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.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Protecting the Consumer

Maroof speaks for the "aam admi"

(Dr. Muhammad Maroof Shah, 31, was born in Kunan, Bandipore. He has pursued a career in veterinary medicine and animal husbandry, completing Bachelors's degree in veterinary sciences (BVSc) at the Faculty of Veterinary Sciences and Animal Husbandry (FVSc & AH), Shuhama campus of the Sher-i-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Kashmir (SKUAST-K), and MA English through the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). He is presently posted as a Veterinary Assistant Surgeon (VAS) at the Government Sheep Breeding Farm in Dachigam. Dr. Shah is the author of two books, and has lectured as a visiting fellow at the Jaipur University on Western Philosophy. In his leisure time he pursues studies in comparative religion, philosophy and literature.)

Who is Prowling People?

Recently the price of floor had increased and there was hike in price of roti. Why doesn’t any representative come forward to plead for decrease in price of it? Many can’t afford a roti or lawasa now.

Are our official representatives waiting for civil society to collect money and give it as bribe to them to talk about these issues? I don’t think so but they are simply not interested. But why should they be interested? Has the ruling class been interested in the welfare of the ruled class? The only option left is the ruled attempt their best to snatch their rights, to build themselves own tattered shelters, stitch torn clothes and heal wounds.

Associations have their personal causes to fight for. There is no people’s association. No one representing people. Employees want retirement age enhancement. Why should not public protest to ensure better work, work without corruption? Is there any party who calls for protests against corruption? What we need is to provide corruption free alternative services in education, in health care, in businesses, in consumer services so that the corrupt system is automatically strangled.

Who represents those shopkeepers who have been forced to close shops because of the practice of giving on wazum to customers and countless others who suffer terribly on account of this practice? Without wazum business can’t be run in villages especially small provision shops, milk, sabzi and most of items including medicine at many places. Can’t govt. give protection to poor shopkeepers? I think it may be legislated that if money is not paid within a month additional money shall be charged. All payments that involve wazum should be done through credit card. I don’t think it can be called interest as shopkeeper is not giving cash but perishable item. If this is indeed a form of interest is it allowed to take things on wazum which is not cleared in due time? Or government should extract lending tax from shopkeepers which shall in turn charge it from customers. All business transactions should be in writing specifying how much amount paid and how much is still with the customer, time of clearing whole payment, excess charges due on account of delay. All I want is some mechanism for protecting interests of shopkeepers.

Who represent customers and consumers? You may aver that consumer courts exist. But there are issues that are not so far addressed. No consumer knows if he has not been badly exploited in his purchase of most items purchased from most shops as rate is not written.

World Health Organisation (WHO) has specified only hundred plus drugs that cure all diseases around. But how many drugs are being sold in our medicine shops that are not recognised by WHO? A drug costs around 2800 according to print on it but is purchased for Rs 800 only if doctors guide you how to purchase it. Representation should be banned. Good drugs are sold on the basis of merit or efficacy and not on the basis of representation. It is generally the case that you need vigorous representation for substandard drugs. Some representatives have confided to me that they are trading in blood by doing the job. How many doctors prescribe without taking commissions or advantages from the companies or representatives? I know some kind of advertising is needed for selling the product. Drug industry is more dangerous than armament industry. It causes greater damage. Drug industry must be nationalised if we want to cut off spending billions of dollars in health sector on problems directly or indirectly caused by illegal, substandard and unregulated use of drugs. Capitalism can’t survive if it can’t sell its products. It must employ representatives who trade in blood. There are more medicine shops in Kashmir than anywhere else in India indicating our created dependence on medicine suppliers and companies.

Who represents the interests of owners of apple orchards who are at the mercy of contractors? Can’t there be some protecting mechanism for them? Who represents farmers and seeks to create mechanisms for better returns for their products without middlemen? Who would initiate and coordinate efforts for making cooperatives for eliminating middlemen?

I travel in public transport and don’t think hell will be much different. Hell is waiting for nothing, uncertainty, overcrowding, denial of rest, denial of your request, abusive language, fighting – all these are in our public transport. There is a department that controls traffic but none that recognizes overloading as a problem.

Civil society can select advocates and fix a fee, say 10000 for every case won. These advocates shall process cases on the basis of merit only and involve absolutely no deception or any unfair means. They shall not charge only a nominal fee for peshis. Once standardised and people come to know about it these 10 advocates shall be doing huge business. Earnings shall go on the basis of 50% to civil society which shall use it to engage more advocates and process some cases which can’t afford even 10000 as fee. Civil society could also fight public interest litigation cases.

No comments: