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Editorial

The State Vs the State Language

The Kashmir Monitor

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It is quite saddening to know that the Raj Bhavan has stopped the subscription to Urdu Language newspapers since Satya Pal Malik took charge of the state on August 23. Reports in a section of media have revealed that the entry of Urdu newspapers to the Raj Bhavan was the first decision Governor Malik took. Earlier all the 12 predecessors of the incumbent Malik used to subscribe to the Urdu newspapers, though all of them did not know the Urdu language. Urdu is the official language of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and Governors imported from outside cannot make excuses of not knowing the language. Governor’s is the highest constitutional seat of power in the state, and it needs to show respect to all the state symbol symbols. Despite being official language it has already been reduced to a ritual by having been heaved out of the offices. It is disgusting that this nominal status of the language is not tolerated. Though Urdu is not mother tongue in Kashmir but its connection with Kashmir is no less than its mother tongue—Kashmiri. Different regions of Kashmir speak different languages like Kashmiri, Dogri, Ladkahi, shina, Balti, Gojri and Pahari. And these dialects are hardly spoken or understood outside their respective areas. However Urdu is spoken and understood in all the regions of the state and it is working a unifying force to make all the regions of the state look one. It is for the similar reason that Urdu has got officials status in the state.
However, over the years, there had been attempts from certain sections—who are hell-bent on destroying the peculiarity of Kashmir—to target Urdu. It has gradually been driven out of the government offices. The non-Kashmiri babus and bureaucrats are directly responsible for eliminating Urdu from government offices. They treat it as national duty to alternate it with English. The different governments on different occasions, in this regard, not only complied obediently with these non-Kashmiri babus but even facilitated them in their mission like willing collaborators. Initially, the destroyers of Kashmiri identity targeted the state constitution. They got it amended to their liking abolishing the nomenclatures of Prime Minister, Sadre-Riyasat, brought the state under the jurisdictions of Election Commission of India and Supreme Court, paved way for non-state subjects for the post governor and several other things that hit the very foundation of Kashmir’s special status. While all this was happening at political and government level, silent but well-designed campaign was launched at cultural level as well through official media. The syllabus at all levels in schools, colleges and university was changed to match with what was being done at political level.
Since the eruption of militancy in late 80s, the onslaught against the idea of Kashmir has been more intense and direct. The conspiracy against Urdu has reasons galore. Revenue, Police (at Thana level only) and Food Supplies were the only departments were Urdu was being used as medium though at lower level only. Officially Urdu-knowing is compulsory for anyone seeking job in these departments. Three years back, government flouted all its norms and rules set for such recruitments when it recruited Naib tehsildars who did not know Urdu. Though, it (Urdu-knowing) was termed as mandatory in the advertisement made for these posts. Last year, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution Department (CAPD) turned away from Urdu to issue ration cards in English and Hindi. It was only after severe public criticism that the move got stalled. A general explanation given in this regard is “English is now commonly used language”. It little matters whether one knows English or not. The fundamental question is why deviation from set procedure? People in south India know English and Hindi more than people in Kashmir and other states. But they have officially banned Hindi languages in their regions. In Kashmir we see senior officers acting as collaborators. Sometime back, Legislative Council passed a resolution with support of all the members—cutting across party lines—to make Urdu compulsory in Jammu and Kashmir’s educational institutions. The resolution also said the posts of tehsildars should be filled up with Urdu-knowing persons. The legislators passed the resolution, with members stating that the official language of Jammu and Kashmir should be promoted and made compulsory. A reality check at ground level is quite disturbing. And the latest initiative by the Raj Bhavan is a case in point.


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Editorial

Afraid Of Heights? VR Therapy May Help You!

The Kashmir Monitor

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If you are acrophobic or are scared of heights, then taking automated virtual reality (VR) based psychological therapy may help reduce the phobia, say researchers.
According to the study, published in the journal The Lancet Psychiatry, the participants took part in activities during the VR session that challenged their fears and helped them learn that they were safer than they thought.
“Immersive VR therapies that do not need a therapist have the potential to dramatically increase access to psychological interventions,” said lead author Daniel Freeman from Britain’s University of Oxford.
“As seen in our clinical trial, VR treatments have the potential to be effective, faster, and more appealing for many patients than traditional face-to-face therapies.
With our unique automation of therapy using VR, there is the opportunity to provide really high quality treatment to many more people at an affordable cost,” Freeman added.
For the study, 100 people with clinically diagnosed fear of heights, who were not receiving psychological therapy, were divided into two groups and were given either the new automated VR treatment or usual care, which was typically no treatment.
Participants were given six VR treatment sessions roughly for 30 minutes each for two weeks where they wore a VR headset.
Throughout various activities, starting with simpler tasks, such as watching a safety barrier drop gradually, leading to harder tasks like walking on a platform over a large drop, the virtual coach offered encouragement, and afterwards explained what the participants had learned from their activities and asked whether they felt safer than before.
The virtual coach also encouraged participants to try real heights between sessions.
At the end of the treatment and at follow-up, participants from the VR group reported that their fears have reduced as opposed to the control group who rated their fear of heights as remaining similar.

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Editorial

Unending traffic woes

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It has become routine with the officials related to traffic department to come up with meetings and announcements of new measures to regulate traffic in Srinagar. But nothing concrete is done to streamline the traffic management and road safety. It can be said with great authority there is complete mess on roads all across Kashmir, and the authorities responsible for maintain roads and managing traffic are doing mere lip service. Though the traffic problem is an old case but it needs to be corrected at some point in time. Jam and mess on Srinagar roads is a daily affair.

The main city intersections remain jammed all through the day making travelling difficult even for pedestrians. The distance which normally could be covered in minutes takes hours to travel over. Travelling on Srinagar roads, indeed, has become longer and grueling affair. The huge traffic jams at Pantha Chowk, Hyderpora, Ram Bagh, Exhibition Chowk, Batamaloo, Qamarwari, Budshah Chowk, Hari Singh High Street and Dalgate have reached unparalleled proportions.

The traffic congestion at Qamarwari clogs the city from the west end. The north end gets blocked with huge jams at Soura and city interiors like Khanyar and Rainawari.

There are instances when a commuter had to wait for hours to get cleared of the traffic jam. The mess right from Iqbal Park to exhibition Chowk is so grueling and time consuming that many a commuters, who have their work places in and around Lal Chowk, have made it a habit to leave their homes in early morning hours. The mess on prestigious Boulevard Road, which is the face of Kashmir tourism, is even more agonizing. The evening time, when there is presence of tourists in the area, gives a horrible look. The installation of traffic signals has not helped to the level one had expected in regulation of traffic at Exhibition ground. The commuters could not be absolved completely for the mess. The moment the light turns red, cars zip past in a flash. The zebra-crossings are blocked by cars, forcing pedestrians to make their way through the vehicles. Shameless drivers on the wrong side, nosing through illegal cuts, taking U-turns before roundabouts, driving with mobile phone fixed to their ears – all are direct causes of the mess on the roads. Undoubtedly, much needs to be done for regulation of traffic in the city to make life easy for the people. The development of road infrastructure is the primary need but it cannot be done overnight. It would take time. The mess on the city roads is a strong reminder to the government to build road infrastructure on priority bases. Till then people should not be left to suffer. There is a strong need for regulation of traffic to minimize the peoples’ problems. The strength of traffic police should be increased in proportion with the increase in rush on roads. The policemen have to become more responsible. There are large scale complaints that policemen allow illegal parking of vehicle against payoffs. They need to change and be harsher with the people who break traffic laws and believe that rules are not for them.

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Editorial

Homage to the Martyr

The Kashmir Monitor

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To understand the story of Karbala, one must take into cognizance that Islam is a religion, nay, away of life, revealed by Divine Grace, inviting all mankind to the Blessings of Allah, the Supreme.Islam, consisting of a complex structure of thought, practices, statutes, and transcendence,spread among diverse peoples, from the West Coast of Africa to the islands of the Pacific, withina matter of a few years, an unheard of phenomenon, as a ‘miracle’ from the Divine. It changedthe perceptions of right and wrong, and the foundation of societal interactions of precedinggenerations. Islam was challenging man to reach beyond himself to reach stages of the highestprosperity, spirituality and inspiration. This could not be accepted easily by the existing power structure. Ingrained base emotions especially of jealousy and vengeance raised its evil head inthe form of rebellion against the Prophet’s legacy. As long as members of the family of theProphet remained, they was always a threat that Hussain (AS)’s supporters would come to power and, therefore Hussain (AS) had to be eliminated forever from the Caliphate. Hussain was alarmed when Yazid wasdesignated his successor. Hussain (AS) was resolute against the imposition of dynastic rule inIslam and decided to oppose Yazid by giving support to his own followers, no matter what thecost. Hussain (AS) had previously been offered largesse and many gratuities to stay away fromthe struggle which he had stridently refused. Hussain (AS) wanted to save Islam from corruption,and if necessary, by shedding his own blood, and that of his children. Hussain (AS) was invited to go to Kufa from Medina to become their leader. Having reached theoutskirts of Kufa, beside the Euphrates river, with a group of around 175, he and his immediatelyfamily and the other direct descendants of Prophet Muhammad (SWS), and their followers, weredenied water for 3 days in the desert and ultimately brutally killed by an army numbering a fewthousand.
The story of the Battle of Karbala is actually the age old story of the struggle in man between hishigher virtues that reach out to heaven, and his vices that pull him down into the abyss of ignominy, despair and defeat. Hussain (AS) showed that one must fight and strive to establishtruth and justice in the land, and for it, must be prepared to offer the supreme sacrifice. Throughhis legacy he established firmly the basic foundation of the religion – readiness to sacrificeeverything for achieving closeness of Allah, which is best for the hereafter, and is the goal of thedevout.To understand the decrepit state of Islamic society today one must examine it through the lens of Karbala. Power hungry men devoid of the love of Allah, the Prophet and the Ahle Bayet, unableto grasp advances in other branches of knowledge of the last 5 centuries, and fostered by acrude zeal to acquire the ‘former glory of Islam’, not for its virtues of achieving closeness to Ahle Bayet for achieving worldly power, are terrorizing not only their own communities but the peace of the entire world. Misleading the Ummah in the garb of devoutness, they borrow from history for the sake of glory. They have no appreciation of the proper qualities of leadership as personifiedby the Ahle Bayet, the Close Companions, and the learned ones of society, no reflective study of the literature available on Islam, and above all, no willingness to offer self sacrifice either for theUmmah or for Allah.
Today, as never before, we need to know the ideals of Hussain (AS), and remember thesorrowful days of Karbala not for worldly gain but to attain the love of Almighty Allah. Every timethat we remember the gallant Shahadat of Hussain (AS), we celebrate Hussain (AS)’s victoryover the depravity of Yazid and Islam becomes victorious. Each time we shed a tear for Hussain(AS), the doors of Allah’s Blessings open once again on the tortured and wavering souls of modern day Muslims. To keep the spirit of Karbala and Islam alive in our hearts, we must learnto observe the Muharram in a manner that befits the great traditions of Islam as laid down by the Prophet.

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