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, April 17, 2011

Lost in Time

Firdous blames social anarchy on leaders who see modern amenities as conspiracies but conveniently turn a blind eye to societal disparities

(Mr. Firdous Syed Baba, 44, was born in Bhaderwah, Doda, and had his schooling in Jammu. He is a weekly columnist for the Greater Kashmir and writes for the Daily News and Analysis (DNA), Mumbai, as well as The New Indian Express, Chennai. Formerly, he founded the "Kashmir Foundation for Peace and Development Studies" and the periodical, "New Hope." Between 1989 and 1991, he led the Moslem Janbaaz Force, a militant group, and was jailed from 1991 through 1994. In 1996, he publicly renounced the gun culture, and is an active member of the Kashmir civil society.)

Responsible Who?

Spread of social evils in the society is a matter of great concern. It’s truly painful to watch helplessly, moral decay eating up rapidly the social fibre of the society. The social upheaval we are caught with has the potential to turn social equilibrium topsy-turvy. While we are able to predict a disaster that has already cast its shadow, yet we are unable to understand the nature of change clearly, is truly suffocating. Incapability of calibrating a proper response is enough to choke many of us, in frustration we start banging our head hysterically against the wall.

In post modern era since most of the social changes are technology and economy driven, majority of the population involuntarily is forced to adopt the new life styles. Even though we may already have lost the moral compass, the tempting comforts of modern life styles makes it very difficult for an ordinary human-being to resist the corrupting influences of modernity. The present technological advances probably lead towards degeneration of tradition and ethics, paradoxically are linked with the natural process of human evolution. Seeds of moral destruction are inherent in the modern material development.

Majority in the present world, keeping in tune with the process of evolution have progressed and prospered at a phenomenal cost, they have lost their social moorings. We the awestruck Muslims unable to grasp the change have neither prospered nor progressed yet we have failed to follow our much cherished moral systems. Fixed in the past dark-age, our moral degradation is worse than the technological advanced capitalist West. If we shunned modernity moreover scientific advancement voluntarily just to protect our moral systems than why we the Muslims are the most disempowered and morally desolate people in the present world?

Undeniably we have failed to follow and practice sincerely; the much acclaimed and time tested moral systems ordained by our ancestors. At the same time we have also failed to keep pace with the extraordinary growth of science, technology and economic development. This should be a critical area of our inquiry. Instead of contemplation, Syed Ali Geelani in his usual rejectionist style has commanded: “I appeal all of us that, if some honour is left in us, we should collect these mobile phones and throw them into the Jhelum River”. Geelani is not new to practice rejectionism. Since time immemorial, Muslim leadership particularly the clergy unable to understand the natural processes of evolution angrily and in frustration have shown the retarded mentality of rejecting scientific development. Sir Syed Ahmed Khan had to face the wrath of Ulema of that time for even to ask Muslims to learn English.

Geelani is not alone to spread the pearls of wisdom; “After all, we were able to live our lives, do our businesses properly before the advent of mobiles”. But then we were able to live life without Internet also? Why internet, telephones also? Till recently we did not have electricity connections at home, LPG is a very recent addition. We are told there were no roads, and naturally question of motor vehicles doesn’t arise. Some time ago there were no schools and not to talk about doctors and hospitals. My late father use to grieve that his father suffering from tuberculosis died at a very young age of 35; “he had no access to penicillin which became available shortly after his death”.

If we are able to draw a fair comparison with the past, due to poverty, disease and widespread illiteracy our ancestor’s even five decades ago lived in most horrible revolting conditions. Due to economic backwardness theirs was a dark-age. But our forefathers were wise and enlightened than the myopic and dwarfs of today. They yearned for the change; we are incompetent to understand the change. We have lost the balance completely; we shun the evolution completely and are lethargic in mastering the ever-growing body of scientific knowledge. Yet we find ourselves caught in the blind chase of materialism. Is it not sheer hypocrisy?

There can’t be any disagreement with Geelani that mobile phones are misused here. However singling out girls alone for the misuse is absolute duplicity, what about the boys? Mobile phone at the first place is not something to be loathed and rejected, like numerous other modern inventions; it’s a useful tool which makes life easy. What is to be decried is the misuse of mobile, not the mobile phone itself. The challenge is to fine tune a proper balance and not to throw mobiles in the Jhelum. Rejectionist attitude which only points out ignorance---Jihalat--- in no way can be of any help to face many of the social, ethical problems posed by the modern times. We are free to lament the misuse of mobile. But it is essential to understand; misuse of the mobile is not the real problem, its mere symptom of a deep problem.

Moreover, ridiculous is the assumption of Geelani that New Delhi is deliberately “promoting liquor, drugs and sexual waywardness among the youth to erase their Muslim identity and undermine the freedom struggle”. Believing conspiracy theories is our favourite pastime; it also relieves us from the responsibility of any wrong doing. Shifting blame on others is more disastrous. Self-satisfying erected smokescreens obscures the ugliness of our own making; it also impedes the process of corrective mechanisms. India bashing may earn Geelani much sought goodwill among the impressionable youth; it will never trigger a genuine process of introspection. One wonders, whether India bashing is the real motive or much needed social reform.

India is busy in the process of forcefully integrating Kashmir against Kashmiri’s will. Coercion and enticement are all the tricks of trade. The best way to kill a resistance is to destroy the moral character of a nation, this is a simple fact known for centuries. However it takes two to tango. Controlling power will act according to its interests but why we are making its task easier by more than willingly collaborating in our own moral destruction. Let us assume that some Indian short-sighted poisoned minds are keen for our youth to go astray. If they want our youth to consume liquor, drugs and indulge in sexual waywardness, it needs to be condemned, univocally. But then who is consuming liquor, drugs and indulging in wicked sexual pleasures, we and our youth. Exploiter has a motive; exploited is more to be blamed for allowing him/her self to be exploited, knowingly. It is not only the waywardness that is only disturbing, the over increasing lustful behaviour of extramarital sex is also matter of great concern. The popularity of “morning-after” contraceptive pills amongst the unwedded young girls is shameful; it exposes the myth of our religiosity.

What we need to understand that we are not forced to adopt the wicked pleasures rather we chase these evils to satisfy our evil instincts. They knew that by character we are fallible and deceitful; they only provided us easy and unfair means of making money. In the process we have been made dependable by destroying our local economy. By divorcing dignity of labour, we have turned out to be parasites. Problem is not the misuse of mobile phone, real problem is our over materialistic mentality and fraudulent attitudes. Illicit money earned through corrupt and unfair means is bound to give rise to culture of extravagance. Lavish spending in marriages is lamentable. We have crossed all the limits of decency, we now have made occasions of death as an elaborate costly affair. Sadly we don’t miss any chance to show-off the ill-gotten wealth. If parents have the illicit means to provide thousands to their young children as pocket money, what else the tender minds will do other than to indulge in alcohol, drugs and sex. Otherwise how can college going kids afford costly drugs and mean to finance illicit premarital affairs.

Geelani sahib, if you are really serious to earn Azadi for this suppressed nation, work for a social reform first rather than banging your head against a concrete wall. The occupation is not necessarily sustained by the military might; it firmly stands on the foundation of our social evils. Reform the society occupation will automatically crumble like a sandcastle. Inculcate dignity of labour and truthfulness; believe me every other social evil will eventually fade away as if it never existed. India bashing is easy, undertaking societal reform the most difficult task. And it requires strength of character and personal commitment. There are no shortcuts, without renascence Azadi is not possible.

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