Winter Woes

Winter Woes

That winter in Kashmir is a drag and life almost comes to a standstill is a cliché that every Kashmiri can and will relate to. But, the irony, or perhaps, more accurately, counter intuitively, winter is and could be the best season in Kashmir. To dwell on actual life in Kashmir during winter, the cold and bleak weather makes conditions rather unbearable for most the people of the vale. The very few that includes itinerant sellers of shawls called pheriwallahs migrate to warmer climes but most have to stay in Kashmir. The already decrepit economy of the region takes another hit and people have either to dip into their savings and/or eke out whatever they can under dismal economic and business conditions. On account of the Durbar move, there is a very rudimentary and skeletal administrative structure in place that does not cope up with increased demands and needs of an assorted nature. The winter, in general, also adds to the economic, financial and other forms of burden(s) on the vulnerable strata and segment of the population. In terms of tourism and tourist related activity, there is hardly any movement on this front- except to Gulmarg( which has also dwindled in recent years). All in all then , life is pretty bleak and gloomy during the winters of Kashmir. But, as pointed out, this need not have been the case. Winter, in Kashmir, could have been amongst the best seasons wherein people could not only have led “normal” lives but also passed these dark, wintry months rather pleasantly. If, for instance, there would have been regular supply of electricity, many of the burdens that distress Kashmiris during winter, would have been alleviated. Similarly, if heating would have been a public utility in Kashmir, people , especially the poorer and vulnerable sections of society, would not suffer. The same holds true, albeit in a different permutation and combination, and context, for tourism, which has been and continues to be underdeveloped, under conceptualized from any given perspective. A vigorous tourist flow would have ensured that people in Kashmir, associated with the industry, would have been in business and commercial activity. But, all this is not to be and perhaps will never be. The reasons, by and large, pertain to the inertia and apathy that defines various administrations, across space and time. To the charge of extant conflictual conditions in Kashmir, it cannot be denied. Yes, there is conflict in and over Kashmir, but this has become a convenient fig leaf and excuse for various administrations to hide their failures.