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, January 9, 2013

Disappearing Heritage

Kashmiri woodwork, once a thriving industry, has seen its better days

Traditional art of Woodwork Loses its Sheen in Valley

Mukhtar Ahmed (Kashmir Images)

Srinagar: Once vogue in the valley, the art of woodworking has suffered on many fronts for the last more than two decades of turmoil here. The decreasing number of traditional carpenters and the lack of investment according to the experts are the two major reasons for the art to lose its ground in Kashmir.

If tapped to the full, the potential of woodworking in Kashmir according to the President of Federation Chambers of Industries in Kashmir (FCIK) Zahoor Ahmad Bhat is more than rupees 500 crores annually. “Less number of traditional carpenters and not-so-good infrastructure in woodworking created big hurdles in tapping its full potential in Kashmir. We see workers from outside the state forming a good chunk of labourers and carpenters now-a-days in Kashmir. Besides, the disturbed conditions for the last more than 20 years wreaked havoc on woodworking as proper investment could not be made into it,” Bhat told ‘Kashmir Images.’

Pooling in its efforts for revival of woodworking here, Bhat through his industrial association FCIK recently facilitated participation of some 30 woodworkers from across the Valley in International Woodworking Exhibition at New Delhi on December 31 2012. “Despite being a Hartal day in Kashmir on December 31 2012, the required number of woodworkers could not attend the exhibition. But, we are satisfied that many of these 30 people who participated have a bright every chance of making it to another exhibition to be held at Greater Noida from January 31 to February 03 2013,” informed Bhat.

The exhibition at Delhi, Bhat informed was conducted by the Bangalore based event management company---PDA Trade Share. The local woodworkers Bhat added were introduced to the India wood (Bangalore) and Delhi wood through a power point presentation about use of latest machinery on live demonstrations by experts from different word working companies across the world. Seeing a lot of potential for the traditional carpenters ahead, Bhat says latest technology should be introduced and young carpenters should be educated about its use at the different Industrial Training Institutes across the Valley. “We have to done away with the use of conventional technology. There are hundreds of hotels to be renovated in Kashmir in the coming years. The state government should provide training to the local carpenters so that we don’t have to rely too much upon the carpenters from outside the state for building state-of-the-art infrastructure here,” asserted Zahoor.

Other office bearers at FCIK waxed eloquence on the participation of Kashmiri wood workers in the exhibition. “Held for the first time outside the Valley, the exhibition has opened windows for opportunities for Kashmiri woodworkers. Besides, it has enabled the local unit holders to directly trade with the international firms who will later buy their products on order basis,” a FCIK member said.

He further said that being used to the conventional technology, the wood workers, particularly, the carpenters have remained elusive to the benefits of latest machinery so far. But, he added that after the participation of the local wood workers at New Delhi and the likely participation of many of them at another International Exhibition at Greater Noida, things will change for good for them.

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