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

Latest Study on the Status of Hangul in Kashmir

Afsana describes the high points of the study

(Ms. Afsana Rashid, 30, 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." Afsana is the chief correspondent of the Daily Khidmat (English edition), correspondent for the Tribune (Chandigarh) and publisher of a new monthly journal, RealityBites.)

Stress on expansion of Hangul’s habitat in Dachigam

Srinagar: Expansion of range and habitat of Hangul (Kashmiri stag) to alpine meadows in the upper Dachigam National Park here is believed to recuperate ideal summer habitat for stag, which will lead to its long-term conservation and survival. The habitat used by Hangul in the past, presently finds its stray presence in those places. Endangered Hangul, also known as Kashmir Red Deer, is one of the four eastern most subspecies of Red Deer that are found in Asia and is endemic to Kashmir mountains in north western Himalayan bio-geographic region of the country.

The study “Conservation status of Hangul in Kashmir” points out that no direct or indirect evidence of its presence was found in alpine meadows of upper Dachigam. Reports suggest that Hangul used to range in summer up to altitude of about 3,000 m in Dagwan, Nagberan and Marsar to upper Dachigam.

“In due course of time, these areas have been occupied by livestock, nomads and graziers, resulting in the disappearance of Hangul, with the exception of few strays,” the study stated.

The study is conducted by K. Ahmad, Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology-Kashmir, JA Khan, Wildlife Society of India, S Sathyakumar and Q Qureshi, Wildlife Institute of India.

The study stressed on expansion of range and habitat of Hangul to alpine meadows in upper Dachigam so that this ideal summer habitat are recuperated and used by Hangul in summer as used to be in the past. Declining population trend, low sex ratio and fawn to female ratio and a large scale biotic interferences in its habitats are some of the major issues concerning long-term conservation and survival of Hangul.

Excessive livestock grazing in its erstwhile summer habitat, grass cutting, fuel and firewood collection and poaching are are also responsible for Hangul habitat degradation and decline in number.

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