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.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Kashmiri Woman Wins a National Entrepreneurship Award

Afsana writes about an outstanding women entrepreneur from the valley

(Ms. Afsana Rasheed, 29, was born and raised in Srinagar and attended the Minto Circle High School. She graduated from the Government College for Women with a Bachelor's degree in science, and completed her post-graduation degree from the University of Kashmir, obtaining her Master's Degree in Mass Communication and Journalism. She has received numerous world-wide recognition and awards for covering economic depravation and gender sensitive issues in Kashmiri journals, which include Sanjoy Ghose Humanitarian Award, Bhorukha Trust Media Award 2007, and the 2006-07 UNFPA-Ladli Media Award. Her work on "Impact of conflict on subsistence livelihood of marginalised communities in Kashmir and Alternatives", was recognized by Action Aid India in 2005-06. She has travelled abroad attending a workshop on "conflict Reporting" by Thomson Foundation, Cardiff, UK, and a seminar for women in conflict areas by IKV Pax Christi, Netherlands. In February 2008, she compiled a book, "Waiting for Justice: Widows and Half-widows.")

"Kashmiri florist gets Stree Shakti Award"

Srinagar: Nusrat Jahan Ara, a Kashmiri florist, is among eight women entrepreneurs who have been recently conferred with the TATA TiE Stree Shakti Award by the Tata Group and the TiE Mumbai chapter.

This award is given to outstanding women entrepreneurs across the MSME (micro, small and medium enterprise). These awards are given to recognise the growing aspiring role of Indian women in business and comprise a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh, each.

“It is great to receive the award. It is encouraging for entrepreneurship. I joined the field that was new, but my family supported me throughout. Without their support I may not have succeeded in getting this position,” said Nusrat.

Nusrat (petals agritech) received the award under the small enterprise category at a function in Mumbai recently. Her work was highly appreciated. Thirtyfour-year-old Nusrat is regarded as the founder of cut flower industry in the state. She entered cut flower business in 2000 with literally no financial support. Now, she is recognised as the most successful women entrepreneur in the Valley.

With her determination, she has established herself as a successful businesswoman with the annual turnover of her business unit touching Rs 2 crore. She now owns the state franchise of the country’s largest chain of fresh flower stores ‘Petals n Ferns’.

“As a Pan India initiative, the programme aims at connecting women entrepreneurs from different socio-economic strata and celebrate inspiring women entrepreneurs in the country,” believe the organisers.

A graduate in computer applications, Nusrat comes from Dadoora in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district. She broke all odds and went on to set out an example. She started a business that was unheard in Kashmir. “I wanted to start a business that was new. Cut flower was the best option”.

The Grassroot Entrepreurship Monitor (GEM), commissioned and conducted by Indian consulting group, identified the needs of women entrepreneurs across three segments that is, aspiring, grassroots and mid rung across the country.

According to a press release, the conference is part of a larger platform. “The Tata TIE Stree Shakti seeks to reflect the growing role of women in Indian entrepreneurial eco-system and enabling aspiring businesswomen to realise their dream of running own enterprise successfully through educational programmes”.

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