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, November 2, 2011

"But Dogs Are Outside My Home Fence"

Altaf says that growing population of stray dogs is yet another manifestation of the Kashmiri culture of keeping their interiors clean at the expense of exteriors where all kinds of home garbage is dumped

(Mr. Altaf Bashir, 23, was born in Habba Kadal, Srinagar. He completed his schooling from Iqra Public School, Qammerwari, Sringar, and received a Bachelor's degree in commerce from the Degree College Bemina, Srinagar. He is pursuing a Master's degree in English from the Indra Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). Mr. Bashir is currently working as hospitality trainer at the Don Bosco trainer centre, Kupwara, which is a Belgium based NGO working with the Union Ministry of Rural Development, MORD.)

Kashmir Dogs Milieu’

She was apparently three years of age and would have indeed been a cute little thing, but right then she was a pathetic sight whimpering piteously with tears streaming down her face. The child had been attacked by a pack of stray dogs. Her face and scalp had been brutally mauled and there were numerous bite marks on her fragile frame, her parents stood as helpless witnesses to the agony of their child, pouring out torrents of inconsolable grief. The medicos and paramedics attending to this latest victim of the dog menace also were visibly affected by this tragic scene.

This is not a sole incident; such scenes are prevalent sight in our hospitals. The dog menace is real and has assumed alarming proportions, not only do these dogs inflict injury and lead to disfigurement; they are also potential carriers of the fatal Rabies virus. Moreover these dogs have the run of the road especially during the night hours and they cause many accidents too by terrorizing and destabilize the Motor cyclist’s. As much as it is now impossible for people to walk during night as streets and roads are conquered and controlled by these beasts.

There seems to be no solution in sight for this problem as the whole issue is bogged down in legal wrangles. The irony is that this inhumane situation has risen out of a supposedly humane approach to the problem of stray dogs. Earlier the local civic bodies would kill the dog by various methods to keep their number in check. However the efforts of various agencies and non government organizations claiming compassion for animals put a stop to this method of dealing with the stray dogs.

Various humane methods were proposed the more prominent being sterilization and immunization of dogs, though some animals right activist oppose even sterilization and go so far as to claim that this amounts to a genocide of sorts of the canine species.

Such empowerment and rights activism ensures that the dogs grow more in number by each passing day. This process is facilitated by the very ‘successful’ municipality here which forgets to clean the piles of garbage on the roadsides and in streets. Thus these places become main arenas for the dogs to prowl and create problems to the people in the vicinity.

The human methods of decreasing the canine population have never been implemented citing the usual resource crunch as the reason which is understandable to some extent. In a country where a considerable number of people cannot afford the basic amenities of life and the authorities cannot provide shelter and food to those unable to fend for themselves, it does seen look sane to think that adopting stray dogs and providing food and shelter for them can be achieved.

As for immunization, it is a fact that a sizeable proportion of the human population remains unimmunized making it rather unreasonable to expect that every stray dog can be immunized. Sterilization of the dogs is no solution, not in the short term. At least sterilization might render the dogs incapable of procreation but it does not stop them from biting people not even barking for that matter.

The stalemate between the authorities and the animal right activists continues and, in the meantime, the dog population has assumed alarming proportions. People continue to suffer from avoidable pain and agony and danger to life. Love for animals is commendable sentiments however sense of proportion is serious too as going overboard in this love without any consideration for its impact on human beings smacks of callous indifference for the fellow human being and amounts to misanthropy.

The compassion of these animal lovers does become suspect as they are paradoxically unmoved by the plight of those who have to face the dangers of this menace especially considering that most of the time the victims are small children. One wonders as to their bleeding hearts are not touched by the innumerous homeless kids who don’t have even the basic amenities of life available to them. Infact it is invariably these poor and unfortunate classes who are affected by the fallout of this sentimental luxury of these animal activists who themselves mostly belong to the elite sections of the society.

Even the founder of Indian Nation, Mahatma Gandhi recognized that stray dogs are a problem and wrote young India (21 Oct 1926). At the same time common man cannot be entirely absolved of their guilt in encouraging the growth of this menace. Open overflowing rubbish dumps which appear as if the local civic authorities are hosting a banquet for the dogs are undoubtedly a factor in their rapid multiplications. In fact the dog menace is yet another manifestation of the breakdown of our civil society and our indifferences towards our fellow human beings.

So long as we persist in keeping our homes clean without caring for the exteriors and dump all our waste outside while neighbors are fast asleep, we will continue to foster many ills. The stray dog menace being just one of them. Prune their empowerment for they will prune our generation from growing. Think over again.

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