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, October 29, 2010

Cry of the Silent Majority - Part 1

An editorial in the Rising Kashmir highlights a challenge mostly ignored by the civil society, but the message is tainted by unrealistic expectations

Mission Dal

The biggest challenge facing the state government in saving the polluted Dal Lake is to get the implementation mechanism of its ambitious project right. The government’s flagship scheme to revive Dal under the new boost of funds still needs to be vetted on the score. There are of course different ways to implement Dal Lake conservation projects successfully. Which will the government choose?

In the last four months when Kashmir was in deep turmoil, Dal and Nageen Lake became the silent victims of the conflict. Already in deep mess, these lakes have reached the verge of extinction. If one looks around the Dal these days it has been marginalized to a big sewage. A set of works by the LAWDA to save the famous water bodies sheds some light on the government’s thinking on mechanism for implementation. As with getting the awareness, new machinery, infrastructure, rehabilitation, public-private partnership is a preferred mode. This could split the burden of financing the conservation project and will be the precursor to thwart the unprecedented corruption known to plague the project for years now.

The sharing of the financial burden will for sure guarantee accountability from each of the parties involved. If government wants to attract private partnership in the project, they should give various incentives and perks to private developers to attract their interest. State government for example will be required to provide the revenue sharing models from the various tourism projects, which can come up after the cleaning of the lakes. This could be a radical and welcome shift having the impact beyond the cleaning and maintenance of lakes. If public-private partnership is implemented in the Dal project, Kashmir could get a world class infrastructure in sustainable eco-tourism as the free flowing funds will attract new technology, globally used to save environment from the tourist load. Government could attract private sector in saving Dal Lake by giving them avenues to create excellent tourist resorts near these famous water bodies. The government could also attract private partnership by detailed marketing projects, which can bring millions of tourists to Kashmir every year. To have private sector involvement is saving the Dal, state government should be transparent about the concept of freebies the politicians and civil servants usually demand from private sector in such mega projects. Needless to say to implement such bold decisions Jammu and Kashmir government has to take a real challenge to ensure all this is done and implemented on the waters which are always turbulent and now very dirty as well.

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