Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Kashmir needs a “PETER”!

Like Holland which is supposed to have been saved once by Peter of Haarlem, Kashmir badly needs someone to plug the hole in its protective dyke!





During our school days we used to read the story of “Peter” of Haarlem, a Dutch boy who once saved his country from getting submerged by the mighty sea. Holland is situated below the sea level which is kept out by dykes. Any breach in the dykes would immediately submerge the whole land. The legend goes that one day a school boy, “Peter” of Haarlem whose father had been looking after sluices, while going along the dykes in the evening heard the sound of water trickle. On having a closer look he found that there was a hole in the dyke through which water was trickling in. This hole had to be plugged as otherwise the trickle would cause a breach and his country would be submerged. He put his finger in the hole to stop the trickle. Whole night he stayed there alone as no body passed from that side and he was afraid of leaving the trickle unattended. In the morning when he was almost numb with cold a clergy man passed by and saw him. He fetched help to plug the hole and thus Haarlem was saved from submerging by this brave boy.
Incidentally, Kashmir has also been quite often protected by the natural dykes of the mighty Himalayan Mountains from outside marauders that have always been eyeing its natural beauty. From time to time these external aggressors have succeeded in breaching these mountainous dykes and pillaged the country. For almost four centuries it has remained under external rulers. During the modern times, natural or manmade dykes hardly protect a people. Modern technology breaches all barriers. Now, instead of the mighty tides of water, people are usually swept away by human waves generated by economic means. It was to safeguard the poor inhabitants from this possibility that the last Maharaja of Kashmir, Hari Singh had enacted the state subject law thereby prohibiting outsiders from buying or owning any land here. This political dyke put up by the Maharaja has to a large extent prevented Kashmiris from being swept away from their land. There was a possibility of a major breach in the dykes in 1947 when tides from the two newly created countries swept over Kashmir. The intervention of the world body for peace, the UN Security Council put up a dyke which has so far held and saved Kashmiris from being completely submerged in the ocean of humanity that the sub-continent represents.
The Indian side drilled a hole in the UN dyke called Article 370 and started trickling in various laws to take over complete control of the state. Sheikh Abdullah put his finger in the hole to prevent the complete merger. However, unlike Peter he could not stay their all night long and the water which had started like a trickle turned into a torrent sweeping away every semblance of Kashmir’s unique identity. There have been many attempts to turn this hole into a complete breach. However, so far the people have been resisting the complete take over. Recently, a new tide has risen which has already reached the foothills of the dyke. Many attempts are being made to turn the hole into a breach. Permutations and combinations are being made to sweep Kashmiris off their feet. Kashmir is at present desperately in need of someone like the “Peter of Haarlem” who can put his finger in the hole in the dyke and stem the impending flood. Will any of the Kashmiri politicians act like the Peter of Haarlem? Will all the people come to his help to save Kashmir being overwhelmed and swept away by the tides coming in from both the directions? These are the questions in every Kashmiri mind right now! God alone knows the answer!


Saturday, December 27, 2014

A Repetition of History!



8th century AD, 1953, or 2014, the story is the same. Only the characters have changed!


Kashmir is the only place in the sub-continent which has the earliest written history from the ancient times till twelfth century A.D. Kalhana’s Rajtarangani has a written record of Kashmir’s history from the earliest times, almost for 5000 years! The earlier part of it is more or less mythological but the last couple of thousand years are verifiable with the remains of historical buildings and the monuments of those periods. Sir Aural Stein who had translated this record of historical events from Sanskrit to English has verified it through his memoir on the ancient geography of Kashmir. One interesting aspect of this history is the regular and continuous palace intrigues which took place in ancient Kashmir at the time of royal succession involving the crowning of a King or a Queen. The powerful feudal landlords called Damaras had a decisive hand in the final selection. There is an episode when they were unable to choose and it was decided to crown the first person who enters the Kashmir valley from outside! Well, the situation is almost the same now!
In spite of the fact that the state now boasts of a democratic set up, the streaks of royalty continue to be strong in the character of Kashmiri politicians of all shades and colours. We do not really have a democracy but instead a nepotic-feudocracy! Instead of the earlier princes and princesses, we now have sons and daughters in the business of governance. In the recent election, the people have given a real headache to all the politicians in regard to formation of a government. They are truly between the devil and the deep sea. The present day Damaras are very active again. The million dollar question is whom to make the new King of Kashmir and how? There are many permutations and combinations but first question is who should be the “King”? Most seem to agree on the veteran politician Mufti Sayed. As a journalist has observed, the ball of government is in his court!
The three mainstream political parties claiming to be secular need to cobble together a combination to stem the onslaught of the declared religion based party. This can only be done if they rise above their individual egos and are sincere in ameliorating the lot of the common people. At this juncture, their decision is not only for the future of the state of J & K but for the entire region. Taking the overall scenario of the sub-continent in to consideration, the final scene in J & K can be a turning point as regards the tides of religious violence which are trying to sweep the entire area. On the other side innocent children have been mercilessly butchered in the name of God! On this side, people are being forced to reconvert from their practicing religion to restore India to its ancient Hindu “glory”! There is an urgent need on both sides to put a stop to this fanaticism. These violent tides which have risen from the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean can only be stopped by the will of the common people. The majority of the people in the state of J & K who came out to vote have given their verdict in this regard notwithstanding the fact that the population in certain areas have been swayed by the fanatically propagated religious sentiment. 
It is observed by some quarters that for any success in implementing their agendas regarding the improvement in the daily living of the people and the long term realisation of the peoples’ aspirations of a final solution, the rulers in Delhi have to be supportive and not antagonistic to the set up in the state. Yes, it is true but only for the people who are installed by Delhi and not for those who claim to be elected by the free will of the people. In fact, Delhi is looking for a person to do their bidding as in 1953! The peoples’ representatives who have been sincerely elected can take Delhi head on if it tries to scuttle their people friendly agendas. This has been amply demonstrated by similar set ups in other regions. If they are not allowed to implement what they have promised to the people in their manifestos, they can always go back to the people. The only rider is that one has to be sure that these representatives have come up to sincerely and honestly serve the people and not because of their lust for power! Time only can reveal the truth!
ashrafmjk@gmail.com

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The “Wave” peters out!

The “Wave” of Hindutva which had risen from the Indian Ocean through the shores of Gujarat has petered out on the soil of Sufi Kashmir!


Mahatma Gandhi having been pained by the communal carnage in the sub-continent in 1947 had seen the only ray of light in the darkness of the all-round mayhem in Kashmir. Well, the vision of the Mahatma has been reaffirmed during the recent election. The Gujarat wave of Modi had swept the entire India like a Tsunami during the Parliament election. He had hoped to sweep the state of J & K with his Mission 44+ but the valley of the saints has dramatically petered out the “Wave”. The chauvinist corporate Indian media has been crying hoarse about the unusually large voter turnout in Kashmir in spite of fervent calls for boycott and has been terming it as reaffirmation of faith in the Indian democracy and a vote for development. The truth on the contrary is only a re-affirmation of the Kashmiri in his own traditional religious tolerance and the mystic outlook. People came out to vote in large numbers neither for Mission 44+ nor only for Bijli, Pani, aur Saddak but also to ensure that the Hindutva “wave” does not enter the calm and serene shores of the land of Kashyapa Reshi! Kashmiris have voted to keep their identity intact!
All but one BJP candidates lost their deposits in Kashmir valley. Congress has been seen as a lesser evil than the trident wielding Hindutva brigade. The wave would not have entered even some parts of the Chenab valley and Pir Panchal but for the division in the regional vote. The BJP candidates who won election from these areas have polled lesser votes than the combined votes of the regional parties. Had these parties been supporting each other, the wave would have petered out on the Trikuta Hills itself!
Interestingly, most of the sitting MLAs who have won the election are the ones who have been devotedly nursing their constituencies and have been always accessible to their constituents. However, in Jammu area, the “Wave” has almost swept everyone regardless of their individual efforts. Even though the “Mission 44+” has remained an unrealised dream yet the polarisation caused by the campaign has created a challenge for the integrity of the state. The State of J & K has been functioning as a single integrated unit for more than one and a half centuries notwithstanding the fact that the entity was not a natural conglomeration but the creation of conquests and the sale of territory. Since 1947, after its dismemberment due to the Indo-Pak conflict over its ownership, it has still remained a single unit because of the interdependence of the three basic units.
Incidentally, the Ladakhis who have been clamouring for the Union Territory status to have direct central control have not voted for the strongest ever central party but for the congress. Probably, because they have already experienced the nuances of the “Wave” through the Sindhu Darshan campaign of the Hindutva brigade which had generated apprehensions in their mind that the new “Wave” could sweep away their Buddhist identity?
Ironically, the situation resembles the one in early fifties when the Kashmir’s tallest nationalist leader was made to perform a political somersault by the extreme rightist elements from Jammu demanding complete integration of the state with the Union of India. The history could very well repeat itself. The challenge is not only to safeguard the identity of the Kashmiris and find ways and means to fulfil their true aspirations on one hand but at the same time cater to the aspirations and sentiments of the Jammu people and the Ladakhis on the other. On the face of it, this may seem a tall order but given the will and the sincerity, it is not difficult to achieve it. The only choice is the combining of all the non-communal mainstream forces. The two regional parties and the other national party have a combined strength of almost 2/3rd members in the house. They need to support each other in forming a government which could give both good governance and safeguard the identity of the state by trying to fulfil aspirations of all the three regions. Are the leaders of these parties sincere enough to rise above their vested interests and fulfil the challenge? That is the million dollar question!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

NC-PDP Alliance:Modi’s Nightmare!

Do they have the sincerity and the urge to serve the people and heal their wounds?

 

The two regional parties are expected to get sizeable majority in present election but may not be in a position to form a government on their own. Can they give Narendra Modi nightmares by joining together? In ancient Kashmir wood had been one of the most popular building materials used for constructing both palaces as well as ordinary houses. Kalhana mentions lofty wooden houses as one of the five most well-known attributes of ancient Kashmir. The most common and ancient way of joining two pieces of wood is a tongue and groove joint. The use of wood has been replaced by cement concrete and even if we use wood, we join it by nails or adhesives like fevicol! The loss of tongue and groove joint has also psychologically affected our political as well as social life. It has got totally disjointed and has gone virtually to pieces. The main reason for this has been mushrooming of egos, false pride, and jealousy. Right from day one of the ongoing freedom movement started in 1931, there has been a split at every stage. The parting of ways has been apparently for ideological reasons but in reality the under lying cause for every split has been a clash of egos. Humility and submission to truth seem alien to us. Each one of us wants to be a leader and not a follower. The result is that we have a leader in every nook and corner but hardly any dedicated followers. If the aim of all those struggling for last so many decades is to achieve the basic right of self-determination, then why do we have so many parties and factions of parties? It is simply because of the clash of egos. 
A friend wrote sometime back that two Kashmiris cannot walk even ten steps holding each other’s hand. There are dozens of external agencies from both the sides interested in keeping the pieces apart. The reason is that none trusts Kashmiris. We do not even ourselves have faith in us! In the latest phase of the struggle which started in 1990, initially great unity was shown by one and all and a single united face was presented to both the local people and the outside world. However, the joints in the pieces did not last as these did not form tongue and groove joints and the pieces were scattered all over.
However, what is wrong with the other stream of politicians? The so called main stream which too has local involvement. Again a clash of egos or rather clash of “families”. There are only two main stream regional parties claiming to represent the “true” aspirations of the people. According to them the aspirations of the people are within the existing external framework. They would like to get the people a place of honour and dignity within the present political parameters. But so far they have failed to achieve even this limited goal. Again the problem is their failure to complement each other. They are wasting their energies in confronting each other even though their professed goals are same. They present a perfect example of tongue and groove and should have normally joined long back. The differences are only of nomenclature. One is pleading for the restoration of the already agreed autonomy within the union which has been totally diluted over the years while as the other calls it the “self-rule” with an undefined external dimension. Both have an interesting composition contrasting with each other. One has a good material of old stalwarts but inconsistent and fickle minded leadership devoid of political acumen. The other has seasoned leadership with political sagacity but no substantive material. They have rather a collection of defectors. The two could fit in easily as a tongue and groove joint and become a formidable combination which would make our common adversary feel very uneasy. If only they would rise above the “family” and their egos, they could make a difference. By taking a united stand they could have easily got the suffering masses some interim relief. Do they have the sincerity and the urge to serve the people and heal their wounds? Yes, only to the extent of professing it for their own selfish goals. The last 60 years of uncertainty which have made them go round in circles have not tempered them and made them realise the bleakness of the future. By all accounts both do not seem to have any future in the ultimate disposition of Kashmir. They still have a chance to change it if only they see the writing on the wall. It would be in their own interests to give up their hypocritical stances as well as mutual confrontation and come out openly in support of the true aspirations of the people. This will either make the other umpteen parties professing to be popular saviours of the people totally irrelevant or force them to coalesce like tongue and groove joints in wood to maintain their credibility. Either way it is the common people who will benefit from such an eventuality. Is there anyone to take such a bold initiative? Usually this comes from the “Intelligentsia” but in our case unfortunately they are paralysed in a deep freeze! Someone or something needs to de-freeze them!
ashrafmjk@gmail.com

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Mahabharata’s Last Battle!

( Parading India as a Hindu Nation may lead to the final round of the battle of Kurukshetra!)


 
There have been alarming reports about the reconversion of Muslims to Hinduism. It has been given the name of “home coming” for the Hindus who had supposedly accepted Islam as their religion. It has also been announced that many more reconversions will take place. 5000 conversions are allegedly scheduled for Christmas. The RSS objective is to revert India back to the ancient Bharatvarsh, the land of Hindus. Bhagvad Gita is slated to be the “National” Book of India. It is already being formally presented by the Prime Minister to various world dignitaries as such. Godse has been declared to be a patriot and Mahatma Gandhi as unpatriotic! People have been projecting the developmental side of Narendra Modi forgetting the fact that he is an RSS Parcharak!
Mohan Bhagwat sometime back had said, “Hindustan is a Hindu nation. Hindutva is the identity of our nation and it (Hinduism) can incorporate others (religions) in itself.” He is right only the extent of India being called Hindustan. Truly, India in the Arab world in earlier times was known as Al-Hind and Indians were called Al-Hindi! This was of course on the basis of the predominance of the Hindu religion. Since that time, India has seen many religions including Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Christianity and Islam. Apart from religion, India has a total ethnic diversity. At the present moment calling India a Hindu Nation in spite of the fact that its partition was on the basis of religion, does not gel. No doubt it has a Hindu majority yet there are sizeable number of other minorities including Muslims and Christians. Even though it is starkly evident that there is always dominance of Hindu religion in all spheres of daily life and state related functions and even some other actions, yet it is not correct to call India a “Hindu Nation” in spite of some zealots claiming it to be so! Going by true definition of nationality as given in the books of political science, India has over a dozen nations based on language, culture and history.
The concept of two nations based on religion was brought in by the departing British. It is alleged,that the very basis of the partition of the sub-continent was the refusal of the some Indian leaders especially the Hindutva elements in India’s majority Hindu population to accept Muslims as equal citizens of the country once the freedom was granted. Muslims were considered by these extremist Hindus to be outsiders left over by the invaders. The fear of getting marginalised and persecuted in the free united India had forced some Muslim leaders including Mohammad Ali Jinnah to seek a separate country for them. The western colonialists who never wanted to leave their colonies, by overt and covert means deliberately fuelled this two nation theory in the Indian sub-continent. Their main aim was to keep a hold on these colonies even after their departure.
After agreeing for the division of the country on the basis of religion, some of the secular leaders of the Indian freedom movement tried to project India as a secular republic giving equal treatment to all its citizens regardless of the religion professed by them. However, these leaders could not change the mind-set of the common people regarding India being a Hindu country especially after creation of another country on the basis of religion. They only succeeded in creating a fa├žade of secularism but failed to change the perception of the majority of the common masses that the most important commonality uniting them was the Hindu religion.
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 war, Europe can virtually unite as one country, why cannot India, Pakistan and Bangladesh do the same?
On the contrary,at present both the countries are spending the major chunk of their budgets on defence and security against each other! The few “dirty” rich on both sides are becoming richer and the poor are becoming poorer thanks to the western manipulators whose main thrust is to sell more and more newer and deadlier weapons of destruction to both the countries! These very western powers tacitly support and promote this religious divide. It creates a feeling of mistrust on both sides which suits them. A Jihadi Pakistan and a Hindutva India would always be at logger heads, mistrusting each other, arming themselves to the teeth even with the nukes for the ultimate doomsday scenario.
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. The famous epic of the ancient India, Mahabharata mentions Kal Yug, which is already here. India and Pakistan have become Korvas and Pandvas 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!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Tongue and Groove

My 2007 article very relevant to present political scenario in Kashmir!

The most common and ancient way of joining two pieces of wood is a tongue and groove joint. In ancient Kashmir wood had been one of the most popular building materials used for constructing both palaces as well as ordinary houses. Kalhana mentions lofty wooden houses as one the five most well known attributes of ancient Kashmir. Even in later period the Sher-e-Khas is reputed to have had even 14 storey high royal palaces. Budshah also built a lofty wooden palace Zain Dab which was a marvel of wooden architecture. The use of wood in ancient Kashmir was because of the extensive lush green forest cover the valley enjoyed in those times. Unfortunately we have ourselves destroyed this green gold of Kashmir. With the deliberate and calculated depletion of the forest cover, there has been a change in the use of building materials. This innovation in construction technology has also affected the use of wood. We do not now use tongue and groove joints in joining pieces of wood. We prefer external agents like nails and adhesives like fevicol! The loss of tongue and groove has also psychologically affected our political as well as social life. It has got totally disjointed and has gone virtually to pieces. The main reason for this has been mushrooming of egos, false pride, and jealousy. Right from day one of the ongoing freedom movement started in 1931, there has been a split at every stage. The parting of ways has been apparently for ideological reasons but in reality the under lying cause for every split has been a clash of egos. Humility and submission to truth seem alien to us. Each one of us wants to be a leader and not a follower. The result is that we have a leader in every nook and corner but hardly any dedicated followers. If the aim of all those struggling for last so many decades is to achieve the basic right of self-determination, then why do we have so many parties and factions of parties? It is simply because of the clash of egos. We are presenting ourselves to the adversary as an umpteen number of pieces of wood which he can scatter easily with a slight of his hand. If all these scattered pieces could be joined by tongue and groove joints which are easy to make without any external nails and adhesives, the result would be a one solid wooden block difficult to smash! The splitting seems to be a common trait of our character. It is visible in almost every activity. Every organisation, whether political, social, religious, and even sports starts with great zeal, enthusiasm, and fanfare but splits up after traversing hardly few steps. A friend wrote sometime back that two Kashmiris cannot walk even ten steps holding each others’ hand. There are dozens of parties and factions of parties led by dozens of leaders all professing to lead Kashmiris to ultimate salvation. It is said that in the face of adversity people have a tendency to unite and combine for their common survival. Not in Kashmir. Normally one expects splitting after reaching the goal for sharing the final fruits of struggle. However, we are splitting even before being anywhere near the goal. It seems illogical. Could it be only due to splitting streaks in our character or there is something more to it? One is inclined to believe that there are dozens of external agencies from both the sides interested in keeping the pieces apart. The reason is that none trusts Kashmiris. We do not even ourselves have faith in us! In the latest phase of our struggle which started in 1990, initially great unity was shown by one and all and a single united face was presented to both the local people as well as the outside world. However, the joints in the pieces did not last as these did not form tongue and groove joints and the pieces were scattered all over. Apart from inherent contradictions, our adversaries did a commendable job for their masters by splitting us beyond redemption. They continue to ensure that the pieces do not come together again no matter whatever the cost in men and material. Pitting one against the other is a game in which they have always excelled. One may even concede that in the given situation of conflict it is very difficult to give a united front when the adversary is bent upon going to any extent including liquidation of all potential leaders. It is a clash between two opposites. Mighty and the weak. However, what is wrong with the other stream? The main stream with local involvement. Again a clash of egos or rather clash of “families”. There are only two main stream regional parties claiming to represent the “true” aspirations of the people. According to them the aspirations of the people are within the existing external framework. They would like to get the people a place of honour and dignity within the present political parameters. But so far they have failed to achieve even this limited goal. Again the problem is their failure to complement each other. They are wasting their energies in confronting each other even though their professed goals are same. They present a perfect example of tongue and groove and should have normally joined long back. The differences are only of nomenclature. One is pleading for the restoration of the already agreed autonomy within the union which has been totally diluted over the years while as the other calls it the “self-rule” with an undefined external dimension. Both have an interesting composition contrasting with each other. One has a good ministerial material of old stalwarts but inconsistent and fickle minded leadership devoid of political acumen. The other has seasoned leadership with political sagacity but no substantive ministerial material. They have rather a collection of defectors. The two could fit in easily as a tongue and groove joint and become a formidable combination which would make our common adversary feel very uneasy. If only they would rise above the “family” and their egos, they could make a difference. By taking a united stand they could have easily got the suffering masses some interim relief till the other lot would put their act together. Do they have the sincerity and the urge to serve the people and heal their wounds? Yes, only to the extent of professing it for their own selfish goals. One would have thought that last 60 years of uncertainty which have made them go round in circles would have tempered them and made them realise the bleakness of the future. By all accounts both do not seem to have any future in the ultimate disposition of Kashmir. They still have a chance to change it if only they see the writing on the wall. It would be in their own interests to give up their hypocritical stances as well as mutual confrontation and come out openly in support of the true aspirations of the people. This will either make the other umpteen parties professing to be popular saviours of the people totally irrelevant or force them to coalesce like tongue and groove joints in wood to maintain their credibility. Either way it is the common people who will benefit from such an eventuality. Is there any one to take such a bold initiative? Usually this comes from the “Intelligentsia” but in our case unfortunately they are paralysed in a deep freeze! Someone or something needs to de-freeze them.
 

Friday, December 12, 2014

(Mission 44+) +70%polling =(Mufti 44+)!

Exit polls under election law are banned and one can never be sure of the trends till the final results are declared. However, there is always whispering going on among the voters and the general public about the possible outcome of the voting. Many experts had predicted that a total boycott may help BJP as they could manipulate the votes polled. It would be very difficult to rig the polls when there is overwhelming participation. So far the polling has been appreciable from 72% to 58%.
Many theories have been advanced for this unprecedented turn out. Some say it is a deliberate attempt by the youth of Kashmir to defeat the mission 44+ while others attribute it to the failure of the popular leadership. They have neither succeeded in advancing political settlement of Kashmir nor done anything to ameliorate the lot of the people in their daily lives. Thus people have been coming out in large numbers to at least improve their daily living conditions.
During interviews to various TV channels people have been mostly speaking about choosing good representatives who would help them in various day to day needs such as employment, roads, power, and water and so on. They had chosen some people in the last elections on the same plea but those people completely let them down. There has been total lack of good governance during last six years. Over and above, there has been repression and indiscriminate killing of innocent youth.
Now people seem to be treading the same path and there is every possibility of the earlier lot being rejected entirely as was evident from the Parliament elections! The possibility of people turning to BJP at least in the valley is remote. The only alternative left is Mufti Sayed’s PDP. There may be some independent candidates favoured by local people because of their honesty and uprightness.
In Jammu though BJP had a clean sweep in Parliament elections, the assembly election is a different story at least in Chenab Valley right from Kishtwar to Poonch. Kashmiri speaking Muslim areas too will not go with BJP in case of sizeable turnout of the voters. Rumours are afloat that PDP may be leading in some areas. There has also been lessening of enthusiasm because of the wavering of BJP regarding Article 370. One cannot predict with certainty but the general feeling is that the PDP may emerge as the single largest party. It would be in the interests of stability if they get absolute majority on their own. They would not be then getting continuance nagging from their partners as has happened in earlier coalition governments.
Now the million dollar question is whether this turning of the “Mission 44+” into “Mufti 44+” is inadvertent or deliberate? Narendra Modi is a very shrewd and astute player. He keeps his cards to his chest. It is not an easy job to rise from a Chai Wala to become the Prime Minister of a country never mind the democratic credentials of the constitution espoused all over the world especially when money has been a major player in all these elections. One needs brains, guts and above all the shrewdness to do that! Imagine the pariah of the Gujarat massacre shunned by the United States being host to the President of that country on the forthcoming Republic Day celebrations. A perfect 180 degrees turn around!
Narendra Modi has a mission to turn India into a true Hindu Rashtra but of the corporate type which Arundhati Royhad named, the “Upper Caste Hindu Corporate Republic”! Having had the first brush with Kashmir in nineties when he tried to hoist the tri-colour in Lal Chowk with Murli Manohar Joshi, Narendra Modi very well knows the feelings of common Kashmiris. Being a product of RSS, he must be fully aware about the feelings of some of the top RSS ideologues who had, during the 2010 agitation, described Kashmir as an unnecessary burden, virtually a mill stone in the neck of developing India. Some of them had suggested dis-investing Kashmir in the long term interests of India. In fact, Vajpayee had been following the same advice.
Getting rid of Kashmir would ensure billions of dollars of NRI investment in India which remains in limbo because of the uncertainty in the sub-continent and the apprehension of a nuclear holocaust. At the present moment there could be no better alternative than Mufti 44+ during whose earlier tenure Vajpayee had started his mission Kashmir within the parameters of humanity!
Coming to Mufti Sayed’s mission of self-rule, the moot point is how far will he be allowed to go if he ultimately takes over on his own? PDP manifesto covers many things, the developmental as well as political. Can they ensure implementation of these or they will forget once they take over as has been the usual routine of mainstream parties in Kashmir? These parties usually get reminded about their promises and commitments only just before the next election!

In the final analysis, will Mufti Sayed be able to resist demographical changes planned by the Hindutva brigade? Time only can tell! At the moment all these observations may sound mere speculation or loud thinking. However, it would be interesting to watch the Kashmir scene if the “Mission 44+” really turns into “Mufti 44+”!                 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Crorepatis and Crorepatnis!

According to news reports the disclosure of assets before filing nomination papers as required under the election law has given some interesting sidelights to this mega show. There is a line of crorepatis (multimillionaires) in the field! Spouses of these candidates too are millionaires and can be called crorepatnis! In one of the newspapers there is daily asset watch highlighting the property both moveable and immovable owned by various candidates contesting the ongoing elections. Moveable property consisting of luxury cars, immoveable property comprising housesand land, cash in hand, and then property of spouses such as jewellery and so on. With each announcement of different phases of elections, there is disclosure of lists of crorepati candidates. Almost every list has 40 to 50 crorepatis! These rich candidates seem to be present in every political outfit.
According to the report of PS Bali in Greater Kashmir, in the fourth phase, out of 182 candidates, 77 are crorepatis! Average asset per candidate comes to Rs. 2.71 crore. Jammu and Kashmir in regard to these rich “peoples’” representatives must be the richest state in India? 12 candidates are alleged to be facing criminal charges. PDP is supposed to have fielded the highest number of crorepatis, 17, while the NC and Congress have fielded 16 and 10 crorepatis respectively. Among the independent candidates, there are 16 crorepatis. Among the smaller parties, at least there is one crorepati candidate. The richest candidate worth Rs. 84 crore is from PDP representing Amira Kadal constituency while as their Zadibal candidate is the second richest with 27 crores. The third richest is DPN candidate from Batamaloo worth 21 crores!
Representing people seems to have grown into a big business involving massive amounts of money in all forms. It has been a very useful exercise to have the mandatory disclosure of assets as part of the election law. However, the moot point is the source of this money. How have these assets been acquired? At the present moment in entire South Asia, politics has turned into a big business. Democracy as understood in some of the western countries such as the Great Britain, has remained on paper only. The entire process of electioneering and subsequent governance in South Asia is in the hands of corporates both domestic and multinational including those dealing in lethal armaments.
The election of the Prime Minister itself involved thousands of crores. According to some reports, the advertisements alone cost rupees ten thousand crores! The money was allegedly dished out by corporate houses from within the country and abroad. In the present situation the really poor representatives have no chance of standing for and winning an election. Everything boils down to the “dirty” rich representing the “wretched” poor of the country. The story is same everywhere. One would not mind millionaires representing poor people if those millions had been earned by these representatives honestly. They would have no desire to make more money through illegal means by misusing their political position and clout. However, can anyone become a millionaire through legal means in India or for that matter in whole South Asia? It is debatable! In India out of a GDP of $1.6 trillion, 60% goes into scam money stashed all over the world!Had this money not gone into scam, India would have been a welfare state and a real super power. According to world standards of poverty, India’s 65% population comes in the poverty line. How can such large number of poor have so rich representatives?

In J & K, the politicians have distinct rags to riches story. Another aspect is the physical appearance of these “peoples’” representatives. Out of power they are lean and thin but once in power, they physically fatten! It is interesting to seethese representatives roaming on the roads like ordinary people once they lose their positions. In power, they completely change their physical appearance and carry a clout. Not only do they change their dresses and head gear like the Karakul caps but they also groom themselvesby using beauty aids! Election for them is an investment. They know that once elected, they will live comfortably not only for six years or so but gather enough money for themselves and their kith and kin with the added attraction of a life-long pension! Someone has rightly said, "The politics is the last refuge of scoundrels". Will we ever get rid of these crorepatis and crorepatnis? The way the things are shaping up, it is doubtful unless we have something like a French Revolution with its guillotine!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The “Difficult” and the “Impossible”

The massive devastation caused by the recent flood especially in the capital city of Srinagar has made many people comment that it is not only difficult but impossible to restore this historic city to its past glory. The general assessment is that it will take Srinagar more than 10 or even 20 years to come back to what it was before the flood not to speak of turning it into a modern metropolis! Tyndale Biscoe in his book, “Kashmir under sunlight and shade” observes that if the oppression Kashmiris have suffered had been experienced by the British, they would have lost their manhood! It has been the resilience and the stamina of Kashmiris which alone has enabled them to survive the most difficult periods in their long history. Somehow they seem to take all these natural and man-made calamities in their stride. They never give in. Temporarily, they may be down but they always rise like a sphinx to the surprise of everyone. In case of oppressors, they may lie low as a matter of convenience but they burst out once they find a suitable opportunity, thereby giving their tormentors nightmares.
According to official estimates, 282 people were killed, 61,326 cattle were killed, 6.84 lakh hectare crop areas were affected, and 2.53lakh houses were damaged. The low casualty figure in spite of the enormity and suddenness of the flood also points to the fact that a Kashmiri has the capability to survive in the worst possible situations. Notwithstanding the total failure of the administration in arranging rescue and relief, the people kept on going by voluntary efforts of the local youth. The dithering on part of the central government in declaring the disastrous flood as a national calamity has not affected the local voluntary effort and people are not only surviving but going on with their reconstruction and revival programmes as if nothing has happened! On the comments by some that it is difficult and impossible to bring Kashmir especially Srinagar back to its past glory, one is reminded of a road sign on Srinagar-Leh road. It reads, “Difficult can be done now, impossible may take some time!” This seems to be the spirit behind the voluntary efforts going all over the valley to restore normalcy.
It is alleged that the people at the helm in Delhi had wrongly guessed that this disastrous flood had crushed Kashmiris and they will not be able to rise again and would gladly accept the “Mission 44+”. The strategy, according to some experts, was to bank upon total poll boycott especially because of the all-round havoc caused by the flood. This would allow for massive rigging. However, the unusually large participation in elections in spite of the disaster may have thrown a spanner in the works. Delhi may have missed a very good opportunity to lessen the alienation. The perennial dithering may once again give an anti-climax to the rulers in Delhi! As one journalist has observed, the youth of Kashmir seem to have taken the charge. This has been now happening for quite some time especially during some important events in the past.The youth seem to be imbibed by the spirit that they can overcome all difficulties right now and may even achieve what has been labelled as impossible after a while! After all they are the products of the bloodiest conflict Kashmir has seen. They have faced the worst oppression and nothing can cow them down. As has been observed by many Kashmir watchers, the present generation of youth is in a way leaderless or rather they are all leaders in themselves. In fact, the traditional leaders have been following their lead in some recent upheavals like the one in 2010.

\ These youth do not seem to be impressed by the political jugglers vying with each other to grab the power to once again squeeze everything out of the suffering people. Kashmir has survived for centuries and the secret of survival is the unshakable faith the people have in their own selves. And the greatest symbol of that faith is the youth of Kashmir. Narendra Modi and all the so called local leaders of all streams are not going to restore Kashmir but the new generation of the youth of Kashmir is going to overcome the difficult as well as the impossible to redeem it to its ancient glory! People seem to have given them a chance to lead them for the time being.