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, November 26, 2010

Good News About Fruits and Migratory Birds

Two "feel good" stories: Kashmir has a bumper fruit production, and migratory birds flocking to Kashmir

In Valley, fruit yield at all-time high

Fruit production in Jammu and Kashmir has touched 20 lakh metric tonnes this season — an all time high — thanks to bumper apple crop.

Since the beginning of the year, the horticulture officials were optimistic about a good fruit harvest with some even predicting the yield to go beyond 30 lakh metric tonnes. However, continuous rainfall and hails destroyed some of the apple crop in the Valley’s north.

The bumper fruit production has come as a good news at a time when the Valley has witnessed a series of violent incidents that has had a direct impact on the growers.

President, Fruit Growers’ Association, Ghulam Rasool Bhat said that despite shutdowns and road-blockades, the apple growers managed to dispatch fruit-laden trucks to different parts of the country. “In July and August, most of the growers could not send their fruit to other states as the national highway and other highways were disrupted for many days due to the protests. But things have improved now, and hundreds of apple laden trucks are being sent to different cities every day.”

He, however, said the bumper production has slightly affected the rates in the markets and increased the production cost.

Bhat, who owns a big fruit orchard in north Kashmir, said: “At 10 to 12 lakh tonnes earlier, Kashmir growers were leaders in apple production. With a rise in production, we are now eyeing the international market.”

Migratory Birds Flocking to Kashmir

Srinagar: With the onset of winters in Jammu and Kashmir, more than two hundred thousand migratory birds from Central Asia and China have migrated to the region, flocking various wetland reserves.

The state wildlife authorities claim to have received more avian visitors this year than they expected at the three famous wetland reserves established at Haygam, Hokersar and Shalibag in the picturesque valley.

The early arrival of birds from traditional habitats like Central Asia, China and Eastern Europe signals that the temperatures in those areas also have taken a dip, forcing the birds to move earlier than expected.

Officials at the Hokersar reserve asserted that comfortable climatic conditions, better protection and the easy availability of food in the region were the prime reasons behind the massive migration of birds.

"These birds migrate to Kashmir to escape the extremely low temperatures in the Central Asian countries this time of the year.

The conditions are extremely harsh and cold. In some places, the temperatures dip to minus 40 and minus 35 also. This is a natural phenomenon, if humans are exposed to such temperatures, they will also migrate to warmers havens," said Ghulam Mohammad Lone, Wildlife Warden, Hokersar Wetland Reserve.

The winged visitors from Siberia, China, Central Asia and Northern Europe add colours and vibrancy with their chirping at the regional wetlands and fresh water lakes.

These birds begin their flight to Kashmir in early September and stay till spring heralds in the next year.

Locals maintain that the birds have been keeping their winter sojourn to Kashmir since times immemorial.

"These are beautiful and colourful birds. I feel very happy when I see them here. All the visitors who come to see these birds also find them very beautiful. These birds come from across the world," said Farooq Ahmad, an employee at the Hokersar Wetland Reserve.

The Hokersar wetland, which used to be spread over a sprawling 13.5 square kilometres land, has been gradually reduced through the years due to encroachments.

Besides, Hokersar, Hygam and Shalibag the other prominent destination for these migratory birds is at Mirgund.

Hundreds of thousands of exotic birds such as Mallards, Greyleg Geese, Gadwalls, Teals, Shovellers, Pochards and Coots make their temporary nests here.

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