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

When Leadership Fails, New Stars Emerge

Balraj Puri examines the backdrop that makes Shah Faesal's success story even more endearing

(Mr. Balraj Puri, 80, was born in Jammu city and attended the Ranbir High School and the Prince of Wales College in Jammu. He is a journalist, human rights activist and a writer who has been an eye witness to the turbulent history of the State. He has written 5 books, including the historical "5000 years of Kashmir" in 1997. He is the Convenor of the J&K State branch of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), and the Director of the Institute of Jammu and Kashmir Affairs, based in Jammu.)

Phenomenon of Shah Faesal

Shah Faesal is a phenomenon which is unparalleled in recent years in Kashmir. His performance has been hailed from the Governor and the Chief Minister to a layman in Kupwara. Columns after columns have been written on him. His fame has crossed the lofty Pir Panchal. The spontaneous welcome he received at the airport and unending crowd that continued to greet him at his residence for many days without any organisational support would be envy of any popular leader. It has demonstrated the potential of Kashmir youth if given an opportunity.

In a way, he fills, however partially, the vacuum created after the decline in popularity of political parties and their leaders. So much has been written on our new hero that I can hardly add more to it. I would confine my observation to some lessons younger generation may learn from his achievement.

A pertinent point that strikes me is that why Faesal and other of his two colleague from Kashmir and two from Jammu who have been selected in the prestigious Indian Administrative Service happen to be medical graduates. How would medical knowledge help them in their administrative work. Faesal did say that he would be available to any patient in need of medical help. But would not it be at the cost of his primary duty for which he has been selected?

May be medical course helps candidates get more marks than those with social sciences subject. For science paper examiners award marks with mathematical accuracy whereas papers in social sciences are never awarded cent per cent marks. It calls for reform in system of marking. But it is an undeniable fact that knowledge of social sciences equips any administrator to do his job better.

I learnt this fact more clearly when I used to visit Academy for training of IAS probationers at Mussoorie for lectures. I always found that my lectures went home more effectively with those with a social science background. I had a similar experience in my lectures to probationers who opted or were allotted to J&K State. I always emphasized the need for knowledge about history of every region and of cultural diversity of the State. Even doctors would do their job better with knowledge of sociological background of their patients.

The least that can be done is to introduce a capsule course in social science for science students and similar course in science subjects for social science students. Total ignorance of one field to the other and vice versa keeps both of them somewhat illiterate. Some time back great intellectual CP Snow had warned against the dangerous consequences of dividing the society in what he called “Two Worlds.” His warning was heeded by most of the western world. We must follow his sane advice before it is too late and our educational institutions produce split personalities.
I must take this opportunity to warn against the craze among our younger generation for following the exact footsteps of Faesal. Nor should parents put undue pressure that might make them paranoid. Moreover, while Faesal is an excellent source of inspiration, no two persons can be exactly alike. The aptitudes differ.

Amir Khan’s famous film ‘3 Idiots’ brings home this lesson in a telling manner. There is no ideal course of subjects or career for everybody. Each should choose them according to his/her aptitude and talent. A student who fails miserably in one subject may excel in another subject.

There should be provision in every school for aptitude test or vocational guidance by experts and training facilities for completing for various careers. Everybody need not go, nor can afford to go to Delhi as Faesal did for joining coaching institute is certainly a very prestigious career. But many new vistas have also been opened for aspiring educated youth suitable to their aptitude.

His own aptitude does not seen to suit for medical course, if his activities before appearing for IAS tests are any guide. His columns in Greater Kashmir did not require knowledge of medicine. His campaign for Right to Information Act, along with another dedicated worker for the cause Muzaffar Bhat, merely shows his belief that right to information is essential pre-requisite for a democracy. Obviously he did not learn this lesson in the medical college. There is no reason to believe that without medical degree he could not be selected for IAS or do justice to his engagement before this selection. There are many courses, more remunerative and prestigious than IAS. Prospectus and full information about them should be available in every educational institute. Even less remunerative career gives better satisfaction if it suits your aptitude.

Lastly I must repeat that I am no less proud than any body else of the signal achievement of Faesal. I believe that he is capable of scaling further height for which I offer my best wishes whatever be their worth. But true lesson from his example for young generation would be to try to excel him and that can best be done by knowing your aptitude and available options.

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