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, December 19, 2010

Kashmir's Heritage is Slowly Disappearing

An editorial in the Greater Kashmir takes a notice of the vanishing legacy

Vandalizing Heritage

Sad that Kashmir has no a rich legacy of monuments. During its five thousand years of recorded history many civilization that were born in this land have had their glory but there are no memorials to testify that. There are no great standing signs like pyramids of Egypt that would connect us to our majestic and magnificent past. Historians have been accusing the invaders and desperados that have been visiting this land and plundering our monuments, memorials, repositories; stealing from us our heritage. It cannot be denied that factors human and natural both- marauders and fires - played havoc with our heritage but at the same it were the Sultans and Mughals who have enriched the architecture and heritage of the valley and the areas around it. While blame may be put on the tyrant rulers from 1819 to 1846 for having played havoc with our monuments and heritage sites including some historical mosques, hospice and palaces likeZaina Dab, the rulers after 1947 also cannot escape the responsibility. Whatever escaped destructions at the hands of ruthless and cruel rulers got destroyed after the end of the feudal rule. Besides the men in authority it has been our collective lack of sense of history that has immensely contributed to the destruction of heritage of this great crucible of civilizations.

What is most ironical is that the state despite inheriting from the feudal rulers well elaborate organizations and departments meant for protecting the monuments and preserving the heritage, it has failed to live even up to the hundred and fifty year old standards. The callosity of the state bureaucracy has been and continues to be responsible for vandalizing of our heritage. One after another important historical building and monument has been crumbling in the state, more particularly in Kashmir valley with men an authority watching the scenes Romans enjoying gladiators in th coliseum.

The city of Srinagar with its legends and monuments has the potential of emerging as an important heritage tourism destination but for the state government lackadaisical attitude it has lost even the centuries old titles like the Venice of the East. It lost its blue lagoons, translucent water ways and lush green carpets adorned with daisies to the greed of politicians and curse of bad planning. The old Srinagar city with its over thousand years history not only retains historical names but also has the potential of being reviving to its old glory. True, the state government during past few years has initiated steps for widening of roads in some of the congested areas of this part of the city but what could be seen as planned development and preserving historical ambience of the place has been totally missing. The government has a master plan for improving the city but it is not taking care of preserving historical importance of the place. The government needs to name this part of city as heritage and relay rules for construction in the locality.

This newspaper time and again has been focusing on the decaying heritage of Kashmir; it has carried number of stories on the crumbling of monuments like the great wall around the fort atopKoh-e-maran hillock but the state authorities have become so insensitive that number of investigative stories and reports on the wanton destruction of four centuries old wall built by Mhugal Emperor Akbar have not awakened them to initiate steps for persevering this monument. The state department of monuments, architecture and heritage is like a proverbial dead horse that cannot wake up even after hundred lashes. It is high time for the government to revive the organizations connected with preservation of culture and heritage of the state.

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