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 31, 2012

The Ostrich Syndrome

An editorial in the Rising Kashmir asks readers to recognize turmoil among the young people

Alarming Situation

It is high time for people in the society to come out with a strategy to fight the menace of suicide

The rate of suicides in Kashmir valley is increasing alarmingly. Only in three days seven young boys and girls took this extreme step in the jurisdiction of one police station in north Kashmir. Out of those seven four have died. Suicide is part of giving vent to frustration related to failure in one’s endeavour to achieve some goal. By that standard it is part of the long list of evils in the society.

However, Kashmir being a Muslim majority region, Islam as a religion also strictly prohibits such an act and even there is restriction on offering the funeral prayers of such a person. However, given the societal compulsions the clerics also remain tight-lipped over the issue. This could have proven to be a deterrent in decreasing the number of such incidents. As rightly pointed out by leading psychiatrist of Valley Dr Arshid Hussain, the trend has gained momentum due to degradation in socio-religious and cultural values in the society.

It is pertinent to mention here that most of the attempts of suicide are related to failed love affairs between a boy and a girl as parents generally do not approve of such a relation and disallow the marriages which they think are against the set standards of Kashmiri society. It is also a fact that Islam allows the liking and disliking in choosing ones life partner and gives maximum space to manoeuvre on that but that cannot come as a result of waywardness. There have been more than 1100 reported cases of suicide in Valley in one year. This is an astounding rate and needs to be countered.

It is high time for the right thinking people in the society to come out with a strategy to fight this menace. This is spreading like the drug addiction, which is also taking heavy toll of youth. There is strong need of introducing moral education in the school curriculum and revert back to teaching of Dinyat at the primary and middle level. While parents also have responsibility to ensure proper upbringing, the clerics and Imams of mosques could play an important role in disseminating the guidelines for being good human beings. Giving much access to mobiles and Internet to young kids is also an important tool, which drives them towards such a disastrous path. Technological advancement can be used for doing good to society and these should not be used for acquiring status symbol and showing one another down. The penetration of mobiles, Internet and the Television has badly affected the Kashmiri society. Serials on various TV channels are also playing a dangerous role in shaping the young minds in this direction. It is time for us to ponder over these issues to put a break on a phenomenon such as suicides that is taking a heavy toll.

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