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.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Kashmir's Entry Into the Hall of Shame

Editorial in the Rising Kashmir highlights growing addiction of the State to rampant corruption

Hall of Shame

Transparency International India (TII) in its latest survey has placed India in the 84th place in the list of corrupt nations. Instead of bettering its record, Pakistan has further slipped in the list to find itself in the 42nd place as the most corrupt country in 2009. Bangladesh was named as the most corrupt country in 2001, 2002 and 2003.The sub-continent countries have been battling corruption for long now. Kashmir has also had its fair share of notoriety. Jammu and Kashmir was named as India's second-most corrupt state only second to Bihar according to a 2005 Transparency International survey. There may be a whole lot of reasons for the State stooping so low. However, it does not absolve any one of us from the crime. The failure of successive government’s to tackle rampant corruption has only made the matters worse. Bribery has become a norm in the society. It has almost become a requisite for getting a piece of work done in government offices. Even though they get paid for serving people, the corrupt officials remain unmoved unless you grease their palms. Right from his/her student days, a person is made conscious how important is it to bribe people to get the work done. Pay some bucks to laboratory assistant and he assures you he would give you good marks.

Then if your case is somewhere struck in the college or university, bribery again comes in handy. You don’t reach to your pocket, you will never get the case through. There is a sort of inertia that has crept into the offices where nothing moves till there are some illegal gratifications to be made. Corruption flows either way, from top-bottom and bottom-up so much so that in many cases people have to empty more money than what they actually gain. In the broader sense also, there is more loss than gain with such a practice in vogue. Back to Transparency International survey, the nations who have scored well are New Zealand at 9.4, Denmark at 9.3, Singapore and Sweden tied at 9.2 and Switzerland at 9.0. These scores, as per the TI, reflect political stability, long-established conflict of interest regulations and solid functioning public institutions. These are the very factors which Kashmir has been unfortunately lacking very badly. The daily struggle of people with petty bribery with no anti-corruption efforts from government tells upon the public trust on the administration and governance. The chief minister seems very conscious of the rampant corruption. “I don’t want to comment on the authenticity of the survey that rated J&K as the second most corrupt state in India, but it is a fact that every sphere of public life has degenerated because of corruption here,” Omar admitted at a function on Tuesday. Indeed much damage has been done. It will only take a full-fledged war now to root out the corruption from the state.

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