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Transnationalism...Kashmir Earthquake

Transnationalism...Kashmir Earthquake

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Published by Virinder Singh

Fundraising for 2005 Kashmir Earthquake

Fundraising for 2005 Kashmir Earthquake

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Virinder Singh on Feb 05, 2013
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01/02/2014

 
Contemporary South Asia
Publication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/ccsa20
Transnationalism from below: initialresponses by British Kashmiris to theSouth Asia earthquake of 2005
Shams Rehman & Virinder S. KalraVersion of record first published: 22 Dec 2006.
To cite this article:
Shams Rehman & Virinder S. Kalra (2006): Transnationalism from below: initialresponses by British Kashmiris to the South Asia earthquake of 2005, Contemporary South Asia,15:3, 309-323
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Transnationalism from below: initialresponses by British Kashmiris to theSouth Asia earthquake of 2005
SHAMS REHMAN & VIRINDER S. KALRA
ABSTRACT
The earthquake that shook Jammu & Kashmir, Pakistan, and India on 8 October 2005 had major consequences for the region in all areas of life. An assessment of the damageand loss of life and need for relief is ongoing. This article examines the transnational fund-raising effort that arose in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake. By offering a particular case study of the fund-raising effort in the north of England, we hope to illustrate the generalmechanisms by which aid was collected among diaspora communities. Our contention is that diaspora fund-raising and distribution was initially able to respond in a more direct and effective manner than states and non-governmental organisation. The reason for this was theutilisation of existing active and hitherto dormant transnational links.
The earthquake that shook Jammu & Kashmir, Pakistan, and India on 8 October 2005 had its most devastating impact in Pakistan-administered Kashmir andPakistan’s North West Frontier Province (NWFP). Although considerable damagealso occurred in Indian-administered Kashmir, as well as in other parts of Indiaand Pakistan, this was small when compared with the estimated 70,000 deaths and2.8 million homeless in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and eastern NWFP.
1
Likeany humanitarian disaster, the effects of the earthquake were widely felt at alllevels in various societies across the globe. International organisations such asthe United Nations, World Bank and Asian Development Bank, alongside worldgovernments, relief agencies, philanthropic institutions, large non-governmentalorganisation (NGOs) and rescue teams, responded to the immediate require-ments of rescue and relief. World leaders extended their support and sympathiesto the victims, their families and the governments involved. Indeed, the flowof aid, loans and goods is an ongoing process, and the ‘donor conference’ of lateNovember 2005 held in Islamabad managed to secure long-term reconstruction
Correspondence: Shams Rehman, School of Social Sciences, Roscoe Building, University of Manchester,Manchester M13 9PL, UK. E-mail: shamakashmiri@yahoo.co.ukVirinder Kalra, School of Social Sciences, Roscoe Building, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL,UK. E-mail: kalra@manchester.ac.uk
Contemporary South Asia
15
(3), (September, 2006) 309–323
ISSN 0958-4935 print; 1469-364X online/06/030309–15
Ó
2006 Taylor & FrancisDOI: 10.1080/09584930601098059
 
pledges from various states and global institutions that surpassed the amount requested by the government of Pakistan.
2
While it is premature to make any assessment of the process of aid or what impact this may have on those areas most affected, one immediate aspect that hasstood out is the role played by diaspora communities from the affected areas of Kashmir and Pakistan in mobilising rapid material and human support for thoseaffected by the earthquake. The scale and speed of response to this tragedy by thelarge Kashmiri and/or Pakistani Diasporas, especially in the United Kingdom(UK) and North America, but also in Germany, France, Belgium and Spain, hashighlighted the transnational dimension of the disaster, which is explored in detailin this article. Our contention is that the fact that many members of the Kashmiriand/or Pakistani Diasporas were able to arrive at the scene of the disaster beforeany state or NGO relief arrived is illustrative of the positive dimensions of ‘transnationalism from below’.
3
While the importance of immigrant remittances isnow attracting the attention of development organisations, the role of diasporicpopulations in providing immediate and localised responses has not been wellexplored. We also indicate that this immediate people-to-people aid was quicklycurtailed by the state and large NGOs as they took over the management of therelief process. In some senses, the grassroots transnational effort was only able tofunction freely in the space opened up by the collapse, particularly in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, of the state in the wake of the earthquake.This effort was previously seen in 2001 when an earthquake along the same fault line as that in Kashmir devastated the Kutch region of Gujarat, India. Kutch has longbeen a centre of emigration; to East Africa in the nineteenth century and then toEurope and North America in the twentieth. In a similar manner to the KashmiriDiaspora,theGujaratioverseaspopulationwerethefirsttoarriveinmanyofthemoreremote areas of the region to provide relief and aid. Indeed, the earthquake spawnedand invigorated many diasporic organisations. For instance, in the United States,where it is estimated that one-half of the 1,000,000-strong Indian American popula-tionhailfromGujarat,
4
the2001earthquakeledtothecreationoftheAmericanIndianFoundation, now the largest private charity for India in America
5
(and itself involvedin fund-raising for the 2005 earthquake in the Kashmir region).The lessons of Gujarat seem to be only slowly permeating through to the inter-national NGOs and to institutions involved in relief operations. Mira Kamdar notestheroleofcommunicationtechnologieswasparamountintheactivitiesoftheGujaratidiaspora.
6
However, academic attention to the earthquake has mainly focused on thelong-term impact of the earthquake on the region. Recent reports into the role of dia-sporasindevelopmenthavebeguntoappreciatethecrucialrolethatthesepopulationscanplayinenhancingaidefforts.
7
Yet,theirroleindisasterreliefandmanagementhasnot been satisfactorily explored, and this article hopes to redress this lack.
Methodology
The core of this article is concerned with a case study of the response of theBritish Kashmiri population to the 2005 earthquake tragedy. In some cases,
SHAMS REHMAN & VIRINDER S. KALRA
310

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