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.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"Mumbai of North"

Proof that wealth among Srinagarites is resulting in some undesirable consequences

Srinagar Turns Into Beggars’ Capital

Shahnawaz Majid (Kashmir Images)

Srinagar: Srinagar city is fast turning into the ‘capital of beggars’ as professional mendicants from different parts of Kashmir valley besides hordes from outside states are out there begging in the city.

As has been the precedent, with mercury scorching the plains in mainland India, the beggars make a beeline to comparatively pleasant vale, escaping not only the heat but also making a ‘fortune’.

Here they cash in on the “soft-heartedness” of the Kashmiris and seek alms in every market, shopping center and traffic intersections of Srinagar.

The posh up-markets of Karan Nagar and Residency Road seem to be favourite places for them. Men, women, children, including even minor girls, and some with acute, or at time acute-looking physical disabilities and ailments seek alms from the people from dawn to dusk here.

“These beggars are very good orators and master persuaders. They often manage to soften the hearts of people with their tragic tales told in emotional voices,” says Reyaz Ahmed, a bank employee.

“Some of them tell the people that they are not professional beggars but are forced to beg due to some tragedies, or that they need money for treatment of serious illness or accident,” informs Reyaz.

Like Reyaz, Saba, a student of Government College for women, M.A Road, also feels pestered by beggars.

“They will coax, cajole, whimper or grovel, but they will somehow make you to pay,” says Saba, adding that it is sometimes very embarrassing to encounter them as they even clutch your sleeve if you don’t pay them.

“They are a nuisance for public, and government should do something to check this menace,” adds Saba.

Muhammad Junaid, a social activist, feels that government should come up with a comprehensive policy to check the problem of begging.

“There should be maximum institutionalized help for the beggars who take to begging due to some unfortunate circumstances or personal tragedies. Beggar homes should be established for them where not only they can be counseled and rehabilitated but also provided vocational trainings so that they become financially self-reliant and productive citizens for the society.”

Jammu and Kashmir can take cue from Punjab, where beggar homes have been established in the cities of Amritsar, Ludhiana and Jalandhar which have helped in the rehabilitation of beggars in Punjab in a major way.

Junaid, however, also cautioned that beggars from outside the state should not be allowed to enter Kashmir Valley as some of these people are also responsible for many social problems like alcoholism, drug addiction and other immoral activities.
When contacted, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of police, Central Kashmir Range, A G Mir told ‘Kashmir Images’ that begging is not an offence under law, so police can do little in curbing this problem.

Director, Social Welfare department, Hilal Ahmed Parray couldn’t be contacted for his comments on the issue despite repeated attempts by ‘Kashmir Images’.

No comments: