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, October 9, 2011

Women's Role in the Society at a Time When Violence Against Women Continues

Shafiq reports on an interesting meeting held among women in Gulmarg recently. However, the reality of violence against women looms large as described in an editorial in the Rising Kashmir (two reports)

(Mr. Shafiq Mir, 38, was born in Rajouri district. He received his bachelor's degree from the University of Jammu, and completed a diploma in journalism. Mr. Mir is a full time working journalist, who in the past worked at the Indian Express, and the Greater Kashmir, where he served as a bureau chief. He is presently a free lancer.)

Now Women to Resolve Kashmir Issue

In the past 63 years, many people in Jammu Kashmir, India and Pakistan made their fortunes in Kashmir issue industry. This is also fact that many did lose their each and everything in this industry too. Mostly the beneficiaries were those who led this issue and who followed them blindly were generally losers. On both the sides of LOC each political party have been contesting elections on this issue only. None of the manifesto of any political party can be seen missing Kashmir issue in the list of their other promises in the past 63 years of state elections held on both the sides of line of actual control.

Not only political parties, the people belonging to different professions also tried their luck in this industry. From academicians to cultural professionals and poets to singers, all tried their luck in different shades and garbs with the promise that their profession can only resolve the Kashmir issue. In fact, the home ministries and other intelligent agencies of both the countries have engaged some selected people on special financial packages and they are used as voice of civil society when ever they need it. The trend got momentum or the industry of selected civil groups flourished in the past one decade after both the countries were forced by silent hands of US administration to build good relations. These civil groups are in the good books of the establishments of both the countries. And when ever any such meet or conference is organized, with in minutes, the members of these groups get clearance of travelling papers from their respective governments. What they do in these conferences ? just to have an outing, get together, wine and dine and finally a group photograph before press and an announcement of the next meeting.

In the past one decade, different groups have belonging to both the sides of LOC have enjoyed lot in the name of Kashmir issue. From singers to poets and academicians to traders and some professional dancers have also offered their services to resolve the vexed Kashmir problem. These groups have always been posing like the brains and architects of their respective countries but that fact remains that no free thinker of any side was ever allowed to participate in any such conference.

Now, the government sponsored women of both the countries have also made their space in this industry. On the same patron, a group of women of both the countries made their program of outing in the name of Kashmir issue. And they are going to meet at famous tourist resort GULMARG in Kashmir on 27 of September 2011. The group comprising about 25 women belonging to both the countries will stay at Gulmarg for three days which the arrangements have been made by the silent hands government. Indian group led by its director Sushuba Barve said that the three day conference titled “Women’s Role in Society: Issues of Mutual Concern” will be attended by 45 participants from Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan administered Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.

The selection of the venue for meeting speaks itself the seriousness of these women regarding the issue they are going to address and resolve. The Gulmarg is known for famous world tourist resort. It is the common sense that when ever any one goes Gulmarag the intention is always outing and enjoyment. There fore no body should make any expectation from any such group and so called civil society.

Horrible Incident
(Rising Kashmir)

The incident at Kanigund Budgam is heartbreaking. Waheeda Akhtar was attacked by her husband with a sharp edged weapon leaving her half-dead with at least 250 stitches all over her body. The incident came to light on last Friday when Waheeda Akhter approached the State Commission for Women to seek justice and register a case against her husband. The incident took place during the intervening night of September 25 when Waheeda was asleep and her husband allegedly pounced upon her with a sharp edged weapon causing injuries to her several body parts.

This kind of inhuman behaviour is least accepted from society which consider itself civilised and cultured. Throughout the year we hear symposia and seminars organised either by the state government or by the civil society. In these programmes, the woman is debated, decided and her role in the society is glorified; how important she is for the welfare and well being of society is emphasised. Unfortunately, after witnessing such horrible instances, we are forced to think: what is the purpose of organising such programmes when the message is hardly put across. What experts and speakers say or recommend in these programmes is never practised. Will it be an exaggeration to call these programmes as ornamental in nature and ritualistic in performance? The matter of fact is that the situation of Kashmiri woman is pathetic. It is unimaginable to recount the physical, psychological and emotional horror our womenfolk is under. What is more worrying is the growing tendency among the females to end their lives under extreme social and psychological pressures. The important question is: who is responsible for the mess women are caught into: society, patriarchal set up, political and social leadership or those women who are in position to contribute actively for the upliftment but they don’t.

Women in political circles have failed to work collectively for the betterment of women, who are otherwise suffering silently. While at the centre and state levels political parties led by some prominent women leaders are pressing hard for Women’s Reservation Bill, which as per them, will herald a new era and will go a long way in emancipating the women, it is to be seen whether passing such a bill will actually help the women to achieve what they are desiring or craving for. In modern discourse, the emancipation of woman has been reduced to male bashing and gender specific issue which isn’t the case. There is a need to completely dislodge this notion and treat women empowerment as humanistic issue. Furthermore Waheeda case is enough to move the police from the deep slumber they are in and perform their constitutional duty of bringing the culprit to book.

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