Idea to Institution

Greater Kashmir, 25

IT has taken 25 years for an idea to become an institution. En route are milestones of success, failures, trails and tribulations. As I look back, there is no joy greater, no satisfaction more than the journey that we at GK undertook.
We are indeed proud of what we have achieved but what drives us is the promise of what lies ahead. We are conscious of our contribution but what inspires us is the commitment to the cause that is yet to be fulfilled.
25 years to the day, GK was born to the need to articulate the heightened sense of identity; in language, in politics, in civil society and indeed in our lives. Our biggest achievement has been to create history by documenting the present from a perspective of our people. It is this distinctive attribute that has made the news of GK a narrative of the people.
We may sound a trifle less than modest but we can tell you that for the social historian the evolution of GK represents the transformation of the Kashmiri society. You will find it all in the pages of GK.
As a result, GK is not about circulation numbers; it is about the sentiment. It is not about editorial quality but the depth of engagement with our reader.
We have never claimed to be voice of the people. Instead, our people are our voice. It is precisely this that makes GK unique. With utmost humility, I share this moment of pride and satisfaction with all our readers in Kashmir and outside, across continents.
When the first issue of Greater Kashmir was published Kashmir was a different place. Dateline Srinagar was completely dominated by a set of professionals, some of whom were extremely gifted but all of them, without exception, polished, dignified and delightful. As we observe this landmark I miss most of those seniors who till the arrival of the present day media persons from Kashmir had carried the baton for decades to earn journalism here a place of respect. Doyen of journalism in Kashmir Khwaja Sanaullah Bhat Sahab had a special role to play in providing logistical and moral support to GK without which we might not have been able to continue with our mad zeal. Another veteran M L Kak had a special role in inspiring me to start a weekly English newspaper. The birth of Greater Kashmir was followed by the IT and Communication revolution. While it made life easy for professionals, it also threw up challenges of competition from new sources like the 'breaking news' culture of electronic channels. That was also the time for turmoil, convulsions, revolutions, victories and defeats which resulted in redrawing of political maps in much of Russian empire and Europe. Closer home Afghanistan crossed yet another important milestone in the long history of its resistance against occupation. All those events were brought home to Kashmiris through the newly spreading TV coverage. Kashmir was becoming part of a squeezing world and starting a newspaper could be described only as an adventure or foolhardiness when even bare existence had become no less than a constant struggle. Some journalists even paid with their life along with thousands of others which however is only one index of the times that took a far larger toll on Kashmir's social, economic and intellectual scenario. Maintaining the logistical backup to a growing number of reporters, photojournalists, editors and columnists amid bullets, strikes, curfews and curbs was always an uphill task apart from standing professional ground between the pulls and pressures of competing and often openly warring interest groups. The fact that we survived it, lived it and reported it is a tribute to the rediscovered spirit of Kashmir, its resilience and re-ignition of its fabled intellectual embers.
Energetic youngsters, highly gifted, professionally honest and inspired by the momentous changes taking place in the world around us made GK a cause célèbre. Most of them presently constitute the voice of Kashmir that had been lost for long and are scripting a new narrative about the state, the quality of its people, its intellectual resources, its problems and possible solutions. I am glad the newspaper continues to provide a platform for a continuous stream of them to hone their skills and work here or grow beyond Jammu and Kashmir.
Addition of Kashmir Uzma and then bringing out Jammu edition of both GK and Uzma was not the result of a random urge to expand but a well thought-out effort at connecting different regions, ethnicities and communities of our diverse state. Celebration of our diversity has historically been restricted only to a propagandist lip service. But we take pride in being part of perhaps the first serious intellectual initiative to address the isolation of various constituents of the state that would on some more unfortunate occasions even give way to hostility.
Greater Kashmir has also grown as a credible institution for some pioneering charitable work. Apart from promoting intellectual pursuits the GK Welfare Trust has done some remarkable work in fields of relief and rehabilitation. Established in the wake of the devastating earthquake of 2005, the Trust came up as a distinct instrument of relief and has been in the field since then with contributions from kind hearted, generous and philanthropic people, which we value immensely. It has now been rechristened as GK Foundation.

At 25 we just don't look back. We are grown up enough as an organization to carry out our duty in a more purposeful manner in future. Today on our silver jubilee we reaffirm our commitment to truth as it is, in bringing news to our readers, intellectual honesty in the views expressed through our columns and editorial policy that we pursue.
Greater Kashmir will need the same sentiment from its multitude of readers to grow further as an instrument of people's empowerment through information as has been available to it when we needed it the most: throughout our initial journey, our teething troubles which on occasions meant grave threat to life in pursuit of truth and our determination to take it to people.

--Fayaz Kaloo

Lastupdate on : Tue, 14 May 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 14 May 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 15 May 2013 00:00:00 IST




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