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, April 22, 2012

As Rabid as Dog Menace on Our Streets

Ashraf is talking about corruption in Kashmir, and he calls political corruption as the mother of all corruptions

(Dr. Mirza Ashraf Beg, 71, was born in Sarnal, Anantnag. He did his primary schooling at the Primary Hanfia School in Anantnag and completed his F. Sc. from the Government Degree College in Anantnag. He completed his medical degree (MBBS) from the Government Medical College Srinagar, University of Kashmir, in 1967, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Pathology from the Government Medical College Jammu, University of Jammu, in 1981. He served as the Medical Director of the Civil Hospital, Pahalgam, until 1983 and subsequently held senior administrative positions in the health service system of Saudi Arabia, including participation in a joint program with the Johns Hopkins University and the University of South Florida for a United Nations project related to environmental and ecological impact of the 1991 Gulf War. He is an Executive Member of the Jammu and Kashmir Red Cross (nominated by the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir), Member of General Medical Council, Jammu and Kashmir, Medical Council of India, Saudi Medical Council, and General Medical Council, London. He is proficient in Kashmiri, Urdu, Hindi, English, Arabic.)

 Corruption and Kashmir

These days there is lot of hue and cry about corruption in Kashmir so much so even the accused also cries foul. ‘The pot calls the kettle black.’ It is said a thief once entered a house with the intention of committing burglary. Somehow he felt the owner was awake thus tried to run away. The master of the house gathered his guts chased the thief shouting loud, ‘here goes the thief-please catch him.’ The thief stopped-had a deep breath and shouted back, ‘Hay-anybody around, please save me the genie is attacking me!’ Since the thief was a respectable personality from the neighborhood people had to believe him. They caught hold of the poor house owner taking him for a genie and beat him blue and black. Seeing him in a pool of blood the thief laughed at the house owner saying, ‘thus far and no further. How dare you challenge my credibility?

No doubt corruption is a pandemic phenomena but corruption in Kashmir seems as rabid as the dog menace on our streets. So much so the rare ‘honest breed’ has become such a rare commodity that one doesn’t get even the feel of it. Thus the community needs to rise up in an organized manner to address both the dog menace and the corruption. Every day dogs on our streets are mauling our kids and women. The irony is instead of finding ways and means to get rid of ever increasing dog population the government increased the supply of ARV (anti rabies) injections to our hospitals thereby giving a free license to the stray dogs to do the job. On the contrary during my morning walks on KP road in Islamabad I advise my fellow joggers to carry a stick for their defense lest they are butchered by a platoon of dogs raised and patronized by the CRP jawans for their self defense occupying the animal husbandry hospital at Sarnal Anantnag. I know we can’t apply the same yard stick for corruption and rabid dogs but something like ARV and my ‘cane’ needs to be researched. I am sure carrying a cane and a joggers dress adds to your respectability besides scaring the dogs and their godfathers.

Sometimes I ponder if the solution lies in creating or activating the agencies like anti-corruption etc; then I am reminded of the story of the thief and the house owner! Surprisingly I am told to believe that anti-corruption itself is the greatest source of corruption in the country. So where do we go from here? Have we come to the dead end of the road! I am not a pessimist and by nature I am a great optimist. I always see the light on the other end of the tunnel. I strongly believe in the old saying, ‘where there is a will there is a way’ and have always welcomed the challenges of life. Having said that let me remind my readers that I hail from a rural agricultural background. When the land becomes barren or ceases to give good results we concentrate more on the better seeds rather than on the land itself. We change the seeds and plough the land deeper.

Coming back to ‘corruption and Kashmir’ we know Kashmir is the paradise on earth. There can be no two opinions about the fertility of the land. It has also been the abode for Rishis and Munies hence corruption here seems an alien phenomena. Unfortunately the ground situation is very grim. Hence we need to close the ‘chapter of present generation’ and concentrate seriously on our future generation in our kindergarten schools colleges and universities.

From my kindergarten days in Hanfiya primary school at Sarnal to my matriculation in state government school in Lal chowk Islamabad I remember we used to have morning meetings beginning with prayers like, ‘Lab pe aati hay dua bun kay tamana meri—Zendagi shama ki soorat ho khudaya meri.’

Thinking retrospectively I don’t find anything wrong in that type of moral building right from the childhood. While analyzing the graph of corruption morning prayers seem to have had positive effect on that generation of people. The graph of Corruption has definitely had a steep rise in quality and quantity in the last couple of decades when we stopped to think about moral building. I wonder what was wrong in our morning meetings and why did we stop the procedure. When I say quality of corruption I mean other shades of corruption like moral social and spiritual corruption. When I say social corruption I mean corruption through socialization and spiritual corruption is when the corruption takes the refuge under a religious ploy.

As we know every coin has two facets similarly we need to find other facets of corruption where a salaried government employee accused of corruption is at the receiving end. I don’t want to defend or justify the corruption in bureaucracy on the pretext of sky high prices in the market and the cost of living for a salaried babu. And then his electric bills grocery and education of his children. But even if the babu strictly follows the family planning of, ‘Hum doo and Humaray doo,’ in our joint family system he will at least have to support his ailing and aged parents where only his medical bills shall be bone breaking for the family. Subsidizing the education and ensuring the health care services through health insurance would lessen the burden on the salaried babu to a great extent and work as an incentive against the corruption in government sector. So we need to look on the problem of corruption in totality rather than through a narrow prism. Definitely we will be able to curtail the menace to a great extent if we stop buying ‘what we don’t need today with the conception lest we have to sell what we need tomorrow’. By saying so I am hinting at cultivating the thought of contentment in our society. That is possible by adapting to simple living and high thinking.

I know my readers are eager to know my views on political corruption. My honest opinion stands that corruption in political hierarchy is the mother of all the corruptions. It definitely trickles down from the top. There are accusations that currency printing machines and all sorts of contraband business work under the patronage of our political activists irrespective of their political thoughts or propensity. I also know we are all sick of the system but there is no way out except to follow the system and resort to the ballot. Thus the ball is in our court. No doubt the field of politics has become muddy and the role of politicians murky yet the nation has hope in the younger generation and they have to prove their worth.

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