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.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Widening Divide

Nayeema feels political uncertainty leads to class distinctions where one set suffers and the other enjoys the privilege

(Ms. Nayeema Ahmad Mahjoor, 53, was born in Srinagar, Kashmir. She completed her B.Sc, B.Ed, LL.B (Hons) and Diploma in Journalism, and Masters in Education and Urdu from the University of Kashmir. Ms. Mahjoor has also completed a Masters degree in government and politics of South Asian Governments from the University of London. She is presently the Desk Editor, BBC World service (Urdu) based in London (UK). Among various awards, she has been a recipient of the Best Journalist of the year 2005 by ECO India, Best women Journalist by American Biographer and Best Journalist for highlighting environmental issues by Peshawar Environmental organisation.)

Uncertainty Leads to Anarchy

Two types of generations crop out of turmoil and uncertainty. There are those who create confusion in order to grab every opportunity to earn as much as they can to safeguard their future (by fair and unfair means). They get support and services of the vested interest groups and make them powerful to rule the roost.

And, another crop belongs to those who become fragile to volatile situations and are incapable to handle their day to day life. So they prefer to take refuge in silence and become mute spectators of the moral and social degradation. Most of them turn into mental wrecks and hardly care about their fate or future. The end factor means the degeneration of the community and loss of trust among each other, so beyond any reformation.

If we look around us, can you not agree with me that the Valley has intentionally or unintentionally got split up into these two categories of people which have started to eat into the vitals of our society? Most of the ailing population is only witnessing the despair and destruction around whereas the other group of corrupt, opportunist and powerful is busy in looting, plundering and polluting what is left of the Valley.

Kashmir has more than eighty percent ailing population at the moment, courtesy of the armed movement (most of the initiators of the movement are now playing the Indian card) and the enormous number of security forces. No matter if people are mentally sick or physically dying with newly diagnosed diseases, one section of the society has grabbed a “golden chance” to manipulate the vulnerability of the sick by selling cheap and substandard drugs that are hardly used in any state of India. Do not blame just the Indian companies for this menace; locals are hand in glove with them and provide every opportunity to market their products in the Valley. Most of the patients are being treated as guinea pigs by the Indian and local pharmaceutical companies for their trials. Not to talk of laboratories and medical centres those are being established on great demand on every nook and cranny of the Valley. The big health centres of the Indian metropolises have set up their offices in most of the district Headquarters. Not a single soul seems to be against their business set-ups, but most are against the trading of cheap drugs and making money out of the vulnerability of the mentally sick people.

Political uncertainty, wherever it is, creates confusion and chaos in a volatile situation and becomes a big hurdle in the development and mental growth of that region. Kashmir is no exception to that but the unpredictable circumstances have left no chance for Kashmiris to look into their lives, society and community or to enjoy a moment of freedom since the two nations gained freedom at the time of partition of the Sub-continent. The Kashmiri minds and bodies have become hostage to the hostility and warmongering atmosphere of both countries. Consequently, Kashmiri society has become crippled and its youth is always a focus of political persecution, mental intimidation and physical torture. Every time there is hostility between two nations or strained relations or threats of invasion or Kargil infiltration, Kashmiri vulnerable youth become a target of institutional torture, physically and emotionally. Not to talk of thousands of women and children who have become half widows, destitute and orphans at every phase of the confrontation. The constant threat of persecution, torture and the scanning of the intelligence agencies has sickened the society to the extent that the Valley comprises only patients who can be encountered everywhere in hospitals, laboratories, health centre or homes. Instead of greetings, people now share knowledge of diseases, the experts and their treatment inside and outside the Valley.

According to a recent survey, more than eighty percent population in the Valley is reeling with mental ailments. Ironically, these ailments are hardly accepted as diseases by the remaining healthy population. In medical terminology the mental ailment can be as fatal as cancer or cardiac arrest though the concept is yet under-developed in the Valley due to which patients suffering from depression, schizophrenia etc are looked down and again, ironically, do not get proper treatment in psychiatric hospitals. Many organisations have commented or research based reports have been published regarding the alarming situation of mental ailments. Unfortunately local and central government have not yet realized its impact and serious repercussions on the health and mental development of the coming generations.

Regarding another category of people, they are clever, selfish and conniving and have learnt the art of looting, plundering or pillaging the most vulnerable section of the society. Political uncertainty has a tendency to develop an element of hoarding, grabbing and grafting in order to secure the future of those doing it but not to the extent as it has done in the Valley where cruelty has become institutionalized. It is only a tiny minority of the population who have no fear of God (though they are always found praying in the mosques) and they exploit the fragility of the vulnerable class. They run the vital power centres and if any conscientious soul raises their voice, he is branded as anti-national or anti-social and even blamed for working against the national interests.

Kashmir has now become an epitome of this terrible quagmire when it, once used to be a ray of hope for the whole sub-continent.

When people are put behind bars or charged with harsh laws for demanding their basic right of life or facilities, they either become sick or callous which only leads to anarchy. That is what we all are silently witnessing in the Valley.

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