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, January 2, 2011

Surprise!! Record Tourist Visit Kashmir in 2010

Now imagine what it would have been like if all and sundry political jokers had not insisted on purposeless hartals

2010 - Kashmir Sees Record Tourists

Gulmarg: The Kashmir Valley welcomed a record 7.25 lakh tourists this year despite the four-month unrest that paralysed the region in summer. And the popular winter sports destination of Gulmarg, now covered with a pristine white blanket of snow, saw around 500 visitors arriving on New Year's eve Friday.

"We had around 700,000 domestic tourists this year in addition to 25,000 foreigners. This is a record that beats even the number of tourists we had before the beginning of the violence," an official of the tourism department said here.

In 2008, the Valley hosted 5.72 lakh tourists, including 5.50 lakh domestic tourists and 22,000 foreigners.

"In 2009, we had 5.77 lakh domestic tourists and 23,000 foreigners. The number of tourist arrivals this year has crossed all previous records with 7.25 lakh tourists," the official said.

He pointed out that the figure does not include the thousands of pilgrims who arrive here each year for the annual Amarnath Yatra.

"We had been expecting over one million tourists this year and had the unrest not occurred, we would have hosted such a number," the tourism official said.

And the year ends on a more than positive note for the tourism industry with around 500 sports enthusiasts and snow lovers arriving in this picture-postcard destination, home to the highest ski point and now covered with a fresh blanket of snow.

"Gulmarg has recently been categorized as the seventh most sought after winter sports destination in Asia by CNN-International," said a top tourism official.

"We have the world's highest ski point at Afarwat heights, which is 13,500 feet above sea level. Besides, Gulmarg also has the world's highest Gondola facility that carries skiers to Afarwat, covering a distance of five kilometres," he said.

Besides skiing, other popular winter sports like ice hockey, skating and snow boarding are also held at Gulmarg, which attracts sports lovers from different parts of the country and the world.

"Our main worry so far had been the lack of adequate snowfall to cover the slopes. By the grace of god, Gulmarg had nice snowfall on Thursday," the official said.

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