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, January 21, 2010

Bringing Civility in a Metropolis With no Traffic Lights

Tajamul wonders when our public will mature as a society and show patience and discipline

(Tajamul Hussain, 53, was born in Srinagar. He went to the Government Higher Secondary School in Nawakadal, Srinagar, and the S.P. College, Srinagar. He attended the College of Engineering, Andhra University, Waltair, the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT), New Delhi, and the Forest Research Institute. He is a freelance writer.)

Waiting in the Queue

You can be standing in front of a door of an ATM machine. Someone will brazenly walk right in front of you as the previous person exits the vestibule. He (or she) will pretend not to see you…until you stop him! The fellow may express his sorrow or try to be on your head, within the vestibule flouting the privacy required for operating your bank account. He may even cajole you into operating your transaction and suggesting the amount of cash you should draw. Tell this fellow to refrain, and he will simply be with his hackles up to dismiss it with scorn.

Standing in a queue requires patience, discipline and self respect and respect for others. It calls for a strong belief in the existence of good and fair play. The turmoil that a person goes through, while standing in a ‘qyamat say qyamat tak’ long queue, is unmatched. When you see your life going at a glacial speed and to know, that even after hours of patient waiting, you are still not the first in line, all hell wants to break loose. But then the sanity prevails amidst all the pushing and shoving, or else one may lose the privileged spot that he occupies and may be sent back to square one.

Life is a cruel thing for everyone in the queue and the willingness to get over with it is what gives people the strength to stand in it for hours while the discomfort, one is facing rises with every minute. This is more so when one is made to stand in a queue (the analogue of what in the automotive world constitutes "bumper to bumper" traffic) without any ‘personal space’ that has evolved over the ages to keep at bay transgressors that are always looking for breaks in the queue.

Every one amongst us has had to go through the ordeal of standing in the queue at some point of time or the other. It may be an everyday story once people in India wake up in the morning and are off to catch a bus to college or office…. but it is definitely not so in our beautiful valley. When people there get into the bus, to buy a ticket, they are again waiting in queue…we Kashmiris would always be found jostling against each other to be the first in the bus. Indians on an average spend 12% of their lives in the queues. This however does not include the time that takes in commuting before they reach the tail end of the queue. The world records in the queue whether the longest, the fastest, the most patient queue, all belong to India.

Queuing is such a national trait that the Indian athletes are invariably found in the queue to finish. Whether it is the union cabinet standing in a queue to send off or to welcome the president or Prime Minister the queue is every where. The 3.2 kms long queue in Delhi to collect MTNL bills a decade and a half ago is a record in itself. The fastest moving queue in India was recorded at a movie theatre showing the film ‘Hot Nights’ in Hissar, Haryana. It took a mere 5 minutes and 40 seconds for 581 people, all men, to buy tickets and enter the hall.

The extreme hatred for standing-in-the-queue is some thing unique with us Kashmiris. Perhaps because of the grasping propensity to profit by the industry of some one else without we ourselves producing anything (exactly what the bird of prey does when it swoops down upon the toiling king fisher and takes from it by force the fish it has wrested from the waves by the exercise of his strength and talents) perversion of economy has gone deep into our DNA. As the strong belief in the existence of good and fair play is simply lacking in us, a typical Kashmiri can not think of wasting time in a queue. During college days one of our friends dared to buy a cinema ticket. In the maddening rush as the unruly cine goers jostled each other, the hapless fellow somehow managed to elbow his way through the crowd to push his hand into the ticket counter. The ticket seller seated behind the grill handed over the ticket to him. As he pulled himself out of the crowd after a great struggle, to his astonishment the sleeve of his shirt covering his right arm, was torn asunder to leave no trace thereof. Imagine the plight of the poor fellow!

The rare exception of standing in the queue nevertheless was the claustrophobic one forced upon the 3rd class cine goers in our childhood in the famous ‘iron cage’ of the Palladium cinema (now in a dilapidated condition) right in the centre of Lal Chowk, Srinagar. No sooner did the ticket vendor open the window to sell tickets than a dozen or so of mustachioed hooligans (with lot of muscle) suddenly appear from some where to leap across heads in the cage to worm their way atop tens of the queued heads in the cage to the ‘counter’ to walk away with a wad of tickets to be later sold in ‘black’ to the same disgruntled lot that was imprisoned for several hours in the narrow cage. It was not many minutes before, much to the disappointment of the people waiting in the queue; the shutter at the ticket counter would suddenly and unexpectedly close down.

Multiple queues follow the Murphy’s Law, “Whatever queue you join, no matter how short it looks, will always take the longest for you to get served” and thus, it is safer to stay put in one’s queue rather than go around looking for a quicker way to get to your goal. Bala laws that Dr. Kuabakoonam Balasubramanium of the University of Quebec devised are stated as under;

1. The length of the queue is inversely proportion to the time you have to stand in the one.
2. You discover you are in wrong queue only when you reach the counter.
3. You always reach the counter at lunch tome or closing time.
4. When you reach the counter in time the tickets are over.
5. When you do get the tickets they are the wrong ones and therefore; a) you have to go to the tail end of the queue to get them changed or b). You have to go to the refund counter where 1 and 2 apply
6. When there are no obstacles, the queue moves quickly and when you buy the right ticket the teller has no change. 7. The teller always has his say.
8. The other queue always moves faster.
9. When you switch to the other queue the original queue gathers momentum.
10. When you are finally the second person in the queue the guy in front of you develops a complicated problem which takes half an hour to sort out.
11. When others jump the queue no one says anything. When you jump the queue hoots and jeers follow.
12. Every one in the queue will want to borrow your pen; when you want a pen no one will have one.
13 You are always caught napping when they open an extra counter.
Keep this in view and see you will have a disciplined life.

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