Thursday, April 12, 2018

David and Goliath!

(The recent security forces anti-insurgency operations appear like the biblical giant Goliath chasing the miniscule David with lot of collateral damage)

David and Goliath!

The “Bloody Sunday” which resulted in the death of 20 persons (militants, soldiers and civilians) and injuries to over 150 persons including pellet injuries in the eyes to over 40 persons has been the worst episode of all round violence in recent times. According to the estimates given by the State Police there are no more than 200 militants in Kashmir at present. Most of these are said to be local boys some even in their early teens. It is also alleged that these boys have been driven to the extremes of militancy due to the continued harassment by the Police and the Security Agencies. In fact, even in earlier times allegedly the harassment of these teens had driven them to desperation and reportedly this had become a lucrative business for the security agencies. In nineties of the last century, the killing of a militant was very lucrative for the Army and the Police who would get huge amounts of reward money for such actions. In fact, a number of fake encounters were because of the booty which the killers of the militants would get. Kishalay Bhattacharjee in his book, “Blood on My hands” has given detailed account of the confessions of some Army Officers on the subject of fake encounters.
During last 70 years or so Kashmir has seen many conflicts and upheavals. The very first one was in 1947 at the time of the partition of the sub-continent when Kashmir got sucked into the vortex of the sub-continental mayhem and got split into two parts with a bloody ceasefire line dividing these! The next was the Indo-Pak war of 1965 which caused lot of destruction. Kashmir suffered because of a proxy war being raged in the valley. Then we had the upheaval of 1990 which was most damaging for the local people. This upheaval according to official figures resulted in the death of over 50,000 people. Thousands were injured and maimed.  All these upheavals could be called proxy wars between two perennially antagonistic neighbours built round local discontent. The moot point is that there has always been local discontent because of the unsolved basic political problem of Kashmir. This has been the starting point and the nucleus of all uprisings. Having failed to make their point known through peaceful expression which has always been suppressed, the youth after being driven to a wall, have been going for militancy.
In countering such violent activities which may be taken to be the last resort of Kashmiri militants, the security forces are trying to kill a flea with a sledge hammer causing extensive collateral damage. It must be the only place in the world where armed militants are being helped by hordes of unarmed civilians to escape when surrounded by security forces. They are being provided more and more popular support with every action of the counter insurgency forces. This shows the extent of alienation of the local people because of the actions of the security forces. Apparently, it looks very odd. Just 200 or so mostly juvenile, ill equipped and not well-trained militants against the third largest army of the world almost half of which is in Kashmir! It is truly turning into the biblical story of the small David fighting the mighty Goliath!
Goliath of Gath (one of the five city-states of the Philistines) was the large biblical warrior defeated by the young David in the Book of Samuel. The phrase “David and Goliath” or (David versus Goliath) has taken on a more popular meaning, denoting an underdog situation, a contest where a smaller, weaker opponent faces a much bigger, stronger adversary. Like David the local kids are also using stones and sometimes even with sling shots! Had there been a single Goliath, may be the ace Kashmiri stone pelters would have taken an accurate sling shot to knock him out. But they are facing huge army of Goliaths, the third largest in the world! However, this virtually a symbolic fight between David and Goliath is not going to solve the problem. Kashmir’s two generations have already been consumed by the conflict and the third generation is being at present slowly decimated. Kashmir can no longer afford this suicidal loss of these budding youth, most of them in their teens. On the part of the security forces, this all out search and destroy operation is not going to end militancy. On the contrary it is alienating the entire population beyond redemption. A well-known columnist in a recent article has put the solution very succinctly, “A breakthrough in Kashmir will come out not from a body count but through dialogue whether it is within Kashmir or with Pakistan. This is a reality New Delhi has to face up to.” The sooner it is done, the better it will be for all stakeholders!

Friday, April 6, 2018

Revising Tourism Marketing Targets

(Tourism Department needs to direct increased marketing efforts on South India and South East Asia which are emerging as potential Tourism markets for Kashmir)

The 64th Convention of the Travel agents Association of India has just concluded in Srinagar. The Convention was attended by over 600 delegates from all over the country. The Convention was held in Srinagar after 31 years. A large number of delegates came from South India including Kerala, known as “God’s Own Country”. The delegates including some top doyens of Travel, Hospitality, Airline and Travel media such as Aditya Gosh, CEO, Indigo Airlines; Nukul Anand, CEO, ITC Hotels; Kapil Kak, CEO, CAPA; Yossi Fatael, Vice-President UFTAA; Rodeney D’Cruz, Assistant Director IATA, India; Praveen Chugh, President, TAFI; Rajendran Vellapalath, CEO, TP Connect, Dubai and Yogesh Gondal, Editor New India Publications. From “God’s Own Country”, Najeeb, the President of Kerala Tourism Federation was there. This is in addition to the Chairmen of all the State Chapters of TAAI and so many other prominent Travel Agents, Hoteliers and Airline representatives. The mere fact that such an high profile Travel Conference was held here is enough marketing initiative to attract tourists not only from all over the country but abroad also. The credit for this goes to the State Tourism Secretary Sarmad Hafeez, Director Tourism, Mehmud Shah and the most dynamic and helpful TAAI President Sunil Kumar and his team.
An important part of the convention were the knowledge sessions on different topics related to Tourism promotion, use of technology, innovations of digitization, and the impact of media on Tourism promotion etc. Different experts in the relevant fields spoke during these sessions. Regarding the role of the media, there were strong reservations regarding over exaggerated reports with very scary pictures and videos circulated all over. It was felt that such reports discouraged potential tourists as the impression went around that the situation was dangerous and out of control even though actually on ground it was not so bad. It was disclosed that the Government had set up a crisis management group in the Ministry of Tourism to counter the negative publicity sometime back. However, as informed in the meeting, the group failed to deliver and it was wound up. There were suggestions for having crisis groups in the area of every chapter of TAAI for giving exact situation for the benefit of potential tourists. Some people opined that it was no use contacting media in general to play down negative news as they will not listen because every unusual happening is news for them. On the contrary, some media experts opined that every negative event should be countered by the Travel Trade through Travel Media with positive happenings in the concerned areas at the same time. Kashmir was being painted as a dangerous and unstable area by the media. However, the very holding of the convention successfully with such a large attendance in Srinagar counters that view. 
One important announcement in the convention was declaration of year 2018 as the “Visit Kashmir Year” by the Travel Agents Association of India. Mr. Sunil Kumar, the President of TAAI announced that the TAAI Managing Committee had decided to promote tourism to Kashmir by announcing through all the member websites and printed literature the celebration of the year 2018 as the “Visit Kashmir Year”! According to him all the members would package Kashmir beautifully so that the valley witnesses a bumper tourist season. An interesting sidelight of the convention was a large presence of delegates from the South Indian states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu and so on. Also there were travel agents from South East Asia. It was felt that there is a lot of scope for generating traffic to Kashmir from the Southern States. Tourists have been coming from these parts earlier also. However, an important aspect was that the Southern States were not so much affected by the biased negative propaganda of the mainstream channels of the North. These were hardly watched in the South! Kerala was a good example from the South which had many water bodies and houseboats. Najeeb, the President of the Kerala Tourism Federation offered to help in marketing Kashmir on a reciprocal basis. Kerala Tourism apart from marketing Kashmir Holidays for the Keralites would also promote Kashmir among the foreigners visiting Kerala. Similarly, Kashmir Tourism would promote visits by Kashmiri travellers to Kerala and also market Kerala among the foreigners visiting Kashmir. He called it from “God’s Own Country” to “Paradise on Earth”! Something worth experimenting as Tourism Promotion!
It may be worthwhile for local travel agents to explore taking of groups from Kashmir to Kerala. There are direct flights from Delhi to Kochi. Incidentally, Kerala has the first mosque built in India. Cheraman Jum'ah Masjid in Kodungallur town, in central Kerala, just 30 km north of Kochi, is not just the oldest in India and the subcontinent but one built during the lifetime of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) in 629 AD by an Arab propagator of Islam, Malik Ibn Dinar. It is also testimony to two facts. One, Islam came to India long before the Mughals came in from the northwest. Two, the entry of Islam was smooth and Muslims enjoyed the full patronage of the locals irrespective of their religions - a facet that is still visible and cherished here. Incidentally, Kashmir’s historical tolerance gels with the Keralite non-communal life style! From “God’s Own Country” to “Paradise on Earth” really clicks!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Digitisation for selling Privacy!

(Even though digitisation of various services has helped a lot yet it has adversely affected personal privacy)

Image result for 1984 george orwell

The Facebook/Analytical scam has shaken the digital world. There are allegations about the use of personal data during last US elections. According to the expose the information about people is being collected, stored and processed to produce psychographic profiles that can judge peoples’ thoughts and personalities almost accurately and these are offered to clients for business or electoral purposes. There were also reports about the Facebook selling personal data of the users to various commercial organizations though advertisements. In fact, Google too has been accused of using personal data of its users for commercial purposes. It is a fact that with the progress of digitization and especially the information highway of internet, the individual privacy has taken a direct hit. Fred Cate in his book “Privacy in the Information Age” says, “Electronic information networks offer extraordinary advantages to business, government, and individuals in terms of power, capacity, speed, accessibility, and cost. But these same capabilities present substantial privacy issues. With an unprecedented amount of data available in digital format–which is easier and less expensive to access, manipulate, and store–others know more about you than ever before. Consider this: data routinely collected about you includes your health, credit, marital, educational, and employment histories; the times and telephone numbers of every call you make and receive; the magazines you subscribe to and the books your borrow from the library; your cash withdrawals; your purchases by credit card or check; your electronic mail and telephone messages; where you go on the World Wide Web. The ramifications of such a readily accessible storehouse of information are astonishing.”
Parminder Jeet Singh in an article in Hindu says. “The current focus on the right to privacy is based on some new realities of the digital age. Personal spaces and safeties that were previously granted simply by physical separation are no longer protected. The digital network enters the most proximate spaces and challenges the normally accepted notions of the private. It brings into focus new means of exercising social, economic, and political power, and reducing of autonomies”.
Thus the digital revolution has adversely affected the personal privacy all over the world. It is said that Google and Facebook do not sell the personal data but they use the same to advance their commercial interests through advertisements. It has been established now that companies are making money from the personal data of people. They share the data among themselves. Harvesting of data and its sharing for commercial purposes has been admitted by the companies themselves. Recently, there was a humorous clip on WhatsApp in which a man orders a Pizza to a well-known Pizza joint of which the man had the phone number. However, a man responds saying it is Google Pizza and what he would like. The guy says that he did not call Google Pizza. The man answers that the Google has bought the Pizza joint. Then he asks suggestions for various ingredients. When the man asks for meat and other things, the Pizza man says he cannot take meat as his cholesterol was high in the last tests. On being asked how he knows that, the Pizza guy says we have all your tests for the whole year!
Apart from demolition of individual privacy, the digitization has given rise to accurate and incredible electronic surveillance. Sometime back there was a Hollywood movie, “The Enemy of the State”. It related to a video tape of a crime committed on the instance of a senator. The electronic surveillance shown in the movie was incredible. A person supposed to be holding the tape is followed through satellites. His every movement is monitored. Recently, there was a scare in Kashmir that the LED Bulbs being given free have camera chips inside! The quick location of militants is also attributed to electronic surveillance through drones and chips in mobile phone sim cards. Some people allege that the SIM cards of a particular company distributed freely did also have chip for easy location! Nothing seems to be hidden now!
Now, coming back home, the greatest privacy demolisher is the Aadhaar Card. It carries information which can be shared. There have been allegations about the leakage of data against consideration. UIDAI is a central body and it had outsourced the responsibility of collecting the data to 556 private agencies. There have been 1,390 complaints against them. In addition, the entire data is reported to be stored on servers in the Silicon Valley of USA! However, in comparison to personal data available in various social sites and search engines like google, the Aadhaar Card carries the entire biometric information of a person. Finger prints, pupil scans, and may be even genetic information and so on. There are umpteen chances of misuse of this data for banking frauds, impersonation and so on. Such instances have already taken place. In Mumbai some people have been using finger prints taken on nylon strips to mark attendance etc. Some people say that this digitization has helped more than 80% of the population which is poor especially in regard to subsidies etc. According to them only 1 or 2% people who are net savvy get adversely affected sometimes. In any case, the digitization has ended the privacy in all societies. In fact one is reminded of George Orwell’s famous book, 1984. “The Big Brother Is Watching You”, all the time!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Kashmir in Historical Perspective

(To elaborate the political nature of Kashmir problem, one needs to examine the historical perspective of the land and its people)

Image result for Indo-Pak border

Recently Kashmir’s Finance Minister lost his job for saying that Kashmir is not a political problem. Apart from that he had denigrated the political leadership of Kashmir standing for its total freedom. He had stated that they were barking up a wrong tree!  A fellow columnist has shown him his place in his recent article, “Idioms of Hubris”. It would be useful to recapitulate Kashmir’s history for the “Naïve” gentleman displaying total ignorance probably as alleged by some with certain ulterior motives!
Before one delves into history of Kashmir and Kashmiris, it would be interesting to understand the meaning of the words the Nation and the Nation-State. According to Oxford dictionary, a Nation is, “A large body of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular state or territory”. According to Wikipedia, “nation is a stable community of people, formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life, ethnicity or psychological make-up manifested in a common culture. A nation is distinct from a people, and is more abstract, and more overtly political than an ethnic group. It is a cultural-political community that has become conscious of its autonomy, unity, and particular interests”. “It is a more precise term than "country," but of the same general meaning, being that it is an ethnic nation with its own land (thus "homeland") and government”.
Kashmir has existed as a separate independent country ruled by various kings from the earliest times. Kalhana’s Rajtarangini goes almost 5,000 years back to describe the kingdom of Kashmir from the time of Gonanda I. The most important earliest confirmation of Kashmir as an independent country is from Greek sources. It is the Ptolemy’s geography which has preserved many of the references to Kashmir. He calls the region KASPEIRA. The importance of this reference lies in the name of the territory as it is a phonetic derivative between Kasmira, the ancient Sanskrit name of Kashmir, and the present day Kashmir or Kashir.
After Greeks is the mention of Kashmir in Chinese records. The earliest reference to Kashmir dates back to A.D. 541. Kashmir is described as a country “enveloped on all sides like a precious jewel by the snowy mountains, with a valley in the south which leads up to it and serves as a gate of the Kingdom”.  Ninety years after this first mention of Kashmir in Chinese records, Hiuen Tsang visited the valley and stayed here as an honoured guest for two years. He entered Kashmir through the valley of Vitasta (present Jehlum). Kashmir which he calls Kia-shi-mi-lo described as a country surrounded on all sides by very high mountains which have very narrow and contracted passes for entry.
The next reference to Kashmir in Chinese records relates to the Annals of Tang dynasty which mentions the arrival of the first ambassador from Kashmir sent by Candrapida and then another sent by Muktapida (Lalitaditya) of the Karakot dynasty of the Rajtarangni. In fact, Muktapida had entered into a treaty of military alliance with the rulers of Tang dynasty of China against Tibet which he subsequently raided with a strong Kashmirian army. He failed to conquer it as his entire army perished in the cold and high altitude deserts of Ladakh.
Kashmir also figures in records of Muslim scholars. In spite of Kashmir’s natural seclusion, the Arabic literature has very accurate and valuable account of Kashmir. This is due to the research and critical appraisal of ALBERUNI who travelled with Mahmud of Ghazni upto the borders of Kashmir at the fort of Lohkot (presently Loran in Punch). This stronghold of the Kashmiri forces brought the invasion of Mahmud to a standstill and he had to ultimately retreat from here due to the onset of winter. Though this expedition failed to reach Kashmir but it gave Alberuni ample opportunity to collect detailed information on Kashmir. He refers to the pedestrian habits of Kashmiris and mentions that the nobles were carried in palanquins on the shoulders of men. He describes Kashmiris anxiety and care to protect their country. “They are particularly anxious about the natural strength of their country, and therefore take always much care to keep a strong hold upon the entrances and roads leading to it. In consequence it is very difficult to have any commerce with them”.
Thus there is so much historical evidence for the existence of Kashmir as a separate country from the earliest times. Unfortunately, Kashmir lost its sovereignty to Mughals in sixteenth century and since that time has been enslaved by one or the other conqueror. However, in spite of all the hardships the Kashmiris have not reconciled to their external slavery and the urge to regain their lost freedom has been increasing with the passage of time. The movement to achieve this goal is quite strong. Thus, in view of this entire history, as denigratingly suggested by the former Finance Minister, the people are not barking up the wrong tree! Incidentally, in the Indian sub-continent there is at present only one country which qualifies to be called a Nation-State and that is Nepal. Kashmir could be the second one!
The million dollar question is will the Kashmiris be able to reclaim their Nationality as it existed for thousands of years and will Kashmir ever be again a Nation State? Will they be ever able to lead a life of honour and dignity? Well, keeping in view the current regional political set up it seems impossible unless these neighbours get tired of their unending mutual hostility or get decimated in a destructive war! Howsoever, it would be an ideal solution if they agree to declare Kashmir as a Nation State of the erstwhile times and make it a totally neutral zone like Switzerland remained in the two world wars. This may seem a utopian dream but sometimes such dreams happen to show the way. In the present global context, Nation States have almost ceased to exist independently due to the economic considerations. A typical example is the European Union. Even though the individual countries do maintain their cultural individuality yet in reality it has become one unit for all practical purposes. Can’t the countries of our region do the same? Make the area a composite economic unit and keep Kashmir as a Free Economic Zone with total political neutrality! Something on these lines could be worked out through dialogue among all the stakeholders including all the neighbouring countries. Ultimately, after getting exhausted by mutual bickering and fights reducing their citizens to abject poverty, the neighbouring countries may have no alternative but to do it! The other choice would be total obliteration by a destructive nuclear war! Let us hope and pray that good sense will prevail all round and Kashmiris are emancipated after centuries of oppression!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Kashmir Problem, Social or Political?

(As Shakespeare has said, “A rose is a rose by whatever name you call it” Similarly, Kashmir is a serious problem whether you name it Social or Political that is presently irrelevant!)
Image result for un hq in srinagar

Haseeb Drabu, lost his job by merely stating that Kashmir is a Social Issue and not a Political Issue. Incidentally, he is one of the architects of the Agenda of alliance between BJP and PDP which forms the basis of the coalition government notwithstanding the fact that the implementation of the agenda is nowhere in sight! Speaking at an event in New Delhi themed as “Kashmir, the way forward”, the former J & K Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu had said “Kashmir shouldn't be seen as a conflict state or a political problem, but as a society with social issues”. The most appropriate comment for such a declaration can only be “the height of naivety!” He had been truly naïve! The definition of naïve in dictionary is, “A person who despite overwhelming blatant evidence is oblivious to what’s going on in his/her surroundings”! People are often naive because they are young and/or have not had much experience of life. However, one could not say this about a stalwart like Drabu Sahib. He has been a top economist, journalist and a banker. The best rebuttal to this declaration can be a quote from the interview that the former vice-President Hamid Ansari gave to Karan Thapar last August which was published in the Hindu newspaper. When asked whether Kashmir was a political problem, he said, “The problem is and has always been primarily a political problem. And it has to be addressed politically.”
One cannot close eyes to the history of last 70 years, the period for which Kashmir has been a lingering political problem internationally recognised by the United Nations Security Council on the agenda of which it continues to figure. The stark and living proof of that is the United Nations Military Observer Group Headquarter in Srinagar. The observers from various European and other countries are not enjoying a holiday in Kashmir but are supposed to be monitoring the Ceasefire Line now called the Line of Actual Control (LOC) between India and Pakistan. It is a different matter that they are not now allowed to conduct their work on the Indian side! Apart from this, one often hears sermons from world leaders and various super powers addressed to Indian and Pakistani leaders for solving Kashmir problem bi-laterally. In fact, in Shimla agreement signed after the 1971 war, both countries declared Kashmir to be a political problem to be solved bi-laterally.
The number of books, articles and various documents written and published about the political problem of Kashmir can fill an entire library! Even in recent times dozens of books have been written on the various aspects of the subject. Unfortunately denial about something which is a stark reality does not make it go away. If one closes all windows and doors of a house and says there is no light outside the house that does not make the light disappear. One is only deceiving one’s own self! On the ground itself, why is Kashmir known all over the world as the most militarised place on Earth? Almost one third of the third largest Army in the world is in Kashmir. There has been continuous shelling and firing going across the Line of Control for quite some time. Are these two forces playing some sort of friendly matches with their heavy fire power? According to government figures over 50,000 people were killed during the uprising of the nineties of the last century. Still over 10, 000 people are missing without any trace.
At the moment over a 1000 persons are detained under the Public Safety Act. Most of the leaders of a popular movement are either detained from time to time or are under continuous house arrest. Almost all the so called mainstream leaders whether presently ruling or out of power have the highest security cover. Every second day Srinagar’s main town, the old city is placed under an undeclared curfew locally given the name of “Restrictions”.  Freedom of expression guaranteed under the constitution has ceased to exist in Kashmir. There have been scores of clashes between Army and militants and a large number of local youth who had joined militancy have been killed. Again are these people playing friendly matches or there is a simmering political problem which has given rise to local militancy?
Regarding “Social Issues”, of course there are umpteen social problems but these have all risen because of the basic political problem which the rulers are trying to run away from. The first social problem is that every Kashmiri Muslim is a suspect all over India. He is being labelled as a Pakistani terrorist! The worst social problem within Kashmir which the continuous political uncertainty has given rise to is the total lack of accountability. Nobody seems to be answerable to nobody. Each one is for himself to make hay as long as the Sun of uncertainty shines. The government is virtually on an “Auto-Pilot”! The recent episode of the rape and murder of a Bakerwal girl whose perpetrators are being eulogised by the members of one of the ruling parties speaks volumes regarding the writ of the government. In fact, the fanatic followers of one of the ruling parties consider “Ghar Wapsi” of Kashmiri Muslims as their most important agenda item!
The most unfortunate part of this episode is that the present PDP leaders have totally betrayed the legacy of their founder Mufti Mohammad Sayed who stood for the “Healing Touch” and the “Self-rule”! Healing touch has become the killing touch and the blinding touch while as the self-rule has been reduced to the “Proxy-rule” by Delhi! Thus, if Drabu Sahab’s naivety is not to cost PDP dearly even though he has been fired, they should advise Delhi to accept the basic fact of Kashmir being a political problem and immediately initiate a dialogue with all stakeholders within the country and across the border. Otherwise the religious frenzy being generated against Muslims all over the country and the continuous heavy firing on the border increasing in scale with each passing day may end up in an Armageddon for the whole sub-continent!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Preparing for Mahabharata’s Last Battle!

(The continuous firing on the Line of Control and the Indo-Pak border looks ominous and could spiral out of control with disastrous consequences!)

Image result for nuclear mushroom

Recently, there have been numerous statements from leaders as well as defence services officers of the two neighbouring countries in the Indian sub-continent about the escalating situation on the border. Saner people have been repeatedly emphasizing that the spiraling situation on the border could blow up into a full-fledged war which would mean virtual annihilation of the sub-continent. A real Armageddon! Surely the enmity has not reached such a level that it should blow out the entire sub-continent. Hopefully, there are still saner people on the two sides? Politicians on both the sides seem to be deriving political mileage for elections and control of opposition in the two countries. The BJP from the very start has been going on the religious turf. From the first day after taking over the government in Delhi they have mounted a sustained campaign for converting India into a Hindu Rashtra. Even though their election campaign spoke more of development (Vikas) yet on taking over they forgot about it. In fact, they have miserably failed to keep their promises to the teeming millions starving under the poverty line.
Having totally failed on the economic front, they are now once again reverting to religious fanaticism. They are in a way creating a religious frenzy to virtually fight the next election. Vikas does not sell now! They can as usual use the religion as the opium of the poor! However, by doing so, inadvertently they may be preparing for the last battle of Mahabharata at Kurukshetra!  Mahabharata is one of the two famous Indian National epics. It was written from 540 to 300 B.C. by Sage Vyasa. It relates the legends of the Bharatas, a Vedic Aryan group.
Bharat Bhushan, a senior Delhi based journalist has written an article in Asian Age, “Modi playing with fire, driving J & K to despair”. According to him, “… having failed to deliver on the economic front, given the mess created by demonetisation and the hasty implementation of the Goods and Services Tax, increasing agrarian distress and rising unemployment, Mr Modi needed to rejig the nationalist narrative to maintain and expand the structure of his communalised politics. One of the tropes in this reinvented nationalism is to paint Pakistan as the source of all Indian woes in the Kashmir Valley. A supine mainstream media played the cheerleader in creating a nationalist paranoia to suit Mr Modi’s political ends”.
The ethos of the real India of ancient times as perceived by Guru Dev Tagore and Dr. Iqbal cannot be brought back by physically merging the broken away parts again into Akhand Bharat. The India of the ancient times can be redeemed only by making the artificial borders separating these countries irrelevant. If this Hindu-Muslim divide had not taken place and India had remained as one united country, it would not only have been a real super power but would have been one of the best welfare states for its citizens. They can still remain united by adopting the European Union model. If, after the most destructive world war, Europe can virtually unite as one country, why cannot India, Pakistan and Bangladesh do the same?
One is reminded of the battle of Kurukshetra in Mahabharata. It would be interesting to recapitulate what some people say about the Mahabharata’s last battle. Mathilda’s Weird Web Blog has translations of some of the verses which look scary because of some resemblance to a few modern weapons like the nukes, rockets and the lasers! “Gurkha, flying a swift and powerful vimana [fast aircraft], hurled a single projectile [rocket] charged with the power of the Universe [nuclear device]. An incandescent column of smoke and flame, as bright as ten thousand suns, rose with all its splendour. It was an unknown weapon, an iron thunderbolt, a gigantic messenger of death, which reduced to ashes the entire race of the Vrishnis and the Andhakas”. “The corpses were so burned as to be unrecognizable. Hair and nails fell out; Pottery broke without apparent cause, and the birds turned white.…After a few hours all foodstuffs were infected……to escape from this fire the soldiers threw themselves in streams to wash themselves and their equipment”
Kongari Mahalakshami a computer scientist writes in Quora on the subject. She is debating whether nuclear weapons were really used in the Mahabharata War. “The concept of Astra (Missile) and Dhanush (Launchers) emerged from there. Astra was a super-natural hand-carried weapon blessed by a specific deity. Astras like Brahmashira, Brahmasthra, Pasupatasthra, Vaishnavasthra, Narayana Astra, Agneyasthra, Vayavasthra, Nagasthra, Vajrasthra, Varunasthra etc. were used in Mahabharata along with positive indications of the use of Nuclear weapons (atom bomb) , otherwise how could the war cause the death of around 1.5 billion people in a matter of 18 days”.
Even Oppenheimer, the father of the modern Atom Bomb has said about the possibility of the use of nuclear weapons mentioned in Mahabharata. “No, I’m not totally mad”. Oppenheimer thought it may have happened. He was very familiar with the ancient Hindu texts. When asked if his was the first ever detonation of a nuclear bomb, he said. ‘Yes, in modern times’. Keeping in view all these references one feels scary that the Hindutva frenzy being raised for a war with Pakistan, a Dharam Yudh may be a repeat of the war in the ancient times which had resulted in total destruction.
If both the countries fail to check the religious extremists from taking over, one never knows these western powers may even encourage and allow a small nuclear exchange as a lesson for other similarly disposed countries! Recently a columnist had warned about the possibility of the western countries preparing for a nuclear exchange somewhere in Central Asia. Another possibility could be the Indian sub-continent. Mahabharata mentions Kal Yug, which is already here. India and Pakistan have become Pandvas and Korvas and Kashmir is the Drupadi who has been disrobed umpteen times! Ultimately, this tussle may end in a nuclear exchange which would definitely be the last battle of Kurukshetra thereby ending the whole epic of Mahabharata of the present times! Incidentally, the Kurukshetra of ancient times is the Haryana and Rajasthan of these days which has been usually the main battle ground for recent Indo-Pak wars!