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.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

One Way Street

In a culture that has been skillful in taking other people's money without accountability, it is difficult to give something (anything) in return

Property Tax Related Issue Evokes Mixed Response

Sana Altaf (Kashmir Times)

Srinagar: After being endorsed by chief minister, the issue of levying property tax in the state is receiving a mixed response from various main stream political parties.

Main opposition party, PDP has adopted a guarded approach. Congress leaders have welcomed the introduction of property tax in the Valley, CPI (M) has opposed the property tax.

Senior Congress leader, Abdul Gani Vakil, told Kashmir Times that the decision of chief minister would be the collective decision of the coalition partner.

“It is a welcome step which would prove beneficial for the state,” Vakil said.

He, however, stressed that it would be better if a provision is introduced for recovering the money from sales tax defaulters.

“The sales tax defaulters owe state over Rs 500 crores. There must be some agency to recovery this huge amount of money,” he added.

As per the media reports, chief minister Omar Abdullah on Friday told planning commission that his government would try to build consensus in the next assembly session over the issue of introducing property tax in the state.

Vice president PDP, Muzaffar Hussain Beig reacted saying if the provisions of the property tax bill, are beneficial for the state, they would favour it in the assembly.

“When any such bill is introduced in the assembly, we would go through it thoroughly. If it’s provision are good we shall favour it, if not, we shall oppose,” Beig revealed.

However CPI(M) member, G.N.Malik revealed that property tax would add burden to common man.

“We oppose property tax for state because it would make people suffer.”

President, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Abdul Hamid Punjabi, suggested that government must loop in various stake holders before introducing the bill in the assembly. He stated that government should undertake proper planning and marking of residential and commercial areas before going ahead with the property tax bill.

“If we look at government record, a place which was once identified as a residential area is now commercial too and vice versa. Besides many abandoned places have been converted into residential and commercials hubs. Who shall identify them,” said Hamid.

He adds authorities should identify the residential and commercial places for which the tax would be levied.

“It is only when we have them clearly marked; the property tax can be levied.

Hamid viewed government should discuss the issue with the various business organization; come up with a proper model and confidence building measures.

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