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, June 25, 2010

SPS Museum: New Building and Website, But Old Problems Linger

Saleem shares the joy on opening the new main building at the Shri Partap Singh (SPS) Museum, but years of neglect is taking its toll on historical manuscripts - two related articles

(Mr. Mohammad Saleem Beg, 59, was born and raised in Srinagar. He was educated at the S.P. College and the Gandhi Memorial College, receiving his Bachelor's degree from the latter. He was awarded a EEC fellowship in 1998 which allowed him to attend study courses at Universities of Luven, Belgium, and Trinity College, Dublin. Mr. Beg entered the State government service in 1975 and retired in 2006 as the Director General of Tourism. In the 31 years of public service (which included two deputation assignments in New Delhi), Mr. Beg promoted local arts and crafts, and raised public awareness of Kashmir's rich heritage and architecture. He was a leading figure in getting Srinagar listed as one of the 100 most threatened heritage cities by the World Monument Fund in 2008. Mr. Beg has traveled extensively and has attended numerous conferences, including the 1997 UN Special Session on Environment in New York, and the 1997 Kyoto Convention on Climate Change in Japan. His articles and essays have been published in various publications. Since retirement, he has remained active as the Convener of the J&K Chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage - INTACH.)

SPS Museum Goes Online

Srinagar: The Sri Pratap Singh Museum in now online. The Minister for Tourism and Culture, Nawang Rigzin Jora and his deputy Nasir Sogami Friday launched the website of the museum:

The website is a collaborative restoration project of UNESCO and the J&K chapter of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH Both Jora and Wani hailed the efforts of stateConvener of INTACH, Saleem Beg for setting up the website.

Jora said once the new museum building is completed (the deadline has already been set as October, 2010), the old building will be restored and used for cultural activities.

“The museum is no attraction for children and youngsters. We will make the old building a hub of cultural activities so that it attracts people,” he said.

Earlier, Saleem Beg termed the museum as the “repository of the various layers of civilizations” and gave a detailed presentation about the museum. He put forward the recommendations for the restoration of the museum, which was set up in 1898 during Maharaja Pratap Singh’s regime to house exhibits and artifacts covering the region of Jammu, Kashmir, Baltistan and Gilgit.

The website, which has been designed by Aford Infocom, gives a thorough insight to the museum from its early history to the collection it houses.

Rare Manuscripts in SPS Museum Facing Decay

Srinagar: Experts have sought de-acidification of manuscripts that were recently exhibited at Shri Pratap Singh (SPS) Museum saying the papers of historic documents have turned acidic, and if action wasn’t taken quickly “the museum will lose the historic scripts forever.”

“Authorities must initiate protective measures immediately or else the manuscripts will perish,” said Chairman INTACH J&K Chapter Saleem Beg quoting a group of experts who along with UNESCO and INTACH recently launched the website ( of SPS Museum.

Beigh said the experts who helped in the restoration project have also suggested setting up of a conservation lab that could take care of the historical items present in the museum.

The recommendations have come from Delhi-based Art Historian, Janet Razvi, Art Consultant Renuka Savesree, Senior Scientist, Ashok Kumar Pandey, and Program Specialist for Culture (UNESCO), New Delhi, Moi Chib.

“They have also recommended removal of stains with solvents, and elimination of improper repairs,” he said.

Beigh said that a hard work was put on to launch a website so that people can use the museum and learn about its artifacts while sitting in their homes.

“But now it becomes hilly crucial to secure the manuscripts and government needs to act smartly and quickly,” said the Chairman INTACH J&K Chapter.

To mention, SPS museum was set up around 1898 AD when a memorandum was submitted to the then Dogra ruler of J&K, Maharaja Pratap Singh, by his younger brother, General Raja Amar Singh, and a European scholar, Captain SH Godmerry.

The proposal included the establishment of a museum in Srinagar to house exhibits and artifacts covering the region of Jammu, Kashmir, Baltistan and Gilgit.

The museum was set up in a building belonging to the state at Lal Mandi, Srinagar on the left bank of river Jhelum. Its establishment was supervised by Sir John Marshal, the Director General of the Archaeological Survey of the then neighbouring India.

Referring to the manuscripts conservation proposal, the INTACH official said, “The paper of the manuscripts has turned acidic, the binding has loosened, the pages are weak with stains, cockled in places and torn especially at the edges.”

He also said the experts have recommended work on illustrated manuscripts that show abrasions of the paint layers and signs of charring and destruction.

It was also recommended that fumigation and physical examination of each item should be done dust deposits and surface accretion should be removed that can help pages to decompose quickly.

No comments: