Unlike earlier years when it used to be “a mixed bag”, 2018 was completely a negative year in Kashmir context. It witnessed the fall of an elected government, almost dismemberment of a political party in wake of tectonic shifts in the political landscape, a serious crisis in overall business and an early snowfall almost axing one-third of the apple producing trees.
There is not anything great that Kashmir will remember as a major positive happening in 2018. This will be remembered as a year in which the crisis of the last three decades took yet another ugly turn that led to a substantial expansion in the graveyards across the state. It was the deadliest year of the decade when Kashmir lifted more than 500 coffins.
The life remained almost stagnant, barely surviving in the protracted gloom that has been the fate of Kashmir for a long time now.
While media has not remained immune to the crisis that Kashmir is already in, 2018 saw Kashmir losing one of the most promising editors, Shujaat Bukhari. It was a loss that Kashmir may not be able to fill for a long time.
The politics have played a death blow. The initiation of an unnatural coalition and then its fall for unknown reasons triggered a response that hit almost every sector. Though the governor’s administration has been trying its level best to manage the infrastructure deficit, even using questionable way-outs, it still cannot match a political system for a highly politically conscious society. The flip side of the developmental focus is that the massive investment in the public infrastructure has not been able to improve the job situation in Jammu and Kashmir and that puts the government in a situation that it has to sustain as the employer of the last resort.
As the Kashmir Life newsroom sat for a prolonged discussion on what the year-end special issue must carry, it was gloom splashed on gloss. There were not many positive happenings that would find space, so the idea was shifted from a person-specific publication to a sector special publication. The phenomenon is adequately reflected on the front page suggesting a symbolism of Kashmir future frozen in massive stagnation of the landscape.
The only major development that brought newer faces in the system was the Panchayat election, despite the abysmal low participation. Even most of these faces were either the outcome of the situation or the mass unemployment that the region faces.
As the staff writers started working on different spheres of Kashmir’s life in last one year, it triggered a huge data, some of which stands retained for future publications, for obvious lack of space. We even could not spear the space for some of the interviews and the life sketches of people.
This week-long effort is dedicated to the memory of Shujaat, who had written extensively for this journal, and from whose printing facility, this journal actually started.