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.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Reflecting on Material Greed

An "eyebrow raising" editorial in the Kashmir Images, published from Srinagar

Control Yourself

The amount and extent of institutionalized corruption in Jammu and Kashmir quite reasonably justifies its position at number two in the Transparency International’s list of corrupt states. Not a single day passes without some officials (almost always only the proverbial small fry) landing in the anti-corruption agencies’ dragnets, although very rarely are the ones held for corruption convicted by the courts. Irrespective of how many people are caught for corruption and how many actually face legal reprisals, it goes without saying that corruption remains rampant here so much so that there seems little hope of this state ever getting out of this morass. While the government’s failures in curbing corruption are well-known as much as are its ways of promoting and patronizing it, the social and religious institutions too have done precious little to confront and neutralize the menace. Obviously then, the corruption has sullied the image of organized religion too to the extent that it remains a sort of non-issue for religious scholars and preachers here. One does not see a Friday sermon in a mosque or a prayer mass in a temple ever discussing the issue of corruption and how its white-ants are eating away the vitals of the society besides creating unjust and anti-people systems everywhere.

It is the sheer material greed that seems to have become an overarching cause and consequence of the human life here. Even though all major faith traditions show marked despise for material while espousing the spiritual besides describing greed as the basest expression of human desire, yet everything material appears to have outplayed the spiritual in the scheme of things here. People may no doubt talk a great deal about morality, but such glamorous talk remains confined to public talks and lectures only without getting reflected in the way the life is lived. Unlike the Church in the West, the mosques and temples in this part of the word have not been able to evolve beyond being the spots for congregational prayers. Needless to say that these institutions have, as a consequence, not wielded the kind of influence on people and the society as they should ideally have!

Once in a while preachers may sermonize about transcendent mechanism of accountability -– that each and every individual will be held accountable for his or her actions on the ‘Day of Judgement’, for instance. But the unfortunate reality remains that such pronouncements too fail to yield desired results, because the way such messages are packaged, makes them sound like fairy tales and are obviously unable to appeal the majority imagination. Moreover, the limited knowledge base of the preachers and teachers coupled with lack of scientific temperament among them is also one of the prime causes for their messages failing to hit the bull’s eye.

Two years back planet Mars experienced a weird phenomenon of the opposite movement called "Retrograde Motion", and sun rose from west on Mars. Most scientists state that all the planets will go through the same once at least and our planet Earth is one of them. Planet Earth will move in the opposite direction some day and the sun will rise from the west! The rise of the sun from the west is mentioned in the ‘hadith’ also and this would be the major sign of the Day of Judgement. It’s time to wake up, for once the “sun rises from the west, ‘tauba’ (forgiveness) will no longer be granted”. And surely we all need to seek forgiveness for having brought ourselves, society and the state to a point and a state where everything is way too CORRUPT. And what better time to go seeking forgiveness, and transformation of body and mind and soul but during the holy month of Ramadan -- after all, isn’t it what fasting during the day and praying in the night is all about! Observing ritual fasting but continuing with the same fraudulent maneuverings of corruption and deceit doesn’t go together; respecting the holy month of Ramadan means craving for and bringing about that very change within and without which would make this place really worthwhile -- wherein everyone is safe and secure at the hands and deeds of everyone else.

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