The Dal lake froze this winter after the night temperatures dipped well below zero across the valley. Dal Lake freezing is a rare event and does not happen every winter. It probably happened a few times during the last three decades but I recall it certainly did in January 1986 and, of course, famously in the winter of 1964 when the then Prime Minister Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad drove his jeep on it for fun because no other reason has ever been given as to why he drove the jeep on the frozen lake. The news of this bizarre act of raw courage of the Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir must have made Dal Lake more famous at that time and Bakshi Saheb being Bakshi Saheb, only he could have done the unthinkable. This time round, hundreds of pictures of frozen Dal went viral all over the world, thanks to the internet and the social media.
Lakes and rivers freeze from top to bottom which is because water in solid form as ice is of lower density than water in liquid form and therefore while the ice topping floats above, the liquid water flows below thus allowing the fish and other living organisms including plants to survive and thrive. Not sure whether LAWDA (Lakes and Waterways development authority) is doing anything specially to deal with the resultant issues of a Frozen Lake! Hopefully, they are!
Kashmir’s Lake woes
A few weeks back a popular lake activist invited me to a seminar and clean up drive for Khushalsar but unfortunately both programmes were postponed by him probably due to insufficient response or less than requisite enthusiasm from the prospective participants but reportedly due to a few of them falling ill with covid. Whatever the reasons, it is well known that we in Kashmir have no great heart for voluntary community work. We look up to the government for doing even those things part or whole of which our local communities could self-do through public initiative and participation. Our lake woes will continue as long as we don’t decide to indulge in some substantial and visible self help. The least we can do is to create strong opinions in our neighborhoods against dumping of household and other waste into water bodies and against encroachments.
Good News on Saffron
Recently, there was news about the proposal to grow saffron through vertical farming. This means that saffron can be grown in Kashmir almost everywhere in controlled conditions of vertical farming. If this is true, then the Agriculture Department should pursue the idea to its logical conclusion and make it happen. Anyone who is familiar with Kashmir agriculture will testify to the fact that many indigenous Kashmir vegetables and fruits, if grown through organic farming techniques will qualify any day for GI certification. All these possibilities need to be tried out and this can be done by a new breed of agriculture entrepreneurs with education in agricultural sciences but not the types who prefer to be Rehbar-e-Ziraat in government for the wages of less than what an honest wage earner will be able to earn in private sector through his or her daily hard labour.
Kangri and Dr U. Kaul ‘s eulogy
Dr. Upendra Kaul, the well known cardiologist and pride of Kashmir ( who does not know Dr.U. Kaul in Kashmir ) wrote a beautiful article on Kashmir Kangri in the Greater Kashmir of 17 th January, 2021. Rarely does poor Kangri come in for a deserving eulogy as has been done by Dr. Kaul. The article is compulsory reading for those interested in knowing all about Kashmir Kangri. I complimented Dr. Kaul for this brilliant story and we both wondered as to why Kangri weavers cannot also weave innovative ecofriendly packaging and other items using the same type or similar wickers as are used for making Kangris. We also wondered as to why the production of beautiful Hazratbali baskets and furniture items cannot be augmented substantially by augmented production of the basic raw material (cane ) which presently comes mainly from the growers from Anchar lake areas around Ganderbal. Food for thought!
Two women of Kashmiri origin in Team Biden
The news about inclusion of two women of Kashmiri origin in Team Biden was a pleasant surprise and warmed the hearts of all Kashmiris in view of the honour and prestige associated with such appointments. Ms. Aisha Shah who will work in the Digital Team in the White House is Kashmir born but brought up and educated in the US while Ms. Sameera Fazili whose parents are Kashmir born and educated will work as the Deputy Director of the National Economic Council in the White House. So far so good. The two are among about twenty Indian origin Americans picked up to work in Biden administration. Hope they will bring laurels to the country of their origin, to their families and of course to their adopted country, the United States of America.
(Khurshid Ahmed Ganai, Retd. IAS, is former Advisor to Governor, J&K and Former Chief Information Commissioner, J&K)