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.

Monday, February 21, 2011

All Politics is Local

Shiban argues that self reliance is the first step to real autonomy

(Mr. Shiban Dudha, 50, was born in Srinagar. He went to government schools in Chandilora (Tangmarg) and Srinagar, and matriculated from the D.A.V. High School in Srinagar. He attended the S.P. College, Srinagar (1980 batch), and completed the Chartered Accountancy course from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. He runs his own Chartered Accountancy firm with offices in Srinagar and New Delhi, and divides his professional and personal time between the two cities. He is a well known social activist and a community volunteer. He is also a strong proponent of Kashmir's pluralistic culture. Mr. Dudha is political advisor in the J&K Peoples Democratic Front - PDF)

We must learn to be less dependant on New Delhi

It has rightly been said that “Democracy, good governance and modernity cannot be imported or imposed from outside”. The vacuum of bruised democracy, inefficiencies and hollow claims of the qualitative modernism leave an ideal place for this phrase in our state of Jammu & Kashmir. The state has also been incidentally rated as second most corrupt state in the country. Both during pre and initial decades of post independent India, Kashmir had uniqueness on myriad matters and after the demise of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, sudden unforeseen and unfortunate developments in the sub continent have turned this multi faced uniqueness counterproductive for the subjects of J&K. To gauge the pulse of masses and to sense indications of possible mass movements emanating out of genuine or non genuine aspirations of people need astute leadership qualities which Sheikh Sahib had in abundance. None of his successors especially from his own family could exhibit those qualities in part or in full. This eroded the “Kashmiri Nationalist concept” as a result of which uniqueness of Kashmir and Kashmiris became the first casualty.

It goes without saying that due to reasons best known to the then rulers in New
Delhi, many deficiencies which are coming to fore now, remained in the decision making process vis-à-vis Jammu & Kashmir during the period August 1946 to July 1948. Perhaps the then National leadership at New Delhi and Maharaja of Kashmir relied more on natural forces to eventually come to the rescue of their hasty decision on accession. This also corroborates with the fact that Maharaja was accorded consent by Sheikh Sahib, the tallest of tall Kashmiri leader of that time to accede with India and the lackadaisical approach towards Jammu and Kashmir by successive Governments in New Delhi. Half a century plus has passed by and instead of expected natural forces to appear as level players, Kashmir witnessed perpetual voices of freedom and these intense voices of 1990 became a Tsunami waves for Kashmiri Pandits and those tides have yet to recede from their minds. They today live as IDPs’. As a close observer of the events unfolding in Jammu and Kashmir, one occasionally tends to surmise that the tendency of delaying the timely deliverances in J&K is willful as it benefits the vast, well knit and strong vested interest that has webbed the entire Kashmir in it. This vested interest existed even prior to 1947 in Kashmir and in over sixty years it has now assumed the size of a monster. Being a locally well connected leader, Pt. Ram Chand Kak, the Prime Minister of Kashmir during Maharaj’s rule had in his close interactions with people of state rightly gauged the pulse and psyche of people. He had thus concluded that majority Muslim community may not be willing to join Indian union and minority Hindus may not be willing to join Pakistan and based on this finding he advocated the concept of “Independent Kashmir” having friendly and good neighbourly relations with both India and Pakistan. Based on the facts before us in the past 65 years, one can surmise that Pt. R C Kak had also the foresight and astuteness of a true and honest leader. It is different that for his such astuteness, he went through hell after being removed unceremoniously by New Delhi.

The endemic nuances associated with Kashmir are also specific and unique. Peoples’ vows in Chillai Kalan of 1947 and 2011 have no difference. Our Government have had scare resources then as are of now. But it is true for the summer of 1947 and 2010 in Delhi, UP, Maharashtra, Gujrat or Orissa. People in erstwhile backward districts of these and other states of India as on date enjoy better facilities of sanitation, drainage system, un-interrupted power supply, hospitals, drinking water, solid and liquid waste management and above all better and quick redress to their grievances. Who gave them this all? Their successive State Governments with support of Central Government’s financial aid/ assistance/ loan. It is not that such financial assistance has not been earmarked for our State but the irony is that the funds earmarked for our State have most of the times been lapsed. The blame squarely lies with the State Governments those were in power; Hartals and protests make no excuse. Why are there no hartals and protests now or why were there no hartals during Sheikh Sahib’s regime or during Mufti Sayeed’s regime. This is the vision that Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah had. He was the least travelled person in comparison to his successors yet he had foresight of a spiritually awakened person. Is it not a fact that after SKIMS we have not built or added even a single indoor bed to any existing hospitals in Kashmir”? Internal hygiene, condition of OTs and other facilities at SMHS hospital are an apology in the name of a hospital. We don’t have a second convention hall equivalent and comparable to SKICC. We have not bothered to attend to roads, public libraries, stadia, recreational centers, stadia for indoor games and parks to quote a few. We don’t have good State owned hotels. Private investors have not been attracted to invest in Kashmir. We have not even encouraged native businessmen to invest in Kashmir. We have thrown town planning laws and rules in Jehlum. Commercial malls and sites are day in and day out mushrooming in residential areas of Srinagar much against the Master Plan layout.

Social, economic and political power has not to remain concentrated to few families of a State, alone. On this account, our State defines a true mother-daughter relationship with India. Any country where devolution of economic and political power has not happened gradually from few families has seen eventual ugly resentment from masses. Complacency associated with diversions towards unproductive and meaningless tasks sets in at top of the governing pyramid and these attributes lend additional impetus to resentments and mass upsurges by a civil society. Leader must know the timing and technique required to be applied for a specific situation. This is a tall demand and it is acquired by a leader with tall sacrifices and vast experiences.

Our local political leadership has to bear in mind that for matters within our control and means, we must assert ourselves irrespective of the consequences. We must learn to be less dependant on New Delhi as Sheikh sahib and lately Mufti sahib would do. Strong self reliant state/s can make a strong India and experience has shown that reverse has never worked. So why try that or allow Union of India to try that. We must identify our strengths, rise above petty political considerations and always be people oriented. That is the way forward. If I am not misunderstood I need to ask to myself -If my own new home gets constructed and well furnished in record eight months time despite hartals and social unrest in valley, why should a displaced boatman run from pillar to post for appreciable time to get his file cleared for a few meters space under VAMBAY scheme or why should an entire displaced community of Kashmir remain homeless for two decades.

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