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, November 20, 2011

Bribing Public to Prevent a Disaster

Government is forced to take action as gender ratio in Jammu and Kashmir drops to 859 girls to 1000 boys

Cash Rewards to Stop Female Foeticide in Kashmir

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Government announced cash rewards for residents who provide information about those carrying out pre-natal sex determination tests in an effort to stem a sharp rise in female foeticide.

“Every whistle blower will be given a cash prize of Rs 25,000 and his name would be kept secret,” Sham Lal Sharma, the state’s health minister said in a statement.

He said the step will help send a message “among the public and more people will come forward to provide information about those carrying out such tests”. Sharma’s department in India’s only Muslim-majority state has been seizing ultrasound scanners and enlisting religious leaders to save unborn girls.

The issue has united politicians, clerics and social activists in Jammu and Kashmir, a state best known for the deep, blood-stained divides caused by a 20-year-old Muslim separatist insurgency against Indian rule.

Provisional 2011 census data released at the end of March painted a bleak picture of India’s gender imbalance, with a national child sex ratio of just 914 females to 1,000 males, the lowest figure since independence in 1947. By far the most dramatic decline was in Jammu and Kashmir, where the ratio plunged to 859 girls for every 1,000 boys in the 0-6 age group, down by 82 points from 10 years ago.

The figures shocked the authorities in the scenic region. The global sex ratio is 984 girls to every 1,000 boys, according to United Nations population data.

Married women in India face huge pressure to produce male children, who are seen as breadwinners while girls are often viewed as a financial burden as they require hefty dowries to be married off. The first reaction of the Kashmir authorities to the census figures was a crackdown on the unlicensed use of ultrasound scanners.

Determining the sex of a foetus is illegal in India, but many clinics offer the service for a small fee, fuelling the demand for sex-selective abortions. Lightweight, portable ultrasound machines mean tests can be carried out even in the most remote villages.

The health minister appealed to people “to share such information with the competent authority in the directorate of health services to stop the crime”.

He also rewarded a person at a special ceremony in winter capital Jammu on Friday who had provided information and even helped the authorities in arresting a person who had conducted a sex-determination test. The sharpest declines in the ratio were in the towns of the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley, heartland of the armed insurgency, which began in 1989. afp

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