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, September 16, 2012

Playing by Different Rules - 1

Amazing that no one in the authority cares!

Jammu: Although the assets statements of the country's Prime Minister and all the Union Ministers are available for public scrutiny, it seems some of our politicians, senior bureaucrats and police officers believe they have a higher profile and better immunity than the Prime Minister of the country!
Despite repeated directions that they must immediately disclose their assets so that these are made available for public scrutiny and information, many Ministers, senior bureaucrats and top police officers of the State have blatantly been ignoring these directives.
It is the right of the common citizen of the State to know what the assets of our civil servants and Ministers are and therefore these have to be made available through official websites for all to peruse. Some of the top bureaucrats and police officers whose names have been disclosed in response to RTI applications are still avoiding the disclosures.
There is no doubt that both transparency and accountability in public life have taken the worst beating during the last 20 years in Jammu and Kashmir. In the name of disturbed law and order situation many politicians and civil servants have been having a field day inflating their personal assets.
Politicians, bureaucrats and police officers are now known to own shopping malls, prime properties and even hotels at health resorts. In the process of making Jammu and Kashmir the second most corrupt State in the country these unscrupulous bureaucrats, police officers and politicians have actually become business magnates. Some senior police officers are known land brokers and their roles in land mafia businesses are a common knowledge in Srinagar and Jammu.
It is also known widely that civil servants and politicians are using their official position to increase their profits as land brokers, land mafia runners and patrons of those indulging in unlawful business practices.
It is a sad commentary on the effectiveness of the State Government that its civil servants are brushing aside statutory requirements to furnish the details of their assets which is mandatory for every civil servant and politician in power.
Not a single such civil servant has been booked under the provisions of the law for their resistance to disclosures of assets. While the State Vigilance Organization (SVO) has tried to give a semblance of its effectiveness by cracking its whip on the lower rung of State administration, the big sharks are roaming freely and operating under the very nose of the SVO.
It seems the politicians, bureaucrats and police officers in Jammu and Kashmir believe they enjoy some sort of blanket immunity whereby they are not required to disclose their assets. Given the trend, it would not be very late when we can proudly claim to be the most corrupt State in the country.

NC, PDP not submitting annual income returns to ECI
Abid Bashir (Rising Kashmir)
Srinagar: The ruling National Conference and main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have figured in the list of defaulters for not submitting their annual income report since last many years to the Election Commission of India (ECI).

The development has raised serious question mark on source of funding of the two key political parties of the State.
As per the report released by the ECI in response to National Election Watch (NEW) and a New Delhi based NGO, Association for Democratic Reforms, NC and PDP have not submitted their annual reports since last many years. Owing to it, the two parties have been included in the list of 18 defaulting parties of India, who haven’t submitted their annual income reports so far.
According to Section 29 B of Representation of Peoples’ Act, 1956, every political party may accept any amount of contribution voluntarily offered to it by any person or company other than a government company. However, no political party is eligible to accept any contribution from any foreign source. “The treasurer of a political party or any other person authorized by the party in this behalf shall, in each financial year, prepare a report in respect of the contribution in excess of Rs 20, 000,” the act reads.
It further reads that it is mandatory for political parties to submit it to Election Commission a list of donations they received of over Rs. 20,000. “If any political party fails to submit a report, then such a party shall not be entitled to any tax relief”.
National Conference spokesman, Tanvir Sadiq told Rising Kashmir that the party has been submitting the annual income report to the Income Tax department without any fail. “We have no problem in submitting the same to the ECI,” he said.
However, party sources said there was no proper system to submit the reports annually.
“Since General Secretary Sheikh Nazir fell ill, the accounts section of the party became sick as well. There was no record about the funds received and party’s annual income,” they said.
PDP chief spokesman Nayeem Akhter said he is not updated on the issue. “I will look into it and if there is any fail. We will correct it as soon as possible,” he said.
Sources said when major political parties in the State were defaulters, the fate of lesser known parties can only be imaged.
Both NC and PDP organize mega rallies in almost all districts of the State every year. Besides, the party leaders travel long distances to campaign for party during election time to garner public support. The leaders of parties also visit individually to their respective constituencies.
Congress tops the list of five political parties having highest total income in last seven years. The party has an income of Rs 2008 Crore in last seven years.
National Coordinator, National Election Watch and APDR, Anil Bairwal said once the parties make their annual statements, it becomes clear as to what their source of funding was and how credible they were.
“There are 18 political parties, who haven’t submitted their annual income reports. With this, people can’t trust the parties who don’t fulfil the criteria set by the RPA,” Bairwal told Rising Kashmir over phone from New Delhi.
He said NEW was an amalgam of scores of originations across India under one banner. “APDR is a New Delhi based NGO working for democratic reforms in the country.”
Bairwal said NC and PDP are major defaulters as they haven’t submitted a single report since last many years. “How could one know how strong a party is financially? Besides, one has to know the source of funding of political parties”.


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