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.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

"No-Holds-Barred Verbomania"

Syeda departs from valley's "set narrative" to describe the Kashmir situation with a fresh perspective

(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.)

Kashmir: What Next?

Any society develops because of certain intrinsic traits. However, the external factors also contribute in the cerebral growth of individuals in a society. And, if a society is going through an abnormal situation, then the reasons for growth are ample. The population grappling with a conflict has many more chances to evolve. Being in the state of continuous tussle, they look out for gateways to sustain themselves intellectually and meaningfully. It turns mandatory for them to create a breathing space for rearranging or reminding their commitments. Otherwise, they may get stifled and start stinking.

However, Kashmir makes an interesting study in this backdrop. The people’s capacity of living through a gory conflict has become its hallmark. Some of the inherent behavioural qualities have supplied the people of this place the peculiar staying power. Their grit and guts to face the worst, and survive through rough weather cannot be overlooked. Some of the events that were not predictable and yet happened, made a greater impact and called for major re-orientation without advance preparation. As people here may look back upon the past wistful 20 years, they can recall some of the horrible losses which they experienced with a sense of strength.

Today, Kashmir has reached a point where the thinking is on how much the present volatile circumstances can influence the pervasive nostalgia of last 20 years and the anticipation of future crises or transitions. There are some surprises in response.

First, with a kind of current political dispensation in Kashmir, where politicians from both mainstream and separatist camps are trying to locate their positions and stakes, by different means, both fair and unfair, the approaching departure from the earlier stands/strategies suggests the shift of emphasis. Of course, all this is going to constitute a difficult time for all of them. Already many of them are in a mood of utter desperation and confusion.

As such, the expectations, influences, and roles available to present youth of Kashmir vary enormously with its political and social history and the pace and nature of change set in during last 20 years. The current history has moved faster, throwing up the huge differences between the role-models offered by political and intellectual leaders and those valued by the rest of the people.

Nonetheless, this kind of situation can make our youth learn about consistency and inconsistency of personalities and personal styles, and about stagnation and regression of minds. This can be one of the ways to transition. Getting into the mode of cerebral growth, where self-concepts get framed by outer events.

Second, contemporary Kashmir is witness to no-holds-barred verbomania. The chatty culture has engaged thinkers in a rambling discourse. From endless dialogues and discussions, the outpourings are usually directionless and the results are regretful. Had such talking succoured any nation, this hapless land would have been salvaged so far.

Third, the talking culture has started showing spillover effect. This verbal overrun is seeping in social circles as well. People are heard talking preposterous plans and theories about the conflict resolution. Weaving odd and strange comparison and conspiracy logics, they are unwittingly turning into self-styled experts and analysts. This in a way is a good sign of Kashmir Mind being alive at least, but that it is a fatigue reaction to a deadly deadlock in which the Kashmir Mind finds itself, cannot also be ignored.

Fourth, the Kashmiri writer or commentator on Kashmir has become a colourless creature. He has lost his effective say on the matters because of his ever-changing tones. His inability to recognize conflicting messages from his inner-self and the outer world, and between the two, is the first indicator of his being complex and contradictory. That’s why he feels like caught up between the devil and the deep sea, while in actuality he is meshed up in his own ambiguity. Intelligentsia in Kashmir was never as contradictory as it is now. It appears distracted and unsettled. It is criminally contributing in the prolongation of the problem by being ambiguous, hypocritical, and painfully, saleable. What else can be a big misfortune than this?!!

As Kashmir is known for beautifully getting modified to seasonal colours, from white snow to amber leaves, the same cannot be claimed in terms of its political landscape. The colour riot in this area remains unpredictable as well as unpleasant. The intrinsic histrionics mixed with a bit of historical hysteria, cannot spare it.

As the year 2010 is turning out to be a virtual anna-mirabilis, there is more to see. There is lot in store. Kashmir continues to burn. Perhaps, the baton seems to have been passed down with the backlog of failed socio-politic milieu, imprecise vision, ambiguous strategy and squabbling group(s) those claim to lead the people. Twenty years of blood, sweat and tears could not put up at least joint council to make each of them accountable to the hapless people of this land. The leadership needs to explain to the layman the short and long term modus operandi of a sustainable struggle, needs to lay bare the contingency programs for all sections of society and a roadmap till that “logical conclusion” seems to approach. While riding high on the wave of public resentment and unabated indiscriminate killings, rather than issuing hyperboles and acerbic judgements, the leadership ought to look slightly ahead and answer: What next?

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