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 22, 2012

Fleecing Natives

Fleecing Tourists was always a local mantra, but fleecing locals is new

Valley Boutiques Fleecing Customers

By Khurram Rasool (Kashmir Monitor)

Srinagar: Despite charging much higher rates than the usual tailors, the boutiques of the summer capital of the state have failed to live up to the expectations of the local women, who wish to get their clothes stitched according to the latest fashion.

Sheeba, who claims to have got her clothes stitched at almost every boutique in Lal Chowk area, says she and her young friends are not satisfied with their services. Calling the boutiques mere money minting machines, Sheeba says, “I am fed up with their hollow promises of providing perfect stitching and designing of dress material. Designing is secondary thing, these local boutiques cannot even make a properly stitched salwar kameez”.

“And their rates always keep on increasing with every single month”, she added.
While the erstwhile tailor shops are said to do all the stitching and designing works within the range of Rs 120-150, the same services costs anything around Rs 250-350 in these modern boutiques, with no extraordinary designing or stitching.

Like Sheeba, a lot of female customers are disappointed with the services provided by almost all such locally run boutiques. Aqsa, who got her dress stitched at a so-called ‘designer’ boutique at Poloview, was seen fuming with anger over the bad designing of her expensive engagement dress. She says, “It’s disgusting. Look what they have done to my clothes. They have spoilt my special salwar suit which my late grand mom had bought for the special day of my life.”

“They talk big but fail to deliver. Why can’t they make the stitching the clothes worthy of the money we pay them for their services”, questions Aqsa.

With myriad of such lady shops spread across the city alone, these boutiques are said to be silently bluffing the vulnerable female customers. Moreover, claiming of having professional degrees in fashion designing from distinguished fashion institutes of India, these boutiques according to sources actually hire non-local ‘chai-walas’ from outside the state and import them to the valley as ‘masterjis’.

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