Streets of Srinagar have turned ugly and dangerous: Broken footpaths, dislocated curbstones, missing signage, and potholes affecting traffic and pedestrian movement is a common scene in Srinagar. In Srinagar’s heart, Lal Chowk, the under construction drainage system near Regal Chowk is giving commuters a tough time. The stretch starting from Lambert lane up to Ghanta Ghar is in shambles making the walking tough even for the pedestrians. The road infrastructure is weak almost across the city which gets exposed during rains when the entire streets and markets turn into a lake due to water-logging. This is the scenario of a city that is not just the capital of the state but has even been declared as smart city. Two years have passed since the city along with Jammu, the winter capital, was declared to be developed as smart city but there is not even a modicum of movement on this front so far. There is no official word as when the work on making these cities as “smart” would begin. The Smart Cities would have automatic traffic signal, better public transport facility, quick accident relief, smart traffic system, data centre, face identification system to catch criminals, control room for crime, health, services and traffic for better coordination to provide quick help to the people besides series of other facilities for which several millions would be spent by the Central Government. Now have a look at Srinagar—the face of Kashmir. It is turning uglier with each passing day. Mounds of stinking garbage strewn in every nook and corner, Dug up roads, overflowing drains, coverless manholes, and swarms of wild and vicious dogs prowling everywhere is a common sight in Srinagar. The famous River Jhelum is like a sewerage drain of all the towns, cities and villages on its banks. Presently, Srinagar is considered as the dirtiest and the most polluted city in India. Santek Consultants Pvt. Ltd for Union Ministry for Tourism has very startling revelations to make about the city. In a survey, conducted last year, the agency found that the city is below mark in tourism related facilities as well. Gathering opinions from the visitors—both domestic as well foreign—the agency has found that besides the dirty surroundings, shortage of pure drinking water and power supply is also cause of worry for visitors. The findings are startling and speak volumes about our insensitivity towards our own surroundings. The daily look of such nasty stuff has made us insensitive and makes no difference for us. In a much more recent survey Srinagar listed in 15 dirtiest cities of the world. The city, once known for its spaciousness and cleanliness, has turned into a congested dirty place not fit for human living. The encroachment by greedy people with complete connivance of concerned officials has choked the roads and streets causing trouble even for pedestrians to walk about. The footpaths have been occupied by shopkeepers and street vendors forcing pedestrians to walk through the middle of roads enhancing the dangers of accidents. The officials responsible for keeping the footpaths clean and clear appear to have submitted to the will of street vendors and shopkeepers against monetary considerations. It looks as if these have been rented out to the occupiers. Srinagar Municipality is found cleaning only those roads and streets which are being travelled by senior state officials and VVIPs. What further mutilates the city is presence of street dogs. No lane, by-lane or street in the city could be found without dogs. The city outskirts are presenting more horrible picture. The famous Dal Lak is virtually on the last throes of death. Its area is squeezing and water stinking. Various governments in the past and present have time and again claimed to work for restoration of the glory of the lake. Hundreds of crores of rupees are reported to have been spent on cleaning the lake but its deterioration could not be arrested. It is generally believed that the officials responsible for taking care of the Dal have siphoned off most of the funds listed for it. There is absolutely no accountability. There is no co-ordination among various departments of the government. The only one thing where co-ordination and cooperation seems supreme is passing of underhand transactions. It is expected that the Governor takes note of this grim situation and takes measures to save Srinagar. Making it smart is going too far away.
India-Pakistan battle royale
The battle for ICC world cup going on currently in United Kingdom has caught the imagination of cricket fans world over. Even as around a dozen matches have been played between playing teams so far and keen battles have been witnessed in them but what makes the tournament most interesting is the match between India and Pakistan. The match is scheduled to be played on Sunday—the 16 of June. The dismal performance of Pakistani team has disappointed them hugely. It appears that the Pakistani cricket has reached to its proverbial ‘nadir’. The loss of Pakistan against Australia and West Indies is a case in point. Losing or wining is a part of the game but the way Pakistan lost was abject surrender. Pakistan displayed the most disappointing performance in their opening match against West India. Its batsmen fell like pack of cards just for 105 runs. The Pak batsmen fell within 22 over. Pakistan’s bowling attack is considered one of the best in the cricket world. But against the West Indies batting line, they proved no more than club cricketers, and West Indies won by seven wickets. Pakistan’s second match was against mighty and the cup-favorite England. As unpredictability is part of Pak Cricket teams psyche, they trounced England harrowingly. England might not have expected Pakistan’s brilliant performance, both, with the bat and the ball given their abject surrender before not-so-powerful West Indies team. As the win against England gave one a reason and confidence to believe that the Pak team might make it a habit of winning, it faced yet another defeat at the hands of Australia. Its fourth match against New Zealand was canceled due to incessant rains on the venue. This way Pakistan’s performance has been quite erratic so far.
As against this, Indian team is in high spirits. India has won all the two matches it has played so far. The third one washed out by rains gave one point to each team. India’s opening pair is in terrific form. Shekhear Dhawan scored a century in the last match against Australia helping the team to score 352, which made the team ultimately to win by 34 runs. But the bad news for Indian team is that the prolific opener suffered thumb injury in the match which made him unfit for other three or four matches. However, India has no dearth of talented batsmen. Right from up-line to middle order to down-line India has long line of batsmen who can score runs.
Pakistan’s worry stems from yet another source. Its captain Sarfaraz Ahmad has proved an average player. He not only lacks the qualities of a good captain but his batting power too is below the mark. His leadership moves during the match with Australia were poor. He let his tail enders to face the wrath of Australian bowling attack by taking single run on the very start of the every over resulting in the easy dismissals. But still everything has not been lost for Pakistani team. It has still a chance to bounce back. Pakistan has some talented players in the team who have the potential to turn the tables against any team. In Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riyaz, Shaheen Afridi, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali and Imad Waseem, Pkistan has a great bowling attack. They have the ability to undo any bating line. The Sunday clash would be between the best bowlers and the best batsmen. The Pak team needs to forget their differences and come with a single unit to take on their opponents in the remaining games. That is the only thing that can keep the hope of Pakistan’s comeback alive on Sunday.
Let the Spirit of Ramadan remain
We observed Eid-ul-Fitr by saying farewell to the blessed month of Ramadan and reflect on how our devotions through Ramadan have effectively impacted on our attitudes, our relationships, our bodies, our hearts, our minds and our souls.
As Muslims, we are well aware that Islam has always been a comprehensive and an all-embracing movement. It has at the head of its program spiritual development, sincere devotion, observance of divine guidelines, sustaining a wholesome environment, reform of human society and empowering of human beings. An essential component of the mission of all prophets has thus been reinstituting of the natural balance and the implementation of social justice [Qur’an 57:25]. We are inheritors of that prophetic movement; a movement that, of necessity, has to be relevant.
We need to realize that the relevance of Islam is not determined by the importance we as the “faithful” assign to our faith, but rather how our all-embracing faith responds to the realities of our times.
Relevance is not measured by teaching the shahaadah (testimony of faith) to a starving person, or merely praying for those who are impoverished or simply by cutting off the hands of the thief. Relevance is rather determined by the desire to feed the hungry at the time of need, alleviating the suffering of those in pain at the time of hurt and the general commitment to remove the need to steal. The relevance of Islam depends on how the ummah practically engages the world. Other people see Islam through the Muslims, and if Muslims fail the world then Islam would seem to have failed.
We often feel a sense of ascendency primarily because Islam (in some areas of the world) is the fastest growing religion. But it has never really been about numbers, it has rather always been about ihsaan (goodness) and itqaan(excellence).
It is not what quantitative numerical position we occupy, it is what qualitative contribution we make. It is about bringing hope to those people or situations that may seem helpless. Prophet Muhammad advised; “Allah disdains hopelessness. It is incumbent upon you to take a hopeful stand with an intelligent resolve.” [Abu Dawud]
Nothing affirms our humanity more than our capacity to empathize. It is this frame of heart that enables us to feel the agony of the pains experienced by others, and to treat others as we would like to be treated, and to do our best to make the world a better place; one good deed at a time. Faith and religion can only truly manifest as leading positive forces if we as people of faith realize the need for the spiritualization of our being, the moralization of our consciousness, empathy in our attitude, and goodness in our conduct. Wise ones have said that faith is not manifested by mere wishing; rather it is rooted in the purity of heart and verified by beneficial action.
Ramadan is a level playing field wherein people compete with each other in good deeds and benevolence. During this blessed month, souls are trained in virtue and accustomed to dignity, they learn to disdain vices, sins and acquire all good attributes.
Whoever witnesses this month without gaining any of its rewards is indeed poor, and nothing cripples him other than negligence, laziness, procrastination, and false hopes.
However, what is appalling is to see some of those who were guided to do good deeds and take provisions from virtues during this month hastily destroying what they had built, and replacing good with evil. This is a gross mistake and shameful act in the true sense of the word and no remorse or apology will revoke it when you stand in front of your One Lord.
We must continuously be in the state of obedience of Allah, firm upon His Sharia, steadfast upon His Deen, so that he or she is not of those who worship Allah only during one month or only in one place. Rather, the believer knows that the Lord of Ramadan is also the Lord of other months, and that He is the Lord of all times and places, so he is steadfast upon the Sharia of Allah until he meets Him while He is pleased with him
Extra care needed
In a sudden and surprising move, the Governor led administration Saturday removed Jammu & Kashmir Bank Chairman and CEO Parvez Ahmad and appointed executive president RK Chhibber as the bank’s interim Chairman. A government spokesperson said that the move to sack Parvez was one of the “long term measures to improve the functioning of the Bank.” Besides, the government said that there were “concerns expressed in various quarters regarding the governance and functioning of the Bank.”
Soon after, sleuths of Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) raided the corporate headquarters of the bank. An ACB spokesperson said the bureau registered a case under Prevention of Corruption Act on outcome of a written complaint to look into the “allegations related to illegal/fraudulent appointments made in JK bank.” Parvez, for his part, said that he had no regrets, did his job “honestly and diligently” and was “open to scrutiny”. As long the move is aimed at cleaning the system of corruption, one should have no objection to it. In fact, it is high time that the system gets rid of this malaise. That said, in a conflict zone that Kashmir is, one needs to tread a bit cautiously while taking such decisions and ensure that the reasons for taking such radical steps are made crystal clear to avoid rumour-mongering. In conflict zones, motives, right or wrong, are always attributed with moves howsoever honest or sincere those might be. Add to it the existing mistrust between the state and the subjects and the results can be quite the opposite than expected. The government should understand that while taking tough measures, it must do everything possible to avoid suspicion. The government should ensure that whatever trust people have on it remains intact. The Governor’s administration needs to keep in view this historical truth while taking decisions on matters of crucial importance.
The J&K government owns 59% shares of the J&K Bank. Incorporated in 1938, the bank is listed on both NSE and BSE. This is the only private sector bank designated as the Reserve Bank of India’s agent for banking business and carries out the banking business of the Central government besides collecting central taxes for CBDT.
On Saturday when the Governor-led administration removed Parvez, some sections among the common people had genuine questions. They connected it with the larger political narrative that has been recently building up with respect to Kashmir. Some sections on social media called it as move to end valley’s domination on the state affairs. Governor Satya Pal Malik owes it to the people of the state to clear the atmosphere of suspicion gathering around his moves. Since the ACB has registered the case, and considering the sensitivities involved, one hopes that the probe body would expedite their investigation and uncover the truth which triggered Parvez’s unceremonious departure. If there are irregularities, they should be thoroughly investigated so that the common people retain the confidence in the historic institution they trust their money with and the administration they trust to govern the state. The people of the state have every right to seek explanation from the administration for all the moves and initiatives it takes in the interest of the state. One believes that Governor is not oblivious of the sensitivities and sensibilities involved here. It is expected that he would take the people of the state into confidence for all the administrative measures he deems fit to be taken.
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