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.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Two Kashmirs

One is aware of the world but indifferent to sleaze and corruption (probably because they are its beneficiaries as well), the other is unaware of the world and utterly poor and ailing

JK’s Blessed Corrupt

Riyaz Ahmad (Greater Kashmir)

BJP president Nitin Gadkari's alleged corrupt deals are roiling the political landscape in India. So are those of Robert Vadra and to a lesser extent that of Salman Khurshid. Arvind Kejriwal who broke away from Team Anna to float his own political party has managed to put corruption at the centre of discourse. In no time, not only the reputation of some prominent individuals has taken a battering but in case of politicians like Gadkari their entire political career seems to be on the line.

This is not the first time that powerful individuals in the country find themselves arraigned at the bar of public opinion when they are found to be involved in corrupt practices. True, the cases of political corruption drag endlessly in courts. But many a time this doesn’t protect the political careers. Last year, Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan had to unceremoniously resign following revelations about his role in Adarsh scam. And before him the BJP leader Yeddyurappa lost his post as Karnataka Chief Minister in illegal mining scam.

But this doesn't happen in Kashmir. The state operates in a detached world of its own, insulated from the play of democracy in the mainland. As Gadkari, Vadra and Khurshid find themselves cornered over allegations of corruption and their tribe feels the heat of the growing anti-corruption movement, politicians in Kashmir need hardly to bother. For corruption in Kashmir, while it may be rampant, doesn’t become a political issue. The discourse here runs so obsessively around the ongoing conflict and the politics of it that nothing outside it seems to exist. In fact, there is an entire aspect of public life which is not a part of political consciousness in the state.

This reality has rubbed off on the institutional capacities of the state to tackle political corruption. One can hardly cite a high-profile instance where anti-corruption bodies in the state have successfully pinned down the guilt of a senior politician. Politicians in the state, as a result, feel little sense of accountability to the people of the state - or should we say people here don't make any such demand from them. Corruption is generally seen as a rightful part of political life or people are too cynical of the system’s ability to force accountability to make such demand. This has generated an unnatural situation. The result is that we end up getting the governments which have the luxury of operating in a world free of sufficient checks and balances. And hence there is an inherently less than adequate need to perform and be honest. What is more, things sometimes become quite ludicrous, for example, the handling of the Congress leader Peerzada Muhammad Sayeed’s resignation over the copying of his son in the matriculation examination. The resignation certainly did come through but then it turned out that the minister was not going anywhere, being only divested of the education portfolio.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah only articulated a part of this reality when in a speech in New Delhi he expressed the inability of coalition government’s to tackle corruption. But there is a marked difference in how this reality plays out in Kashmir and in New Delhi. Here corruption, even in its brazen forms doesn't qualify for a sense of some public outrage. Besides, what CM's helplessness conveys is a certain technical rather than principled approach to corruption – that corruption can be dealt with only in a particular kind of setting and system. This is ridiculous. If you can't tackle corruption in a coalition setting, for sure you can't do it when you are running a single party rule. Corruption can hardly be confronted if you are not ready to stick your neck out for it.

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