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, March 28, 2010

The Ugliness Called Dal Today

Nayer Mohammad has the courage to speak his mind hen he says that the conservation of Dal Lake is all bone and no meat

From Dal to Dull

Returning home from a walk along the banks of the Dal Lake, I as usual grabbed the newspaper and began to scan the headlines. A news caption that caught my notice read JORA SPEAKS DAL BEAUTIFICATION IN L.A. It really bemused me because a recently added beauty mark has made its presence felt so strongly that if you happen to walk past you just cannot miss it as the nose comes under a most virulent attack. Before you can salvage something from your pocket to cover your nasal passage, the damage is done and you find yourself running away as fast as your legs can, before the terrible stench engulfs you completely.

This newly added beautification ornament lies just adjacent to the CRPF headquarters at Brein and faces the recently installed fountains in the lake. It is a makeshift urinal erected by putting a few rags around a popular tree and a couple of sticks stuck into the ground. For want of a proper facility the jawans go behind the flimsy cover and relieve themselves.

It is not as if the urinal is a lone eye-catcher there are other beautiful adornments, scattered all along the banks of this once famous lake, for all to see. The appalling open drains emptying sewage from the hotels, whose very existence is inextricably woven together with the existence of the lake, speaks of a callous apathy which can find no parallels elsewhere in the world.

Rumour are running thick and fast that the much hyped STPs have failed to deliver and other than emitting a most foul smell that permeates the air, while they are in operation, they have contributed little less to the restoration programme.

So much is being written about the pathetic state of the lake which was once Kashmiris gateway to fame. Accusing fingers are pointed towards the people in power and in response the government quotes mind boggling figures that have been spent, or are in the process of being spent ,or have been set aside for implementing such plans as are necessary to resuscitate the water body which is gasping for breath. If we go along with what the government claims then Dal restoration is being undertaken on war footing. This assertion, however, has put an ordinary Kashmiri in quandary for there is a vast discrepancy between what is said and what is done. People are confused as they don’t know whether to believe their eyes or accept what is stated in media. It is situation where the emperor is wearing new clothes as in reality he is stark naked. Tall claims made by the authorities are belied when viewed against the backdrop of Dal which is shrinking in size while being vandalized with as much insensitivity as before.

The Dal card is played by every political party; in fact, the lake has become a veritable battleground for politicians to measure up to one another. It finds a place at the top of every election manifesto. During election campaigning Dal assumes a prominent place, all else follows and is used as a real bait to woo the innocent voters. Each government begins on Dal note and ends on a Dull note, in the meantime Dal gets lost somewhere in the corridors of bureaucracy. Huge amounts are spent on discussions and plan formulations, foreign expertise is hired and press notes are issued but when it comes to actual groundwork very little is done or seems to have been done. Convening meetings at la Jaspal Bhatti, where menu is more important than agenda, are not going to help.

The Boulevard is the most traversed highway by the who’s who in the state administration. Each time their motorcade passes the accompanying shrill cry not only frightens the fish in the lake but heralds doom for the common people who might be unfortunate enough to be walking or driving at the same inopportune moment. Not only are they squeezed to the wall literally but if they take a fraction of a second more to heed to the summons of the signal the goons hanging out from the security vehicles gleefully use their danda’s with a flourish, either on the innocent pedestrians or on the poor vehicles. Damage done to either is rectified only by spending precious money which in these hard times (when a kilogram of sugar costs 60) is much needed for meeting the daily requirements of subzi and chawal. If people at the helm of affairs would care to look outside the tinted windows of their official cars, with a discerning eye, the stark reality would dawn upon them. After all, for how long can one camouflage the ugliness which lies beneath by raising the level of the Dal waters, for is it not true that,

You can fool some people for some time

Some people for all time

But not all people for all time

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