold of trust and hope tumbles down. You get discouraged and disappointed not because you personally faced such disdain and rebuff, but thinking that if this kind of immature and irresponsible attitude is exhibited by the highest stratum of the society (as far as the intellectual point of view is concerned), then how and what can we expect from the remaining lot of that very society. Whenever such senior thinkers are requested by their students to share some of the ideas with them, they reject their request with a sharp or mild rebuff. And the big favour they do to you is when they say to you that, “read our articles in the papers and you will know everything”. But if you have read the same and want to discuss such articles with them in order to clear some doubts and grasp the core of such write up, your request is rejected once again. And the strange thing is that even if you have a substantial ideological compatibility with them, they still never want to encourage you, never want to impart their knowledge to you.

I want to ask, can a true intellectual really afford to be a bad tempered and easily irritable person? Yes of course, you deserve a severe scolding and reprimand from such senior thinkers, if you dissent with their opinions in a disrespectful and arrogant manner, but if you dissent and disagree with them in very respectful and revered manner, then there is no excuse left for them to evade answering your questions and learning from them. Then the only conclusion you arrive at, is that these experienced people are hell-bent to maintain their intellectual supremacy by being averse to discussions and debates.

It then seems that they are only interested in always being swarmed by the flatterers and sycophants mostly indulged in unquestioning obedience and `Yesmanism’. And there are some senior thinkers who mostly boast of their benevolence by lending books to the growing scholars but always avoid discussing ideas and events with them. Mere book lending won’t do, because it has been rightly said, that an interaction with a wise man is better than ten years study of books.
So if such elderly scholars really want to give something to the budding thinkers (which ultimately benefits the whole society) they should give it by sharing their elderly and invaluable ideas and experiences with them which can never be found in the books, because books provide you only one way communication. And if sometimes accidently you know about something which these intellectuals don’t know then that knowledge instead of becoming a boon turns into a bane for you because it disturbs and perturbs them so much that you fear that they might get struck by hypertension.

Is there any space left for the true intellectuals to be so jealous and envious if they sometimes find the budding intellectuals with a little more knowledge in a particular field. They should take a leaf from the pages of the Indian History.

Yes, I am talking about Vishnu Gupta or commonly known as Chanakaya (the author of Arthashastra, the famous book on Statecraft which Indians still consider as the Bible of political tactics), who once saw a child playing a game called “Rajkridam” with his friends in which he was playing the role of king with great aplomb. Chanakya didn’t waste time in recognizing and identifying his talent and took him immediately under his supervision and then groomed and trained him in a systematic manner. This child when grew up, scripted history by defeating the powerful Nanda dynasty. This conqueror was none other than the Chandra Gupta Maurya, the founder of the Maurean Empire who is regarded as the first national monarch of India.

And there are some “acclaimed intellectuals” who are blind hero worshippers, never ready to admit and accept the frailties of those whom they follow or admire. Can a true intellectual really afford to have a blinkered and rigid vision. Yet again we see some highly knowledgeable people with a great intellectual knack, who typically behave like the intellectual ascetics, giving lectures to their family members and guests while sitting in their cozy rooms and beautiful lawns never feeling the scruples that a greater responsibility lies on them to disseminate their knowledge and contribute towards society on a larger intellectual plane. Intellectuals already belong to the minute minority of any society and when one faces these unfavourable, unfriendly and hostile conditions the already narrow and constricted intellectual spectrum becomes more shrunken and depressed, so how can one expect intellectual affluence or intellectual abundance in these antagonist conditions. And, how can a young and budding intellectual grow and bloom when he finds such senior intellectuals around him.

Thus, I have no hesitation in drawing a conclusion that it has become a fashion to blame our society for the intellectual dearth or the intellectual bankruptcy without taking into account the vital and major factor of the responsibility of the elderly intellectuals in grooming and training the emerging scholars, the result of which of which trickles down to each and every segment of the society.

Kiya jo ilm haasil muneeb, sarf kar makhlooq kay liyay
Warna kyon abtar nahi too sehra kay sanyasi say

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