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.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Drug addiction among Kashmiri Youth

Aarif laments about a lack of serious societal commitment to eradication of drug addition among young boys and girls in Kashmir

(Mr. Peerzada Aarif, 22, was born in Kalantara, Baramulla. He passed his 8th grade from the J & K Sainik School, Manasbal, and passed the 10+2 examination from the Government Higher Secondary School, Kachwamuqam, Baramulla. He completed my Bachelor's degree in Mass Communication & Video Production from the Degree College, Baramulla in 2010. In the same year he was ppointed as a teacher in the J&K School Education Department. Presently he is enrolled in the my B.Ed program of the University of Kashmir.)

Drug Abuse in Kashmir

Drug addiction, a condition characterized by an over whelming desire to continue taking a drug to which one has become habituated through repeated consumption because it produces a particular effect, usually an alteration of mental status. Addiction is usually accompanied by a compulsion to obtain the drug, a tendency to increase the dose, a psychological or physical dependence, and detrimental consequences for the individual and society.

Common addictive drugs are barbiturates, alcohol and morphine and other opioids, especially heroin, which has slightly greater euphorigenic properties than other opium derivatives.

There are many young boys and girls in Kashmir valley who have picked up drugs for various reasons and the menace seems unstoppable looking at the widening graph of it that seems expanding every day. Young people are suffering from the hazardous impacts of drug addiction while as the menace remains comparatively unchecked. In the absence of any formal counseling and psychiatric help at the school, higher secondary and college levels, drug abuse seems picking up and engulfing the youth of this valley who are unable to give up drugs in such a scenario. Over a time, the problem is aggravated and turns out to be a serious threat to mental and physical health.

Those belonging to the age group of 15-30 are more susceptible to this risk and it has been found that young people are more into drug addiction in the valley with males outnumbering the females. Some recent studies suggest an alarming increase in the percentage of youth, from schools as well as colleges, taking drugs.

Unfortunately drug addiction in Kashmir has received little attention from government as well as the non-government agencies who are just giving cosmetic touches to the problem. The advertisement campaigns do help but what could be of instrumental significance is that if there are proper counseling centers in our schools and colleges as well. Both the government and private agencies could basically focus on schools and colleges and set up counseling centers for tackling such tendency among the youth.

The problem, it seems, shot up drastically during past two decades and has engulfed thousands of young boys and girls in its venomous ambit. Drugs, therefore, continue to ruin hundreds of thousands of lives in Kashmir while as Anantnag and Baramulla districts top the chart of drug addicts. In Kashmir women normally do not have any direct access to more prevalent drugs including and use substances like erasing fluid (commonly used in offices for erasing printing errors) and polishes of different nature including nail polish and shoe polish besides a number of other such substances. They consume medicinal drugs containing alcohol and other tranquilizing chemicals besides other psychotropic drugs.

While the trend is alarmingly increasing each passing day, those who are responsible for supplying the drugs are never caught. There is absolutely no check on the sale of such medicinal drugs sold over-the-counter by the medical shops here. The young people have an easy access to such drugs as they manage to buy these drugs without any risk or hesitation. Such things need to be checked by the state government while as the society too has a responsibility in this regard. People must be conscious about their neighborhood and the various things shaping around. Let us hope and pray that, one day, we will defeat the menace of addiction in Kashmir.

Line or Curse (LOC)

Zafar highlights a legacy of the past

(Mr. Zafar Iqbal, 34, was born in village Tarar, Rawalakot, in the Poonch district of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. He did his early schooling in a private school, matriculating through examinations conducted by the Mirpur Educational Board, and completed his higher secondary education from the Government Degree College in Rawalakot. He received his B.A. in Political Science from the University of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (Rawalakot campus), and his M.A. in Mass Communication from the Punjab University in Pakistan. He received international scholarships to attend the International Summer School at the University of Oslo in 2005 receiving a Graduate Diploma in Media Studies, and the Nottingham Trent University, U.K., in 2006-2008 receiving M.A. in Media & Globalization. Mr. Iqbal has been a journalist working in the print and TV media since 1999 and is very active in human rights, earthquake relief and rehabilitation especially involving women and children, and inter-faith harmony. He is the Founder and Executive Director of the Press for Peace (PFP) and the Founder-President of the Environmental Journalists Forum, both based in Muzaffarabad. Mr. Iqbal has been invited to numerous national and international seminars and workshops related to human development.)

Lethal Mines Continue to Kill Minors

Two brothers loved to visit the quiet pasture with their goats and sheep. However, they were unaware that this enjoyable hobby would be fatal for them. Suddenly, they slipped in the mud and were trapped by a hidden landmine which went off with a deadly bang. They were killed on the spot.

The incident occurred when the world celebrated the 20th anniversary of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. The victims were playing in a remote village across the line of control (Lo C), the disputed border dividing Kashmir between India and Pakistan. Both countries have been accused of the mass production and excessive use of landmines. They also refuse to join the international treaty which binds states never to use, develop, produce, stockpile or transfer antipersonnel landmines.

This year the international community is celebrating “Lend your leg for a mine-free world” campaign to mark its commitment to achieve a mine-free world. Campaigners are asking people to join them on the 4th of April, a U.N. Day for Mine Action and Mine Awareness. On this day people all over the world are asked to roll up their trouser legs to show solidarity with the survivors of landmines and other explosive remnants of military conflicts.

The strife for the abolition of landmines has witnessed a significant progress in the past two decades. The most prominent example of these efforts is the 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction. The resulting treaty calls each member state to destroy its stocks of anti-personnel mines within four years of membership, and to clear all active antipersonnel landmines within 10 years.

Today, 159 states have joined the Ottawa Treaty, also known as the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention. This means that eighty percent of all countries have banned landmines. Most of them no longer produce them, and millions of mines have been cleared from conflict zones like Cambodia, Iraq, Egypt, Angola, Mozambique, Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, Cyprus, Lebanon, Sudan and Afghanistan.

After the Mine Ban Convention more than 42 million anti-personnel mines have been destroyed by the member states. Over 10,000 landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXOs) have been neutralised in Sri Lanka after the recent peace developments. Around a million people in Libya have been secured from the threat of deadly landmines and UXOs. Across the world, about 100,000 mines are defused annually.

However, the struggle for the existence of a world without mines is not yet over because they still threaten thousands of people in various regions. Around 37 countries have not signed the Treaty. It is unfortunate that some of the major countries still remain outside of the Treaty. These include China, Russia, the USA, as well as Somalia, Myanmar, United Arab Emirates, Cuba, Egypt, India, Pakistan, Israel and Iraq. Their lack of commitment to the Treaty jeopardises global humanitarian efforts for the eradication of fatal landmines and other related devices.

Landmine accidents are one of the most appalling problems of the contemporary world. Landmine Action, a UK campaign group, estimates that every year, there are up to 20,000 casualties caused by landmines, which is around 1,500 incidents a month, or 40 a day. Other estimates say that there are 135 million landmines and UXOs spread over 70 countries. In other words, a landmine goes off every 26 minutes somewhere in the world, killing or maiming someone.

The UN predicts that even if no new mines are planted from now on, it would take about 1,100 years to defuse the millions of mines planted across the globe. Demining is a very challenging and dangerous job. One the one hand, it risks the lives of experts involved in the process. For instance, only in India 797 soldiers have become victims in clearance operations since 2002. On the other hand, the financial cost of minefield clearance is mind-blowing. The estimated cost of defusing a mine is $1,300 which is considerably higher than the production cost. The UNICEF estimates the land mine manufacturing cost is $3-$10 per unit. Moreover, the number of amputees in the world has increased to 2, 50,000 people. Rehabilitation of these victims would cost $750 million.

Globally speaking, Africa is the most severely affected region where twenty-two countries face the landmine problem. Fifteen countries in Asia, 11 in Europe and 8 in the Americas are affected by the landmines. Afghanistan is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world with 640,000 mines laid in since 1970s. The Institute of War and War Reporting reveals that every month landmines cause 50 casualties in this war-torn country.

Its neighbours Pakistan and India are considered two of the major producers of anti-personnel landmines. The excessive use of landmines and other devices has been reported in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal and other Indian states, including Jammu and Kashmir.

Pakistan is a large producer of landmines and exports them to Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, and other countries. It also uses landmines in its Baluchistan province and Taliban dominated northern parts.

At present, both India and Pakistan have also heavily laid mines during the 2001-2 army build up on their international borders and along the Line of Control in disputed Jammu and Kashmir. However, after the normalization, these landlines have not been cleared off and pose danger to civilians, mainly women and children. In particular, along the LoC civilians repeatedly suffer from these treacherous landmines. Hundreds of people have lost their limbs in various areas near the LoC in the past two decades in both parts of Kashmir.

Civilian victims suffer from psychological and physical trauma caused by landmines. “My life has become a hell. I have lost my vital body parts and am not able to walk, eat and see,” says Aziz, a resident of a border village.

Living in utter poverty, he cannot afford to purchase the artificial limbs. There are many more victims of landmines that have the same tale of grief, frustration and ordeal.

These landmines related tragedies in various parts of the world call for concrete actions and coordinated efforts of the governments and civil society to eliminate deadly landmines. Today, there is a dire need to accelerate humanitarian efforts to strengthen the Mine Ban Community. Promoting risk education and using efficient technological solutions for the clearance of landmines and UXOs can save people.

Destroying Culture

When there is no respect for fellow humans, how can monuments fare any better?

Mughal Monuments Under Illegal Occupation

Imtiyaz Sofi, Kashmir Images

Srinagar: The Mughal Sarai in Shadimarg village of south Kashmir district of Pulwama, occupied by locals for decades, has turned into ruins for receiving no attention from authorities. This monument was constructed during Jahangir’s rule by his governor in Kashmir, Ali Mardan.

According to locals, there were 83 Kanals of land under the monument as per government records and practically there are only five Kanals of land under it. Rest of the land has been illegally occupied by local farmers.

The monuments are located at two places, now used by occupants as cow sheds and fire wood stores. There is also a mosque which is still used for prayers. According to local residents, there was a spring in one of the two compounds of these monuments, which was filled up and a house was constructed by a local resident there.

The residents claim that they are living inside these monuments for centuries.

“We are living inside these monuments since 300 years,” said a resident living in a house inside the compound of these monuments.

But majority of villagers believe that they have occupied these Mughal buildings illegally.

There are about seven Mughal monuments here within a distance of 19 kilometres. These monuments were used as accommodation for Mughal army and Royal tours. There were all facilities available in these Sarais (monuments), experts say.

The locals claim that they many times sought attention of tourism department towards these precious monuments, but to no avail.

The locals demand reconstruction of the monuments and relocation of people living inside them to other place so that remnants of Mughal architecture remain safe.

There is also huge potential for tourism as the monuments even in ruins provide a glimpse of the art and architecture of Medieval Kashmir.

“We ask for government intervention in development of these monuments and promoting a tourist friendly atmosphere around so that this site could add to local economy”, demanded a local shopkeeper.

National Backbone

Ashraf presented the following paper at a meeting of the Institution of Engineers India, J&K State Center, a few years back

(Mr. Mohammad Ashraf Fazili, 68, was born in Srinagar. He received his early schooling from the Government Middle School, Nowhatta, Srinagar, and from M.P. High School, Baghi Dilawar Khan in Srinagar. Mr. Fazili completed his F.Sc. from the Sri Pratap College in Srinagar, and received his Bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering from the Annamalai University with honours grade. He joined the J&K government service upon graduation and steadily rose up the ranks to the position of Chief Engineer at his retirement. He managed a number of important infrastructure projects during his government service, including the Model Town Chrar-i-Sharif, Lower Jhelum Hydro Electric Project, Solid Waste Disposal Scheme Srinagar City, Circular Road Project Srinagar City, etc. He has numerous publications to his credit, including Srinagar the Sun City, Our Ancestors and Saints of Kashmir, etc., which were presented in seminar and symposia. He writes for various journals and is presently working on the Jhelum Valley Civilization.)


The new century has dawned on us, with high expectations, carrying some spectacular successes, and some bitter memories of the past. The J & K State faces serious problems and challenges, centered around, unprecedented disturbing situation, coupled with rise in population. The pace of all walks of life, has got accelerated, during the last half century, and so, has been the case, with the growing anxieties, and events, causing misery, and death, during its last decade.

We welcomed the 21st Century, with an estimated population of one crore, and shall be seeing it off, with an estimated present decadal growth of about 30% i.e., thirteen times more. That means, we shall be needing an infrastructures as many times, if we have to keep pace, with the rising population challenges.

The need for more living space, more food, water and power, more infrastructure, the need to manage the stupendous waste generated by rapidly increasing population, invites Engineers to play their role to face the challenges.

The achievement of the engineers in last century can be gauged from some of the available statistics (enclosed separately)

At the beginning of 20th century with 8.14-lakh populations, there was absence of roads for vehicular traffic in Kashmir. Now we have 13800 KMs of roads. There was no electricity in 1900 AD Mohra powerhouse was set up in 1907-08 (18 MW’s). The need for perspective planning – well in advance and mobilization of (already scarce), resources, and proper man-power planning, to handle the situation, with strong political will and enforcement, shall be required to keep pace with time in J & K State. Presently Financial Crunch, due to various reasons besides diversion of funds, to non developmental works like security measures, as warranted by the circumstances, has affected adversely, the achievement of targets, during the last decade, still the Engineers have risen to the occasion, and worked among adverse conditions, even-risking their lives. Credit needs to be given, to those who stood in their position when safe return to their homes, from duties, at the end of the day, or even staying at home, was full of risks, and mental agony.

Expansion is a law of nature. Universe is expanding in unlimited space so are our cities but there is resulting into shrinking of ground space.

There is far accelerated thrust of change, in all sectors of life, all over the world, for example in the formation of the cities, we are now undergoing the most extensive and rapid urbanization, the World has every seen. In 1850, only four cities, on the face of earth, had had population of 10 lakhs or more, by 1900, the number, had increased to nineteen. But by 1960, there were 141, and to-day, world Urban population, is rocketing upwards, at a rate of 6.5% per year, according to the institute of social science in the Hague. This single stark statistic means a doubling of the earth’s urban population, within eleven years.

One can imagine, what would happen if all existing cities, instead of expanding, retained their present size. If this were so, in order to accommodate, the new urban millions, we would have to build a duplicate city, for each of the hundreds that already dot the globe. A new Tokyo, a new Hamburg, a new Rome and Rangoon, a New Delhi, a new Srinagar and a new Jammu – and all within eleven years. (This explains why French urban planners are sketching subterranean cities- stores, museums, warehouses and factories, to be built, under the earth, & why a Japanese architect, has blue- printed, a city, to be built, on stilts out over the occan.

The Srinagar Master Plan, indicates expansion of local area from 236 SQ KMs to 416 SQ. KMs between 2000-2021 and rise in population from 12 lakhs to 23.50 lakhs (this includes tourist and Durbar Move population) With this pace of increase it means that at the end of 2100, we shall be needing about, thirty two times more infrastructure to contain the exploding population growth. Hence, consequent role of challenge to the planners, engineers can be imagined.

Such change, in the ratio between old and new, shall have an electric impact on the habits, beliefs and self-image of people. Never in previous history, has this ratio been transformed, so radically, in so brief a flick of time. What seems to be need of the time, is to help create, the consciousness, needed for man to undertake, the control of change, the guidance of his evolution. For, by making imaginative use, of change, to channel change, we can not only spare ourselves, the trauma of future shock, we can reach out and humanize distant tomorrow.

We have a bitter experience, of abuse of various Master Plans, prepared so far. Particularly the one of the city of Srinagar. Perhaps due to frequent changes of Government and their differing attitudes, coupled with lack of civic sense, of the General Public, resulting into, present disastrous environment.

Though, peace time is an ideal for construction work, yet the real challenge, comes to Engineer, during war time. To restore destruction, within a shortest possible time and under unfavorable trying circumstances – is a real challenge, which we have been facing unprecedently, by proxy, for the last over a decade. We pray for restoration of peace, but as Chinese say, “if you want peace, be prepared for war”, so we have to be prepared to face the war like situation, and deal with the challenges on war footing basis. In the beginning of 20th century, Lawrence, writes, that the history of Kashmir has witnessed frequent changes of rulers and absence of continuity in the administration, have had a powerful effect, on the character of Kashmiris, but the incidents of physical history of the Valley during nineteenth century, have also done much, to unsettle the people, and to make them suspicious and incredulous. Among the incidents, of physical history, he has described in detail, fires, floods, earth-quakes, famines and choleras and it is hardly to be wondered at. That a people constantly liable, to these calamites, should be skeptical and doubtful, as to whether things are ordered for the best. He says, that the Kashmiris always gives me the idea, that he has just recovered, from a fright, or that he is expecting some great disaster, and hardly a day passes, with-out reference being made, to the curse under which, the people, have fallen and to the sin, which gave rise to the curse.

The present scenario of thinking, at the beginning of the 21st century, does not seem to have altered/ changed, except that the nature of disaster, has taken a different shape i.e. instead of natural, it is now-man-made.

In the last century the world has witnessed two No. World wars and the middle of 20th century has witnessed freedom form Maharaja’s rule to uneasy democratic set-up of J & K State and development through nine No. five year plans for last half century with break up of funding rising from Rs 11.51 crore to Rs 10,000 crores.

It shows that during the fifty years, there is nine hundred times increase in funding.

i) 1st Plan 1951-56 Rs 11.51 crores
ii) 2nd Plan 1956-61 Rs 25.95 ,,
iii) 3rd Plan 1961-66 Rs 61.68 ,,
iv) Inter Plan period 1966-69 Rs 59.50 ,,
v) 4th Plan 1969-74 Rs 162.85 ,,
vi) 5th Plan 1974-79 Rs 278.54 ,,
vii) 6th Plan 1980-85 Rs 918.15 ,,
viii) 7th Plan 1985-90 Rs 2006.23 ,,
ix) Annual Plan 1990-91 Rs 642.69 ,,
x) Annual Plan 1991-92 Rs 823.46 ,,
xi) 8th Plan 1992-97 Rs 4520.07 ,,
xii) 9th Plan 1997-2002 Rs 10,000 ,,

Tenth Five Year Plan

India will embark on its tenth five-year plan from April 1, 2002 aiming at a higher growth rate of the economy at 8 percent annum in the period 2002-07.

Sustained economic growth, averaging around 6 percent, during the last two decades, has not translated its self, into visible gains, in terms of poverty alleviation or the guarantee of basic minimum needs of rural India, which accounts for nearly three fourths, of the one billion population. With this background, the approach paper, for the tenth plan, drawing lessons from the past, outlines a strategy, which integrated higher growth, with equity and social justices.

All the five-year plans, had kept amelioration of poverty, and full employment as basic objectives, but the bulk of public resources had been allocated for the Development of Physical infrastructure. The Planning Commission has set, specific monitor able targets, such as reduction of poverty-ratio to 20 percent from the current estimated 26 to 30 percent by 2007, employment for the addition to the labor force, during the plan period, universal access to primary education and increase in literacy to 72 percent (form 65 percent at present) by 2007, lowering of infant mortality rate, and provision of potable drinking water in villages,

Social development, relatively, neglected so far, is a vast area, where the private sector, will not venture, to invest or participate, to any significant extent, the State has to ensure fair competitions, and safeguard consumer’s interest.

Economic liberalization of the 1990’s, yielding place to market forces, altered the contours of planning, and the role of the Govt, from a controller to a facilitator. Planning has now become more indicative in character, especially for the private sector, that contributes the major part of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) through agriculture, industry and services.


In this emerging scenario, the Tenth Plan makes a distinct shift, from an investment-oriented approach, to setting a reform agenda, designed to achieve the social targets, through effective governance. It relies on the, mobilization of the energies of Central and State Government, Panchayati Raj institutions, and non governmental organizations, for the accomplishment, of the clearly spelt-out tasks, of social development. Programs, intended for the poor or targeted groups, must be delivered to them effectively. Many radical changes, in the style of functioning of Government, and its agencies, have been suggested, to bring about greater efficiency, transparency and accountability. The fields of thrust including saving and investment resource Base, infrastructure reforms.

The projected growth of 8 percent will also be linked to, stricken improvements, taking place in infrastructure, particularly in power and railways and investment in irrigation, where Engineer has to play his role.

Power Sector

Power sector has taken a tortuous coarse, over several years, with the result, that very few private investments, have materialized so far, while the states have not implemented, agreed decisions on, revising power tariff. Reorganization of electricity boards, to make them viable and reliable purchasers, of power generated, in the private sector, has been accomplished, in only a few states. Resistance to major structural changes, in the working of the railways, form within has to be over-come, to generate revenue, for urgently required investments on tracks maintenance and safety. During the period ahead in J&K construction of alternative National Highway, widening of existing Highway to 4-lane traffic is on the cards.

We must expect completion of the rail link to the valley, involving massive tunneling, through mountainous reaches, during this century.

By learning the lesson, form the past mistakes, in fixing priorities, it is felt that all other development could wait, but maximum thrust should have been given to the Development of power in J&K State, where nature was benevolent regarding hydro potential. This could have led to all other subsequent development like roads, building and other infrastructure, still time is not lost, when this sector can be prioritized. Taking an example, from he Scandinavian countries, who just manufacture and export hydroelectric power and import the rest commodities, which may even be a match box.

In J&K, we have a hydropower potential of 10,075 Mega watts in Indus, Chenab and Jehlum Basins we have a potential of 4004 Mega Watts; in Indus and Jehlum basins alone, against the present installed capacity of 405 Mega Watts in Kashmir Valley. To check heavy losses, the Hon’ble Chief Minister, has recently hinted at, laying of underground cable, in a phased manner.

The power sector in India including J&K is characterized by an inefficient distribution system, owing to inadequate investment and unplanned growth. This results in large losses, interruption in power, and poor voltage. The lack of metering arrangement, at the various stages of the distribution chain, especially agriculturists without meters, makes it difficult, for a proper energy accounting. Hence the need for an Action Plan.

To effect reforms, in the power sector, the Centre has approved, the accelerated power development programme (APDP). With an outlay of Rs 1000 crores in 2000-01. APDP is expected to bring down, the generation cost, thus bringing down the cost of power to the common person. APDP would finance projects, for renovation and modernization/ life extension/ upgrading, of old power plants, and up gradation of sub transmission and distribution network, including energy accounting and metering. Although the Ministry of Power, has already prepared a plan, and taken steps for generation, of additional one lakh MW of electricity, to meet the power demand by 2012, the APDP scheme is expected to improve the situation in the shutdown. This will give relief of the people, suffering from shortage of electricity. The immediate benefit of the schemes, are expected to be visible, to the people through improvement, in plant inefficiency and renovation and modernization of old plants.

APDP will continue, till the year 2012 with enhanced outlay, form 2001-02 onwards. The 1st. Phase fifty (50), distribution circles, in 16 different states, have been identification for implementing the programme. It is geared to cover the remaining distribution circle, in the country in a phased manner, utilizing the funds available under APDP.

In the case of special category states, like J&K and Himachel Pradesh, the entire cost of the projects, will be met under APDP in the form of 90% grant and 10% loan. In the case of non special states 50% of the project cost will be met form APDP, out of which half will be in the form of grant, and half as loan. The remaining 50% of the cost of the project, can be met by the utility, form the state’s internal resources, or loans from the Power Finance Corporation, Rural Electrification Corporation, Financial institutions, and supplier’s credit.

Theft of power alone, estimated to cost the country, over Rs 20,000 crores, every year. If this revenue is saved, the power sector can show positive returns. This amount would be sufficient, to wipe out the existing cumulative losses of the State electricity Boards (S.E.B’s).

While the budget, allocation in the current year of for APDP is Rs. 1000 crores, another Rs. 1000 crores in proposed to be raised form institutions like the Power Finance Corporation, IDBI and ICICI.

The High Lights of Budget 2001-02 for Power:

The Central Government, to accelerate the programme of reforms in SEB’s anchored in the Centre-State Partnership are:

a. Time bound programme, for installation of, (100%) hundred percent metering, by December 2001.
b. Energy audit, at all levels.
c. A specific programme, for reduction and eventual, elimination of power theft.
d. Tariff determination, by SERCS and compliance thereof.
e. Commercializing of distribution.
f. SEB restructuring.
g. Allocation of the accelerated power Development programme, (APDP) stepped upto Rs. 1,500 crores, from a level of Rs. 1000 crores in 2000-01.
h. Electricity bill 2001 to be introduced.
i. The plan outlay for central sector Power utilization is being raised form Rs. 9194 crores, for 2000-01, to B.E. of Rs. 10,030 crores for 2001-02.

In the future plans the other thrust areas have to be in Agriculture, Housing, Development of roads, Industries, Protection of cultural Heritage, management of water bodies, traffic and transportation, Irrigation, water supply, drainage and sewerage, solid waste management, education social infrastructure (Health) Urban and Rural Development, Telecommunication, information technology and tapping of non-convential energy sources etc.

Other important sector, inviting our attention in J&K should be to promote Tourism, for which and even for other development, a congenital atmosphere, needs to be got created, to invite tourists, which warrants to buy peace, with our neighboring countries, at any cost. In this connection, aftermath of world war II should provide us a lesson, when after a great massacre and devastation, the warring countries, had to ultimately come round, on the negotiating table, and establish peace, on give and take basis, and have friendly relations, for mutual development, and prosperity. It is hoped that our countries, shall reverse the process, by negotiating, equip pad with mature statesmanship, before devastation take place – pangs of which are felt every day from the media. This must be an immediate concern of all right thinking people. Similarly instead of treating the disease of terrorism, we must locate its cause and check it there.

Once late Mr. B. K. Nehru, the then Governor of J&K, gave at home at Jammu, Raj Bhavan, when there was an annual function of National Anatomical Society of India, in which Doctor form National and some International level attended. While getting introduced, among doctors, I introduced myself as an Engineer, on which the Governor expressed surprise as how come an Engineer among Doctors. I replied, Sir, all existence is a feat of Engineering, God/ was/ is/ will be a perfect Engineer who visualized, planned, designed and executed, this universe, and also created Man, among others, and it is the man who polluted this earth, and that is why, you find so many doctors around. It brought a hearty laughter all around.

Thus the role of an Engineer is to imagine, plan, design execute and maintain, and may be even to destroy in war time and also manage disaster, which process, is on a micro level, a reflection of the task in which Almighty Allah/ Nature is busy, round the clock. If you happen to see bridges constructed on the National Highway from Baramulla to Uri, there are blasting chambers, provided in the masonry abutments fro their destruction during wartime. So destruction and its management is a subject of civil/ Military Engineering when required.

It takes Centuries to build, but a moment to destroy, as we have witnessed on 11 September 2001, disaster of collapsing of World Trade Centre in U.S.A, posing a challenge to the Engineers, to consider new design aspects, for man-made disaster management, in addition to Natural Disaster Management.

Let us pray that we be destined to construct than to destruct in the century ahead of us.

Incidentally, I may tell you that barring few centenarians we were not there, in this world when last century dawned and we shall not be there when the present century will end, on 2100 AD. So we must leave our short-lived foot prints on the vast sea shore of time.

A Land Where Human Development is Zero

A sad editorial in the Greater Kashmir, followed by an equally sad commentary in the Rising Kashmir unveils the depth of depravement in Kashmir

Unclaimed Baby

An unclaimed baby is lying in GB Panth Hospital Srinagar for last several days. The ill-fated baby girl was recovered from a house in Pulwama district after it was reportedly stolen by a nursing supervisor from the LD hospital. The story of the baby is not just heart wrenching, it openly points to the rot we as a society suffer from. While on the one hand it exposes the callousness of a lady official who apparently for the lure of money stole the baby from the hospital to sell it to some potential customer, on the other it unravels the heartlessness of some parents who abandoned the baby like a mere chattel. The story also points to the flawed and faulty system as also the utter unaccountability in our hospitals. Curiously, it is yet to be established how the baby had actually landed in LD hospital in the first place. Where it the parents who brought the baby to the hospital or was it born there? The incident underlines the need for fool-proof security system in our hospitals, particularly the maternity and child care institutions.

Kashmir as a society may have seen the turbulent times during past more than two decades, yet it has largely escaped a mesh with serious human problems like child and women trafficking. But now the time seems to have changed. Over past some time, media has highlighted a number of reports pointing to serious social challenges Kashmir is fast bracing up for. The falling child sex ratio, for example, is one daunting challenge that needs to be tackled both at the societal level as well as by the government. We must understand that the rich cultural ethos of Kashmir has no place for such things. There are reportedly some families who have offered to adopt the child. The state authorities must see to it that the adoptive parents adopt the child only after following all the requirements of the law.

G B Pant Hospital gets 4th unclaimed baby in 15 days

Sameer Showkin Lone

Srinagar: In a fourth incident of its kind in the last 15 days, a newborn baby was abandoned at Valley’s lone tertiary pediatric centre, the G B pant Hospital on Tuesday.

Clad in pink clothes the baby girl is lying on a warmer in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the hospital waiting for somebody to come and take her home. A white strip pasted on her sweater mentions her date of admission to the hospital as 27-03-2012 and has words “unclaimed baby” written over it. It is the second incident of its kind in past three days.

Earlier a baby was recovered from a house in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district and is in the ICU of the hospital.

According to hospital sources the second baby was brought to the hospital by a woman at 11:30 PM on Monday but since then nobody has turned up to claim her possession.

“Although, she is not a victim of baby stealing, she seems to be a victim of parental neglect,” said an official of the hospital.

According to hospital nursing staff, a veiled woman brought the baby in ward number 09 of the hospital at 11:30 on Monday night.

“As soon as she brought the baby inside the ward she went back saying that she has to get some documents and will be back in few minutes. But she did not return,” said a nurse wishing not to be named.

Medical Superintendent of the hospital, Dr Javid Chowdhary while narrating the whole story to Rising Kashmir said the baby was brought to the hospital by a veiled lady who introduced herself as Ameena of Tankipora and claimed the baby was the daughter of Bashir Ahmad also residing at Tankipora.

However, Dr Chowdhary said the baby was admitted to the hospital at 8:30 in the morning, as per hospital records. “The baby was suffering of hypothermia and has been kept on the warmer,” he said.

As per the hospital records four such incidents have taken place in last 15 days. “On March 13 and 14 two unclaimed babies were dropped in the hospital premises by some unknown person. One was behind the door of X-ray section and other on the ground floor,” said Dr Chowdhary.

Asked if any legal action has been taken in this regard, he said, “We first lodge an FIR at Ram Munshi Bagh Police Station and after other legal procedures are followed. Then we hand them over to the people who want to adopt them.”

He said two male babies who were dropped by some unknown persons in the hospital few days back have been adopted temporarily by somebody and processing of proper adoption papers is on.

Contaminated Food Supply Chain

After the "Milkgate", the High Court is looking for answers

Is food in J&K safe?

Srinagar: The High Court has directed the state government to report to it about the steps taken with regard to implementation of Food Safety Standards Act of 2006 file compliance report on steps taken to implement Food Safety and Standard Act.

In its order, a division bench comprising Justices Virender Singh and Muzaffar Hussain Attar, the state government has been asked to file a compliance report with regard to implementation of Food Safety Act within two weeks.

The bench has issued notices to the respondents asking them to file their reports within two weeks and has also ordered the case be listed for hearing immediately after two weeks subject to the availability of the bench.

The order has come in a Public Interest Litigation filed by Advocate Sheikh Muhammad Ayoub, seeking directions for implementation of Food Safety Standards Act 2006 and Food Safety & Standards Rules 2011.

Earlier Advocate Ayoub had submitted before the division bench about non-implementation of the Food Safety Act and the Rules by the state government terming it a grave issue which according to him requires to be taken seriously.

He had further submitted the Food Safety Act 2006 and Food Safety and Standards Rules of 2011 provide that the post of Commissioner Food Safety should be manned by a person of Commissioner Secretary rank, while in J&K an Incharge Drug Controller has been assigned the job, who according to the counsel, lacks the basic eligibility and qualification.

“The present incumbent is not competent to hold the post and sanction any prosecution” he argued, adding that the respondent “is not in a position to take any action against the person found guilty under the Act and Rules. Adulterated food items are openly sold and many spices and edibles in the market are unsafe for consumption as the Act and Rules have not been implemented,” he submitted before the division bench on Wednesday.

In his petition, advocate Ayoub, has submitted that adulterated milk, sub standard and misbranded food products are being sold in the market in Jammu and Kashmir without any check. “Almost all spices and edible items from A to Z sold in the market are unsafe for human consumption. In the entire state particularly in the valley the milk which is being sold in the market is 80 per cent adulterated, which has been certified by the Food safety and Standards Authority of India,” reads the PIL on Food Safety in J&K.

The petitioner has further pointed out in his petition that the designated officers or food safety officers have miserably failed to show any positive development from the date Food Safety and Standards Act 2006 and Food Safety and Standards Rules 2011, came into force by checking and taking the samples from the market, to impose the penalty or launch prosecution as per Food Safety Act. “There is no responsibility or accountability to the so called designated officers or food safety officers particularly in the twin cities of the state,” reads the PIL on Food Safety in J&K.

(Kashmir Times)

Indiscipline Begins at Minister's Electrical Meter

Junaid says the J&K Power Development Department (PDD) has a novel approach of throwung brickbats to commoners, bouquets to VIPs

J&K Mantris, Babus, Netas do Not Pay Electricity Bills

Syed Junaid Hashmi (Early Times)

Jammu: Brickbats for commoners and bouquets for us! Ministers, legislators and bureaucrats seem to be following this adage in Jammu and Kashmir when it comes to paying electricity dues.

What to talk of paying, they prefer not to even inquire about their pending bills. It is this part of democratic set-up which frames stringent rules and regulations for commoners, accuses them of power theft and illegal connections, wails over inability to control transmission and distribution losses and above all, threatens to disconnect their power connections if they do not pay their bills regularly.

It is not known how they get their salaries released without submitting their electricity bills. Reply to a cut motion, copy of which is with Early Times reveals that Ministers, legislators and bureaucrats living in posh bungalows and flats do not pay electricity dues both in Jammu as well as in Kashmir. Despite living luxurious life, they prefer to talk about illegal connections of connection rather then paying their pending electricity dues.

Besides, such is the non-seriousness on the part of the government that even with Chief Minister (CM) heading the department, pending dues have accumulated and gone over Rs. 3 crore. Besides, every time when the Assembly session is held in the state, one legislator or the other submits a question inquiring about amount which various departments, ministers, legislators and bureaucrats owe to the Power Development Department (PDD). The answer always makes a news item.

As per the figures presented by the government in reply to a cut motion, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has more than Rs. 556277 outstanding against him. Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand owes a whopping Rs. 49, 49 565 (around Rs. 50 lakh) to the Power Development Department (PDD). The two advisors of Chief Minister namely Devinder Singh Rana and Mubarak Gul together have to pay more than Rs. 7.43 lakh to the PDD.

Chief Secretary Madhav Lal, who took from S.S. Kapur has shifted to the same bungalow was earlier with Kapoor. An outstanding of Rs 9.750 lakh has been shown against the name of Madhav Lal. Former Chief Minister, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed has a total outstanding of Rs. 4.56 lakh against him, which has so far not been cleared.

Figures reveal that Speaker Legislative Assembly Muhammad Akbar Lone has Rs. 4.34 lakh pending arrears. Senior PDP leader Muzaffar Hussain Beig also has to pay an electricity arrear of Rs 7.830 lakh to Power Development Department in respect of his accommodations in Jammu. Similarly Minister for Tourism, Rigzin Jora owes Rs 11.389 lakhs to the PDD for the accommodations both at Jammu and in Srinagar.

Similarly, amount of power tariff due from Sakina Ittoo, Tara Chand, Hakim Mohd Yasin, Bashir Ahmed Naaz, Khem Lata Wakhloo, Shamima Firdous, Ghulam Ahmed Mir, Thakur Puran Singh and Romesh Chander Sharma is more than Rs five lakhs each. Amount due from Minister of State (MOS) Cooperative Dr Manohar Lal is Rs 6. 58 lakh for Kashmir while he has to pay just Rs. 190 to PDD in Jammu.

Amount due from Justice NA Kakroo, MS Bashir and Tanvir Jahan is Rs 9.50 lakh, Rs 6.14 lakh and Rs 6.4 lakh, respectively. Meanwhile, even as the PDD leaves no stone unturned in recovering electricity fee from the common man, it has failed to recover whooping amount of Rs 774.60 crore from other government departments.

Public Health Engineering (PHE) department in Kashmir is biggest defaulter and owes Rs. 50.88 crore to the PDD followed by Irrigation and Flood Control department which has a total outstanding of Rs 139.70 crore. In Jammu division, Lift Irrigation department still has to clear Rs 57.56 crore while PHE has total outstanding of Rs 437.42 crore pending against it.

Kashmir Abounds in Materialism, Census 2011 Proves It

In a decade, J&K has seen the number of automobiles increase by 210 percent, televisions by 51 percent, and homes by 30 percent. But how about human development?

Census 2011: 30.16 % increase in houses in J&K in 10 years

Zaheer Khan (Kashmir Times)

Srinagar: There has been an increase of 30.16 per cent in the total number of houses in Jammu and Kashmir during 10 years.

This has been revealed in statistical data of census 2011 regarding housing and household amenities. The data was released by Director Census Operations, Chander Shakher Sapru at a press conference here today.

The state had 2, 68,552 houses in 2001. The number has gone up to 36,03,632 by 2011 registering an increase of. 8,35,080 houses during the period.

In 2001, the number of occupied houses was 25,28,549 and this rose to 32,99,219 in 2011. Similarly, the number of vacant houses was 2,40,003 in 2001 which later went up to 3,04413 in 2011.

Interestingly, the rural areas have shown an increase of 31.10 per cent in houses during the 10 years, while the urban areas recorded an increase of 27.57 per cent.

Similarly, the total number of vacant urban houses in 2001 was 1,11,974, against the total number of rural vacant houses as 1,92,439 in 2011, showing an increase of 47,652 in urban and 16,758 in rural vacant houses respectively.

The average increase of total number of urban vacant houses in 10 years rose to 74.08 per cent against the total number of rural vacant houses as 9.54 per cent.

The total number of urban occupied houses has increased from 6,72,662 to 8,28,198 during the 10 years, showing a variation of 1,55,536 in 2011. So, the increase in percentage rose to 23.12 per cent in the last 10 years.

Similarly, the total number of rural occupied houses in 2001 was recorded as 18,55,887 against 24,71,021 in 2011, which shows an increase of 6,15,134 in the 10 years at 33.15 per cent.

The occupied census houses used as residence in 2001 was 13,17,925, while it rose to 18,27,285 in 2011, showing a variation of 509,360 in 10 years at 38.65 per cent.

The shops/offices have shown an increase of 46.35 per cent in 10 years. While the number of shops/offices was 2,31,779 in 2001 and 3,39,197 in 2011 registering an increase of 1,07,418.

Similarly, the number of school/colleges was 19,378 in 2001 while it increased to 31,843 in 2011 by 64.33 per cent, which shows an increase variation of 12,465.

The number of hotel/lodge/guest houses etc was 6,130 in 2001 while in 2011 the number increased to 7,473 which show an increase of 1,343 by 21.91 per cent.

Likewise the number of hospitals recorded in 2011 is 6,278.

The number of factory/workshop/work shed has increased to 32,913 in 2011 against 29,783 in 2001. Which shows an increase variation of 3,130 by 10.51 per cent.

Similarly the number of places of worship was 32,025 in 2001 while in 2011 it increased by 17,110 at an increase percentage of 53.43.

Similarly the total number of households (excluding inst. households) in 2001 was 15,51,768 while it increased to 20,15,088 in 2011 by the increased variation of 463,320 in the last 10 years at the variation percentage of 29.86 per cent.

The number of households (Good) was 6,28478 in 2001, while in 2001 it increased to 10,90,386, up by 73.5 per cent.

The number of households (Livable) was 8,83,909 in 2001, which decreased to 8,46,388 in 2011 showing a decreased variation by -4.24 per cent.

The total number of households using tap water is 63.9 per cent, showing an increase variation of 29.86 percent in 10 years.

The percentage using well water in Jammu and Kashmir is 6.5 per cent, while population using hand pump/tube well/bore well is 11.4 per cent. The population using spring water is 6.2 per cent, while river/canal water is 6.7 per cent.

The total number of households with availability of drinking water was 15,51,768 in 2001 while it increased to 20,15,088 in 2011 with an average increase of 463,320 by 29.86 per cent. The drinking water facility is now available to 60 percent population of the state.

“Of 20,15,088 households in Jammu and Kashmir, 9,70,643 households have water taps available within their premises, 5,78,386 have water taps near the households while 4,66,059 households have water tap availability away from the households. Around 63.9 percent of the state’s households have access to safe drinking water,” the joint chief principal census officer informed.

The total number of households with latrine facility was 15,51,768 in 2001. In 2011 it rose to 20,15,088 by increased variation of 4,63,320 by 29.86 per cent in 10 years. However, almost half the population still remain deprived of toilet facilities.

The total number of households lacking availability of latrine facility was 7,27,166 in 2001 and this has decreased to 9,83,791 with the decreased variation of 2,56,625 by 35.29 per cent.

The total number of households having drainage connectivity was 15,51,768, while in 2001 it rose to 20,15,088 with the increased variation of 4,63,320 by 29.86 per cent.

The total number of households using fire-wood was 8,66,496 in 2001 while in 2001 it rose to 11,87,122, which shows an increase variation of 3,20,626 by 37 per cent.

Similarly the total number of households using LPG was 3,43,052 in 2001 which rose to 6,35,867 in 2011, showing an increased variation of 292,815 by 85.36 per cent in 10 years.

The total number of households availing banking services was 5,66,133 in 2001 ,while it increased to 14,10,565 in 2011. The increased variation in 10 years went by 844,432 at 149.16 per cent.

Where the total number of mobile subscribers in 2011 was recorded as 11,94,854 against landline users ranging to 72,820.

Interestingly, the number of television/computer/laptop increased by 51.02 per cent which was 6,31,256 in 2001 while in 2011 it went to 10,28,155.

Similarly the number of households having scooter/motorcycle was 121,188 while it rose to 2,60,306 in 2011 at an increased variation of 139,118 by 114.8 per cent.

The number of households using car/jeep/van facility rose from 48,444 to 2,60,306 in 10 years with an increased variation of 102,021at increasing variation of 210.6 per cent.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Dream Worth Aspiring

Dr. Tabish discuss global standards for delivering quality healthcare. But is that possible in Kashmir?

(Professor Syed Amin Tabish, 50, was born in Srinagar. He graduated from Government Medical College Srinagar, and did his postgraduation from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi. He obtained doctoral and postdoctoral degrees from the University of Bristol (England), the Royal College of Physicians of London, and the American College of Physicians (USA). Dr. Tabish has been providing academic and administrative leadership to premier medical universities and hospitals, and recently worked as Professor of Medical Education cum Project Director for four Medical Colleges & two University Hospitals, and advised other medical and nursing colleges in Saudi Arabia. He is presently working as Medical Director cum Head, Department of Hospital Administration and Chairman Accident & Emergency Department at Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, Srinagar. He is also an External Examiner, AIIMS, and National Board of Examinations for the award of Diplomat National Board, New Delhi. Professor Tabish has authored more than a dozen medical and hospital administrative books and has 350 Research publications in international medical journals and about 500 literary publications. He is on the Editorial Board of several medical journals besides being Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Health Sciences. He represented India in “The World Health Assembly” held at Dallas, Texas, during 1998 (first medical scientist from India). Dr. Tabish has been advocating new or changing roles of doctors and other health professionals in response to emerging or refractory social problems, under-served populations, inequalities, rising costs of care, continuous quality improvement, need for community involvement in resolving imbalances between the preventive, promotive & curative services.)

Healthcare: From Good to Exceptional Governance

According to the Millennium Development Goals-access to basic health care is central to the poverty reduction worldwide. Hospitals constitute a very significant part of the overall health care sector and they provide essential services to the public. Hospitals and health systems across the country struggle with issues of governance, particularly when it comes to care standardization and quality improvement. Establishing clear channels of communication and clear lines of accountability for the numerous committees, departments, facilities and business functions of a healthcare enterprise has proven to be an ongoing challenge.

Efficient governance of hospitals requires the responsible and effective use of funds, professional management and competent governing structures. By establishing and maintaining the public's trust, being good stewards of the community's resources, and ensuring high quality care Hospital Administrators can be an important asset on the governing board in fulfilling those duties. Administrators add the perspective of the patient care process as well as a unique understanding of family issues; they grapple with overall health care concerns such as staff shortages, patient safety and quality of care; and they are the most knowledgeable about diseases and new treatment modalities, as well as being aware of the ethical dilemmas posed by new technologies.

Healthcare Governance

Governance is important work. How well it is done has significant consequences for health care organizations, the communities they serve, and their patients, medical staffs, and employees.

Hospital Efficiency Task Force

The principles of good corporate governance of hospitals include Effective and Efficient Board Structures and Processes, Long-range planning, financial oversight and Quality oversight. The importance of establishing a Strategic Plan comprising a mission and/or vision statement, a set of core values; a list of communities and health needs to be served; a description of programs and services to be offered; and plans for achieving program and service goals. The Strategic Plan and its components once adopted, management has a responsibility to develop an Operational Plan that translates into specific tactics and activities to be initiated in the next fiscal year.

Brick By Brick: Delivering Good Governance

Governance is essentially a reform package to strengthen the institutions of government and civil society with the objective of making government more accountable, more open, transparent, more democratic and participatory. Good governance is also about effective and equitable government that promotes rule of law. Standards of Good Governance include participatory approach, sustainable, legitimate and acceptable to the people, transparent, promotes equity and equality, able to develop the resources and methods of governance, tolerates and accepts diverse perspectives, able to mobilize the resources for social purposes, strengthens indigenous mechanisms, operates by rule of law, efficient and effective in the use of resources, engenders and commands respect and trust, accountable, able to define and take ownership of national solutions, enabling and facilitative, regulatory rather than controlling, able to deal with temporal issues and service oriented.

Governance in Health Care

With respect to the health care dimensions of the public service, the capacity of a government to provide a good standard of health care is deemed one of the most important elements contributing to a country's standard of living. Universal access to health care, irrespective of one's ability to pay, is regarded as a basic human right in the developed world.

Governance in a hospital setting concerns not only economic and financial dimensions, as there is a huge societal aspect associated with the provision of health care. In turn it could be argued that hospital governance takes a more institutional approach. As the concept of hospital governance has been broadened to include both financial and non-financial elements, its purpose is to enable a more integrated approach of supporting and supervising all hospital activities including clinical performance.

Indeed, the concept of hospital governance is relatively new. It is a shared process of top level organizational leadership, policy making and decision making of the Governing Body, CEO, senior management and clinical leaders…it's an interdependent partnership of leaders'. It is the process of steering the overall functioning and effective performance of a hospital by defining its mission, setting objectives and… having them realized at the operational level'. One of the key elements needed in order to achieve excellence in hospital governance is having a clear mission and an achievement-orientated culture in which to realise it.

The key principles of governance in the development and implementation of governance models in hospitals include: knowledge of what governance is, achievement of goals, Executive Management Team relationships, unity in direction, unity of command, accountability, ownership needs, self-improvement and understanding governance costs.

Clinical governance is regarded as a framework used to improve the quality of the health care service provided. Its introduction on a formalized basis means that hospitals now have to report on issues of quality whereas previously there had only been financial accountability. The concept of clinical governance tries to improve the quality of healthcare provided through integrating the financial, performance and clinical quality aspects of a hospital. The main aim of clinical governance is to accomplish continuous quality improvement in a health care setting and is designed to consolidate fragmented approaches to quality improvement. It promotes an integrated approach towards management of inputs, structures and processes to improve…clinical quality'. Four main dimensions include professional performance, resource allocation, risk management and patient satisfaction. Other elements include: Patient involvement in service delivery, Staffing and staff management, Continuous professional development, Clinical effectiveness, Education and training, Using available information and Clear lines of accountability and responsibility for clinical care. Clinical governance can be viewed as a mechanism to facilitate multi disciplinary teams all working toward the same goal - the continuous improvement of the quality of care. It is hoped that these cooperative working practices will have a positive influence on both the behaviour of medical professionals and in turn the delivery of care.

Hospital governance is based on the two pillars of accountability and transparency. As the provision of health care is a 'social good' each group of stakeholders merit recognition of its interests. Resources are one of the most pressing issues in hospitals. Issues such as value for money, the reorganization of the health service and patient satisfaction has served to drive the governance process forward. These, in association with the accreditation process would appear to have put governance on the agenda of the health service and hospitals in particular.

From Good to Exceptional Governance

Providing better service; improving health care quality and patient safety; releasing information about the outcomes, costs and charges for care; securing public and stakeholder trust--these are just some of the demands on health care governing boards. There is increasing evidence that good governance at health care organizations is linked to better organizational performance. Accountability includes understanding traditional and emerging stakeholders and constituents and promoting transparency about the organization's performance. An important step while going the corporate way is changing the mindset of people. Leadership is very important here as it is necessary that the managers realise the significance of their mission and are focused towards the goal.

Though implementation of IT is still considered to be nascent in healthcare, as compared to other industries, hospitals are exploring IT to their maximum advantage. While adopting the corporate way of functioning, HR is in the forefront. This is where employees are scanned and are segregated as efficient and non-efficient. Here, hospitals are also required to find out multi-tasking employees, who can be trained further to shoulder more responsibilities and become leaders. Training the workforce is most important, so as not to waste the available manpower.

The Next Generation of Solutions in Managing Healthcare

As we enter the `next generation' of needs in managing healthcare, our unified, focused efforts have never been more needed. The face of healthcare is constantly changing, with technological innovations, new treatments, new laws, and new types of organizations arising almost daily. In addition to negotiating the day-to-day demands of a busy and complex organization, healthcare delivery leaders must also be able to evaluate and understand the impact of alternative care delivery models. The traditional way of delivering care is no longer enough.

Medical education needs to take full advantage of the power of ICT. A well-structured health informatics curriculum needs to be made an integral part of medical education at all levels. Basic ICT facilities, such as good quality access to Internet and e-Journals, need to be made compulsory for all medical colleges in the country. For capacity building, ICT tools should be effectively deployed to train the large number of health workers.

Making the health care delivery system accountable

Accountability has become the fact of life for the health care delivery system. Appropriate measurement tools are needed to evaluate services, delivery, performance, customer satisfaction, and outcomes assessment. All employees bear responsibilities which necessitate assessment and analysis. Accountability will be accomplished when the health care industry implements quality and measurement concepts that yield the highest levels of validity and appropriateness for health care delivery. Performance measurement is fast becoming a way of life for health care providers in this age of increased accountability and outcomes reporting. A strategic plan and implementation of an effective performance measurement system will help to guide an organization to evaluate key processes and implement changes to improve patient care.

Nature Tourism

Ayaz discusses the scope of eco-tourism in the State

(Mr. Mohammad Shafi Ayaz, 47, was born in Anantnag, and continues to live in the same town. He studied in various state schools, colleges and universities. He has completed his MBA, and is a Certified Associate of the Indian Institute of Bankers(CAIIB), and is working on a doctorate thesis on “Non Performing Assets in Indian Banks." He is a banker and presently associated with the Jammu & Kashmir Bank as Senior Executive. Mr. Ayaz has three publications - two in Urdu, one comprising of fictions/short stories titled as “Dard-i-Pinhan” (Hidden Pain), and the third comprising of poetry titled as “Talash-i-Sahar”(In Search of Dawn). He has also published another short book in “Interest Free Banking.” He writes on various topics in the Daily Kashmir Images, Weekly Shuhab and Weekly Sabzar. Earlier he contributed articles to two leading Urdu dailies of the Valley - ‘Aftab’ and ‘Srinagar Times’.)

Ecotourism in J&K

Ecotourism or in other words ‘Nature Tourism’ is about conservation of nature and promotion of communities through sustainable travel and tourism. It is a responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well being of local people.

Ecotourism is based on the principles of minimum impact, building environmental and cultural awareness and respect while as providing positive experiences for both the visitors and hosts is an integral part. This is the type of tourism which provides direct financial benefits for conservation and empowerment of local people and also tries to raise sensitivity to the host country’s political, environmental and social climate.

Kashmir valley is described as a paradise on earth. Its natural beauty is unique and has ample attractions for the tourists reaching here from all over the world. With its clean and pleasant environment, dense forest cover and rare species of fauna and flora, the state exhibits excellent potential for ecotourism and cultural tourism.

The state government has been developing various tourist attractions including Golf courses, Water Skiing, Tobogganing, sledge-riding etc, besides upgrading tourist infrastructure. Jammu & Kashmir has immense potential for ecotourism which provides basic frame work for ecologically sustainable tourism with livelihood opportunities for local communities.

Tourism is one of the major sectors for generating resources of state economy and to sustain this activity, development with a vision of environmental and ecological concern is needed.

Natural landscapes, forests and water bodies are the essence of tourism besides our lush green villages and picturesque health resorts. Famous Poet and Philosopher Dr. Iqbal has put the attraction and hospitality of the valley’s nature in this Urdu verse “Zarra Zarra Hai Meray Kashmir Ka Mehmaan Nawaz Rastay Kay Pathroon Nay Diya Pani Mujay” ( every pore of my Kashmir is such hospitable that even the stones on the waysides offered me water)

As ecotourism is becoming a major attraction for nature-lovers and a new concept to carve out a decent place for itself across the globe, the State Government is also prioritizing efforts meant for identifying and introducing the places of ecotourism. In this regard, the state tourism ministry and the tourism ministry of India have already identified villages which would be called tourist villages. These villages would be the first to welcome ecotourism in Kashmir and the people are being imparted training and necessary information is being shared with them about the Ecotourism.

The Government is initiating measures for highlighting the wetlands as major destinations. The forest department has constructed eco-friendly constructions like wooden huts and log huts at Dodhi Pthri, Gumarg and Sonamarg while as the tourist villages are also coming up with eco-friendly infrastructure to host the guests or tourists. These measures are aimed to save the environment from degradation and also raise awareness among the people, or the beneficiaries, regarding sustained and environment friendly procedures and patterns.

For promotion of the tourism in the state, Central Government has approved a grant of Rs.3622 lakh rupees, out of which 800 lakh rupees stand already released. These funds are primarily to be used for strengthening the basic infrastructure of tourism and identification of new tourist attraction places. Till date eight such places have been identified at Srinagar, Jammu and Zanskar areas of the state. Every now and then we see that state tourism department is organizing various festivals and events within as well as outside the state for promotion of this industry which are a welcome step though much more is to be done.

We are still far behind when it comes to comparing ourselves with places of tourist attraction in India or otherwise. Out of 24 fresh water lakes in the Himalayan region of Pahalgam only 3, namely Sheeshnag, Tarsar and Marsar have been brought on tourism map while as the rest are yet to be explored for tourism purpose. There are so many beautiful places in our state and particularly in our valley which have not been identified yet.

There is a great scope for eco-tourism in our state which is blessed with such a natural beauty and geography which has virtually no match in the world. We are blessed with unique geographical beauty which is a great attraction for tourists from all over world while as our villages present a picturesque look with meadows, water streams and fresh water springs almost everywhere.

Having said this, we have to understand the importance of tourism as a major source of income for our people and the state. While we are rich in resources and have tremendous tourism potential, the myth that Kashmir is an ill resourced place is however strengthened by the very presence of the state government in front of the central government with a begging bowl in hand. The state government must be innovative in realizing the tourism potential of the state which, it portrayed and projected in a positive and creative way, could end many an economic miseries of our people.

As of now, the major portion of our budget is spent on wages Bill of state employees and we are left with meager amount for our developmental works. Fortunately we are observing that people at the helm of affairs of state as well as civil societies here are concentrating on the natural resources of the state which can boost our income.

Recently utilization of water resources and its exploitation has been well in news. It gives satisfaction to one and all when people, particularly, those who are the decision makers, think like this. We should identify our resources and get more and more benefit from them. It is not only water resource, we have forests, medicinal plants and the most important and income fetching resource- tourism. Our tourism is multi-dimensional and if exploited in a better way, it could compete with bigger names in world tourism.

Vanishing Water Bodies

Encroachments are resulting in drying of ponds

The Disappearing Ponds of Kashmir

Srinagar: Thirty years ago, Avend village in the south Kashmir district of Shopian was also called 'Talaab Gaam' because of dozens of fresh water ponds surrounding it. All but one of these ponds have now disappeared because of encroachments and other constructions.

According to the residents of the village, 60 km south of Srinagar, apart from encroachments, government buildings, schools, graveyards and funeral prayer grounds now stand where the ponds once existed.

Villagers say a few influential families encroached on the ponds by dumping mud and debris of old houses to dry them out and build on them.

"It was the helplessness of the villagers before these selfish people and negligence from government side that failed to preserve these ponds," Shabir Ahmad Bhat, a villager, said.

Avend's case is symptomatic of what is happening in many other parts of the Kashmir Valley. But then, it is not that only village ponds have been affected.

"Lakes like Dal, Wular and Anchar are shrinking day by day due to encroachments, let alone the village ponds," Nadeem Parry, a geography student at Kashmir University, said.

Limited land and the drastic population growth - particularly in the last few decades - are the main reasons for drastic change in ecology of villages like Avend.

Why has the government remained silent?

"These ponds fall into the category of barren land which is reserved for rearing of livestock in the villages. Since it is a matter to do with the village, there is nothing the government can do about it," an official confessed.

However, other villagers said the government is looking on as a meek spectator and had failed to preserve these natural endowments.

The water of these ponds were used for crop cultivation in summer when there was a water shortage. The village boys would bathe in the ponds and learn swimming for hours.

During winter, when water in the pipes would freeze for weeks, people used the pond water for domestic purposes, while cattle also drank the same water.

"We had preserved these small ponds in our village to meet the demand of water in times of crisis. Alas, this is no more available to us," said Ghulam Rasool, an elderly resident of the village.

The encroachment of the ponds has also resulted in the disappearance of ducks, which were once abundant in the area.

Today, only one pond, called 'Astan Sar', remains in existence. It is considered pious because it is in close proximity to a shrine in the village.

As usual, there is a counter view to this.

"The people don't use its water as it stinks," said Hilal Ahmad, a teacher.

The villagers have preserved 'Astan Sar' like an archeological site by constructing a wall and iron mesh around it.

"This is the only surviving pond, but it will die very soon as there is no fresh water source connected to this pond. There is also no arrangement for draining out the stale water," said Abdul Gani, an employee of the Public Health Engineering Department.

"These ponds saved the villages many times in the past from drought and fires. Its waters were utilized for agriculture and domestic purposes. But alas! Our ponds became the victims of greedy people," said Abdul Hamid Mir, a businessman of the village.

(Kashmir Times)

Guess Which is the Most Polluted City in the Country?

Sad to say, but even in comparison with Jammu city Srinagar has 25 times more population living in slums as elites squeeze poorer sections of the society to inner city pockets

Srinagar - City of Slums Under the Rule of Urban Elite

Jammu: It may sound unbelievable that in the summer capital of Srinagar city, the slum population has touched 2 lac mark while as in Jammu the total slum population is at 7997 only.

The figures about slum population in major cities and towns of the state, which was ruled for decades by urban elites of Srinagar who consider the city as their political fiefdom and are still ruling, was provided in a written reply to a question raised by PDP leader and MLA Darhal (Rajouri) during the ensuing budget session of the assembly. There are 199557 people living in shanty slum colonies in Srinagar city and in Jammu city the number is 7997.

As per the definition slum has been identified as, "A compact settlement of at least 20 households with a collection of poorly built tenements, mostly of temporary nature, crowded together usually with inadequate sanitary and drinking water facilities in unhygienic conditions According to a survey most of the areas identified have primitive drinking water and sanitary conditions, annulling the claims of government that many projects have been taken up to improve living conditions in neglected areas.

Only recently Peoples Democratic President Mehbooba Mufti has raised a question about the development and beautification of Srinagar city but the Minister for Rural Development Ali Muhammad Sagar supported by Advisor to Chief Minister Mubarak Gul, Peer Afaq Ahamad MLA Zadibal and Shamima Firdous MLA Habakadal created almost fuss in the House on the issue as if PDP MLA A R Veeri, who raised the question in absence of Mehbooba, has committed some heinous crime. But only a couple of days after this furore the reply to a question raised Ch. Zulfkar by a member of same party, the real picture of the political fiefdom of National Conference was uncovered before the world. There are eight National Conference MLAs and a Member of Parliament from Srinagar and the city since long is being considered as the foot hold of the party which is ruling the state for last 32 years. But unfortunately the city is fast growing as city of slums.

Interestingly according National Urban Sanitation Policy 2009-10 Srinagar is the most polluted city in the country figuring a serial No. 420 with Pilibhit and Lakhimpur two least known towns in Utter Pradesh and Churu in Rajasthan below it.

Even then our ruling urban elites get exhausted while counting their achievements and the initiatives taken for the development of the city. It is a fact the ever growing trend of migration of rural people towards Srinagar for last two decades or so, has of course a very drastic effect on the cost of living, yet it is a bitter truth the Sher-e-Khas (Old city) has become a slum centre due to the lack of basic infrastructure and amenities to the people and the living conditions of the people of the city has worsen over last two decades for the want of better socio-economic avenues.

The traditional handicraft and handloom industry which was the major source of livelihood for the people of the old city has been dying thanks to the inaptitude of the government led by urban elite. In the fast coming new residential colonies in the city outskirts are populated either by the A and B class government employees or the rural people who settled in the city for many reasons while as the city presents the centuries old picture of poverty and neglect, yet out rural urban elite claim to be the real representatives of the city.


Rise in Cancer Deaths in Kashmir

Massive adulteration in food supply is leading to alarming rise in cancer deaths. On the other hand improved lifestyle is reducing "kangri cancers." Two reporta

Top 10 Cancers Afflict Valley

Nazir Ganaie

Srinagar: One of the most dreaded diseases, cancer, is emerging as a leading killer worldwide and Kashmir is no exception. Over the years, the Valley has witnessed an alarming surge in cancer cases, putting a huge question mark on the already ailing health sector of the state.

According to the Regional Cancer Centre at the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) here, the number of registered patients has jumped from 2097 in 2007 to 3057 in 2011. The Centre witnesses a heavy rush with nearly 35,000 older cases that doctors call follow-ups, visiting it for various kinds of therapies.

The data available with the SKIMS Centre reveals that cancer patients registered for 2007 were 2,097, in 2008 the number was 2,465, and in 2009, it was 2,968. However the patient influx recorded a sharp decline in 2010 at 2,623 only but in 2011 it went up again to 3,057. Even as cancer cases in far flung areas go unreported, the 2010 decline has been attributed to the unrest in valley that year

According to experts, the top 10 cancers afflicting the Valley are Esophagus (cancer of food pipe), Lung cancer, Stomach, Colon (large intestine cancers), Breast, Brain, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Gastro Esophageal, Junction cancer (cancer between the stomach and food pipe), Ovary and Skin cancers.

Expressing serious concern, experts said the cancer mortality rate among Kashmiris had increased due to some leading behavioral and dietary risks, including high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use and lack of regular check-up. They claimed the changing life style and food habits among the Valleyites had caused surge in all the cancers especially in Esophagus, Colon and Breast cancers.

“Yes, there is an alarming increase in cancers in Kashmir,” director, RCC, and head Department of Radiation Oncology, Dr Muhammad Maqbool Lone, told Kashmir Observer. The Centre maintains records of patients. He said the patients had been coming from all parts of the state, including Ladakh, Doda, Kishtwar, Bhaderwah and even from Jammu.

“We receive peculiar type of cases relatively different from those in rest of India because of geographic, socio-economic and religious factors. Tobacco use is theleading cancer risk factor at the global level causing 71 per cent of lung cancer death. In Kashmir, the situation is very grim with the highest number of lung cancer cases, which is increasing alarmingly.”

However, Dr Lone said, Islam provided for some inherent practices which go a long way in minimizing chances of cancer. He made a particular mention of circumcision and the ablution ahead of mandatory prayers, something which has been acknowledged at the global level through scientific research.

Pertinently cancer is a generic term for a large group of diseases that can affect any part of the body. Other terms used are malignant tumors and neoplasm. One defining feature of cancer is the rapid creation of abnormal cells that grow beyond their usual boundaries, which invade adjoining parts of the body and spread to other organs. This process is referred to as metastasis, a major cause of cancer death.

The experts attributed the rise in cancer cases to intake of spicy food, changing dietary habits and consumption of bulk of contaminated food items available in the market.

“These things can make this disease more fatal in Kashmir. Whenever a patient develops any symptom, he should immediately report to the hospital,” said SMHS registrar, Dr Masood Ahmad.

“Reportedly there is massive adulteration in mass consumption food items which kills people slowly. We have seen an increasing number of patients complaining of food poisoning, gastric troubles and other problems. Any delay in detection of the cancer can prove fatal,” SKIMS director and noted gastroenterologist, Dr Showkat Ahmad Zargar, told Kashmir Observer.

“Lung, stomach, liver, colon and breast cancer cause most cancer deaths every year in the world. The situation in Kashmir is no different,” Dr Zargar said.

The experts said that early check-ups and adoption of preventive strategies can reduce the risk. Acquisition of knowledge about its causes and intervention to preventand manage the disease is the need of the hour. Evidence-based strategies for cancer prevention and early detection and management of the disease can go a long way in reducing the incidence of the dreaded disease.

“Many cancers have a high chance of cure if detected early and treated adequately,” said head, Radiation and Oncology Centre, SMHS, Dr Sanaullah Kuchay, adding that cancer deaths could be prevented by modifying or avoiding key risk factors, including tobacco use, obesity, unhealthy diet with low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity alcohol use, sexually-transmitted HIV-infection, urban air pollution and indoor smoke from household use of solid fuels.

“Vaccinate against human papilloma virus (HPV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV), reduce exposure to sunlight, early detection. Cancer mortality can be reduced if cases are detected and treated early,” he said.

However, according to experts, a massive awareness campaign is needed for early detection of symptoms (for cancer types such as cervical, breast colorectal and oral) to get them diagnosed and treated early before the disease enters an advanced stage. They alleged early diagnosis programs were particularly relevant in low-resource settings where majority of patients were diagnosed very late.

“Screening and cancer detection camps are seldom organized in far off areas. Research is the worst hit; doctors don’t get time while the authorities never emphasizeits need and, in the process, quality patient-care gets affected,” said a senior professor of Oncology at SKIMS, wishing anonymity. He accused the directorate of Health Services of virtually doing nothing to create awareness about cancer among the people or to provide for some preliminary diagnostic facilities at various healthcare institutions.

Kangri Cancer On Decline In Kashmir

Nazir Ganaie

Srinagar: Even as the Kashmir valley has witnessed an alarming surge in the incidence of various types of cancers over the recent years, the ‘Kangri cancer’ cases have shown a marked decline due to changing lifestyles.

Experts say the reliance on modern heating appliances and ‘increasing awareness among the people’ has resulted in the decline in number of cancers caused by Kangri (traditional earthen firepot.)

People in Kashmir widely use 'Kangri' to keep themselves warm during winter, when the mercury stays below freezing point. This portable firepot, which the natives clutch to their chests and bellies under their pherans (loose traditional cloaks), is filled with embers and ash dust, woven around with fine wicker that also provides its base and an ingeniously-designed overhead handle-and-cage for carriage and safety.

However, the use of this traditional device has led to hundreds of cancer cases.

According to the Regional Cancer Centre at the S-K Institute of Medical Sciences here, the number of 'Kangri cancer' cases has registered a considerable declineover the years The experts attribute the phenomenon to the increasing use of modern heating appliances, and growing health consciousness among the people.

However, the Centre has witnessed a heavy rush with nearly 35,000 older general cancer cases that doctors call follow-ups, visiting it for various kinds of therapies.

“Kangri cancer is peculiar with the Kashmir valley. It is a form of skin cancer and about a decade ago it accounted for 50 per cent of cancer cases we treated. But now it is on a decline,” director, RCC and head of the Department of Radiation Oncology, SKIMS, Dr Muhammad Maqbool Lone, told Kashmir Observer.

For decades, Kangri has been an integral part of every Kashmiri household with almost the entire population in the Valley relying on it for heating. The major cause ofKangri cancer is the long exposure to heat.

“Researchers have found that it is caused by long exposure to heat. It is more prominent in the economically-backward strata of the society. People from villages and far-flung areas, who do not have access to modern heating appliances, are the most affected,” Dr Lone said.

Kangri cancer mostly targets the thighs, abdomen and abdominal walls - the areas of the body which are more prone and close to the heat of the kangri. If not cured in time, it can affect other body parts, he said.

Doctors say the increasing awareness and improvement in living standards of the people are the major reasons for the decline in kangri cancer incidence.

“We cannot tell people from far-flung areas or those who are not financially well off not to use kangri, because they cannot afford other heating sources in winter and you have recurrent power cuts in Kashmir. But we counsel them about its judicious use,” said Dr Lone.

“Even as Kangri cancer has shown a sharp decline, every cancer has a high chance of cure if detected early and treated adequately,” said head, Radiation and Oncology Centre, SMHS Hospital, Dr Sanaullah Kuchay,

“People should be sensitized about every cancer and educated about its risks,” he added.

The Cancer Society of Kashmir, a non-governmental organization, which works in the Valley to create awareness about the disease, also admits that the number of Kangri cancer cases had declined considerably.

“The number of new cases (of kangri cancer) has declined over the years because people have limited the use of kangris and awareness has been created about it,”CSK chairman, Dr Showkat Ahmad Zargar, told Kashmir Observer.

Interestingly, while the declining use of kangris has resulted in a sharp decline in cancer incidence, it has affected the livelihood of a large number of artisans. The kangri has gone aristocratic and out-of-reach for the masses. The sale of kangris over the years has dropped by 30 to 40 per cent with the introduction of electricity, LPG and kerosene heaters.

“Life is moving very fast and so does the change of our lifestyles. Modern electric appliances have taken over the traditional Kangri. I have stopped using it due to several reasons, Preparation of a kangri for use is a cumbersome process for women in the household resulting in respiratory problems,” said Ali Muhammad Shah of central Kashmir’s Budgam district, adding there were instances where kangris had led to fire hazards across the Valley.

Pertinently, Sultan Zain-ul-Aabideen Budshah, a 15th century Kashmiri potentate known for humane policies, is believed to have introduced kangri and pheran as the locals’ defense against harsh winters– and have yet to be dislodged by the sub-continent’s ‘modernization.’

(Observer News Service)

Laid Back Lifestyle

Proof that wages have gone up so high that outsourcing even at the bottom-most rung pays off

Safaiwala’s Now Outsource Safai

Mudasir Tariq Lone (Kashmir Monitor)

Srinagar: It seems that outsourcing has arrived in Kashmir, that too in a big way. If over the last few years everything from orchard work to farming has been outsourced to labourers from outside the state, now even the Srinagar Municipal Corporation Safaiwala’s (Sweepers) with the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) having joined the race.

Reports from several down town areas especially Khanyaar, Khayaam and outskirts like Zakura, Gulab Bagh, reveal that these Safaiwala’s are hiring migrant labourers to do the jobs that they are supposed to do. The Safaiwalas are reportedly hiring migrant labourers to fill in for them while they work somewhere else. They then adjust by paying lower wages to migrant labourers in promise of a more volume of work.

“It is a win win situation for us. We get our work and money. They get to do another job”, says a migrant labourer who identified himself as Ram Prasad.

As per sources, Labourers mostly migrant workers from Bihar, Bengal and Orissa, have been engaged by these Safaiwala’s in their place, while as it is said that all these Safaiwala’s are doing their own business and some have engaged themselves in different government departments where they are working as volunteers or even as casual labourers.

“These Safaiwals have put these non-local labourers in their place, while as they are performing other activities and at the same time their work is being done, they have mostly put migrant woman labourers for this job. The Safaiwala’s have been given liability and nobody speaks against them. They are earning very well that is why they hire these people,” said Ali Mohammad a local.

However for these non-local labourers this job becomes a way of earning as they say that after removing garbage they can also do some other work and they seem to be satisfied with these Safaiwala’s who pay them on proper time.

“We are cleaning the garbage from the streets in place of the Safai karamchari. It is really a good thing and in our favour; we earn much money during a single day as we are handling two different tasks. During morning hours we collect garbage for the safaiwala’s and after that we move to some other work, the Safaiwala pays me in cash after every week.” said a non-local labourer who was seen collecting garbage from Gulab Bagh area.

When asked one of the labourer that it is illegal to work in place of an employee, he nodded his head while saying, ‘such things are usual in our country and the matter is that the work should be done’

When contacted chief sanitation officer SMC Manzoor Ahmad Turrey said, “We have not received any complaint regarding this matter. We don’t have any migrant Safaiwala’s. I guess these are the rag pickers who get the important things recycled from this garbage and we haven’t noticed these non-local labourers working anywhere in the city.”

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Data About Violence Against Women

Zeenat opens a Pandora's Box ahead of the International Women's Day (March 8) with disturbing facts and figures, followed by a news item about rising suicide rates among women

(Ms. Zeenat Zeeshan Fazil, 27, was born in Srinagar, Kashmir. She did her schooling from King George (Mumbai) and later Cambridge (New Delhi), and received her Masters degree in English Literature from the University of Kashmir in 2008. Presently, she is also pursuing her second Masters degree in Mass Communications through the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). In 1998, she began her career as a freelance journalist with leading national newspapers and simultaneously joined ‘Fazil Kashmiri Publications’ as Editor and Publisher, and is also an editor of the ‘Focus’. Ms. Fazil has written a book on Mass Media and Linguistics (2006), and ‘Falcons of Paradise'(2009), a reference book contains 100 Eminent Personalities of J&K starting from 14th century till date. After working for ‘Daily Etaalat’- a Srinagar based Newspaper in 2007-2008; she joined ‘Daily Kashmir Images’ as a Senior Correspondent by the end of 2008. She is also currently associated with ‘Charkha’, a foundation that highlights the developmental concerns of marginalized section of Kashmiri society particularly in rural areas and to draw out perspectives on women through their writings. Ms. Fazil is also associated with ‘Interchurch Peace Council Netherlands’ which is intensely involved in several conflict areas such as in Kashmir. In 2009, she joined the South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA). She has received numerous awards for her meritorious contribution in the field of literature. Her interests are reading, writing, poetry, music, travel,and gender related topics.)

Kashmir: Violence Against Women Goes up by 22.1 Percent

Srinagar: Despite having a strong backing of law to check discriminatory practices against the fair sex in Kashmir, violence against women continues and in fact has shown an increase of 22.1 percent in 2011 in comparison to 2010.

As the world gears up to observe International Women’s Day on March 08, the data compiled by the J&K Police Crime branch reveals that in past two years, it has registered 4066 cases of crimes against women. It includes1797 cases of molestation, 187 rape cases, one gang rape case, 1279 cases of kidnapping and abduction of woman /girl, 426 eve teasing cases, one case of dowry death, 177 cases of cruelty at the hands of husbands, 195 suicide cases, four cases under Dowry Restraints Prohibition Act, two cases of suppression of immoral trafficking.

In comparison, only 1832 such incidents were recorded thus showing an increase of 405 incidents of violence against women in Kashmir.

Gulshan Akhtar, Station House Officer (SHO), Women’s Police Station, Rambagh
Srinagar, says the dragging of feet by the women to go for legal recourse against their tormentors has led to unprecedented increase in domestic violence in Kashmir.

“As per surveys and information we receive, domestic violence in Kashmir is increasing and thousands of women bear it silently. Unfortunately, most of them are reluctant even to lodge complaints owing to the social stigma perceived being attached to it,” Akhtar opines.

A sizeable chunk of them don’t want to register their complaints to avoid legal hassles and other cumbersome procedures, adds she.

“From 2006 till date, out of 166 registered cases, challans were produced against accused in 138 while as 39 are under investigation. Most of the cases that we received were related to domestic violence or matrimonial disputes and through counseling, we were able to resolve around 650 cases of domestic violence and that too without registering any of them”, informs Akhtar.

However, social activist and lawyer, Abdul Rashid Hanjura sees other things also adding to the problem. “Human rights violations in Kashmir are in direct disregard of the principles of international human rights and humanitarian law and no attention has been paid towards the women having been victims of such crimes,” he says.

“During past two decades, Kashmir is witnessing unprecedented crimes against women which many attribute to the ongoing political turmoil. Besides incidents of rape, molestation and domestic violence, particularly at the hands of husbands and in-laws, have seen a dreadful upsurge”, Hanjura adds.

“What aggravates the situation is that many such incidents go unreported, thus guilty get no punishment. Even if reported due to low (negligible) conviction rate, criminals dare committing crimes unabashedly because they know stringent action will not be taken against them”, says he adding that more than 10,000 cases of rape come in the court for hearing annually.

To get the crime graph down, he suggests amendments in Acts like Dowry Restraint Act and Child Marriage Act so that stringent action is taken against the guilty.

State Police Chief, Kuldeep Khoda told Kashmir Images, “We are aware about most cases not getting registered in police stations not only because our administration mechanism is weak but for other reasons as well.”

In order to curb crime against women, Khoda said that three women police stations
(Srinagar, Jammu, and Udampur) had been set up in the state and the department intended to set up such police stations in all the districts.

“This would provide women with greater access to get their grievances registered and attended for speedy action”, he said.

When asked why the amendments are not being made in certain laws, he said, “We have already written to the state government about it and I am sure soon something concrete will come up.”

Suicide Rate Among Women on the Rise

Srinagar: Over 10 suicide attempts were reported last month in the Valley alone, giving a snapshot of the roughly 17,000 suicides that have been reported in the past 21 years, experts say.

In studies conducted by B.A. Dabla, a sociologist at the University of Kashmir, it was revealed that there has been an average of 227 suicides been reported in 27 months in Kashmir, based on medical reports.

The study showed that 62 percent of all suicide cases involve females. Youth in the age group of 17-26 are found most likely to take their own lives, although teenagers as young as 13 years old have also committed suicide over the last two decades.

The National Crime Bureau Records of India states that Kashmir has a higher suicide rate than the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, since one person in the Valley commits suicide every day.

Experts believe these numbers are conservative estimates, as media reports and police and hospital records do not present the real scenario of just how rampant suicide has become in Kashmir.

"The actual rate is higher than what is being reported. Because of the social stigma (and shame attached to the act), people do not report suicide attempts or death," psychiatrist Mushtaq Margoob says.

Suicide cases go largely unreported in rural areas here.

"It is an unfortunate fact that the suicide rate is higher than what we know and (steadily) mounting," Margoob said.

With the increase have come even more "efficient" ways of committing suicide. People in Kashmir would previously threaten their families with suicide, without actually doing themselves any harm. They would jump out of first floor windows or slash their hands, which while harmful, still left them alive.

"But now, the most deadly substances are being used for suicides."

In urban areas, hanging, jumping into rivers and consuming poison are some of the most common methods. In villages pesticides are often used. Women commonly set themselves ablaze during suicide attempts.

There are several reasons for this surging rate. In addition to the insurgency, the level of life-or-death desperation in the Valley has been linked to the drastic rise of psychiatric disorders, which currently affects roughly 800,000 people across Kashmir.

"Impulse control disorders, psychiatric disorders, materialist lifestyles, psycho-social and socio- economic problems are some of the major causes for the increase," Mushtaq says.
Depression, panic disorder and anxiety are all linked to suicides as well.

Independent psychologist A.G. Madhosh categorizes the causes of suicides in Kashmir into social, psychological and anticipatory. "Social" causes are mostly linked to family pressure, marital status, career, strained relationships and the inability to compete at social levels.

"In urban areas, employment and education are compounding factors," Madhosh says.

Amongst teenagers, poor impulse control, examination stress, love affairs and parental pressures are found to be prominent reasons for suicides. Experts suggest adoption of a practical system of education, counselling and religious education as a mean of prevention.

(Kashmir Monitor News Desk)