“ There is nothing new in world except the history you do not know.” – Harry Truman

Tanvir seems to have momentarily lost his senses to suggest even for a moment that Kashmiris can rise above petty politics

(Mr. Tanvir Sadiq, 31, was born in Srinagar and attended the Burn Hall School. He completed his Bachelor’s degree in Information technology and management from Orissa University. He is the youngest Municipal Corporator of the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) and was elected from Zadibal Constituency. He has contributed regularly to local newspapers like the Kashmir Times, Kashmir Images, Greater Kashmir, and Kashmir Monitor. He was associated with many programs on Disaster Management of J & K and did a couple of programs on highlighting urban poverty. He hopes to be a candidate in the upcoming State Assembly election in 2008 on the National Conference platform from Zadibal assembly constituency. His interest are writing and social work.)

Joining Hands

Many of my eloquent, well versed, and knowledgeable critics have varied opinions on some of the issues that I discuss in my opinion articles. Most readers are able to read that feedback on my blog, but sadly they are unable to read the numerous emails that I receive continually which contain excellent counter arguments to the issues that I raise in my articles. Recently, I have been writing about the ways in which we all can leave aside our petty differences and give the current government a helping hand to steer Kashmir toward the path of prosperity. Of all the great feedback that I receive, the one type of comment that stands out from the rest is where the writers feel that it has all along been India’s policy to keep Kashmir underdeveloped for their own strategic reasons, and that all efforts to change our crumbling economy and unemployment are futile. I will argue here that regardless of what have been the circumstances in the past, we owe it to the newly elected government to give them a chance for the sake of our beloved Kashmir.

The reason that the new government deserves a chance is that although we may have disparate political views, I hope our motives converge on the desire to see a Kashmir with low unemployment, world-class infrastructure, and a reasonably high standard of living. It is without doubt going to be next to impossible for the government to move forward if all the people of Kashmir do not share this dream. This includes people who voted against the present government, and those who chose to stay away from the polls. Omar Abdullah in his NDTV award function said if I don’t do a job well there are people who will tell me that I have done a lousy job and hasn’t he at numerous occasions promised that lending him a helping hand to accomplish all these ambitious targets will not be a vote to shelf the Kashmir issue.

I write this knowing well that half the emails that I receive will accuse me of being an epitome of sycophancy. Accepting criticism is part of being involved in public life, and therefore I accept praises as well as brick-bats with open arms. At the same time, I promise them that no amount of negative feedback will scare me away from speaking what I believe is in the best interest of Kashmir.

Therefore, I strongly believe that it is in the best interest of Kashmir to hold back our conspiracy theories about the purported Indian policy of keeping Kashmir perpetually in the dark ages and that because of this imaginary Indian policy, Kashmiris are destined to live a life of servitude under India. I am sure these sort of statements will not stop the progress of Omar’s plans, but they do distract from the main topic at hand. Instead, we should be concentrating on brainstorming all possible alternate routes in reaching our goal of bringing Kashmir back to the 21st century, and then picking the most feasible way forward. I am aware the preceding sentence seemed very hypothetical but what I mean is that I might suggest a path which involves bringing in experts from holland to teach us everything there is to know about starting greenhouses in Kashmir to jumpstart the greenhouse industry on a large scale, someone else might suggest something altogether different such as investing our time and effort in handing out loans to youth to start small scale units or any other viable idea. After debating the pros and cons of all these alternate routes that we could possibly take, we might agree on the best way forward. In all honesty I would be willing to debate these sort of issues for as long as it takes rather than debating whether a purported Indian policy exists to always keep Kashmir as a servile dependency.

I have repeatedly emphasized that the only reason I am in politics is my desire to see Kashmir at par with other great cities in the world. What defeats my understanding is that why is it that these cities seem to have many of the similar problems that Kashmir faces and yet we seem to fare much worse than them. Granted, the security scenario is a big hindrance but I have yet to find an answer as to what the security scenario has to do with modernizing our drainage system. I will not bore you all with details on how the drainage system is the vascular system of any city, including Srinagar, upon which other important issues facing Kashmir depends such as cleanliness of the Dal Lake and general hygiene of all areas. Therefore, my point is that for all these years and with thousands of crores worth of assistance from the central government why is it that our main artery of the drainage has not been completed yet. Apart from the possible answer of rampant corruption, the only other answer to this is that the common people are not involved.

In my personal experience whilst dealing with project completion, I have felt that involving people who will be affected with any particular development project in their area makes a huge difference. I accomplished this by discussing the project details with them and seeking their input about the final decision. This way people realized they had ownership of the lane, park, street-lights etc that was being built in their mohallas. The reason is that people realize they are the ultimate owners of any public property and the government is just the caretaker. Similarly, the government should involve the general public by hearing their suggestions and concerns regarding any major development project in Kashmir. In this way, the public knows the ‘grand plan’ and keeps the contractors and engineers on their toes if the public witnesses any laxity or deviation from the plan. In contrast, many people in Srinagar are unaware of the major development projects planned for the city.

This final statement brings me back to the original point that we should all keep our differences aside and work together for the development of Kashmir. Every one of us should be involved in the development of Kashmir. I respect all political views including those held by the separatists. But, prescribing to disparate views should not be a hindrance for all of us joining hands for the benefit of all Kashmiris. Developing our infrastructure, revitalizing our economy to help ease unemployment, and increasing everyone’s standard of living – these should be the goals that we should all cooperate to achieve regardless of our political views