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

Women Are Equal

Behind every woman that Fida's gender sees as being part of the problem, there is a looming shadow of a man clutching to his religious beliefs for self-esteem

(Mr. Fida Iqbal, 47, was born in Sopore. He attended the D.A.V. School in Nayadyaar, Rainawari, and the Government Higher Secondary School in Sopore. He obtained his Bachelor's degree in Agriculture/Floriculture and Landscaping from Chowdhry Chottu Ram College at Muzaffarabad Nagar in Uttar Pradesh. Mr. Iqbal works with the Jammu & Kashmir Tourism Department as a landscape architect. He enjoys kitchen gardening, reading writing, and is very a passionate and dedicated golf player.)

Women Have a Role

Commenting on women’s rights and their social standing is a very delicate subject particularly for male fraternity. For the last many decades in major part of the world female emancipation has lead women folk to the farthest boundaries of liberty and at occasions they resort to extreme feminism. Under these circumstances women activists are unable to accept any abrasion or even very little attempt of undermining their gained social liberty and status.

Social scientists always describe man and woman as two pivotal wheels of the social system and any flaw or lack of synchronization between the two wheels will lead to social confusion. Empowering and educating women have rejuvenated the social system and contributed in eradication of many social evils. Major education, healthcare and poverty eradication programmers and schemes became success by authorizing women folk. Community hygiene and sanitation are other areas which got enormous push by women empowerment. No one can deny the dynamism of womanhood, an embodiment of love, compassion and tolerance but fragility of women cannot be ignored as well.

Women are fragile in many ways. Fragility is both positive and negative attribute within the personality of a woman. Positive fragility in woman is the synonym of beauty and splendor while as negative impact of fragility within a woman is her physical limitation. Other major characteristics of women worth a mention are extreme levels of dedication and a sea of emotions. Women can endure extremes of suppression even after being the most emotional creature on earth.

Under prevailing situation women all over the world are leading their cause and are instrumental in empowering not only fellow women but are on the forefront to strive for human rights particularly for children. In early campaign for empowering women male society contributed more than women themselves and was much active in guaranteeing rights of women by social awareness and highlighting plight of women.

Female activism and empowerment of women in the subcontinent has its own history with many ups and downs. Several vital and varied factors influence the rights and process of emancipation of women in this area, rife with low literacy rate and social evils. These influencing factors with social, economic and religious implications have to be taken into consideration at every step of women’s empowerment and genuine freedom. Social setup of the whole third world is so complex and based on age old traditions that it was, and even now it is, very difficult to convince the conventional social leaders to give women their due in every field of life.

Social evils and lack of education are the major impediments in getting women on the path of emancipation. Economic empowerment in real sense paves the way for complete freedom of women. Unless women are economically protected no law or legislation can ensure and safeguard their rights. The main cause of suppression of female is their lack of economic security at every stage of their life. Religion in real sense is not impeding the women’s rights directly; instead it guarantees the genuine privileges of women but at occasions exploitation of religion by vested interests leave little space for women to make any headway.

Much more needs to be done for safeguarding the interests of women in the subcontinent. Administration, society and leadership have to play a vital role in empowering women and provide an atmosphere to excel. Process of liberation and empowerment emanates within the system and communities itself. This holds true for women’s rights as well. Unless women do not strive for their rights, no progress is possible on this front. Unfortunately the biggest enemy of womanhood in this region is woman herself. Women are contributing to social order which promotes woman as burden for the society. Simple examples; instead of celebrating arrival of female newborn, women are the front runners to curse fellow women who give birth to female babies. Glorifying birth of male babies by women is common in our society. This portrays the sense of insecurity among women within our social system. Are women completely insecure without men? No way. It is lack of confidence and ignorance perpetuated by inadequate education, which gives shape to such mentality. Encouraging female feticide in the society is mainly due to the malicious intervention of women.

In our society women as mother, sister, wife and daughter are equally responsible for the deprived plight of women. Mothers are the replica of heaven but when they put their feet in the wide boots of mother-in-laws they become monstrously sarcastic and unkind. And when young women as sisters and daughters contribute in social system in the role of daughter-in-laws they leave no stone unturned in demolishing the decades old family bonds. The role of our women folk is so contemptible at occasions that humanity feels embarrassed. The buck does not stop here only. Social evils eating the basics of our social system are directly or indirectly projected and endorsed by women. Whether it is dowry, ceremonies at the time of marriage, death and births every aspect is plagued by the evils with patronage from our female folk. In no way, I intend to show any disregard for women but introspection with open mind will reveal the facts.

Presently our society is facing an alarming situation of suicides, committed mainly by women. This is the consequence of our crumbling social arrangement and atrocities inflicted on women. Earlier women as an incarnation of tolerance would bear all these atrocities, but last few decades of turmoil has checked our level of tolerance. Maximum cases of suicide both within male and female communities are result of strife in our family life and social system. A realistic approach will reveal that every discord is either instigated by women directly or encouraged by the unpleasant circumstances created by women. Man can be superior to women in many ways but once under the influence of woman as son, husband, brother or father the mystic power of women leaves him torn and at occasions he becomes a tool in the hands of women to destabilize the society and undermine the creditability of women in one way or the other. In every respect looser is womanhood.

Women have to think seriously and ponder upon the outcome of their behavior and role in tearing apart the fabric of our social system by their egoistic approach. They should influence and provide a helping hand to men in getting the process of social reforms back on track, particularly the rights of women and children. Women can, strive resolutely in eradicating evils from the society and can provide an atmosphere of love and tolerance, necessary for the real emancipation of women. We have to reshape our social arrangement in accordance with the teachings of religion, fundamentals of equality and natural justice and women has to play a big role simply by abstaining from nurturing grudge against each other and lower their levels of ego, measuring different at different stages and roles of their life. They have to work in tandem with emerging trends of equality and sincerity and provide a considerate and realistic hearing to genuine thoughts and opinion of male fraternity.

At the end no one should feel offended by these words as I harbor no sense of contempt against any particular gender. At least I am not a male chauvinist…!

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