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, May 21, 2010

Water Polo in Kashmir

Yusuf sees competitive tourism market leading to new creativity in boosting tourism in Kashmir

(Mr. Mohammad Yusuf, 56, was born in the Dalgate area of Srinagar. He attended Government Schools in Drugjan, Sonawar, and Batwara, all in Srinagar, and completed his college studies at the Sri Partap College, Srinagar. Following his graduation, he briefly attended the University of Kashmir, and in 1980, joined the Physical Education Department of the University of Kashmir. Mr. Yusuf teaches aquatics and adventure sports (swimming, mountaineering, snow and water skiing, rafting, parasailing, skating, kayaking, canoeing, etc.) and has won many local sports trophies. He has led many exploration expeditions in Kashmir, and is the Treasurer of the Winter Sports Association of Jammu and Kashmir, General Secretary of J&K Aero Sports Association and the J&K Ski & Mountaineering Association, Secretary of Srinagar Winter Sports Association, and Vice President of the J&K Yoga Association. In his leisure time, Mr. Yusuf engages in social work, gardening and writing.)

Polo in Waters of Kashmir

God has gifted us with snow, water and mountains. Ours being the most liked tourist destination in the country we must make full use of these natural resources and heal up the ailing tourism industry. Tourism Department is undoubtedly working hard to bring back the glorious days of Kashmir tourism.

For promotion of adventure tourism the Director Tourism, Mr. Farooq Shah is more concerned and is making all out efforts to create one or the other tourist attracting activity here. Holding of festivals and adventure activities at national and international levels by the department has carried message of peace all over the world and more and more tourists have now started pouring in. It was great of Tourism Department to introduce American national sports, Baseball, on Snow at Gulmarg during winter this year. Snow Baseball was a brainchild of Mr. Farooq Shah which received accolades worldwide. But there are still many more things to be done. Besides tulip, saffron, Shikara, gardens and heritage sites etc we have many more things in Srinagar which need to be exploited by the Tourism Department and its alliances in a big way. Mount Mahadev has excellent ski runs thereby offering ski-touring within Srinagar limits till late April.

In Srinagar we have a number of world famous water bodies, like Dal Lake, Nigeen Lake and river Jhelum where we could promote scintillating water based activities like jet boating, water skiing, aqua-parasailing and other paddle sports etc. A new ball and paddle sport called Canoe Polo has come up in the world. We need to develop and encourage it.

Polo is an ancient game in which two teams of players riding on horses play with hammers.

With the passage of time the cyclists started playing polo on their bicycles. Not only cyclists but the swimmers also introduced it in water. While the paddlers introduced it in lakes and today we have different types of polo.It is catching up fast all over the world but we only lag behind. After adopting this fascinating, scintillating and thrilling paddle sport the competitions are regularly held at regional and International levels. Canoe Polo has become one of the best sources of recreation and pleasure today.

Canoe polo is a game played on still waters by two teams who paddle hard, pass ball from hand to hand and throw it in each other’s goal posts to score goals. It is often described as combination of water polo, basket ball and Kayaking.
It is admitted fact that this unique sport has tremendous potential in our state, particularly in Srinagar, which is known as the City of Lakes.

The Kayaks and Canoes were basically used for travel and transportation for hundreds of years by many cultures. Canadian Canoeing was started by Red Indians in North America and Kayaking by Eskimos. Today we have not only the competitive Kayaking and Canoeing but we have invented Canoe Polo as well.

Jammu And Kashmir State has in fact played a pioneering role in introducing and developing Kayaking and Canoeing in India. We are known as fathers of modern Kayaking and Canoeing in India. First two National Championships were consecutively organized on the waters of Dal Lake, in 1988 and 1989. Kashmir University introduced it at All India Inter-Varsity level in 1999. It is incredible that out of five Inter-University championships Kashmir University has hosted it thrice and lifted championship trophies twice.

The J&K Police and J&K Youth Services Department are also promoting these sports here for long. It is praiseworthy that all the three organizations have raised a lot of infrastructure for promotion of these sports but unfortunately,accept Kashmir University; no other organization has ever conceived idea of introducing Canoe Polo in their Centers, though they have produced ace kayakers and canoeists. Canoe Polo could become our national sport should someone have given little attention towards its development. Pertinently most of us live close to water bodies and know the art of paddling. We have plenty of small boats (Shikaras) available here and have easy access to them. Our youth could easily learn this kind of polo and become strong contenders in the world. It is now right time for us to start training youth, forming polo teams and holding regular feedback competitions.

Sponsoring the first-ever State Canoe Polo Championship by our Tourism Department could be a big gift to youth who are celebrating the International Year of Youth this year. No doubt they have made an attempt in the past but the sport could not sustain.

In its effort to introduce Canoe Polo in India the Kashmir University Lake Club (ULC) started training its students to this healthy sport last year under the supervision of this writer. The ULC is all set to arrange a demonstration match during next All India Inter-University Kayaking and Canoeing Championship. The University Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Riyaz Punjabi is an avid aquatic athlete.
He has great love for water sports and is keen to develop aquatics. Under his patronization the University lifted Team Championship trophy in Canoeing in last All India Inter-University Championship.The Tourism Department should try to arrange a demonstration Canoe Polo match during forthcoming Common Wealth Games in Delhi which would help not only to introduce this sport in sub-continent but will also help promote much needed sports tourism in J&K.

For promoting sports tourism the Tourism Department and other tourism players will have to work together and exploit every unexploited tourist product whichever we can offer to intended tourists. Special adventure programmes must be conducted for College and University youths so as to raise trained manpower for adventure tourism. There is also need of setting up a Research Wing in the Tourism Department which could invent, introduce and promote new recreational activities that help state to lure more tourists here.

No comments: