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.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

364 days of Benign Neglect, 1 Day of Whimsical Glory

Kashmir has a way of celebrating every "International Day" and forget the object of interest until the next International Day

International Museum Day

Srinagar: Notwithstanding the wholesale slaughter of wild animals during autocracy when game was a favourite pastime of the ruling elite, many of these animals preserved as mementos and housed in the Natural History gallery of the Sri Pratap Singh Museum at Lal Mandi Srinagar are facing acute official neglect. There are reports that several of these stuffed birds and animals which included the stuffs of few rare and extinct species, are on the verge of complete destruction owing to the poor conservation and mishandling by the museum authorities.

Most of the stuffs have already collapsed while many broken ones have been dumped into dead stock lockers of the museum.

A museum officer, who wished not to be named, confirmed to this newspaper that several of the stuffed animals damaged due to their mishandling and poor maintenance have been dumped in the lockers of the museum.

He alleged that although the higher authorities are also in know of this fact but to escape any administrative inquiry they have not been disclosing it to anybody.

According to official reports, about 2000 animal and bird stuffs are housed in this museum gallery. The stuffs which are feared to have deteriorated here include the stuffs of various varieties of Kashmiri musk deer, markhoor, ‘bara-singha’ (antelope), ibex, monkey, snow leopard and big brown and black bear. The damaged bird stuffs include the ones of Kashmiri vulture, crow, eagle, falcon, ‘hazaar dastan’, heron, kingfisher, golden oriole, chakor, nilkanth, woodcocker, etc.

Besides these, sources say a few varieties of migratory birds like Bengal tiger and ‘raj-hance’ too are not properly maintained here.

During the visit to this gallery, this reporter could also notice the decaying state of these stuffs. Several stuffs have been losing their feathers, eyes and other stuffed parts. The stuffs here are dumped in cabins like heaps of torn feathers.

This unsound and unscientific dumping has been one of the major reasons for deterioration of these stuffs, experts say.

Sources say that since years together this gallery has not seen any light of scientific conservation.

The lack of proper conservation and poor handling of the stuffs are cited as the main reasons behind the poor condition of this once wonderful gallery.

Ironically for lost several years there is nobody to take care of this historic gallery. Sources revealed that in order to escape any legal responsibility, the museum curator has handed over the affairs of this gallery to a simple orderly who hardly knows anything about conservation.

Although the maintenance of stuffs requires services of a trained and technically qualified taxidermist, but here this job has been given into the hands of a peon, sources alleged.

“It is this peon who is holding the charge of this prestigious gallery,” confirmed a museum officer.

Although the state government has, for past some time now, started taking the matters of this historic museum seriously and has sought technical advice its upkeep.

For the purpose, the state government has, in the year 2009, sought the services of the museum expert by re-appointing a former Director Museums as the museum consultant.

But fact of the matter remains that besides the Museum curator, the re-appointed consultant too seems to have forgotten their job altogether. Had it not been so the SPS Museum and its Natural History gallery would not have been in such a shambled state as it is.

It is in place to mention that each year lakhs of rupees are spent only in paying the consultation fee for this museum. But all this money is going ware as of now as nobody here seems interested in preserving the museum and its artifacts.

Historical recodes say that this once wonderful Natural History gallery was added to this museum by Col. A E Wards, a French expert, in the year 1910 AD. He was assisted by one British taxidermist J. Pearls.

These experts had arranged the gallery here on the scientific lines and dedicated it to the people of the state.

But now that it has come into our own hands, only God could save it from complete destruction.

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