I have tried and wanted to stay apolitical on this blog. I never wanted to comment on politics or politicians, and still don’t want to. But this was just too current to let go through. I finally found out what Farooq Abdullah has said about opening liquor shops in the valley. At last. I feel like I have been living under a rock, for not reading it earlier.
The Times of India article which carried this news item is this.
Steps like reopening of cinemas and liquor sale would boost the tourism industry in the state, he said.
So many people have already berated him on comparing tourism and tipsy-ism. Only today Greater Kashmir carried this post. So one cannot really add anything new to this.
The minister for new and renewable energy was addressing a function to celebrate the birth anniversary of his father and National Conference founder Shiekh Mohammad Abdullah here.
How on earth could he have reached from Sheikh Abdullah to making such statement is beyond me, but we all know Dr. Abdullah’s speech making faculty. If anyone could reach from making a tribute to a dead dad to opening cinemas, Dr. Abdullah can.
"The cinemas are not here, where will the tourists go at night. Do you want them to stay inside the room?" Abdullah said.
|Dal Lake at night (C)|
This is of particular interest. Actually no tourist stays inside at night. I know this for a fact, because I have been nearly over-run by a tourist bus at night. Anyways, a cursory look at the Boulevard at night will tell you what the tourist do at that time. But VIPs wouldn't know, its just too crowded for their convenience. And yes, a look at the Dal Lake in the morning will also tell you. It’s all there, then.
|Boulevard on a Wintry night (c) Ironically, there is a bar right next to the point where this picture was taken.|
So much for banning private news channels in the Valley. So much for censorship on the media.
Where to channelise the growing rush of tourists.
Liquor bars, eh?
Ah! There it is. An objection to almost every line. I wonder who edited the article. Kashmir has its own brand of tourism. No tourist website ever rued the lack of cinemas and bars in Kashmir, however they do list in the shrines and highlight the places of religious interest. I wonder if any tourist ever thought of Kashmir as a place of pubs and bars. As a little Himalayan Bangkok, or Las Vegas. Kashmir is not Las Vegas. It never was. And hopefully should never be.
The Minister of New and Renewable Energy would have made a highly impressive speech by talking of green energy sources for Kashmir and development of ecotourism.
Or even stressing (re-stressing, saying just for the sake of it, and not attracting a fatwa)
street-cleanliness. Srinagar is one of the dirtiest cities. Compared with Indian cities, it ranks 4th. Or even talk of protecting Dal and Anchar lakes. Once these are gone, cinemas and alcohol will not attract tourists.
Srinagar with all its historical glory dying a slow death really doesn’t need alcohol as a means to salvage its dying pride. It could have saved the minister a lot of mud-splashing if it were not mentioned. Alcohol consumption is already rising in the valley, which is tragic, even without Dr. Farooq’s mentioning it.
If attracting tourists be the sole purpose and industry in Kashmir, it would be beneficial and more Kashmir-wise appropriate if an effort is made to preserve the culture and the language, the heritage, the old indigenous architecture, the lakes and forests. Things which make Kashmir what it is. Not alcohol, not bars, not the Kishenganga Dam project.