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, January 15, 2012

Another Industry in Ruins

As if deforestation was not enough, growing competition due to imports from U.P. and China are slowly killing Kashmir's furniture industry

Kashmiri Furniture Industry Breaths Last

Srinagar: Once bedecking the hotel rooms and houses across the globe, Kashmiri furniture industry is facing a great threat as the competition from outsider furniture is mounting over it and giving a tough competition for its survival. This furniture industry which was once patronized by rulers in Kashmir is onslaught owing to the changing scenario across the world.It is also believed that only few people have remained continue with this business owing to the dark future they find in this industry.

"Our sons are showing least interest to run this industry as it is at the verge of extinction. We are not properly able to feed our family and majority people turned to other businesses," says, a local furniture worker, Lateef Bhat, "this industry has been totally ignored by the successive regimes for its promotion. It could generate thousands of job opportunities in the state if government takes steps for its development."

With increasing deforestation, the industry is also facing tremendous shortage of timber, thus paving way for sales of the imported furniture to the Kashmir Valley.

Sidiq Ahmad Shah, a local furniture worker shares how imported furniture gives tough competition to the local one. "Most of the timber for furniture is importing from Uttar Pradesh popularly known as the Sheesham wood. Sheesham brings its own workers and experts, thus giving a tough competition to the Kashmiris furniture industry for its survival," says Lone.

He further said that Sheesham furniture cuts the cost to '50 percent' as compared to Kashmiri furniture. 'A layman cannot differentiate between Sheesham and walnut at the first sight,' he added.

When asked about the growing popularity of Sheesham furniture in Kashmir, another local furniture owner Manzoor Ahmed told the Agence India Press that, "No furniture wood can match Kashmiri wood on the part of color, design and durability. But Kashmiri societies being the middle class prefer to buy the Sheesham as compared to the Kashmiri furniture."

Mushtaq Ahmad Wani, who used to run furniture industry Sarted to run the grocery shop, He claimed that Kashmiri furniture industry would not sustain for five more years.

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