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.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A True Reality Check

Amin dares to speak on topics few tackle head on and yet his search for truth may deliver freedom to the rest

(Dr. Mohammed Amin Sofi, 58, was born in Handwara. He received his early education from the Higher Secondary School in Handwara, and his B.Sc. from the Government Degree College in Baramulla. He subsequently received a Master's degree in Mathematics from the Aligarh Muslim University, and a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur which was followed by a 2-year post doctoral fellowship in Mathematics at Kiel University, Germany. Prof. Sofi teaches and conducts research in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Kashmir. In his leisure time, he enjoys reading books, listening to classical western music, Urdu ghazals and Bollywood music (pre-1980's), and reading newspapers and news magazines.)

Where Hypocrisy is Adored as a Way of Life!

There are a whole lot of issues where we ourselves are to blame, be it in an atrocious lack of sense of proportion or an inexplicable urge for overkill which is evident in the way we conduct our routine affairs day in and day out. Nowhere are these masochistic traits more visible than in an incorrigible propensity for gross mismanagement of time and resources or the vulgar splurge that is on display at our weddings about which a lot gets said and written in these columns every now and then, though without the necessary follow up action on the ground. There are competing voices jostling for space in an environment that has nothing in it to accommodate the cacophony of all these voices being raised from all the conceivable quarters. On the one hand, if there are shrill voices being raised from certain quarters for increase in the retirement age of government employees, on the other, we are witness to the grisly spectacle of residents in certain areas of Srinagar and elsewhere resorting to blocking of roads and highways to hammer home the outlandish demand for being provided electricity on a flat monthly tariff as against metered consumption of electricity which they oppose as an infringement of their basic right to unrestrained supply of electricity.

The tragedy is that we don’t realise the absurdity of these remonstrations nor is there a realisation of certain fatal flaws that have become a part and parcel of our collective ethos and which are already taking their toll upon us, though in very subtle and imperceptible ways! Of these, let us talk about this strange personality- trait hardwired in our psyche which involves an irrepressible urge to raising decibel levels at all the conceivable platforms - on the eve of a social occasion involving wedding ceremonies or condolence meetings or at seminars and conferences, to address issues which are of paramount importance to our life and our society. The fact is that these seminars and conferences, which are motivated more by considerations of personal agenda and ‘individual visibility’ than for a supposedly greater cause, cannot be expected to yield results unless they are followed by concrete action. To my utter dismay, I have to confess that words of sanity and good behaviour that are routinely blurted out with messianic zeal at such forums remain confined within the contours of the conference venue and are rarely allowed to translate into concrete action thereafter. This applies as much to events devoted to the cause of common good as to those where divine injunctions are invoked to inculcate feelings of mutual coexistence and love for fellow beings. In other words, such exhortations are followed more in breach than in their implementation. If that may appear to sound cynical, this is because there is such a widespread acceptance of farce and chicanery as a way of life that a serious effort to put to practice whatever is harangued out at these congregations is confined merely to plain rhetoric and exhibitionism. This is evident as much in our mosques and other places of worship as in our everyday life including during wedding ceremonies and in the conduct of personal relationships. And if indeed our civil society has to be faulted on this count, the ruling elite are no exception.

How else does one explain the efforts to restore peace and tranquillity in this part of the world being allowed to give way to a culture of promoting things which are conveniently billed as a barometer of return of peace and normalcy, even when the real issues of concern are relegated to the back-burner? This is so because the no-holds-barred promotion of things like tourism, without the slightest regard for the logistics to address, among other things, the issue of an unregulated inflow of tourists is a case in point. Where is the infrastructure in terms of accommodation, transport, roads and, more importantly, the civic amenities, so vital for hosting an estimated 2.5 million tourists expected to descend into the valley during the current year? Why is there such a callous indifference to the preservation of environment in Kashmir, even when strict guidelines are put in place for those who wish to visit other tourist attractions like Ooty or the Andamans as tourists from other parts of India and abroad. The wanton destruction of Dal lake coupled with the vandalisation of fauna and flora around and along the way to the Amarnath cave betrays a grand design at work where real politic is allowed to play itself out at the cost of everything including the environment that is so very intrinsic to the idea of Kashmir as a tourist destination. The impunity with which plastic garbage is allowed in and to be littered around ecologically fragile spots like Gulmarg Gondola, Sonamarg glaciers and even into the shimmering waters of Lidur Nallah in Pahalgam tells its own story and bespeaks an atrocious lack of a sense of eco-friendliness by the tourism department. What is witnessed there is utter chaos and confusion on account of total apathy and mismanagement of the local administration which is seen to be completely clueless about how to handle such a huge volume of tourists at these locations where everyone is at liberty to indulge oneself, in whatever way one chooses.

If, on the other hand, improving the state’s economy had indeed been the main concern, promoting sectors like agriculture, horticulture, floriculture and Kashmiri handicrafts would have taken precedence in terms of their eco-friendly character, and not the least because of their enormous economic potential, and so deserved to be pursued with greater effort and vigour. But alas- doing so is not perceived to pay such political dividends as does the promotion of tourism! Come to think of it, such gimmicks are invariably resorted to as red herrings to divert attention from certain core issues which are lurking under the shadows and are partly inevitable in a situation dogged by instability and uncertainty. The bottom-line is that in such situations, one may make allowance for political correctness as long as it is ensured that one is not missing the wood for the trees.

Finally, and more importantly, we also suffer from this syndrome of refusing to take the bull by the horn when called upon to deal with situations that confront us on a daily basis. The crux of the matter is that the dangers of sweeping things under the carpet are too many to reckon in detail, what with an unaddressed issue remaining dormant over a period of time but having the fatal propensity to raise its ugly head at a time when everything looks calm and hunky dory! This is what we learn in our everyday experiences, both at the level of personal relations as well as in our social interactions. Such experiences are not confined to interpersonal or international relationships, but are ubiquitous in the entire scheme of things including even in science and elsewhere. This means that a refusal to recognise and an unwillingness to come to grips with a problem is a luxury that we can afford, but only at our own peril and risk. This calls for a realistic and value-based reappraisal of things, so that the issues are addressed in right earnest, lest they snowball into something that simply becomes unmanageable over a period of time.

No comments: