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

Disturbing Trends from Kashmir and Jammu

Strangely, these trends have a common source - Sher-i-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SKAUST) Srinagar and Jammu campuses

SKUAST-K: Snow-starved Kashmir may Turn Into Desert

Arif Bashir (Kashmir Images)

Srinagar: In what is certainly an expression of frustration and desperation, people in Kashmir are now wondering if Valley is all set to turn into a desert as snowfall continues to evade the Valley. Even when there are no similarities between Kashmir and a desert,

the lack of snowfall in the Valley is forcing people here to look down south-west for metaphors to describe the “climactic disaster’ they feel is unfolding on the Valley.

The intolerable dry spell in Kashmir, with mountains as well as plains dying to kiss the white bride of winter - snow, the Valley seems loosing its climate to various influences and disturbances across the globe.

Global warming or no global warming - drastic climatic change is certainly evident in this part of the world as the Valley continues to long for snow even in the middle of the winter season while fluctuating temperatures only exacerbate the scares of a disastrous year ahead.

The dry spell during this time of the year when entire Valley should ideally have been covered under heaps of snow is certainly very scary for it is the snow that lends Kashmir its majestic charm; without it brooks and streams will stop roaring, ponds and springs will fry up and plight of already dying rivers and lakes will only worsen and their march towards sure death will be catalyzed.

If the weather continues to be like this, its impact on the agriculture and horticulture as well as all other farming activities can only be imagined!

While the lack of snow is haunting all and sundry throughout the Valley, people associated with tourism trade, particularly at Gulmarg, are facing the brunt of changed weather conditions as this world-famous ski resort has already witnessed 60 percent downfall in the business this winter.

Talking to ‘Kashmir Images’ many hoteliers at Gulmarg expressed their fears about economic setbacks this year saying that almost 60 percent bookings this year stand cancelled while the meager number of tourists present in Gulmarg too feel depressed and plan to move out as the ski slopes offer nothing but disappointment with fast receding snow cover.

“The Ski slopes at Gulmarg have been exposed at various places and as of now it is neither advisable nor preferred to ski down the slopes. We are planning to move out soon,” Henry, a skier from New Zealand lamented.

“It is depressing that there has not been much snow this season even after half of the season is already over. It means great loss. We at Gulmarg pray for snow,” said manager of a local hotel at Gulmarg.

But the miseries do not end here alone as the repercussions of this unusual climate change, as seen by climate experts and agriculturalists, are sure to show epidemic signs in the season ahead.

B A Khanday, professor and head of the Department of Agronomy, Sher-i-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SKUAST) fears a massive reduction in crop yields this year while adding that mustard crop would be the worst hit.

Talking to ‘Kashmir Images’ Prof Khanday said that the changed weather conditions were suicidal for some of the crops including mustard, oats, peas, etc, while the phenomena would leave drastic impact on the overall yield including fruit production.

“While early sown crops and late sown crops including mustard were already facing the brunt of the changed weather conditions, the summer crops too might be impacted badly,” Kanday said adding that the summer would see water scarcity which again threatens not only the crops but the fruit yield as well.

SKUAST-J: Farmers Trained on Paper; Scam Exposed


Jammu: In a perfect example of “Sab Gol Maal Hai,” the higher rung officials of Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology Jammu (SKUAST-J) siphoned off varsity’s funds by conducting “fictitious” training camps for farmers and showing “fictitious” expenditure spent on these camps.

Contrastingly, Governor N N Vohra, who is also the University Chancellor, had called upon agriculture scientists to take the available research output to the doorsteps of the farmers and regularly monitor its impact on the ground during his visit to University campus on September 7, 2009.

If the 78-page document formulated by the members of teaching and non-teaching wings is to be believed, Dr R K Sharma, Registrar SKUAST-J in his capacity as Principal Investigator of two ICAR projects had “misappropriated” and “embezzled” funds through “fraudulent means” by reflecting demonstration camps for farmers only on papers.

The document revealed that the progress report (physical and financial) and final report submitted by Dr R K Sharma on April 15, 2009 and October 10, 2009 showed a large variation particularly in the financial report and alleged the accounts were fabricated.

Making a sensational disclosure, the document alleged, “As per the final report submitted by Dr Sharma, one of the training conducted in the ‘Project 3.5’ on December 23, 2006 at Shahjadpur where 52 farmers participated but the photographs shown in the report pertains to the turnings of HTMM project number 1.14 organised by Dr Ravi Kher on December 23, 2006 with the participation of only 20 farmers.”

The document suggested that the said training camp organised by Dr Ravi Kher has already published in the annual report (2006-07), adding “It had been generally observed that mostly the training dates were deliberately shown on Saturdays and Sundays just to overshadow misdeeds in the project work.”

“This observation is being supported while going through the final report which indicates that on January 6, 2007 (Saturday) a training camp was organised at Kathua but the TA/DA claims showed that he was at Reasi. He had conducted training camp at Pouni in district Reasi on January 7, 2007 (Sunday). Interestingly, no training camp was reported in the final report on such date,” the document maintained.

Another interesting aspect to training camps was that majority of the employees of the varsity were aware that on January 6, 2007 the then Vice Chancellor, Dr Nagendra Sharma was admitted to the Government Medical College & Hospital Jammu and subsequently was airlifted to Delhi on January 7, 2007 and Dr R K Sharma was very much present in the hospital on that day, revealed the document.

Furthermore, the report submitted by Dr R K Sharma on March 6, 2009 regarding review meeting to Nodal Officer HTMM-1 project, Dr Nazeer Ahmed showed that total number of training camps conducted during 2008-09 up to February 2009 were 15 whereas the number of camps in final report were 20.

The document said, “Dr N A Sudhan’s communication number AUJ/DR/09-10/F-146/03 dated April 1, 2009 to Dr B Mishra, Vice Chancellor SKUAST-J established that Dr R K Sharma, in his capacity as Principal Investigator of two externally funded projects misappropriated and embezzled public money through fraudulent means.”

It has been alleged, “Time and again, Dr Sudhan reminded the Vice Chancellor that he has not taken any action against Dr Sharma for conducting financial irregularities. “Though the Director Research also forwarded a letter to Governor N N Vohra and other members of Board of Management SKUAST-J apprising them that the Vice Chancellor has not taken any action against the Registrar for financial irregularities, yet it yielded no results,” the document maintained.

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