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 1, 2012

Something to Cheer About

Pervez discovers the subtle yet intense message springs glory brings to an otherwise dysfunctional city

(Mr. Pervez Majeed Lone, 35, was born in Ashpora, a hamlet located in Handwara Tehsil in the Kupwara District. His primary schooling took place in government schools in his hometown, and he finished his higher secondary education from the Government Higher Secondary School, Kupwara. He graduated from the University of Kashmir as a Continuing Education student with Sociology, Philosophy and English Literature as major subjects. In 2004, he completed his Master's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Kashmir. He has worked in various local Urdu journals (Chattan, Pukar) and the Radio Kashmir (Sheharbeen) before joining the Sahara Time, a weekly national news magazine from the Sahara Group. He is passionate about the Urdu language and poetry, and loves to listen to music, read English literature and traveling.)

Spring Spectacle of Kashmir

Flowering trees all around, expanses of yellow mustard fields, chirping birds and plush green meadows dotted with daisies: this is spring spectacle in Kashmir. As the cold, dark and short days of winter give way to bright, warm sunny days, life starts picking up with all its magnificence.

The harsh winter chill virtually jams life in Kashmir and the environs look dull and silent. Except the snow, the beauty of Kashmir gets shrouded in gloomy winter days. And in spring, it seems as if this beauty wakes up from its sleep and moves around like an alluring damsel. In the home lawns and gardens, the flowers like daisy, narcissus and daffodils herald a new life, bringing cheer on the winter-weary people.

In this season, all around one can see various flowering fruit trees, including cherry, apple, apricot and almond in full blossom. This pinkish, purple and white riot of colours creates a heavenly ambience. While walking in orchards - apple and almonds, the fragrance soothes the soul. “The walk in these blossoming gardens is a luxury; the magnificent view mixed with the fragrance makes a cocktail of ultimate beauty,” expresses Muhammad Maqbool Faiq, a poet and a nature lover. Due to abundant snowfall and rains in winter, the blossoming of the fruit orchards is rich this time.

The season enlivens the birds as well, as Kashmir’s native birds including sparrows, bulbuls, Mynas and doves are chirping around, seen collecting straws to rebuild their nests damaged in winter.

The breeze around is calm and soothing. In fact, the spring winds are used as symbols of love and kindness by poets in Kashmir. Though mornings in Kashmir are generally cool and breezy, but they are balmy in spring. The early morning chirping of birds when mixes with soft wind rustling gently through the tree tops creates a mesmerising symphony, cheering even the gloomiest moods.

Yellow Delight

These yellow vast fields, which stimulate the imagination at first look, are an adorable feast to the spring visitors of the Valley. Mustard is grown in a number of fertile plains here. And as its flowers sprout in spring, the lush yellow fields present a captivating spectacle. The view is so irresistible that few can afford not to relish this yellow delight. As one walks through these booming fields, the fragrance and the buzzing of bees create an idyllic scene of beauty and splendour. Like fruits, the favourable weather in winter has helped booming mustard crop this season. Though for its cultivators mustard is just a Rabi crop to add to the family income, but their toil is an important ingredient to the spectacular spring of Kashmir. “We have made mustard our thrust area because it pays dividends in two ways: a good Rabi crop and adds to beauty of spring in Kashmir,” says director agriculture Dr Farooq Ahmad Lone.

Spring Landmark

Traditionally on the arrival of spring, the Mughal gardens of Nishat, Shalimar and Chashma-Shahi in Srinagar are thrown open to visitors. But since past five years, Srinagar’s Tulip Garden has emerged as the most famous spring beauty landmark of the Valley. Situated in the lap of Zabarwan hills, this Asia largest tulip garden has become the major attraction for the tourists who visit Kashmir in spring and early summer days. With the expansion the total number of tulips in the garden has reached 20 million. In the sprawling garden overlooking the Dal Lake, the myriad colours of tulips are in full bloom, adding to the spring mosaic of Kashmir.

Badam Vaer

Almond Alcove in Srinagar, locally known as ‘Badam Vaer’ is one of the fabled beauty spots of Kashmir which traditionally has been used for spring festivities. Elders fondlyrecall how they used to celebrate spring in Badam Vaer under the purple hues and fragrance of flowering almond trees. This garden was lost due to political strife and many other reasons, but remaining part of it was revived in 2008 by the J&K Bank. Since then, it is being thronged by people in spring.

Noted poet Zareef Ahmad Zareef says that Badam Vaer has historical and cultural significance for Kashmir. “It has shrines of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs around it; thus a powerful symbol of Kashmiryat, the communal harmony of the inhabitants,” said Zareef, who has eulogised the importance of garden in a Kashmiri poem which is regarded a literary masterpiece. Now that Badam Vaer is again becoming a cultural emblem of Kashmir, Zareef says “Kashmiris are resurrecting their culture and heritage, lost in years of bloody political strife.

Spring Prayer

The past two decades of turmoil robbed Kashmiris (and of course tourists) of relishing the beauties of the Paradise on earth. But these days, the hordes of people at Badamvaer, Tulip Garden and such other beauty spots gives a hope that this spring holds a promise of peace and joy for the battered people of the strife-torn Kashmir. Rahman Rahi, eminent poet of Kashmiri language who has been awarded Gyanpith Award, the highest literary award of the country, wailed the loss of spring beauty in 1995 thus: Sheen ous galan, wav dalan, baag fulaan aes-hae sountae gawahi di zae, aes kael tae givaan aes. (That time, snow used to melt, breeze blew and gardens blossomed. Ye O spring, be witness that we dumb too used to sing). Nowadays, says Rahi, I hope and pray that my countrymen no more lament the loss of beauty.

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