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.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Renewal of Hope

Manzoor with a keen eye, looks at farmers who welcome the paddy planting season with optimism and a sense of renewed hope

(Mr. Manzoor Akash, 25, was born in Rafiabad, Baramulla district. He completed his schooling locally, and earned degrees in B. Litt (comparative Literature) and M.A. in English from Barkatullah Vishwavidhyalaya, Bhopal. A very articulate writer, he has published numerous articles in various journals. He is also a budding poet, having published his first book of poems, "Verses of Heart," in 2006. Some of his poems have been reviewed by prominent literary critics in India. He has taught English at high school level, and hopes to teach in a university some day. Presently he teaches English at the Government Degree College in Kupwara.)

Season of Hope

In our Kashmir Valley the season for planting paddy (Tahl) has always been an attractive scene not only for residential poets Nature lovers but also for the tourists who crave to have a pack of sapling (Tahj Tohl) in their hands. This season which ranges form May to September falls under Kharif crop in India because not only 74% of population in India depends upon agriculture but also 45% of national income comes from agriculture sector. In states like West Bengal, Utter Pradesh, Andra Pradesh, Bihar and Punjab, etc. this crop is cultivated at large scale. However, our J&K state is not lagging behind. More than 80% population here is associated with this crop. This crop grows in temperature 24-260C and needs 80-200cm water supply. For this crop farmers first plough some land for sowing seed and then paddy is grown which is called ‘Tahj’ (paneeri) in local parlance. Where after paddy is excerpted by two, three or four laborers (men or women). Binded saplings extracted are then distributed in the already prepared paddy-fields for plantation. Unlike other states of India, this season of planting paddy is always welcome in Kashmir. Farmers receive this season with full warmth, joy, enthusiasm, fervour and delight.

This immortal season makes Yeomen to feel fortunate enough. This cherishing season has a hope of new life for our farmers because they believe it a golden season of instilling new life into things. They say, it is their Zira’at (agriculture), their whole life. They don’t like to make any haste in planting paddy. But they love to plant paddy saplings for days. They believe planting for days is a real gift because they are the days which they can pause to count their blessings and to know how cherished they are!

Farmers here wait and prepare carefully for the day of plantation and when this day arrives, life takes a new turn. Different dishes are cooked in Zamindar families in order to make this day a memorable and remarkable one. Farmers ask their neighbours and relatives for paddy plantation. They stop their other tasks and purchase many edibles on this day expensively. Nevertheless, these paddy planting days has taken a new turn nowadays. In olden days farmers used to give supper to their planters (Tahl Lagin Wale) but now supper is cancelled. Planters are now given Lipton tea at morning, lunch at noon and namkeen tea after 3:00 PM in the day. Rich farmers (Bahd Zamindar) take days in paddy planting where as poor farmers complete it within one or two days. The Charm which is at the first day of planting is not the same at the second or the third day.

Even family members who are away for some purpose outside state are informed about these days. Students who are busy with higher education abroad come back during this season. Men, women and even children love to plant paddy. In order to make this season more reminiscent and memorable women sing plaintive verses while planting seedlings collectively in the fields. Tourists from different states of India and abroad love to see people planting paddy in the rural areas. They take pictures to enjoy in the days to come.

This season attracts every traveler or beholder. It compels them to behold or stop for a while. It takes their hearts away and increases their throbbing speed when they listen sweet and melancholy strains sung in chorus by women. And when ever rural women are heard singing, Words Worth’s poetry- No nightingale did ever chant. A voice so thrilling never was heard. Stop here or gently pass! Naturally come to the mind and are uttered. The paddy fields remain bustling with dulcet and mellifluous sounds till darkness overpowers.

The sweet songs sung by females, especially, are sorrowful, situational and symbolize the lost glory. And when songs like:

Bade Doray Gil Chai Bolan, Dhor Mukliyav Lutheyay ………… (In big paddy-field Dicky-bird is calling to complete plantation of seedlings), and
Me Cha Nalus Doue, Ase Dhor Mukhloue ……… (I have thread round my neck. I tell you we have completed to plant the paddy field)

are chanted, listeners go poignant.

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