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.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Trust a Zoologist to Highlight the Peculiar Behavior of Kashmiri "Homo Sapiens"

Owais makes a compelling case for a better civic sense among Kashmiris

Do We Lack Civic Sense?

(Mr. Owais Farooq Mir, works in the Department of Zoology, University of Kashmir.)

Civic sense, or rather the lack of it, is a topic that has been widely discussed and argued. Somehow, most people do not care much for civic sense. And this attitude is prevalent across all sections of our society. People today are so driven towards their personal goals that civic sense as an ethic has been left out.

People are becoming less and less tolerant of each other, of other’s achievements, backgrounds, and other similar traits. Each one of us has to question ourselves to find out how much common sense we have, which is not commonly found. Have we ever realized that the air we breathe, the ground we walk over and the city, that is there, are our resources, natural or manmade and it will not require some Herculean effort to respect the place we live in. It is all about character. Do we have it in us? Just think how many of us respond to hoardings displayed in the public places like; ‘Do not spit on road surface’, ‘smoking is prohibited’, ‘do not trespass’ etc.

How irrespective of our education or social standing, who keep our homes very clean and throw our house garbage to streets, ease ourselves shamelessly against walls or any public place unmindful of the environment and people around. We spit, urinate, loudly blow our nose, rub our dirt on the walls, sneeze with deafening sound without caring for others. We often get offended when a senior citizen claims his seat in a bus. In the present circumstances owning a cell phone is not that difficult. Anyone can afford a cell phone, but what is lacking is the mannerism. If not always, people talk loudly unmindful of the people around. It is often argued that education imparts a sense of civility along with other things but what if the educated section in itself shows ignorance. I study in the Kashmir University. The university takes a lot of pain to keep the large campus clean. Apart from a virtual army of people carrying brooms and brushes working throughout the day, there are dustbins placed almost every ten yards in the campus. Yet one does occasionally see waste paper, confectionery wrappers and used flowers thrown thoughtlessly on the surface.

The polythene usage was banned in the campus even before the SMC enforced the overall ban. Every entry to the campus is properly watched over to ensure no polythene is carried into the campus. University is the highest seat of learning and I don’t think people working inside should require the services of the watchman in showing them not to use the polythene in the campus. Does that mean they are unaware of the hazards of polythene or is it mere lack of civic sense which they are unable to inculcate?

Civic sense is nothing but social ethics. It is consideration by the people for the unspoken norms of society. A lot of people assume that civic sense is just about keeping the roads, streets and public property clean. But civic sense is more than that; it has to do with law-abiding, respect for fellow men and maintaining decorum in public places. A lot of foreign countries function in a smooth manner because of the strong civic sense amongst its people.

When civic sense is absent in a society, it leads to a lot of problems. Disregard for the law is a primary cause for lacking civic sense. A person who has high civic values does not resort to shortcuts and unethical tactics to get his work done. And being unethical in daily activities does not benefit anyone, as the behaviour only gets emulated by other members of society.

Ultimately, the situation will reach a point where hardly anything can be done to restore it.
As with almost everything, the remedy should start with the home and the school. When you teach your child about civic sense begin by teaching him to keep his immediate surroundings clean and tidy. If he learns to appreciate cleanliness, he will be able to practice it outside of home as well. Explain to him that just because other people dirty their surroundings does not mean he should too. Encourage him to mix with people from different backgrounds and not harbour prejudice against them.

We the human beings are social animals. And the society expects each one of us to have some sense of respect towards people at large. To me this sense of respect for society needs is Civic Sense. When you have more population with greater civic sense in the society you have great nation and bright future always.

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