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, February 3, 2010

Seeped in Corruption

The Kashmir Observer examines the rise of corruption during the National Conference (NC) rule

NC and Corruption

The chief minister, Omar Abdullah’s concern at presiding over the second most corrupt state in the country could have been convincing had his party not ruled Kashmir for most of the decades the scourge was nourished and nurtured by the supposed keepers of the law.

The distinction of ranking among the most corrupt in the nation was not won overnight, but is a result of over sixty years of assiduous pursuit by the political classes who have cultivated and suborned an army of public servants into a well-oiled machine to siphon off the finances meant for public expenditure. The apparatus of loot has been fashioned, inherited and used by successive regimes to enrich themselves and those conducive to their interests. This was not mere happenstance or accident but a premeditated enterprise with far-sighted and sinister political objectives. And today the rot has permeated all strata of society, so that, by unspoken convention, those who do not toe the line, for example in officialdom, are left in the wilderness, while the more compliant thrive and prosper.

Mr. Abdullah’s platitudes the other day at a conference of vigilance officers remind one of his father’s famous promise of throwing corrupt officers into the Dal. Not surprisingly, nothing came out of the commitment made in the eighties when the senior Abdullah had come to power, except that the curse scaled new heights and became more entrenched.

The origins of the phenomenon in Kashmir need a deep political study, but what is obvious is that the unenviable position of the National Conference right through its history has left it bereft of the moral authority to take an effective stand against corruption. There, after all, is no meeting ground between leading to build a nation of unimpeachable character and pursuing power and self-glorification by playing upon the amorphous loyalties of the subjects. The NC, and its towering leadership, would have been expected to awaken the conscience of Kashmiris after New Delhi opened the floodgates to prop up the Bakhshi regime, but it seemed to be more than happy to wallow in the same muck, and shamelessly outdid its predecessor which, at least, had some landmark works to its credit.

The National Conference calls itself a movement, and movements do not rely on political office to fashion the moral character of a people. For long the only mass-based party of the state, and having had a charismatic figure at the helm, the NC was uniquely placed to instill and encourage traits of uprightness in society, but the state of Kashmir today is a telling commentary on the impact of its most potent political force. Had the NC truly been a movement, the interregnum of Congress rule would not have deterred it from its first duty: safeguarding the character of Kashmiris. This is the foremost among the National Conference’s many failures, and no excuse can absolve it of responsibility, at the very least, of being a mute, inert spectator as the very fibre of Kashmiri character was being compromised. The party cannot plead helplessness, for, its leadership, when back in power, did not lift a finger to stem the rot.

The young chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir may be very good at making fine speeches about his noble intentions, but he is, and will continue to be, saddled with his party’s record of being more than partial to the tainted buck. The roots of the malaise are too deep even for the cataclysmic events of the nineties to weed them out.

It goes without saying that our society needs to be cleansed of this shame if what is left of its innocence is to survive. But nothing short of a drastic revolution, or a miracle, will do. Mr. Abdullah will have ensured his place in history if he just succeeds in damming the tide. It is not within his or his deeply compromised party’s province to deliver the required revolution. For that, Kashmir has to produce a new breed of leaders with the credentials and courage to convince Kashmiris to shrug off the baggage of history, and begin on a path that is itself historic. But the cast of characters on stage today does not encourage any hope.

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