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, September 11, 2011

Terminal Malignancy?

Majid wonders if corruption can ever be removed from the Kashmiri DNA?

(Dr. Abdul Miraj Siraj, 63, was born in Srinagar and went to C.M.S. Biscoe Memorial High School. He completed his medical degree from Patna University and his advanced fellowships (FRCS, MRCS, LRCP) from United Kingdom. Dr. Siraj received a degree in Peace Studies from the Bradford University. He worked as a consultant General Surgeon in England and Middle East. He has published three books, which are Kashmir Peace or Desolation (Minerva, London 1997), Towards Peace in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh (Manas, Delhi 2003), and Kashmir Caselaw (Scottapress, UK 2006). All books continue to be in circulation. He now lives mostly in Kashmir, and enjoys reading and writing.)

Corruption in Kashmir

In Kashmir corruption is the DNA that infuses life in day to day administration. Any attempt to denature the mould or transfigure the structure will kill the system. A Municipality rubbish collector receives Rs 50 a month from you. He does the most menial job ever and the little money he gets is in literal terms bribery that needs to be formalized as an essential payment.

At the other end of the scale a nice building plot in Gulmarg Bowl is usurped by a fat builder on the basis that he consummated a lucrative handshake with authority. These buildings cause ecological damage and cannot be an asset to the nation. In Pahalgam resources and time are now spent in demolishing illegal constructions that should not have been allowed to be built in the first place. Who will break this mould in the sleaze where every employee is involved. An earlier order banned new constructions in Gulmarg and Pahalgam. This resulted in underhand money demanded from those legitimate owners of existing hotels and huts who need materials for repairs.

Engineers, administrators, high-up civil servants and politicians make a vulgar show of money, luxurious property and affluent lifestyle in blatant daylight. Has this wealth ever been traced to their ancestral sources. If not, where has it come from? Even if the total national wealth was retrieved it will still leave the homeland bereft of good roads, lakes, public buildings and other infrastructure because the damage has already been done. Are investigations warranted under purview of criminal laws.

Quoting an interesting snippet from the field of corruption, a gentleman was seen preparing an estimate to rebuild the retaining wall that was washed away by the flood last year. There was no wall; retorted the questioner. True; replied the engineer, but the wall we are building now will bury evidence that the last year’s wall ever existed. Also this wall will only stand to the time of arrival of next flood. It will crumble and we start again. A similar fate is met in maintenance of roads, drains, public buildings and transformers. Emotive slogans like ‘save Dal Lake’ or ‘rehabilitate earthquake victims or bereaved children’ attracts politicians’ sermons and central funds. These funds are conditional and peace in the valley is one price. Albeit eyes open wide when funds arrive and anyone remotely concerned makes a nose dive. The consequences of this loot become manifest in the dying lakes, denuded forests, and crumbling infrastructure that remains a perpetual source of concern. This practice continues and is highlighted by the National Calamity Relief Fund scam. Sentiments generated cash for the Earthquake calamity of Oct. 8, 2005. The scam uncovered theft and broken schools. This culture of corruption is encouraged when political parties in Kashmir adopt ex-officials with checkered history of corruption as members, so they get their loyalty as a part of clientelism.

In Kashmir a predominantly Muslim State this DNA does not wrong their souls because for a Pardon from Him they have enough money to go for Pilgrimage or make a contribution to an orphanage but only God know that ‘Whatever happens To thee, is from thy (own) soul (S-1V-79 Quraan). The perpetrators’ conscience is clear because the money will serve well and provide good education to members of his family. The whole system of corruption in Kashmir will defeat Lokpal, Anamania or Lokayat culture. The Gandhian philosophy speared by Ahimsa will not work. The DNA is usually rooted in apical structures and the substance works as a bonding agent into the lower ranks in order to keep peace and political order.

The only Lokayat that will work in Kashmir is a Truth Commission appointed by the Supreme Court with extra-ordinary judicial powers to seize total assets of the incriminated individuals that will serve as a deterrent for others who enjoy the trust of the nation.

No comments: