Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Messy Srinagar

An eye opening commentary in the Kashmir Monitor speaks for all Srinagarites ....

Srinagar Crying

By Citizen Journalist

Srinagar: The present administration in Kashmir claims to be honest. But the officials and the ministers cannot see the the mess that has become of Jehangir Chowk, Lal Chowk, Budshah Chowk, Residency Road, Dalgate, Batamaloo or any major intersection in the city. PSA can be slapped on minor boys without batting an eyelid, and repeatedly on that, but the same cops cannot make the public transport drivers to follow the traffic rules, the municipality officials cannot keep footpaths clear for pedestrians, the shopkeepers have a right to occupy half the pavement and all this happens in presence of the officials of law enforcing agencies.

Why has the road outside old assembly complex in Srinagar become yard for Tata Sumos plying to Anantnag? Why has Budshah Bridge become bus stop for buses plying to Batwara and Downtown? Why has Jehangir chowk become a yard for autorickshaws, Tata 407s and Sumos alike? And all this happens right under the nose of those who are supposed to prevent it -- High Court, Assembly, Civil Secretariat and Zonal Police headquarters are less than a kilometre away from this place.

The Government in Summer of 2009 announced construction of a Flyover from Jehangir Chowk to Natipora to ease the traffic congestion on this vital link and the project was to be completed in three years. Less than seven months are left for the intended three years to be completed but the Chief Minister has not even laid the foundation stone for the project so far. He will, and I am sure of that, before he relinquishes office in 2014!!!
The flyover on Panthachowk-Parimpora Bypass is in the works for last nine years -- already five years behind schedule -- and unlikely to be completed even this year, irrespective of peace prevailing or not in the valley.

There are many more problems facing the unfortunate residents of Kashmir in general and Srinagar City in particular but the tasks mentioned above, if accomplished at the earliest, would have made the lives of these very politicians, High Court Judges, top Bureaucrats and Police officers a lot more easier.

Does it need any further elaboration that if these flag bearers of various important institutions of the state have not been able to put their immediate surroundings in order, how they must have fared in areas where they only go for votes once in six years (politicians) or visit when they are appointed as head of a commission to probe a mystery (read the judges) or investigate a gruesome crime (read top police officers)?

I have spent most of my energy in finding fault with the system – and rightly so -- but we as a PEOPLE have also failed. We will have to start with 'I' -- do what is expected of us, not be greedy or seek too much comfort. Why cannot we walk a 200-yard distance to the designated bus stop. Why should we force the transporters to make a bus stop right on the intersection of a busy road. We may not have the powers to remove the footpath vendors but it is within us not to buy anything from them. Why shall they sit on pavements when no one is buying from them?

These are small beginnings I suggest but can go a long way if we, as Kashmiris, want to reclaim our place among the civilized people.

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