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

The Rot Within

Veeresh sees some disturbing trends in current day youth of the State

(Mr. Veeresh Saraf, 25, was born in Srinagar. He attended Kendriya Vidyalaya in Bantalab, Jammu, and completed his professional degree, AMIE, through the Institution of Engineers, Kolkata. He is employed as an electronics engineer, and concurrently puruing the civil servioce examination.)

Where Does The Rot Lie?

Thanks to the GK newspaper, recently I paid tribute to my legendary late grandfather, Pt. Swaroop Nath of Shopian. Apart from paying tributes, there was a larger purpose to the write-up. The purpose was to take the readers, particularly the youth of the state back to early 1920s and 30s, when the events which shaped up our present world were taking place in rapid succession. First World War had been fought and many new inventions made. Russian revolution had occurred and the old orders were collapsing fast. Jewish holocaust had begun and Hitler was on a rampage. Yet another World War, which proved to be even costlier and disastrous for the mankind, was fought. The events which would affect us all later were also occurring in this era. The future course of the Indian subcontinent was shaping up. The idea of Pakistan was taking shape. The late Quaid-E-Azam Mr. Jinnah had imposed self-exile upon himself after having failed in his efforts to bring Congress and Muslim League together and the poet of the East, Dr. Iqbal was constantly exhorting him to take the leadership of Muslims of the Indian Subcontinent into his hands and create a dream-country for them- Pakistan.

In Kashmir also, the younger generation was getting restless with each passing day and the youth, irrespective of their religious faiths were yearning for change. Industrial Revolution had already taken place and economic progress had established itself as the buzzword around the world. The events that followed are history and what happened in 1947-48 turned out to be not a dawn but dusk for many a people in the subcontinent, particularly the people of the state of J&K. The hopes of youth of this era went up in flames as did the aspirations of generations of people that followed and the process is continuing unabated. It is an irony that we cannot even dream of dreaming!

The environment all around us is charged to such an extent that it now looks like that nothing can set it right and we seem to be heading to an even more disastrous situation. In an era when the youth all around the globe are engaged in high creativity and productivity, the youth here seem to be grappling in the dark with virtually no respite in sight. Our government planning is in the hands of semi-educated people. They may possess highest academic degrees and may be top bureaucrats but their performance points only to the fact that they are mere theoreticians with little practical knowledge and ground zero understanding of the things. They seem to be there only to carry out the orders of their masters instead of being imaginative visualizers who would pioneer things and rejuvenate the youth into action. They prefer to be led by the norm.

I referred to my grandfather as he was an ideal youth of his times, who dreamed for the betterment of his society and having been inspired by the Industrial Revolution, would have liked to have dynamic entrepreneurs all around him. He worked in that direction, preferring to build a labour society of the workers of the saw mills, earlier owned and established by the favorites of the establishment of the day, instead of opting for any government post. He had dreams for the children of his society and these dreams centered around innovation, enterprise and entrepreneurship, which is what is very badly required in the state at present. The government policies may not be of much help. An awakening needs to be generated in the society at large which would instill creativity, innovation, enterprise and entrepreneurship in the by-now well educated youth. It is indeed a very sad situation that in this high-technology electronic age, when the youth of the prosperous world are indulging in such activities and sports like robotic games Olympiads and testing their knowledge and creative skills to the limits, the youth of this part of the world is held hostage to tradition and dogma. The obsession with the so-called Bollywood Tamasha and a simple game of cricket is almost total and they have nothing else to look up to. When they should be in laboratories and research centers, experimenting and giving vent to their creativity and innovation, they are forced to waste their lives in futile activities as watching those unending movies which have no significance whatsoever in the modern world.

Our universities and colleges are churning out thousands of educated youth every year who have a single point agenda –government employment. It was the responsibility of the government, right from Day one, to anticipate the future of the aspiring youth of the newly born nations in 1947 and devise policies and programs in such a manner as would turn this burgeoning young class into a dynamic force of creativity and productivity, paving the way for economic-progress of the new nations and thus not make them solely dependent on government employment.

Our social attitude has also not been of any much help. Our Governance and our political class is a sad and sorry reflection of our society at large irrespective of its communal colors. Corruption, favoritism, sycophancy, highhandedness, all these have their roots in our societal attitudes.

Education, for us, has not meant what it actually means. For us, it has meant getting degrees this way or that way and getting a fetching job. We live for ourselves, not for the society. This is a very sad part of our existence and if at all we indulge in social service sometime, we do so under the influence of a bias, which may be religious, political and economic or whatever. We are not learners. Learners teach themselves while we only give sermons to others. This has left us totally bereft of any creativity, innovation and exploration. The results are there for anybody to see. The civil engineers in the state may perhaps be doing their job but I wonder how many mechanical and electrical engineers contribute in the real sense. They were supposed to bring in the technological and industrial revolution to the society. Have they done so? No, not at all. Why? Perhaps they were not properly educated and trained and they had no avenues to learn. On their part they have shown no desire to do so and preferred easy money. The simplest electrical or mechanical devices consumed in bulk numbers in our state, particularly in the Kashmir Valley could have been easily manufactured here. But who would do that? Who knew how? I don’t think that any mechanical or electrical engineer had the knowledge and expertise to build this kind of industry from scratch here. If at all, they would look up to the government-generated project reports which is an exercise carried out by almost laymen. How many youth were attracted to SKEP, a program launched by our young CM with much fanfare for developing entrepreneurial base of the state? The reason is simple: Lack of knowledge and skill. Now they are planning to set up skill development corporations and they would get huge funds allotted to them for buildings, Furniture, etc. etc. and make a lot of tamasha with very little of substance. They are also planning to set up a corporation for finding jobs for Kashmiri youth in other countries and thus “export” the beleaguered youth along with Saffron and Carpets. And is this all what we are supposed to do? Forget everything else and leave our broken societal structure as it is, shutting our doors on any little hope of stepping forward into future? An assumption that is laughable. There is a lot of scope for electronic industry in the state. This industry ought to have been developed as a tiny sector enterprise and young boys and girls encouraged to coming up with ideas and projects which could be made easily and sold at cheap rates. Such a thing was definitely possible and in this matter we should take a cue from countries like China and Japan. The American ‘progress’ or the progress of the economies that we call ‘developed’ has largely been due to the dreams of their young boys and girls and the society making conditions favorable for those dreams to be fulfilled. Such a thing is very badly needed in our state at present. In the Kashmir Valley, the situation is even more horrific. I wonder what is going to be the future of those emerging thousands of young educated and intelligent youth in view of the fact that government is now almost forced to put curtailment on already thin number of jobs. Is it in their fate to live miserable lives or migrate to some safer haven or should they tighten the belts, rise in unison against poverty and ignorance and chalk new course for their future generations? As far as we, the Pandits are concerned, we are out in the ‘Hot’ and we are free to carry out our dreams anywhere and everywhere in the world, if not in Kashmir. However, I can state with authenticity that every Kashmiri Pandit’s heart bleeds for the people of Kashmir and we would like the young Kashmiris to have dreams about their Valley as well as their lives and the political masters make conditions conducive for those dreams to be fulfilled.

Discontent and prevailing dissatisfaction among youth in our part of the globe generally and in our state particularly, has assumed alarming proportions now, owing to so many factors. One of the most important of these factors is the wresting of political control by the old guard politicians and so called opinion-makers, who refuse to acknowledge the fast changing scenarios and fail to understand the reasons behind this change. It is this conflict of interests which has already alienated the youth and this sense of alienation and frustration will go on increasing until the balance of power shifts in favor of social dynamism and economic development and that too, in a time bound manner.

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