Walk into a bookstore, and you are drawn to a stack of titles on Kashmir conflict. Though non-Kashmiri writers have authored most of these books, there has been a refreshing change over the years with local writers attempting to give a local perspective of the intractable conflict. Now you can find Victoria Schofield, Sumantra Bose, Sumit Ganguly, M J Akbar and others alongside Basharat Peer and Mirza Waheed.
The local narrative is important given the prevailing climate of opinion in India about Kashmir.The debate about Kashmir has been conducted primarily by sensational journalism in India. The negative image of Kashmiris among the Indian people receive daily reinforcement from the news media. As a result, to the average Indian newspaper reader, Kashmiris and secessionists have become almost interchangeable terms. In the absence of any contact with real Kashmiris in daily life, many have accepted this kind of image as a substitute.
In the publishing world, some of the Indian authors have also encouraged amnesia about the past, reinforcing their own prejudices or misinformation about Kashmir. These books have added to the mistrust among the Indians towards Kashmiris. These self-proclaimed exposés reveal words of terrorist intrigue and plots against India. Alongside these instant potboilers are books with a more sober tone yet putting the blame on Pakistan and its Kashmiri sympathizers for the alienation of Kashmiris.
Given the power of media to change the discourse on any subject, it becomes all the more important to cut through the fog of misinformation about the longstanding conflict. Kashmiri writers can offer readers the tools to reach an independent understanding of the subject.
The primary task of Kashmiri authors should be to educate non-Kashmiris about the true face of the conflict so as to evolve a well-informed public consensus for its resolution.
Basharat and Waheed must have certainly encouraged many young minds to pen their experiences about the conflict so there won’t be any surprise if we have many more books written by Kashmiris on offer in the coming times.
For those who are presently working on their manuscripts, let their work aim to be illustrative and provocative rather than comprehensive or exhaustive. Let their primary aim be to remove the veils of ignorance that have cloaked the subject for so long. Best of luck!
Source: Rising Kashmir
Social networking and Kashmir
These sites have emerged as a fast means of circulating news for beleaguered residents of Valley
Zahoor Hussain Bhat
Through social networking, internet users use networks of online friends and group memberships to keep in touch with friends, reconnect with old friends or create real–life friendships. Some social networking sites help members find a job or establish business contacts.
Most social networking websites also offer additional features. In addition to blogs and forums, members can express themselves by designing their profile page to reflect their personality. The most popular extra features include music and video sections. Members can read bios of their favorite music artists from the artist's profile page as well as listen to their favorite songs and watch music videos.
Users are making decisions and getting information from conversations taking place on social networking sites, online tools that help people connect with others who share similar interests, or with those who are interested in exploring new interests and activities. Social networking sites can help organizations to increase awareness about an issue, find signatures for a petition, and encourage supporters to take action.
Maintaining social networking profile is like maintaining a mini website. Like a website, you need to keep your content fresh, while taking on the additional task of cultivating your contact lists. One way to keep our community strong is by keeping in frequent contact with our friend network, either profile-to-profile, via private messaging, or in groups.
Interestingly social networking sites are being used as a tool in times of crisis. A college student backpacking in Southeast Asia started a Facebook group called Support the Monks Protest in Burma to draw attention to the pro-democracy protests led by the country's revered Buddhist monks. The group found more than 400,000 supporters from around the world and helped attract attention to the monks cause.
Likewise the streets of Kashmir Valley during unrest of 2008, 2009 and 2010 were not the only places burning with angry protests over the civilian killings. Youngsters were using their personal or community internet pages in the Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Orkut, Youtube etc to express their anger. Restrictions like curfews may have prevented youth to vent their anger on streets in shape of protests but it certainly could not stop them from expressing their anger on social networking websites including Facebook, Twitter, Orkut and Youtube.
At some time the state government banned local News Channels and sms-service in realizing that it was the medium through which people were communicating and spreading information across. But youths started social networking sites as alternative mean.
Social networking sites provided a platform to the people of valley to have their say. The social networking sites have tens of thousands of users from valley. Ironically, hundreds of communities active on issues like culture and entertainment have also engaged in political debates and been busy breaking news about unrest in the valley.
Users were regularly reading the status through the posts for latest happenings across the valley the times reeling under curfews.
Cutting across the barriers and borders, users from almost every part of the world are also connected to Kashmir conflict through these social networking sites.
Social scientists argue that social networking sites can help cool tempers and make masses less tense because people to vent their anger and stay connected which in turn helps in lowering of tensions and anxiety, as people get to know well-being of relatives.
In short Social networking sites have emerged as a fast means for circulating news for beleaguered residents of Kashmir. The social networking sites are providing a chance to arrange virtual get-together for friends and relatives who have not been able to see each other due to the turmoil.
Source: Rising Kashmir