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.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Past Bumps into the Future With Uncertainity

Afsana describes the paradox faced by carpet weavers - send their young ones to learn the art or educate them to take up other professions

(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.)

Carpet Weavers a Harried Lot

Ganasthan-Bandipora: Shifting of carpet weavers towards alternate and profitable livelihood is likely to give a setback to this home-based industry here.

“At present, 60 per cent of the population is engaged with carpet, weaving while a few years ago it was 99 per cent. Though it has affected the carpet-weaving sector as a whole, individually people are more benefited by shifting to other alternatives,” said Fayaz Ahmad Baig of Ganasthan in Sumbal, Bandipora. He said, “Most carpet weavers fall within the age group of 30 and above.” He informed that out of 60 per cent of the population engaged with carpet weaving, 35 per cent were women. Quoting reasons responsible for the shift, Baig said, “People have shifted to other options like poultry farm, which they feel are more profitable and involve physical exercise, while in carpet weaving, weavers have to sit at one place for hours together.”

“Education becoming popular among younger generation and media, too, has played a positive role in spreading education,” he said. Role of “wosta” (middlemen) in this sector had declined, said Baig. “They earned more profits and at times exploited weavers. The communication system has played its part in minimising the role of ‘wosta’ as weavers can now communicate directly with customers and get better prices,” he added.

Ali Mohammad Dar, a resident of Sheganpora, deals with purchasing of carpets from weavers and sells them to carpet-dealers. He observes that a few years ago, carpet weaving was common in village and young children were also involved.

Dar accepted that the role of middlemen in carpet weaving had declined. “People used to take advance money from middlemen, which resulted in their exploitation. Weavers were paid less wages,” he added. “Exporters cannot approach families directly. They go to middlemen, who can provide them variety of designs and bulk of production,” he said, adding that designs like Hamdan, Goum, Chole kashna, Anari kashan, Mehraj, Sabz kashan, Seena and some size patterns of carpet like six by nine, eight by eleven, nine by twelve, four by six and three by five are still followed.

No comments: