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.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Summer of Discontent

Syeda feels the sizzle when "doublespeak" collides with poor leadership

(Ms. Syeda Afshana, 35, was born in Srinagar. She attended the Vishwa Bharti High School in Rainawari, Srinagar, and the Government Women's College in Srinagar where she received a B.Sc. degree. She completed her Master's degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from the Kashmir University in 1999 and was the Gold Medallist (first position holder) in her graduating class. She is currently a Lecturer in the Media Education Research Centre (MERC) of the Kashmir University and pursuing her doctorate on the role of internet after 9/11.)

Simmering Summers

How many a tender flower
is buried in our soil,
How many more will be
in this mortal coil?

When nodding of popular trees, rustling among jade leaves and piping of bubbly birds indicates the time of nature’s rebirth and complete bloom—the arrival of summer—in my land the clatter of bullets and moan of deaths takes its sheen away.

The damper of deadly darkness puts the fires of life. Life loses motion. Fragrance of verve is lost in the smouldering discontent. Faces appear cheerless and hearts unhappy. With uncertainty gripping the nerves, the appetency for a peaceful ambience seems imperious. Not the spring breeze or summer roses, but a season of peace—this is what a commoner of my land simply yearns for.

They say experience is the extract of suffering. The more we suffer, the more we learn. When an innocent flower is plucked before its blossom, the poignant thorns bleed the conscience. When a nine year old Tauqeer Ahmad is shot and killed on spot, the worth of dignified peace is realised. When mutilated corpses are discovered in unmarked graveyards, the respect of life is understood. And when human blood is often spilled on streets, the love of tears is evolved.

While the world talks about teraflop computers, artificial nose (aroma scanner), totally artificial biological heart, future tablet and electronic newspapers—we the people of this hapless land count day-to-day killings and discuss the tense situation in drawing rooms or the barber shops. There is a great anomaly in our essence of living which has come to be a frozen limit of our present state of mind. To be precise, we don’t live; we just exist. And exist to witness the worst.

The other day a little kid asked me, “What is this BSNL 3G they show on television?” While I explained, he couldn’t get me as was vivid from his blank expression. Feeling a bit uneasy, he interrupted and curiously questioned- “Leave this 3G, why is ‘tear gas’ more often called as ‘tire gas’ and how does this gas kill?” It was a trifle difficult to make him understand a series of such expressions which have got deformed and deshaped by overuse ala ‘curfew’ often pronounced as ‘kerfie’, ‘task force’ as ‘tass force’ and blah blah. I simply smiled and parried his question.

Far from relishing the nascent fun of childhood, learning something valuable and dreaming to be whiz kids, the children of this place have unwittingly inherited this ‘neo-jargon’ and have turned precociously aggressive.

Even adult and old too display the behavioural vicissitudes depicting the milieu which is brimmed with irony. In fact, irony has been the sine qua non of this place. Our history, geography and polity is nothing, but a tragic irony. As such, the brand of people is naturally an irony in itself!

With worst doublespeak and a casual approach of those in power, the summer over here for last few years has been severely simmering. Brutalizing the situation, all of them always try to follow HMV, His Masters Voice, come what may.

Every time, the political opportunism happening around is beyond compare. It’s disgracefully and debasingly unique. The defeated are not ready to reconcile with their loss of power, and the winners are terribly hypersensitive about their image and interest.

In Kashmir polity, it’s the theatre of absurd. People in politics are rarely consistent in their viewpoints and positions. Big lies and little lies; half-truths and twisted truths: There are no permanent points of political belief. The level of plausibility is so much exploited that the masses become abysmally credulous.

Of course, all the politicians have eventually the foul agendas to pursue. What makes the difference is the degree of camouflage that the politicians belonging to various camps practise in the realization of their agenda. The mainstream politicians in Kashmir are nearly power corrupt. They have failed to hide their lust for power, despite lot of masquerading.

As far the “hard-liner” camps branched upon K-issue, they have incessantly taken the masses for a ride. The summer brings an accidental package of politicking for them. They cash in on the show to the fullest, whilst the actual show makers pursue the agenda subtly.

The scenes in Kashmir appear more spectral. Right now things have become so baffling and mysterious that the actual politics about the actual issue has been plastered with a pack of propaganda from all sides.

The query remains as to whether people of Kashmir can afford overact with clinging to the killing threads of weakest hope. And that too, when air of obscurity shrouds and confounds every aspect of critical state of affairs here.

The big question also is whether each coming summer has to be slaughtering, with earlier ones turning historically vain and oblivious; and the head count devoured each summer is to be offered endlessly?

It is little point in striking our heads against walls or stones, and feeling betrayed. Our present has vandalized our past. The lumpenization is thriving in all aspects. We have been left rootless, roomless and lifeless. We cannot hark back to anything sans message and moral. We are even helpless in nurturing anything for the future. Whenever such a kind of ethical dilemma rolls up in any society, it is to be taken as a distress signal. A forewarning buzzer of a menacing situation!

For sure, weather is largely internal, a matter of moods embodied in nature. But then, moods are shaped by moments. And if the moments turn fatally fearsome and fierce, every season draws a bleak. That’s why summers are becoming scary and sinister for us.

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