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.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

In Memory of a Man for All Seasons

Yusuf pays a personal tribute to a great athlete who was an all-rounder in every sense of the word

(Mr. Mohammad Yusuf, 56, was born in the Dalgate area of Srinagar. He attended Government Schools in Drugjan, Sonawar, and Batwara, all in Srinagar, and completed his college studies at the Sri Partap College, Srinagar. Following his graduation, he briefly attended the University of Kashmir, and in 1980, joined the Physical Education Department of the University of Kashmir. Mr. Yusuf teaches aquatics and adventure sports (swimming, mountaineering, snow and water skiing, rafting, parasailing, skating, kayaking, canoeing, etc.) and has won many local sports trophies. He has led many exploration expeditions in Kashmir, and is the Treasurer of the Winter Sports Association of Jammu and Kashmir, General Secretary of J&K Aero Sports Association and the J&K Ski & Mountaineering Association, Secretary of Srinagar Winter Sports Association, and Vice President of the J&K Yoga Association. In his leisure time, Mr. Yusuf engages in social work, gardening and writing.)

Sheikh Sahab is no More

Prof. Sheikh Ghulam Muhammad had not earned a name in academics or politics alone, he was a well known footballer too. He called it a day on 12th November, 2009.

People know much about his political, social and academic affairs but not many know about his sports pursuits. Late Sheikh Sahib was a great footballer and a sports lover. He served a lot for the development of sports in the state for nearly 50 years. He was an ace football player of his time and played for his School and College for a long period. He was a member of S.P. College Football Eleven in 1947. He represented his College in different Inter-College and Regional tournaments. He also represented the then J&K University in the Inter-University tournaments several times. He was one of the great Kashmiri footballers who took part in Inter-University Football Championship held in Punjab University, Lahore during his College days. After his appointment in the higher education department he dedicated himself to the promotion of sports among students of A.S. College and S.P. College. Later he developed football in other colleges, wherever he worked during the tenure of his active service. With his great efforts a Football Club was established in S.P. College in forties, which he himself patronized for long. The S.P. College Football Club was considered one of the reputable Football Clubs in the valley till recent years. All major tournaments, organized by the University, local Football Clubs and Associations were held here.

Great footballer of the state like M.Yusuf Dar, Farooq Ahmad, Prof Bashir, Bhagwandas of Jammu and Chapri brothers are his products. He fought for providing boots to the players who used to play barefoot. His demise is a big loss particularly to the arena of sports in the colleges and University. A great human being and veteran footballer is no more with us today but people will remember him for long for his contribution to the field of sports.

Prof Sheikh was a good friend of Prof. G.N. Siddique, retired Registrar of Kashmir University. Prof Siddique had a long association with this noble soul. He wanted to derive some benefit from this disciplined, honest and highly knowledgeable legendary sportsman after his retirement. Prof. Sheikh was nominated as first Chairman on University Sports Committee in early eighties. During his Chairmanship the University Sports Department rose to its heights. With his able guidance the Department could formulate long term sports policies.

A number of Inter-University Tournaments at North Zone and All India levels were successfully conducted in the University. He always persuaded young football players to play quality game and bring laurels to the University and the state. At times he himself accompanied University Football Teams as Manager in the Inter-University tournaments held outside the state, which encouraged a spirit of sportsmanship among the students. He always guided the players well. He was always personally watching the feedback football matches minutely, analyzing the performance of the young players and then suggesting new measures and strategies for University football team. He was a big source of motivation and encouragement for sportsmen/women. He always emphasized on tapping raw talent in Colleges and properly grooming it so that Kashmir University could produce ace sportspersons of national standard. During his days as Chairman University Sports Committee the Directorate of Physical Education and Sports of the University received wide acclaim in the field of sports. He always expressed his concern for the welfare of sports fraternity of the state.

Late Sheikh Sahib also helped the University in developing sports among women. It was his desire that the female students should also participate in sporting events and excel. He believed that the sports develop confidence, courage, camaraderie, coordination and cooperation among players. He always wanted that the women should be exposed to more strenuous work like sports so that they could learn to face difficulties of life boldly, fiercely and prudently. He once himself accompanied the Women Hockey team to Delhi during an Inter-University Hockey tournament. Women sports was one of his priorities. He encouraged his own daughters to take up to sports during their schooling and college days. His demise was a setback to women sports as well.

Late Sheikh Sahib has left a mark behind. People particularly sports fraternity will remember him long for his great contribution in the field of University sports. In 1998 Jenab Sheikh Sahib met me in Kathmandu during my participation in International River Trisuli Rafting Expedition. On hearing about my venture he was delighted and served me Wazwan in a Kashmiri Restaurant there. He assured me every possible help for my endeavour in the foreign country, which shows his dedication towards sports culture. I am lucky enough that just about two months back of his death I got a chance to see him at his residence. We sat in the beautifully decorated lawns of his house at Nigeen Bagh, full of flowers and greens and discussed a lot about University sports and revealed his old association with University sports. He insisted his son, Mr. Sheikh Abid, to serve me juice, tea and coffee one after another. There was no sign of his ailment. He looked hale and hearty, full of life and exuberance.

Prof. Sheikh actually hailed from Nawara, Eidgah and shifted to Nigeen Bagh in 1973. He is survived by wife, two sons and four daughters. He graduated from S.P. College in the late forties. He did his M.Sc in Physics from Aligarh Muslim University. During his college days he was influenced by political ideologies and started another chapter of his life by joining politics. Besides Sports, he was very much inclined towards politics. He was imprisoned too many times.

On the sad demise of this veteran footballer various political, social and religious organizations and people from all walks of life including teachers, doctors and pro-freedom leaders expressed their profound grief but surprisingly the J&K Football Associations’ governing body could not express a single word of sympathy with the bereaved family. How shameful it is that the new ones are forgetting the old giants. It is great of Prof. Bashir and Mr. Sajid Dar who attended his funeral prayer. The Kashmir University Coaches held a condolence meeting and prayed for peace for the departed soul. They pledged to take ahead Sheikh Sahib’s mission. He showed them the right part of dealing students problems.

Today I remember him with all his qualities and contribution. May God bless his soul. Ameen.

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