“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us”
Juries and panels have been sitting on Kashmir for a long time now. When Kashmir Life decided to talk about the movers and shakers from different walks of life, and impressive initiatives in the 365 days of 2009, there were many competing contenders.
The last week saw a lot of unprecedented haggling in the news room. However, Basharat Peer, author of ‘Curfewed Night’ and a fellow of the prestigious New York based Open Society Institute was a unanimous choice for the ‘Kashmiri of the year’. His widely reviewed book is the first narrative that Kashmir can claim to be its own. It will be published in US and UK this year. The book reintroduced the crisis and tragedy, that Kashmir has become synonymous with, to the larger audience that hitherto was solely making opinions on basis of accounts from visitors and outsiders. It made money too. At the same time it encouraged many others to write.
Kashmir Life invited Dr Haseeb A Drabu, Kashmir’s eminent intellectual and economist to write about Basharat, a request he graciously accepted despite his engagements.
Kashmir remained hot on the political front throughout the year. Initially it was ruling coalition versus the opposition, which fizzled out soon. Separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani took the centre-stage and remained the sole source of action within and outside the jails, with rest of the forces becoming reactionaries. The disquiet that dominated the later part of the year over ‘quiet dialogue’ also helped the ailing leader to consolidate his position.
The hunt for the best researcher in the academics was not a difficult one as very few made the cut. It was geologist Romshoo who became a majority choice. In trade and industry, there were many initiatives including a cement plant and a starred hotel, which will be operational within a few months. But there were two young men who showed the will to work, invest and lead.
Shopian undoubtedly dominated most part of the year, as the deaths of two women continued to remain a mystery and a controversy despite three high profile investigations. What, however, stood it apart was a well organised civil society response. This year alone, Kashmir saw at least three sustained campaigns by civil society in three different places.
Moreover, an initiative by a human rights organisation, some major controversies also found a place in this new year issue.
Happy new year.