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, July 23, 2010

Summer of Anarchy - 1

"Confessional editorial" in the Greater Kashmir on 15th July 2010 exposes dysfunctionality of institutions and political structures in Kashmir


IN 2008 summer, when Kashmir erupted over Amaranth Land row, it cost Kashmir unimaginably high in terms of economy and disruption in education calendar. It was this impending realization that people expressed their dismay over extended calls for strike and protest. Everyone was gasping for some relief so that life of an ordinary person could restore. Media gave vent to this popular anxiety and newspaper opinion and editorial vigorously addressed the separatist leadership to take the crisis of ordinary life into account and draw the future policy accordingly. Fact of the matter is that the separatist leadership responded to this public demand and acted by way of reason. Unfortunately it was interpreted by some sections as rolling back on a public momentum that could have gone further to achieve some larger political goal. Later a blame-game pursued to fix the responsibility for who broke the momentum and consequently damaged the political interest of Kashmir. Though sense demands that it all happened under genuine public pressure, but it was sinisterly twisted to look like a ‘betrayal’. This warped memory of 2008 agitation seems to be blocking the way of Separatist leadership to look into the problems that have erupted in the wake of, now almost a month long disruption. This goes without saying that weeks’ long strike has crippled life in Kashmir. Business has got an unprecedented beating. Healthcare is in disarray. Doctors can not discharge the duties, and patients suffer. Schools and colleges look like a thing of past. Our children have forgotten the habit of learning. This will have a long term adverse effects on us. Even provisions have started running deplete in the shops that flourished within Mohallas in recent years. When such is the situation people cannot go this way unabated. Though it is not a good presumption that Separatist leadership is oblivious to this public inconvenience, but it looks that they have chosen not to face the problem squarely. Since there is another public sentiment that is running parallel to all this, and it’s that any break in the protests and strikes can undo the gains that might be in the offing, it has really become difficult for them. Though this reading too is not completely unfounded, but there is a need to strike a balance between the two. After all the compulsion of daily life cannot be ignored for too long. It is only counter productive, politically, economically as well as socially. It will only heap problems over problems, debilitating the entire political enterprise that is being carried out in the name of people. Here it becomes a test of leadership. Accepted that it is a tight rope walk, but that doesn’t mean that a blind eye is turned towards the public anxiety which is only building up. Before another program of protests is made public in next couple of days, it’s imperative for the separatist leadership to respond to the problems faced by people due to extended strikes. As for the memory of 2008 summer, one can only say that politics is not about anarchy and chaos, but about discipline and leadership. And leadership always comes at a cost. If separatists guide people, rather getting swayed by public anger, that makes better politics. Furthermore, if tomorrow people resume their normal work on their own how can they be blamed. After all there are families to be fed, children to be schooled, and sick to be treated. There must be a way out of this block where routine of life has been held hostages to the larger political aims. If worked out intelligently, both can have their own share. One cannot be allowed to devour the other completely. That is what one can say in the least.

At the same time government can not be absolved of its ugly contribution to the situation. By imposing curfew for days together and resorting to restriction every now and then Government is not only vitiating the atmosphere but also making straight contribution to the problems of economy and life. Giving the state entirely in the control of police and security agencies Government is showing complete disregard to life in Kashmir. More than anyone it’s this security grip that has damaged Kashmir’s economy. Had these days been used to punish even just one guilty Government could have dropped a stern message to police and paramilitary forces, and also given people a pretext to resume their normal life. By not doing so Government is harming the people’s interest.

So it’s for both Government and the Separatist leadership to respond to the people’s problems, which are immense in magnitude and profound in impact. Obviously, it is time for everyone to introspect over the prevailing scenario.

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