Published February 21st, 2017 by

Reinvigorating horticulture sector and checking spurious pesticides.

Horticulture, tourism, and handicrafts are the three important sectors that contribute substantially to earning and employment of people of Kashmir. With diverse agro-climatic advantages, horticulture is the most vital sector in the state that involves a large section of the population particularly in rural Kashmir. With more than two million people directly or indirectly involved with production and processing, horticulture trade in Jammu And Kashmir State has an estimated annual turnover of twelve billion rupees. So, by all means, horticulture contributes substantially to the rural economy with thrust on employment and sustenance of eco-friendly economy within the fragile ecosystem of Kashmir valley. Successive regimes, even from the time of the autocratic rule of late Maharaja, have given due consideration to sustenance and development of horticulture industry in Kashmir. However, in the early seventies with the invasion of pathogens, the horticulture sector got a setback and cost of cultivation increased manifold. Horticulturists and agriculture scientists tried to balance this steep increase in the cost of cultivation by introducing new high yielding verities with longer shelf value and superior genetic characteristics. High-density apple plantation with improved imported rootstock was one such effort that was initiated by the department of Horticulture long back at state of the art nurseries at Zanpora in south Kashmir and Pattan in North Kashmir. This scientifically feasible and economically viable effort could not attract much attention of common farmers due to lack of initial investment and vigorous motivation for shifting from traditional varieties to improved ones.   Read More Fix the responsibility

Published March 1st, 2016 by

Materialism has done the damage.

On universal garden and landscape scenario only two forms of gardens are documented as formal and informal. Almost all Mughal gardens are formal and the rest all landscape is categorized as informal. So, most of our landscape in Srinagar is formal. Formal pattern of landscaping suit well to topography of Kashmir as formal terraced gardens can be carved out easily out of hilly terrain. Srinagar and its surroundings have a long history of gardens amid beautiful landscape. However, the Mughal era in Kashmir was glorious period for magnificent gardens and orchards. Mughals preferred Dal and Nigeen banks and its catchment area for laying beautiful and spacious gardens in Srinagar city and its vicinity. Unfortunately, at present several of these gardens are either in bad shape or have vanished from the landscape scene of Srinagar. During the last four decades several modifications and additions were made to dwindling landscape of Srinagar. First informal landscape in Srinagar was tried at Nehru Memorial Botanical garden (NMBG), later more planned informal landscaping (Japanese Gardens) at Sheri-e-Kashmir institute of Medical sciences, Baghi Shagufa near Nigeen Lake, and Zabarwan Park on boulevard set a new trend of informal garden laying in Srinagar. Read More Bleak Srinagar Landscape!

Published December 23rd, 2015 by

I knew it is, but didn’t know the level of bitterness I faced!

The other day, against all my wishes, I paid a visit to my boss beyond prescribed working hours. During the informal chat we discussed several social issues in a very cordial atmosphere. During the discussion, work culture, collection of field data and subsequent computation and application of such data became Centre point of our discussion. Such healthy, cordial and friendly discussions allow the subordinates to unwind, discuss issues related to their work and organisation frankly. However, during the deliberations my point regarding some unsatisfactory field information regarding Prime Ministers flagship soil health scheme did not go well with my boss. I almost contradicted the stand of my boss with logic, reasoning and facts.  My honest and realistic assertion regarding gap between ground situation and the records on paper was brushed aside in a very tactical manner. I was made to accept the collective position, though not really the realistic stand. My contradictory opinion ruined the whole discussion and I myself felt little uncomfortable. I could sense that the inside of my boss got annoyed. Though, he tried the best of his psychological skills to keep his calm and make me feel comfortable, but his annoyance was visible on his otherwise glowing face. I could feel and clearly make-out the pressure of my apparently transgressing but realistic statement on the being of my boss. Yet, in a matter of minutes the pressure on his psyche within bubbled like a saline spring of words. Very discreetly, he correlated my frank contention regarding facts to a Kashmiri maxim. An adage related to the foolishness of a groom at his in-laws house on his first visit after marriage. Now I too tried to be tactical and laughed off his indecent and annoying correlation of my factual stand with foolishness.   Read More Is truth bitter?

Published November 6th, 2015 by

We need to have stringent laws to counter any underhand, illegal deals…

Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah’s revolutionary ‘land to tiller’ law in 1950 was a historic step in getting the poor peasants of Kashmir out from the cruel clutches of Jagirdars and Chakdars.  Big Landed Estates Abolition Act was a watershed in restoring semblance and sense of equality within the Kashmiri people. Whatever the political developments post-1953 and the fate and political turnaround of Sheikh in seventies, this act changed the whole concept of survival and dignity in the countryside.

Very often wheel of events complete its circle over the period of time, but the time frame is so undefined that most of the times the change never gets noticed. But in case of Kashmir’s retrogressive agrarian scenario and ensuing fate of farmers the wheel of events looks moving at a much faster pace and would very soon push the poor farmers back to proverbial ‘square one’. A cursory look at devastating change in land use and decreasing size of land holdings offers a pathetic situation of approaching doom. During last two decades a sizeable part of valley’s cultivable land has either changed hands and come under the control of rich and powerful or has been put to use other than the purpose of cultivation. This situation of misuse of fertile cultivable land would have shown its results much earlier but thanks to modern agriculture techniques and quality inputs the balance the crop production. Read More Land to Mafia!

Published July 3rd, 2015 by

What type of Kashmir are we leaving behind us?

Expressing your ideas and articulating ones views is not a cakewalk. You invite both friends and foes, but at the end of the day the sense of satisfaction and contentment neutralizes all negative vibes. Few days back in response to my recent article one of my friends and a longtime colleague texted an interesting, and meaningful message, showing concern for rapid destruction of once valued saffron fields of Pampore. It will be proper to put his text message in verbatim so that readers can feel the pain and anguish of a common Kashmiri regarding vanishing fields of saffron. It is pertinent to mention that my worthy reader, friend and colleague belongs to Kashmiri Pandit community and  as mentioned in his text message, he preferred trouble torn Kashmir over greener pastures of relief and comfort only because of beautiful saffron fields in the vicinity of his habitation. The text message reads,

‘Respected brother, ur article today was highly appreciated. Please write again on saffron mission, identity of Pampore is in threat by land mafia by construction of houses on prime saffron land. We will be highly thankful to u if my dream project will be saved. I am worried; I keep my eyes shut when I travel from Ladhoo to Pampore. It was due to saffron I have not migrated from this area. Government is silent. ur Brother,  C.L.Bhat’  

The above message is an eye-opener; a wish, setting the wrong right in the best interest of once beautiful valley of Kashmir and its humble people. Two decades earlier well prepared saffron fields on either side of the National Highway in the vicinity of Pampore town would provide a unique and mesmerizing look: the whole Karewa land would make anybody crazy about Kashmir and its God gifted delicacies. Regrettably, the present look of these once enchanting fields is depressing. Wanton intervention with fragile ecosystem of the area by haphazard constructions; change in cropping pattern from aesthetic and once profitable saffron cultivation to other less remunerative crops giving a damn to traditionally accepted and time tested crop zoning pattern is simple vandalism. During last many years both federal and state governments under their flagship National Saffron Mission program spent a huge amount of millions and millions of rupees to rejuvenate the saffron crop and cultivation. But now at many places the same saffron fields instead of growing saffron grow concrete jungles of housing colonies, shamelessly titled as ‘Zafron colony’. No doubt the National Saffron Mission and the concern of people like my friend and many other like-minded people played an important role in not only rejuvenating the saffron production but discouraged the land mafia to a great extent. However, the revenue authorities who are in real sense the custodians of land have either ceased to exercise their authority or is in hand and glove with the unscrupulous land mafia. It is paramount duty and social obligation of revenue department to discourage people from changing the title of any cultivable land unless it becomes necessary for some ecological and climatic exigency or national interest. Unfortunately, in this contemporary era of science, technology and knowledge people are made to believe in brazen materialism through trickery and blame game. This is how once humble and true to their word saffron growers are lured to selling their lands. Alas! From once growing world famous saffron we have shifted to growing concrete jungles and instead of unique aroma we are encouraging dust and pollution.

Imagine, a Kashmiri Pandit preferring a torn Kashmir only because of beautiful environs of saffron fields in the vicinity of his home producing and diffusing a unique aroma! And now after more than two decades of enduring trouble just for the sake of saffron, its off-season bloom and matchless aroma he has to make a desperate call for conserving the saffron lands and save the saffron cultivation for Kashmir’s posterity. The whole of Kashmir, its administration and the polity of all hues must rise to the call of this fellow Kashmiri and make a resolution that saffron, the pride of Kashmir is saved from the cruel hands of vandals and indifferent régime. Hope the wish of a Kashmiri patriot is fulfilled at any cost with active support from all of us.

Read More Vandalism of saffron fields