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

When Demons of Materialism Take Over Angels of Spirituality

Fida Iqbal challenges Kashmiri elite to shun their love affair for materialistic life which has devastated core values of the Kashmiri culture

(Mr. Fida Iqbal, 47, was born in Sopore. He attended the D.A.V. School in Nayadyaar, Rainawari, and the Government Higher Secondary School in Sopore. He obtained his Bachelor's degree in Agriculture/Floriculture and Landscaping from Chowdhry Chottu Ram College at Muzaffarabad Nagar in Uttar Pradesh. Mr. Iqbal works with the Jammu & Kashmir Tourism Department as a landscape architect. He enjoys kitchen gardening, reading writing, and is very a passionate and dedicated golf player.)

Reform the Society

Humankind had gone through tremendous change and achieved high standards of social reform ever since his habitation within the caves. Present day civilized society is the pinnacle of social transformation brought about by the mankind’s unrelenting endeavor for excellence in the field of existence. A particular society is known and appreciated by its social-fabric, great values, distinct traditions and compassionate norms. Contemporary world of knowledge gives far more importance to social science for any future research, planning and implementation of developmental and social schemes, because the success of every transformational venture is directly related to the behavior of the societies.

Kashmir is a land locked country with mighty mountains guarding it from all sorts of invasions for thousands of years. It had its own traditions, culture and above all social order but for the last few decades invasion into our language, traditions, and culture is very prominent. The social norms and order are crumbling with adverse impacts of the social invasion. Certainly some changes within the social system are for the betterment of the society but majority of intrusions had given negative impact to our more or less conservative society. Every society should be open for interactions but with a positive approach of taking up the better and giving the best. No doubt, varying levels of education imparted during these testing periods worked as cushion against the onslaught of social evils imposed upon us; otherwise the social situation in this wonderful part of world would have been disastrous. It is also true that we could not take on the sudden exposure to world social affairs so comfortably during last two decades. Several factors beyond our control worsened our social frontline and political strife was one of the most prominent amongst them. Every conflict, weather political, ethnic or economical leaves the society torn making it more susceptible to interference with an impact of disintegration. Our entire social system at the moment is almost tattered with our much appreciated virtues of altruism and pacifism at the altar of egotistic mindset.

For last many years our decayed social system is making its presence felt in many shapes, suicides, alarmingly rising dowry deaths and waywardness. Disturbed social system has drawn clear lines between affluent and the oppressed on all fronts. People command respected depending on the amount of wealth they own and the quantum of power they hold. Gone are the old days, when people commanded respect out of their wisdom and judiciousness. Presently materialism is governing the norms and order of the society! Obviously, this apparently peaceful situation, a symptom of extreme suffocation can not last long and an undercurrent of deprivation and disregard will lead to a revolution which can be bloodier. When only wealth and power become indicators of social status, no society can sustain of its own for longer period of time.

If the studies of valley based social scientists are to be taken as authentic, thousands of women have crossed their marriageable age due to lack of financial support to afford a dowry laden marriage. These ladies are decaying within the confines of their poverty ridden dwellings and any disproportionate rise in their number over the period of time will bring our society to the crossroads of decadence. Emerging waywardness in society will get a catalyst by such a situation of shame. Who will provide social, financial and emotional security to such a bigger chunk of the society? Ultimately, rebelliousness will be the befitting slap on our collective faces. Unrestricted nepotism and corruption of all shapes give rise to many evils and evil-minded tribes. These evil-doers become instruments of social evils and degradation of society by flaunting their ill-gotten wealth brazenly. Their unaccounted and illegitimate wealth is instrumental in redrawing the rules of our social system and encouraging many a customs and traditions of extravagance, earlier unheard in Kashmiri society; making simple and straight marriages so intricate that common man can not have enough financial vigor to solemnize.

Almost every fortnight some young married lady commits suicide or she is driven to it in a gradual manner out of unending materialistic urge by the perpetuators. This is real degraded society devoid of any mercy, respect and civility for the fellow social animals. In many such appalling acts those materialistic brutes are involved who otherwise give long lectures and deliver unending sermons on emancipation and empowerment of women. Alas! These first grade hypocrites have penetrated deep into our social system and are occupying the top echelons of our social arrangement. Materialism is the ultimate cause of massive degradation of societies all over the world but our society has been engulfed by the fire of greed severely and we have lost the ways and means of love, tolerance and compassion. We are drifting away from our religious teachings and fear of God. Otherwise no one would dare to douse the fellow human being with petrol and put her to flames just for the sake of money and material. This is the unique manifestation of brutality; even beast will be ashamed of such barbarous acts. Almighty has given us a beautiful life and endless gifts to relish but with a respect for our surroundings and the fellow inhabitants. By resorting to acts of barbarism to fulfill our gluttonous and materialistic urge, we are doing no good for our eternal life the hereafter. Choice is ours. Either we live and let live in harmony with a justifiable social system or be ready for the anger of Almighty.

Now the question arises where and why our social structure has gone wrong? Invasions by, and exposure to, other societies is an ongoing process of social transformation. Particularly cultural, linguistic and social intrusions are bound to occur in case of any suppression or subjugation and Kashmir has a history of subjugation for centuries. Cultural invasions can be located in our recorded history of hundreds of years but we have never compromised on the fundamentals and basics of just and genuine social norms. For the last many decades our social apparatus has succumbed to wickedness and materialism. Our level of knowledge was always high but it was limited to few and majority of people were lacking this gift of wisdom, even then our social system resisted to all sort of evil designs of invaders. But now! We have left our social order in lurch; exposed to all kinds of invasion. We are more literate now but it seems our knowledge quotient is not in compatibility with our quantum of education or may be we lack quality education. The other aspect, voluntarily exposure to other social systems or societies by regional and global social interaction if handled properly can have very positive impact on our system. Here again, we lack the adaptability to the judicious and genuine aspirations for improvement and development of our social coordination. Materialism has taken over the every sensible aspect of our consciousness. We adopt every cheap and covert means of voraciousness; not only to toss down the clean wealth but the filth as well. Our gluttonous bellies never feel contented even with rubbish. This is our filthy social scenario!

Degradation of social system is actually a chain of misadventures and their ultimate source is materialism. Once a society is overtaken by the extremes of materialistic urge the first casualty is the humanity and the rest will follow. Societies overtaken by materialism, lack the characteristic of, righteousness, impartiality, honesty, consciousness, modesty and ultimately their credibility. For present dented in social organization every one is responsible, no one can shirk the responsibility and pass the buck. If we as a nation want to be given some space in the annals of history for future generations as people of value then we have to strive hard and put an end to this materialistic social setup where man kills a man for money. We have to create a reasonable society where every one will have justified access to the means a resources and where norms and rules will be laid by wisdom and not by the weight of material. If social substance won’t improve in right direction, a time will come where we as individuals of the society may have to pay the heavy price.

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