Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Protecting Kashmiri identity

(The all-out assault launched by the Hindutva forces in completely wiping out the Kashmiri identity necessitates an equally united front from the entire State to defend and safeguard it)
Protecting Kashmiri identity
The first question is what is “Kashmiri” identity? Kashmiris constitute a nation which is thousands of years old. In fact, a written record of Kashmiri nation penned down by an illustrious son of Kashmir, Kalhana goes back more than 5,000 years! Even before the recorded history, Kashmiris existed as a people and grew up on this planet with the birth of mankind all over the world. The dwelling pits and the megaliths at Burzahome and many other Neolithic (new stone age) sites in different parts of the valley are a distinct and irrefutable pointer towards the origin of Kashmiris. No doubt many other people came into the valley from time to time, yet there is no denying the fact that Kashmiris were born and grew up to be a distinct nation in the valley of Kashmir itself!
Over the years, Kashmiris developed their own unique culture and language. Thus the Kashmiri nation with a distinct culture, language and history has been there for thousands of years. The existence of Kashmir as a separate country in the Himalaya and the unique Kashmiri nation with distinct features finds mention in most of the Greek, Chinese and Arab chronicles. Kashmiris did have a change of religion from time to time. They were earlier Saivite Hindus, then they became Buddhists, then again Saivite Hindus and finally adopted Islam as their religion. Now, the majority of them follow the religion of Islam. However, all the changes were voluntary without any compulsion. In spite of the fact that the majority of the population adopted Islam as their religion, there has never been any conflict with those who continued to profess the Saivite religion. In fact, one of the reasons for such a mass conversion has been the similarity in the basic philosophy between Islam and Saivite Hinduism. The Saivites also follow Monism with belief in one super power creating, sustaining and destroying the Universe. They also believe in ultimate destruction of Universe which they call Pralaya. They are totally different from the Vedanta Hinduism followers of North India who have initiated the Hindutva wave and are bent upon destroying the unique identity of not only Kashmir but entire India!
After the Dogra conquest of Ladakh and purchase of the valley from the British, Kashmir evolved into the State of Jammu & Kashmir. The State has now been in existence for almost two hundred years as a composite unit of three cultures. At present whenever people speak about Kashmir, they in fact mean the entire state of Jammu & Kashmir. Kashmir these days does not denote the valley only but the entire state including parts with China and Pakistan. Till 1947 the three units carried along without any problems. The partition and the war in Kashmir split the state into various parts. On the Indian side even after partition these three parts, Kashmir Valley, Jammu and Ladakh carried on without any conflict among the inhabitants. In fact, very strong business relations grew between Jammu and Kashmir valley and these units became economically interdependent. However, certain Hindutva elements sowed the seeds of dissension by clamouring for total merger of the State into Indian Union. This was resisted by the then Central Government which incorporated Article 370 and 35-A in the Indian Constitution to safeguard and preserve the identity of the State of Jammu & Kashmir. The Maharaja while acceding to the Indian Union had specifically asked for accession in only three subjects. He was very keen for preserving the identity of the people of all the three regions. In fact, he had enacted the state-subject law in 1927 not only for the people of the valley but for the inhabitants of all the three regions. He had apprehensions that rich from other parts of the pre-partition India would buy out his subjects who were comparatively poor!
The present assault on these two articles of the Constitution is not only directed against Kashmiris but against all the three regions. There is, therefore, urgent need for the inhabitants of all the three regions to present a united front to defend these articles. Any fiddling with these articles is not only going to affect the identity of Kashmiris from the valley but of all the three regions of the state. In fact, it was this very unity and tolerance among the Kashmiris which had made Mahatma Gandhi to see a ray of hope in Kashmir when the entire sub-continent was burning due to riots. Nehru himself was more than keen to keep Kashmir with India as a guarantee for the secularism preached by him! Thus the attack on the identity of Kashmir is, in true sense, an attack on the very idea of India.
Thus, all Kashmiris irrespective of their affiliations, regions or political outlooks should give a united front and resist the assault on the ages old identity of Kashmir. This is essential not only to safeguard the unity of the three regions of the state and the individual identity of these but also to save India itself from turning into a totalitarian country of one religion only which can ultimately result in its disintegration. All the democratic, secular, and progressive forces in India will definitely support such a stand.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The flyover to nowhere!

(The bits and pieces of the incomplete flyover of Srinagar in fact reflect the true state of Kashmir’s development in almost all sectors!)
The flyover to nowhere!

The most appropriate word to describe the state of developmental activities in Kashmir in any field is “adhocism”! Everything is done on the whims and fancies of the rulers always given to flattery from one and all! The worst fault is of our engineers who instead of giving the correct technical advice and standing by it regardless of the consequences try to please the political masters by catering to their whims and fancies. There are at the moment two fly overs under construction. The longest one has been there under construction for last four years or so. These fly overs which ostensibly are being constructed to ease the traffic congestion are in reality for easing the movement of VIP’s at congestion points and allowing them a quick travel to Airport and Secretariat. The Jahangir Chowk flyover was constructed only for easing the travel of VIP’s to the Secretariat. In fact, it created more congestion for the normal traffic going under it! There is an interesting side light of the project. It was conceived and presented to Dr. Farooq Abdullah when he was the Chief Minister. The authors of the project had a very ingenious plan for destroying the beauty of Srinagar. The engineers had suggested an overhead road right from Badshah Bridge to Rustom Gadi Bridge all over the Maulana Azad Road. Fortunately, the then Chief Town Planner convinced the Chief Minister that it will destroy the most important green avenue of Srinagar City. Luckily he was convinced and scrapped the project!
There are umpteen projects which were started either on the whims and fancies of the rulers or to accommodate some vested interests but were then abandoned half way after the sudden departure of the particular set of the rulers! The skewed bridge is a living example! If one is really interested in easing the traffic congestion, the first thing is to ensure enforcement of traffic rules on the existing roads. Srinagar is a city of crazy drivers who observe no traffic rules. Licenses for driving are issued without any driving tests. Sometimes these can be delivered at your home for a price!
Instead of the fly over, one could have built two parallel wide roads for one way traffic with only one way side entries. A parallel bridge to existing one at Ram Bagh could have ensured smooth traffic both ways. In fact, some citizens including some local engineers approached every one for reviewing the construction of this monstrous and obnoxious long flyover which does not at all gel with the surroundings. They even approached the Asian Development Bank which was supposed to be funding the project. Even a Public Interest Litigation too was filed in the High Court but to no avail. The engineers and the rulers had their way as the project involved huge pay offs! Interestingly, the projects which are really meant to be in general public interest get slowed down for unknown reasons. Take for instance the measures for prevention of future floods like the dredging of the River Jhelum and the flood Spill over Channel. These are moving at a snail’s pace because these may not involve easy pay offs! Recently, there has been a news about the mismanagement of the dredging project by a Kolkata based firm which even after a scandal on the Jhelum River is supposed to be engaged again for dredging of the Wular Lake!
The most recent and a glaring example of ad hocism is the shifting of the Batamaloo Bus Stand. No doubt this Bus Stand which has been there for ages is a huge traffic bottle neck but the shifting has to be in a proper way and not just on ad hoc basis. Firstly, the entire traffic bottle neck could have been avoided if the stand had proper strictly monitored one way entry and exit roads manned by traffic police not ready for compromise at any cost. Moreover, the huge bus fleet of various categories is supposed to be shifted to a stand which can hardly accommodate 286 buses! Again that new stand will create another nightmarish congestion point! The idea is not to shift congestion from one part of the city to another part but to ease the flow of traffic everywhere. The most urgent need is to engage an agency which can give a proper traffic plan and then ensure implementation and enforcement of the plan. Flyovers, over bridges, under bridges will not solve the problem unless there is a will to enforce the law regardless of any considerations. Ambulances and other emergency vehicles have the first right of way than siren blaring VIP’s violating all laws! Incidentally, we have so much Armed Police; a part of it could be easily spared for enforcing traffic regulations at all the crossings and congestion points..
In fact, if one were to write about adhocism in development and even all other state activities, it would take a book. The Srinagar Master Plan especially the land use, building bye laws and so on are all in a mess. These are observed more in violation than in enforcement! These are huge money spinning treasuries for some people involved in the observance and enforcement of various laws! They say honesty and water always flow from top to down below. Unfortunately, both the political will and honesty have always been missing in Kashmir. Consequently, we have to continue to suffer whether by flyovers to nowhere or by sudden floods or unending traffic jams!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Winter heating in Kashmir

(Traditional Hammams are giving way to Central Heating)
Winter heating in Kashmir

Winters in Kashmir especially certain months are very cold with freezing temperatures. Even though the amount of snowfall and the severity of the cold are lesser than the earlier times, still one needs to provide some type of heating arrangement in the homes. Traditionally, many Kashmiri homes have a special room called Hammam. This centrally located room in the ground floor has stone slabs as the flooring. Under these slabs there is a fireplace accessible from outside in which firewood is burnt. The stones get heated up and the room is quite warm. The heated stone slabs remain hot for quite some time. The disadvantage is that it is a solitary room in the entire house and everybody has to sit there for warmth. The rest of the house and other spaces like corridors etc. remain cold!  Another system has been burning wood in cast iron stoves in various rooms. These stoves have a pipe going out through the window for smoke. These are called “Bukharis”! These are quite efficient and get heated up quickly.
However, the most efficient system of heating houses and work places is central heating. Most of Europe, America and many other countries in colder regions have been using this circulated. In some cases, a mesh is buried under floors which are heated through circulating hmethod for heating in winter for ages. The heating is through radiators in which hot water or air is ot water. The water is heated in boilers which can be run on electric power, diesel, kerosene or even wood briquettes. In addition to heating, the system can also provide hot water which is primarily used for heating. The system is self-contained and just a push of a switch inside the house can start it running. Also now there is a programmer on which times can be set for switching on and off the system automatically.
 In Kashmir some of the hospitals were the first to get this system of heating. Now most of the hotels, important offices and some private homes have central heating. If the people of Kashmir were in a position to generate and utilise the hydro-electric power of which we have the highest potential, it would really be a paradise in winter. Everything would be heated nicely in winter on electric power! In the present scenario of acute shortage of power the ideal thing is to have heating on diesel oil which is readily available. In fact, the government should have been inducing people to go for such type of heating both within the homes and the work places. In most of the countries in colder regions like in Europe, the schools do not have winter breaks like in Kashmir. In fact, the winter is the best time to study. They get summer holidays to travel all over the world! Here, because of no heating arrangements in schools and other educational institutions, we have a “winter break”! It should be the endeavour of the government to make heating arrangements in all schools and other educational institutions so that the main study season could be the long winter itself. It is worth spending that money to look after our children than waste it on unproductive things!
During recent years, Kashmir has seen massive construction of private houses many by non-resident Kashmiris. Some of the houses may be worth more than 20 crores or so. However, one hardly sees any arrangement of winter heating in these houses. May be because these people come only during summer? Another interesting thing observed in many houses is the use of architecture suitable for hot places or even sea side. Huge spaces, high ceilings, and internal stairs in round shape or so with lot of free and open space all round. These would be really difficult to heat in winter! Interestingly, people spend lots of money in decorating their homes with tiles, decorative bricks or even marble on the outside but do not keep provision for heating which is the most important requirement in winter! Normally an average house with two floors would not cost more than rupees five to six lakhs for a complete central heating system! May be people are not aware about this aspect.
Coming to personal heating, Kashmiris have a unique system. We have mobile heaters called “Kangris”. It is an earthen pot in a wicker frame in which burning coals with ash on top are carried. This earthen fire pot is carried under a robe called “Pheran”. This has been the traditional system of personal heating from the earliest times. The best and the long lasting fire is from the coal made from dried Chinar leaves which are in abundance all over Kashmir in autumn. Even though the “Kangri” is very versatile and convenient, it has its hazards too. There are cases of developing cancer in thighs and stomach by close contact with the hot fire pot under the “Pheran”. In fact it is known as “Kangri Cancer”! However, the new generation is giving up the concept of “Pheran” and “Kangri”. They prefer Anoraks and jackets which are more comfortable and allow ease of working. It is said that the “Pheran” and “Kangri” was introduced in Kashmir by Mughals to make violent and aggressive Kashmiris docile and lazy! There may be some truth in it? Only our historians can confirm it! Incidentally, the “Kangri” is also sometimes used as a weapon in clashes during winter. A Kashmiri version of the famous “Molotov Cocktail”!


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The (un-) Holy Men!

(The controversy surrounding Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and the mayhem caused by his conviction for rape seems only the proverbial tip of the ice-berg!)
The (un-) Holy Men!


For quite some time India was known in the west as the land of snake charmers and naked sadhus. Well, the Sadhus are considered to be the holy men who have been associated with India from the earliest times. The Himalaya, the greatest mountain chain in the world has been called the “Abode of Gods”! Traditionally, most of the holy men have been going up in the mountains to meditate. However, the real spiritual beings about whom one reads in history books have been totally non-materialistic. They, in fact, have always renounced the material world in preference to the spiritual world. However, with the modern progress and development, the spiritual and the holy men too have progressed from the spiritual to the material world. India is home to dozens of these holy men quite a number of whom have been indulging in un-holy things!
In 2014, the rediff.com carried a detailed article about these holy men under the title, “India’s 10 most controversial Gurus”! It would be interesting to give excerpts from the article. The first one is Sant Rampal, an Engineer who after coming into contact with a seer set up Satlok Ashram in 1999.He owns a fleet of luxury cars and lives in a 12 acre sprawling farm in Barwala, Haryana. He has 25 lakh followers! He has his own Facebook and YouTube page. After a clash with the followers of Swami Dayanand Saraswati he faces charges of murder, attempted murder and contempt of court cases.
Next is AsaRam Bapu. Born in undivided Sindh, he has 425 Ashrams and more than 50 gurukuls and tremendous following in India and abroad. He is accused of raping a 16 year old girl in his Ashram at Jodhpur even as the mother of the girl waited outside. He is also allegedly accused in a 700 acre land grabbing case. He and his son are also accused of death of two boys whose bodies were recovered near from Sabarmati near his ashram.
Another Guru is Swami Nityananda. Popular for his spiritual discourses and meditation programmes, Swami Nithyananda was named as one of the 100 most spiritually influential living people in the world by Watkins ‘Mind Body Spirit magazine.   He claims to be the most-watched spiritual teacher on YouTube.com with more than 14 million views, and the author of more than 300 books published in 27 languages. He landed in controversy after video footage showing him in a compromising position was telecast by some tv channels. He was also accused of rape by Indian born American citizen, Arthi Rao in June, 2012. Rao went on Indian television accusing him of raping her for several years. He denied the allegations!
Then comes Baba Ramdev known for popularising Yoga. He has been very vocal about many political issues in the country. Tehelka Magazine has reported many irregularities and tax evasion by his trust. Brinda Karat, the senior communist leader has accused Divya Pharmacy of using human and animal bones in their medicine. He has been claiming cure for many diseases including Aids through Yoga.
Next is Swami Agnivesh. He is Arya Samaj Scholar and activist and is former member of Haryana Legislative assembly. He has many controversies associated with him.  Agnivesh, during a trip to Jammu, had allegedly said that he "does not understand why people go" for Amarnath yatra and such pilgrimages and had termed the "Shivlingam" that forms inside the Amarnath cave shrine a geographical phenomenon. The Supreme Court condemned Agnivesh for hurting the sentiments of Hindus. “You cannot take sentiments of the people for granted," the bench said, noting that a large number of people go on Amarnath yatra every year.
One of the most controversial spiritual leaders is Rajnesh or Osho.  He is considered to be the most controversial spiritual leaders of 20th Century to have emerged from India. He has been outspoken in his criticism of socialism, Mahatma Gandhi and institutionalised religion. He advocated a more open attitude towards sexuality which earned him the sobriquet of the “Sex Guru”! He has been accused of giving drugs to Sannyasins. Due to controversies in India he fled to USA. However, in Oregon his commune was accused of many violations and he was deported.
Another Guru is Chandraswami, the tantric who was close to Prime Minister Narasimha Rao. He has been accused of many financial irregularities        . In 1996 he was arrested for defrauding a London businessman of $ 100, 000. CBI has also been investigating him for involvement in Rajiv Gandhi murder case as a financier!
Next is  Jayendra Saraswati who is the sixty-ninth Shankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham.  Kanchi seer Jayendra Saraswati and his junior Vijayendra are the prime accused in the murder of Sankararaman, the manager of the Varadarajaperumal temple at Kanchipuram, in September 3, 2004.
One of the most famous God Men is the world famous Sathya Sai Baba of Puttaparthi. He was the most famous Guru with millioms of followers in 126 countries. Often regarded as ‘Bhagwan’, Sathya Sai Baba, who passed away in 2011, ruled the hearts of his devotees through many social service endeavours like building multi-specialty hospitals providing free treatment, schools and colleges among others. However, his life and times were also marked by several serious controversies involving allegations of faking ‘miracles’, sexual abuse and even paedophilia -- all of them vociferously refuted by his followers. There also have been allegations of misappropriation of funds in the name of donations in running the Rs 40,000 crore Sathya Sai Baba trust. Moreover, even after the Baba’s demise, trustees found cash of Rs 11.5 crore, 98 kg of gold and silver articles weighing 307 kilograms from his private room, which again raised eyebrows. The money and valuables took 36 hours to be counted.
Finally, we come to the present Guru whose conviction for rape created havoc in Haryana and some other places. Leader of the Dera Sacha Sauda, a socio-spiritual orgnisation, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh has led his organisation to several Guinness World Records. The spiritual leader and preacher has, in association with the American Society of Echocardiography, created a world record for most cardiac echo tests. He had been found guilty of raping two woman followers and has been sentenced to 10 years in prison. Following this, his followers went on rampage in Haryana and Army had to be called out. He wept in the court and asked for forgiveness!
Apart from these well-known “holy” men, there are numerous others all over the country. It will take a book to describe all of them. The main reason for the phenomenal growth of these pseudo-Gurus is political patronage and the lack of true faith in the ultimate being among the masses. They get taken in by these Gurus who claim to be nearer to God. One does not need a lawyer to plead before the Almighty. Basically all religions preach approaching the Highest Being directly. These Gurus exploit the weakness of the masses. In fact, the followers of these Gurus are massive vote banks! There is urgent need to investigate all the Ashrams, Trusts and other organisations claiming to be closer to God Almighty through the National Investigation Agency. Many skeletons may fall from the cupboard! In the meantime, the innocent masses will continue to be exploited by these (un-) holy men!
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Thursday, August 24, 2017

“Azadi” to “Special Status”

(There seems to be a deliberate hype for retaining the so called “Special Status” in order to dilute the universal demand for total freedom called “Azadi”!)
Some people have opined that the Central Government has deliberately shifted the focus of Kashmir agitation from “Azadi” to “Special Status”. Almost all so called mainstream political parties are totally worked up by the proposed abrogation of the so called special status enjoyed by the J & K State by virtue of Article 370 and the Article 35-A of the Indian Constitution. They are behaving as if they have had no role in bringing Kashmir to present pass! In fact, all these mainstream parties are guilty of diluting Kashmir’s “Special Status” all through the years they ruled Kashmir with the Central Government’s consent and support. These parties have been agitating in such a manner that would give an impression as if Kashmir has really enjoyed a “Special Status” all these years. The so called “Special Status” had gone for a six on the 9th of August, 1953 when the principal supporter of the accession had been dethroned and imprisoned in the worst ever violation of the Indian Constitution. The “tunnel” of Article 370 has been used all these years to impose all the Indian laws in J & K. There is hardly anything left of the so called autonomy. This was possible only through the local collaborators who helped in the virtual integration of the State into the Indian Union. Nothing has ever happened in Kashmir in any sphere of activity without the consent of the Central Government. As regards the State Subject Law, it was enacted by the former Maharaja of Kashmir in 1927 to safeguard not only the rights of the Muslims but of Hindus both from Kashmir and Jammu. He was apprehensive that without the permanent residence safeguard the people of the whole state who were very poor, would be swept away by the Punjabis with their money!
As regards a demographic change of the whole state, it has already happened in 1947 itself. The brutal and savage massacres of Muslims in Jammu carried out under the diabolical plans of Hindu extremist from within and outside the state reduced the Muslim majority considerably. Moreover, the West Pakistan refugees settled in Jammu are for all practical purposes part of the local population. The only thing they lack is certain rights for employment, owning land and voting in Assembly elections. When one considers their rights, one cannot forget the rights of the Muslims displaced to Pakistan in 1947 and even afterwards. For that there is already the Resettlement Act passed by the State Assembly which has been kept in limbo!
One has to understand that the core sentiment and yearning for freedom locally called “Azadi” is universal in Kashmir regardless of outer political aspirations. This yearning has been there for last four centuries or so or precisely from 1586 when the Independent and Sovereign Kingdom of Kashmir was annexed by the Mughals to their empire by treachery. After four centuries of external slavery there was an awakening in the twenties and thirties of the last century. A strong movement for “Azadi” started which got mixed up in the sub-continental contradictions due to the confusion and insincerity of the leaders. Subsequently, Kashmir has remained in uncertainty even though the day to day life carried on. However, for last two and a half decades there has been total alienation of the new generation of Kashmiris from the Indian mainstream. The youth have been clamouring for total and absolute freedom. The Pakistani sentiment, the Pak flags and the rise of pro-Pak militants is because Kashmiris are facing a Hindu India which they find easy to confront and beat with pro-Islamic and pro-Pak actions. A number of surveys conducted by some neutral organisations have clearly shown that given a choice, the majority of Kashmiris will opt for total Independence.
One of the main fears of the local population over the years has been that they would be swallowed up by the Indian mainstream. As long as the so called autonomy even if only in name was there, the people had a psychological satisfaction that they will not get drowned in the Indian mainstream. However, the BJP tirade on the so called special status has not only woken up all the Kashmiris but has generated extreme fear and apprehension among them regarding their future. It is for the first time all parties from all ideologies seem to be converging against this diabolical move of the Hindutva Brigade. However, there is a catch here. The new generation of Kashmiris some of whom are dying everyday does not follow any leaders or parties. They seem to have one point programme of getting total freedom. They consider Kashmir to be a colony and the Army as an occupation Army. The mass support of these new young militants has given rise to a totally new type of militancy. A few armed youth being followed and supported by unarmed masses even during encounters with the forces! Common people just armed with stones have been facing Army bullets  to save armed militants during cordon and search operations of the Army and the militants have many times escaped the dragnet due to people’s mass participation in preventing Army’s cordon and search operations.
The Prime Minister in his Independence Day address declared that the Kashmiris would be won by embracing them and not by bullets! These are very nice words and sublime sentiments. Well, that is not what is actually happening on the ground! Either he is totally unaware of the ground situation or he is being too na├»ve! Kashmiris have now become totally used to such nice phrases over the years and no one is going to take him seriously after Vajpayee’s “Insaniyat” and “Jhamooriyat” went up in smoke! Incidentally, Geelani is also seeking Kashmir solution through “Insaniyat”, “Jhamooriyat” and “Kashmiriyat”! But the million dollar question is how and who is going to approach the irreconcilable new generation of Kashmiris constituting almost 60% of the population? They are neither bothered about Article 370 nor about Article 35-A, but have only one slogan everywhere: “Go India, Go Back” and “We want Freedom”!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Aadhar reminds of Orwell’s 1984!

(Aadhar, the new ID card which is virtual indexing of the entire population, is reminiscent of George Orwell’s famous novel 1984!)
Aadhar echoes Orwell’s 1984!

One of the most important aspects of a totalitarian or a fascist regime is indexing of the population so as to keep watch over their activities. It is virtually practical implementation of the famous slogan in 1984, the “Big Brother is Watching You” in a different form and shape. The pupil scan, the finger prints, the photograph and all other particulars for each citizen are being digitised. Additionally, DNA and many other biometric elements are being added. Subsequently, all activities are being linked to the Aadhar number. Imagine digitising the entire population of 1.25 billion people! It must be the biggest enterprise of this type in history. The digital India of the future! The data base must be massive. On the positive side it may be a big help in doing away with forms, applications and so on. Just keeping a finger on the digital finger print reader gives out all one’s parameters! Definitely, it is going to end a lot of paper work. The entire project is being executed by private companies with foreign collaboration.
There are umpteen articles on the Google about the advantages and disadvantages of the Aadhar project. It would be interesting to reproduce some of the observations. Aamjanta.com has an article “Intellectual Anarchy” which gives a detailed background of the Aadhar project. Some portions are quoted here for the information of people in general. “The Aadhar is the Unique Identity number for India. The project involves issuing identity cards to all citizens which will have their biometric data stored on computers, very strangely, located in USA. Virtually, it is a Silicon Valley project! The cost of the project is estimated to be Rupees 1, 50, 000 crores! Incidentally the entire census project in 2011 which reached every citizen and created an information base that is of tremendous utility and diverse applications, cost only 2200 crores! Additionally, while the investment is done using government funds, ready databases will be controlled by private entities (who will profit from offering identification services), and the government will be paying customers of the databases it has already spent a bomb to create”.
Another website, moneyline.in carries an article by Gopal Krishna of Civil Liberties Organisation. Some excerpts from it: “The most worrisome aspect is the invasion of privacy of the citizens. Right to privacy and freedom belong to citizens by right. It is not granted by government. A government is the servant of the citizens, not its master. Governments are supposed to seek the permission to limit these rights in certain circumstances. It signals a break-down of a democratic government if it chooses to engage in indiscriminate surveillance of citizens or to impose a system of compulsory identification or to open a file on each citizen or to criminalise citizens who refuse to comply.”
“Biometric identification treats Indian citizens worse than slaves. It is an act of identification prior to any act of omission and commission.  It is a case of a deepening of everyday surveillance. It is similar to what was done under the Britain's Habitual Criminals Act of 1869 required police to keep an “Alphabetical Registry” and cross-referenced “Distinctive Marks Registry. The first held names and the latter contained the descriptions of scars, tattoos, birthmarks, balding, pockmarks, and other distinguishing features”. The surveillance aspect is the real worry. Biometrics can allow with the help of drones locate any person and monitor all activities within seconds! Government will also be in a position to know of everything by linkage with various activities.

“The proposed convergence of biometric information with financial and personal data such as residence, employment, and medical history heralds the beginning of the demolition of one of the most important firewalls in the structure of privacy. Such convergence of databases poses a threat to minorities and political opponents as they can be targeted in a situation where government is led by any Nazi party like political formations”. Incidentally, we have the present dispensation working on those “lines”. People in many of the US States and UK have rejected similar unique identity number. The privacy laws do not allow such intrusion.

Incidentally, the Supreme Court had observed that Aadhar is not mandatory but an optional thing. However, in spite of these directions, most of the government departments, banks and other public utility services are coercing people not only to go for Aadhar but to link all services with it on a compulsory basis. Every day one receives messages from mobile companies, banks and so on to link Aadhar against pain of disconnection or closure of accounts! It is really a totalitarian state coercion.

Keeping in view the cost of the project and then its utility for the major portion of the population, one wonders whether it is really worth it. Millions of Indians are still living below the poverty line where they cannot even afford a square meal daily! Large portion of the population is without cured water supply. Majority of the population in rural areas still use fields to ease themselves in spite of the project to provide toilet facilities all over India. Would it not have been better to spend this Rupees 1, 50, 000 crores on providing basic welfare services including the missing healthcare? It is tragic and ironic that Prime Minister Modi can find crores to give Aadhar card to everyone but there is no money to give oxygen to dying children in Gorakhpur Hospital! Something to ponder upon! Isn’t he climbing the wrong tree?

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

India China Border Conflict

(Slowly increasing border problem may be a fore runner of a limited border engagement similar to 1962 clash which had a basis other than the disputed demarcation line!)
India China Border Conflict
There is a media hype on the Chinese side regarding possibility of a border clash in the Doklam plateau. Some reports have even suggested the possibility of a clash within two weeks! The Chinese appear to be determined to throw out the Indian troops in the area. It seems unlikely that the Chinese are so suddenly very much concerned with their border which has been in dispute for umpteen years. Chinese seem to have some other motives in pin pricking India! There appears to be a deeper political and regional motive behind Chinese aggressive posture.
One is reminded about the 1962 clash which too had a background other than the disputed boundary line. It was rather a political and an ideological clash in which China succeeded in completely changing the India neutrality! Those days India led by Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru was aspiring to be the leader of South Asia. He had succeeded in setting up a Non-aligned block with Josef Tito of Yugoslavia, Dr. Sukarno of Indonesia, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, and Nkrumah of Ghana. In fact the Non Aligned Movement was started in 1961 in Belgrade. Those days there were two blocks, one led by the Soviet Union and the other by USA. India under Nehru after very successfully initiating the Non-aligned movement was hoping to be its leader. This was not to the liking of Chinese. They gave a strong border push and Nehru completely forgot about non-alignment and went straight into the lap of America. The Indian Army that time was equipped with Second World War vintage 303 rifles while the Chinese already had automatic weapons. They totally dislodged Indian Army everywhere. The Indians would claim that “to strengthen their defences they have moved back to strategic locations”. A number of villages in North East were taken over by Chinese and the inhabitants had run away leaving everything there!
 Once the American C-130’s started airlifting automatic rifles and other weapons for Indian soldiers, the Chinese stopped and subsequently withdrew to the line claimed by them to be the actual border. Other interesting episodes of that conflict were Chinese humiliating steps. They cleaned and painted all the houses in villages whose occupants had run away and put sign boards, “Owners missing”! Also the Indian POW’s were sent back after brain washing and with many gifts for their families. The Non Aligned Movement was completely forgotten! Even though the NAM still exists with over 122 members, after the end of the cold war it has become totally irrelevant.
This time there is a new regional issue but with global ramifications. The alignments have also changed. The issue is the CPEC, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. In sixties of the last centuries, the tussle was ideological and political. It did not materially affect China so much. However, the present conflict has an economical basis. For the first time China is getting a direct access to the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf. Already China has completed the major parts of the corridor. It involves a total investment of over $ 62 billion. The importance of CPEC to China is reflected by its inclusion as part of China's 13th five-year development plan. CPEC projects will provide China with an alternate route for energy supplies, as well as a new route by which Western China can conduct trade. Pakistan stands to gain due to upgrade of infrastructure and introduction of a reliable energy supply. Normally, India should have welcomed this economic initiative and joined the group. However, it has deliberately become a US proxy in opposing this initiative. US feel economically threatened by Chines access to the Gulf Region. Ultimately, the tussle is between US and China. Because of problems in South China Sea route and its length, the Chinese have the maximum stake in the success of the CPEC. They will not tolerate any sabotage or interference in the success of this basically an economic initiative. Apart from this the Chinese are also irked by the Indian interference in Tibet by projecting Dalai Lama through his visits to the disputed areas in Arunachal Pradesh. India is also losing its contact with Nepal and Bhutan by a bullying attitude.
Militarily, at the moment the Indian Army even though the third largest in the world, is no match for the Chinese War Machine. There have been a number of articles regarding lack of modernisation in the Indian Armed forces, especially the Air Force. The only sensible solution appears a rapprochement through dialogue. In the larger interest of the region, India should try to solve even Indo-Pak disputers through the Chinese mediation which they have readily offered. The Hindutva wave of lynching the minorities and creating a Hindu Rashtra are not going to help! If the Chinese do really push on militarily, it may prove a nemesis for the present dispensation. The time is running out fast! Let us hope and pray that the good sense prevails all around.  

Friday, August 4, 2017

Kashmir’s Job Market

(The outside workers in Kashmir both skilled and non-skilled result in an outflow of over Rupees 40 crores everyday which could be easily earned buy the locals if they were motivated and trained in various jobs!)
kashmir-migrant-labourers
Kashmir is facing a typical dichotomy in relation to employment of the local youth. According to reports almost a million youth are without any employment. A large number of these are highly “educated” or in other words possess umpteen degrees but no skills! In fact, acquiring degrees has become an obsession in Kashmir these days! On the other hand almost an equal number of outsiders both skilled and non-skilled from different parts of India are working all over the valley. Unfortunately, the local youth have been deliberately attuned to aim only for government jobs at any level. There is a virtual epidemic among the youth for seeking white collar jobs even at the lowest level regardless of the degrees possessed! The fault lies with the governments we have had right from 1947. Till the first tenure of Sheikh Abdullah there was strict enforcement by government for creating self-sufficiency in all respects. However, after his toppling in 1953 and the installation of Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad, the self-sufficiency went for a six. He introduced the culture of subsidy and a Kashmiri became totally dependent on outside dole.
Traditionally, Kashmiris have been very skilled craftsmen not only in regard to the world famous handicrafts but in regard to all other skills like carpentry, masonry and so on. The heritage buildings and historical monuments are a proof of the skills Kashmiris have possessed from the earliest times. In fact, some of the shrines have intricate wood-work with beautiful papier-mache designs on ceilings and walls. Right now most of these arts are dying because of the trend to get easy government jobs. In fact, the entire young generation is being converted into government slaves! The main cause for this destructive wave is the loss of the dignity of manual labour. Instead of dozens of paper degrees, the present youth need vocational training. We have to first restore dignity of manual labour right from the top. People should feel proud to work with their own hands rather than be babus pushing their pens around. This requires not only a revolutionary change in education system but a total overhaul in the mind-set of the planners as well as the leaders of all hues and shades!
Every government has been trying to engage as many youth as they can in unskilled government jobs at the lowest levels. They are creating virtually armies of slaves with zombie like existence. This government job mania is a gift from the British colonials who in their two century rule set up a totally colonial administration in every sphere of life. The freedom given by them was only physical and they continued the slavery of our minds through the systems they had introduced to keep the colony under control. They had kept India united and controlled through various central services which have continued even after their departure with a slight change in nomenclature. The Central Government has replicated the same system in Kashmir. Instead of trying to make the State self-sufficient in different spheres, it has been made totally dependent on dole in every sphere. Unfortunately, the worst misfortune of Kashmir in recent times has been its confused leaders! They have been presenting an abstract goal without bothering about the road map to that goal and the carrying on of proper and neat day to day living till one reaches the ultimate goal. The first requirement is to achieve self-sufficiency and independence in every sphere of living. The worst thing is that people are being made to believe that the government which they claim to be an “installed” one is expected to do everything. No one has been advising people that they too have certain duties towards the society! There cannot be worst hypocrisy than that!
Take for instance the flood protection measures which the government has totally failed to implement. No one bars a local initiative to undertake these leaving the government getting cooked in its own soup! How one wishes we had someone like Hakim Suyya who would make people take the initiative to clean up Jhelum and all other water bodies on their own! There are hundreds of thousands of youth sitting idle. Even one could engage these to manually clean all the water bodies thereby providing them some work! Dal Lake is virtually dead! It may soon turn into a stinking marsh. If local people take initiative on their own, it is not difficult to clean up Dal and all other water bodies. For umpteen years the weeds used to be extracted manually. Why can’t this be done now on a massive scale by the local youth led by a dynamic and a fiery leader? In fact, all environmental measures can be taken on voluntary basis if there are sincere and dynamic youth leaders.
Coming back to the job market, there is an urgent need for the civil society to take the initiative to instil respect for vocational jobs as also to restore the dignity of the manual labour. The whole mind-set of clamouring for government jobs has to be changed. Unless all our leaders take a sincere initiative in regard to this mad rush for government jobs and motivate all locals to take up the jobs presently virtually usurped by outsiders, we are surely doomed! Will someone take the initiative please!
                               


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Kashmir’s neglected Elders!

(Traditionally Elders in Kashmir used to be given all the love and care but the “Modernization” has left some of them isolated and lonely!)

The ancient civilisations were always rooted in extended families. People used to live together where the elders were not only respected and cared for but were the guides and the inspiration for the new generations. Kashmir has had joint and extended families from the earliest times. Almost all world religions teach respect and care for elders. However, with the technology invasion and so called modernisation, the old and traditional joint or extended family culture was lost. This happened fast in western countries where they started having so called nuclear families! Leave aside elders, the working couples were unable to fully attend to their children which gave rise to baby sitters, In earlier joint families, the elders used to be the baby sitters. They would always have their grandchildren around them. This not only took care of the children but helped the grandparents in reverse by keeping them always occupied. According to expert psychiatrists like our own talented Dr. Mushtaq Margoob, the worst enemy of the old age is the loneliness! People living in joint families with grandparents hardly have any cases of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia because of these elders remaining always occupied and engaged with children and grandchildren. The other alternative is to keep the elders busy in some activities. In the west there are civil society groups who visit lonely elders and take care of them. There are also old age homes where working people can put their elderly parents or grand-parents for being taken care of. In India also a number of such projects have been started in large metros. However, there are no such facilities in Kashmir at present. Setting up of such facilities even though would be a welcome step but it strikes at the very root of our centuries old tradition where respect and care for the old is not only a moral obligation but a religious duty! A Muslim is ordained to take care of his mother; then his mother; then his mother and then his father and then other relatives in closeness. Any deviation or violation of this Divine Command is unforgivable!
Recent experiences have shown that the most neglected among Kashmir’s elders at the moment are the parents of some of the non-resident Kashmiris. A doctor friend from the Institute of Medical Sciences related story of an elderly person, a very high and senior retired government functionary who was brought to the hospital by the security guards who had been posted at his residence even after retirement because of his very senior position. All his children are abroad. The doctor friend accompanied him back home. There are reports of people having expired and the fact coming to light accidentally after a couple of days or so. This happens in the west also where a milkman reports non-lifting of bottles near the door of a flat and the firemen after climbing through the window come to know the lonely man or woman is dead! There cannot be anything more inhuman and callous than this. Surely, such a thing has never been part of Kashmiri culture. However, with the so called “Modernisation”, we too may end up like that!
It would be worthwhile if some enterprising people come forward to set up elder care facilities in Kashmir. To begin with they may take franchise from some of the organisations running such facilities in large metros like Mumbai, Bangalore etc. These are called 24 hour care. They provide the care at the own homes of these elders against certain fees. All their requirements including medical care on 24 hour basis are offered. The other possibility is setting up of elder care homes. Kashmir has umpteen numbers of homes for orphans but probably none for elders. Apart from paid elder homes and 24 hour elder care, there is also need for similar care for destitute elders who cannot afford these services. Normally, this should be the duty of the government of a welfare state to take care of the destitute. Let us hope someone comes forward and takes this worthwhile initiative in Kashmir?
On a lighter vein, a friend requested for giving advice to elders to take care of themselves by utilising huge amounts of money which most of them leave for their children! In the changed circumstances, the elders need to rethink about their investments. Invariably, most of the people invest money in properties beyond one’s requirement which are ultimately left for the children. Elders should in their prime years first keep provision for old age to be well looked after not necessarily by their own children who usually get scattered all over the world during the present global times! One of my friend’s relations has a huge piece of land. Her children are all abroad. The friend says, if she only sells a small portion of the land, she can pay for umpteen people including doctors, nurses and others taking care of her round the clock and would not have to wait for her children to look after her on their return from abroad! Well, a worthwhile suggestion for all well to do elders!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Kargil Helicopter Service

(Helicopter service to Kargil has been overdue but the real requirement is a regular civilian air connection to the area pending for decades which could put it on the World Tourism Map!)

Kargil Helicopter Service 
It was a pleasant surprise to see a video of the dramatic Nun-Kun peaks in the Suru Valley of Kargil on the Facebook taken from a helicopter of Pawan Hans during its flight to the area. The video has probably been taken on the reconnaissance flight of the aircraft for starting a service between Srinagar and Kargil. A similar helicopter service was in operation through the same company earlier also. Pawan Hans Company had, in fact, also started a service to Gurez, Kargil and Zanskar some years back. Once there was a government proposal to start small aircraft service as well as helicopter service to many far flung areas usually cut off in winter due to the closure of the passes. In fact, the government had set up a State Level Department of Civil Aviation for the said purpose. Unfortunately, the proposal could not fructify and most of these areas remain cut off during winter and depend entirely upon Air force Courier Service which is operated on the request of the State government.
Now that the attention is again on the subject, it would be advisable to have a comprehensive project not only to provide a regular air connection to the area but to develop the most important basic infrastructure to fully throw open this potential region as an ultimate destination for adventure. As regards adventure, Suru and Zanskar Valleys are virtual Gold Mines! In no other place in the world can a 7000 metre high peak like the famous Nun be reached in a matter of hours from a road-head! There are dozens of unnamed peaks, some still unclimbed, in the range of 5000 to 7000 metres. Mountaineering, rock and ice-climbing, ski-mountaineering, trekking, white water rafting and kayaking, para-gliding and so many other adventure activities have tremendous scope in the area. The toughest leg of the Car Rally, the Raide de Himalaya is between Kargil and Padam. In fact, one of the best Adventure Institutes can be set up at Panikhar in the Suru Valley.
Apart from that this region has some cultural significance also. The famous Drokhpas, supposed to be pure Aryans and considered by some to be the progeny of the remnants of the Alexander’s army who settled in the area, have an interesting life style. In fact, on the other side of the border the famous Kailash Tribe is of the same origin. Their Greek connection has been researched thoroughly on the other side of the border in Hunza area by scientists from Greece. Kargil has also been on the famous Silk Route. However, the road to Skardu which leads to Gilgit and beyond, even though passable, is right now closed. It could have been included in the cross LOC travel but the same has not so far materialised.
Unfortunately, Kargil has been facing a double jeopardy! First is its closeness to LOC even though the other side posts have been pushed back compared to earlier position when the forces stationed there could straight away target all areas in the Kargil town? However, the vicinity is uncomfortably close! The other jeopardy is lack of enthusiasm among the local population and its leaders for modernisation especially Tourism which is in total contrast to the Leh people who have very enterprisingly made Leh as one of the prime destinations for domestic and foreign tourism. During early nineties when Leh and Kargil were taken on board the State Tourism Plan with a yearly allocation of one crore each, the Leh authorities overspent by 20% while as Kargil surrendered 80% of the allocation! Apart from Tourism, an air connection is a mandatory requirement for taking care of various activities including healthcare necessary for the well-being of the local population. In fact, the Kargil Airport had been upgraded by the Civil Aviation Ministry and a trial flight was also operated during the time of Ghulam Nabi Azad as the Union Civil Aviation Minister. A Dornier aircraft had flown from Delhi to Leh and then to Kargil and back. The whole project probably got shelved due to perennial “Security Reasons”! Now that the government has started a helicopter service, the possibility of a regular air connection needs to be explored again. In the meantime, similar treatment is required for Gurez, Tilel, and Karnah especially during winter. The other important location which too is a gold mine for adventure Tourism is the Kishtwar area. This has been the most popular area with the British climbers and trekkers as it involves week long trekking to most of the base camps of different peaks like Brahma, Sickle Moon and so on. The most impressive treks are through Wardwan and Paddar Valleys. Kishtwar too had a small airstrip and it was explored for starting an air service but again the proposal somehow disappeared even though there were no “Security” considerations here!
If handled properly, Kargil could even redeem the declining tourist flow to Kashmir Valley. With air connections both at Srinagar and Kargil, the tourists could easily travel between Srinagar and Kargil. Incidentally, the Adventure Tourists are not put off by the exaggerated media reports about the situation in Kashmir. We had heli-skiing going on during the peak of militancy in the nineties of the last century. The travel trade and the state organisations need to pay special attention to this sector in view of the prevailing situation. This activity can help a lot in preventing the total collapse of Tourism sector.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Saffron Swastika hugs the Star of David

(Modi’s hug of President Ruvi reminds one about the two opposites embracing each other just for the hatred of the third one considered by the both, a common enemy!)
Enemy’s enemy


Like the North Pole and the South Pole meeting for the formation of the present State Government in J & K, the hug between President Ruvi and Prime Minister Modi comes on the same lines. The hug is not for the love of each other but for tackling the declared common enemy, the “Muslims”!

The History quite often throws up unthinkable episodes which one could have never dreamt of! Can anyone imagine Hitler embracing an inmate of the Auschwitz concentration camp? Well, the photographs from the recent visit of Prime Minister Modi to Israel showing him hugging Ruvi splashed all over the world gives a creepy feeling. It virtually represents the Swastika, the hated Nazi symbol embracing the Star of David, the well-known Jewish symbol.

Swastika represents ancient Hindu symbol of well-being and is associated with the Aryans. Hitler had adopted this symbol for his Fascist Nazi Party. He claimed Germans to be the purest Aryan Race! He wanted to maintain the Aryan purity of the German Race at all costs. He describes in detail the cause of his extreme hatred of Jews in Mein Kamf (My Struggle). He holds Jews responsible for the defeat of Germany in the First World War. It would be interesting to quote him in this regard.

“Only the Jew knew that by an able and persistent use of propaganda heaven itself can be presented to the people as if it were hell and, vice versa, the most miserable kind of life can be presented as if it were paradise. The Jew knew this and acted accordingly. But the German, or rather his Government, did not have the slightest suspicion of it. During the War the heaviest of penalties had to be paid for that ignorance”.
He was so much disgusted with Jews that he threatened to wipe them out immediately after taking over. "If I am ever really in power, the destruction of the Jews will be my first and most important job. As soon as I have power, I shall have gallows after gallows erected, for example, in Munich on the Marienplatz-as many of them as traffic allows. Then the Jews will be hanged one after another, and they will stay hanging until they stink. They will stay hanging as long as hygienically possible. As soon as they are untied, then the next group will follow and that will continue until the last Jew in Munich is exterminated. Exactly the same procedure will be followed in other cities until Germany is cleansed of the last Jew!" (quoted in John Toland, Adolf Hitler. London: Book Club Associates, 1977, p.116)
On creation of Israel, he states, “While the Zionists try to make the rest of the World believe that the national consciousness of the Jew finds its satisfaction in the creation of a Palestinian state, the Jews again slyly dupe the dumb Goyim. It doesn't even enter their heads to build up a Jewish state in Palestine for the purpose of living there; all they want is a central organisation for their international world swindler, endowed with its own sovereign rights and removed from the intervention of other states: a haven for convicted scoundrels and a university for the German, French-man, or Englishman, the other with open effrontery comes out as the Jewish race.”

Hitler is held responsible for the death of six million Jews! The European Powers and the Americans deliberately created the State of Israel as a dagger in the Arab world. The motive was twofold. One to expiate the guilt of the massive persecution of Jews by Christians and the other to tackle the growing nationalism among the Muslim Arab States like Nasser’s Egypt. The progressive Muslim World has been totally shattered by the western powers through the dagger of Israel. On their part, the real leaders of the Muslim world such as Saudi Arabia sold their souls to the luxuries of the western world and became their puppets. Arabs alone spend more than $ 8 Billion on the beatification of their bodies in Europe!

As regards India, even though it started as a Secular, Progressive and Democratic Republic yet it is now heading towards a Fascist country of extreme Hindutva. In fact, the founder of RSS Sadashiv Golwalkar was reportedly fond of Hitler and adopted some of his methods for his party. He wrote in his book, “"To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races -- the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for Races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by."

Another RSS leader, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar went a little ahead. In a speech delivered in 1940 (after the Second World War had commenced), he said: “There is no reason to suppose that Hitler must be a human monster because he passes off as a Nazi or Churchill is a demigod because he calls himself a Democrat. Nazism proved undeniably the savior of Germany under the set of circumstances Germany was placed in”. Thus the founder as well as many other important leaders of RSS were not only impressed by the Nazis but also adopted their tactics to realise their dream of a Hindu Rashtra. Now, they are going full speed ahead to achieve this goal. The irony is that they are embracing even Jews to achieve their goal! Nazi Storm Troopers have been replaced by Gaurakhshaks! No doubt, the dream of Hindu Rashtra may be achieved but at what cost? Disintegration of the Largest Democracy in the world!
The authors of this pogrom need to keep in view the ultimate fate of Hitler. In his effort to usher in the Purest German Aryan Race, he virtually destroyed Germany! The Holocaust committed in Auschwitz and other places still haunts German Conscience. The only silver lining is the “Not in My Name” movement which if supported by all right thinking people could halt the carnage and prevent the disintegration of the country.






Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Permanent Solution” for Kashmir Problem

(The Union Home Minister has declared that there will soon be a “Permanent Solution” for the Kashmir problem. The declaration appears more scary than comforting!)

Kashmir problem has been hanging fire since the partition of the sub-continent. In fact, the creation of the two countries itself created the problem! Kashmir as an independent sovereign country has a history of more than 5000 years. Existence of Kashmir as an independent sovereign country has been mentioned in many ancient chronicles including those of Greece, China and various Arab countries. After four centuries of subjugation by external rulers Kashmiris had a chance to reclaim their independence and sovereignty but due to their misfortune they got entangled in the sub-continent’s religious and ideological conflict for no fault of theirs. This confusion and strife of the partition years, 1947 to 1949 fully chained them in a Gordian knot which no one has been able to disentangle so far.
The “problem” has been there now for 70 years! During this period thousands of Kashmiris have been killed, thousands injured and disabled, hundreds of women have been subjected to rape and property worth billions has been destroyed. Economically Kashmiris who used to be self-sufficient have been made totally dependent on external dole. Without outside financial help, the local government is not even in a position to pay the salaries of its employees! Had Kashmir been on its own, not only would it be able to sustain the local population on the most modern lines but also extended aid to its neighbours especially in the field of hydro-electric power of which it has abundant potential.
All these years Kashmir has been used as a whipping boy by the two of its neighbours in a state of perennial conflict. It is a playground for proxy wars for both the sides. Earlier it was so called “Secular and Democratic” Republic versus the so called “Islamic Republic” with Kashmiris as guinea pigs to test the two ideologies. Now it is in the open as “Hindu Rashtra” versus the “Jihadi Pakistan”. Both appear to be totally bent upon destroying each other. On this side the Brahmins are all out to create India of the Vedic times with the Cow as their decisive symbol enabling targeting of minorities who are being hunted in every possible way. The other side controlled by the Feudal Landlords for whom the extremists have become totally uncontrollable. Kashmir’s misfortune is to have been caught between the two bulls. As they say if the two bulls fight, the grass gets trampled and if the bulls make love, the grass still gets trampled.
In such a situation what could be the permanent solution? The way things are happening one is very scarily reminded of the Hitler’s final solution of the Jewish problem which resulted in the holocaust of which Auschwitz is an example. One hopes the Union Home Minister is not thinking on the same lines for Kashmiris? Some of the recent moves give a creeping feeling of the worst still to come! Pitting the world’s third largest Army against just a couple of hundred militants amounts to using a wild elephant for killing a group of ants with tremendous collateral damage. It becomes what the Army Chief has called a “Dirty War”! Normally, the main principle of counter insurgency is based on the premise that a militant or a guerrilla fighter is like a fish which moves in water. The aim is to take way the water by winning over the people. Here, the reverse is happening. The anti-insurgency operations are providing the “Fish” more and more fresh water!
If the final and permanent solution is to crush people physically and economically, then the authors of that solution need to study the 5000 year old history of Kashmir. Mughals annexed Kashmir to their empire, then Afghans took it and after them the Sikhs annexed it to their empire. Ultimately, the British sold it to Dogras for their loyalty to defeat the Sikhs. All these Empires have disappeared and vanished into thin air but the Kashmiris are still there! Had Indian sub-continent not been partitioned, Kashmiris might have regained their independence and sovereignty. Even after partition, Kashmir could have been an ideal meeting point for the two conflicting ideologies had the leaders on two sides been intelligent and sincere to their own people. Kashmir Valley was the only place in the entire sub-continent which did not have any communal or religious conflict. The people here had been living for centuries with mutual amity and brotherhood.
Even now, the most ideal and sensible permanent solution could be to convert Kashmir into a real and genuine meeting point for all its warring neighbours as the Switzerland has been in Europe through the two world wars! It would be a more sensible and permanent solution than trampling the entire land along with its population through wild elephants. One needs to remember an African saying about the Elephants and the Ants. An Elephants trunk is a truly remarkable organ but it becomes its Achilles heels when dealing with an angry colony of ants. These ants can kill the elephant if these climb into his trunk. The elephant dies by smashing its head against the rocks as these ants make it go mad”! 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Anarchy and impotence!

(The two words which describe the present Kashmir situation appropriately!)
The Cambridge dictionary defines “Anarchy” as “a situation in which there is no organisation and control, especially in society, because there is no effective government”. The word “impotence” is defined as, “lack of power to change or improve a situation”. In almost every front whether civil society, or the government Kashmir is in a total state of anarchy. In true sense, left hand does not know what the right hand is doing. Everybody tries to escape from facing the real situation in every aspect of life. Let us first take apprehension of an impending flood. Most of the experts have predicted that we may get a repeat of the 2014 flood as practically nothing has been done to prevent the same by all concerned. In spite of the fact that a very high level committee has been constituted by the government under the Chief Executive, the progress on the ground is abnormally slow. No preventive measures can be effectively implemented on the ground unless the work is taken up on a war footing with round the clock monitoring. All the concerned organisations seem to have become impotent both in execution and monitoring. One only needs to take a walk on the embankments of the flood spill over channel from Mehjoor Nagar to By-pass Bridge to practically know the ground situation. So God only can help us!
The same holds good for the worst ever traffic congestion; a free for all on pedestrian foot-paths by goods vendors, wrong parking on most of the roads on both sides of road and the crazy operations of three wheelers and mini-buses. They behave as if they alone are on the roads and think that they virtually own these roads! People are now used to getting stuck in traffic jams for hours at some places like Pantha Chowk, Shalteng, Pampore and  many other places. One of the reasons for this mess is the impotence of authorities. It is debatable whether the impotence is due to lack of resources and manpower or for certain political and material considerations! There are umpteen other spheres in which the same situation prevails. Take the instance of drains, garbage, and debris on the roads. However, the worst of all menaces are the hordes of ferocious stray dogs! Menaka Gandhi’s gift to Kashmir is these stray dogs that have made the life of the citizens miserable especially during night.
Coming to the political situation, the less said, the better! It is a self-created mess. Kashmir must be the only place in the world where the country’s best fighting machine is being used to control stone throwing youngsters! Over a couple of hundred Kashmiri young men have lost their lives, thousands have been injured and hundreds blinded in the process of controlling civilian free expression. The unrest is universal in the entire Kashmir valley and the authorities have totally failed to subdue or control it. It keeps on bouncing off and on. A massive military operation is on to eliminate a couple of hundred militants and in the process there is severe collateral damage of civilian life and property. One is often forced to quote the saying of the most illustrious son of Kashmir, Kalhana that the people of Kashmir can be conquered by the means of the spiritual merit and not by the force of soldiers. The Political leaders in Delhi are inducting more and more soldiers with newer weapons but they have failed to suppress the rebellious youth. Again it shows anarchy and impotence! Almost all right thinking people have repeatedly pointed out that the Kashmir situation cannot be resolved by military action. It needs a political solution. Here again one sees distinctly anarchy and impotence! The most distressing is the total impotence of the world bodies supposed to be guardians of human rights and world peace.
The most frustrating part has been the anarchy of the weather. Nature too has gone berserk in regard to Kashmir’s weather. In the end of June, normally part of the short summer, we have almost the winter weather! Thunder storms, cloud bursts, hail and snow in the wrong season shows the weather Gods too have been annoyed with us. They seem to have gone crazy in punishing us!
The tragic part after the loss of human lives and material damage is the damage to Kashmir’s image! From a world known Paradise of the East it has become a living hell! Tourism and many other economic activities have been shattered. The worst fear is there is no light at the end of the tunnel. The tunnel itself is choked with Pava fumes! Will Kashmir of the glorious times ever return? That is the million dollar question! In the meantime we are stuck in the anarchy and the impotence as defined in the Cambridge dictionary!

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