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18 August 2008

Can't Let Go

Hurriyat-Lashkar-Jaish-Harkat's Kashmir would be Taliban's Afghanistan II

World beware! Masood Azhar's rally in Bahawalpur, Pakistan, where he had vowed to recruit half a million terrorists. He managed to recruit many more

Surajit Dasgupta
There is no need for any Indian to get worked up for what national self-flagellation champion Arundhati Roy said yesterday — that Kashmir needs 'AzAdI' from India as much as India needs 'AzAdI' from Kashmir. Instead, as senior journalist Harinder Baweja reminded Times Now in the debate in response to Roy's statement, let us think of Vir Sanghvi and any other known opinion maker who is less of a maverick than Roy. Sanghvi is one of the two writers who, in their respective columns in the same newspaper — Hindustan Times — had suggested last week that the Indian union set the Kashmir valley free for it to fend for itself.

The presumption made in course of their arguments by Vir Sanghvi and Khushwant Singh is similar to that made by the retreating British administration in 1947: The British had assumed that India was too full of contradictions to be able to manage its own affairs once the Whites left; an ‘inevitable’ collapse of the then newly formed state was doom-said. It never happened. In all probability, it will never happen to this state that is known to many as a "functional anarchy". The assumption this time is different only to the extent of no mention of inherent contradiction among Kashmiri Muslims. They are talking about Jammu & Kashmir depending on truckloads of Indian money to survive. When the privileges enjoyed by the valley's people cease to exist in the event of the area being declared free of the Indian union, tourism, the bread-and-butter of the local population, alone cannot pull the region off, assume the writers. So, that a newly formed country's future is doomed, is the assumption common to the British colonialists and the aforementioned columnists.

This is, however, the least of India's concerns. Both politically and philosophically, the mentality of being happy about the possibility that the people who don't want to live with you ultimately cannot do without you is gross and sick. After a family feud, if your brother leaves you to set a home of his own and the next day you get the news of his death, if that makes you happy, you are the perfect case for psychiatric treatment.

Whoever thought that India was not setting Kashmir free in the fear of the region dying a natural/economic death? India should — and does — worry about the formation of a new Taliban state, should the valley become an independent country. For, any country formed on the foundation of the hatred-filled, exclusivist ideology of religion alone cannot turn out to be anything other than a diabolic state of fanatics that begins by troubling the world and ends by committing hara-kiri when the sight of an absence of foreign enemies threatens its terrorist populace of unemployment.

A more immediate threat is that of the country's defence. In this regard, Khushwant Singh has been more considerate, asking for the Indian troops to stay in the valley. Vir Sanghvi, on the other hand, has had enough of the 'headache' and wants to do away with the whole geographical area entirely, caring to bother little that Pakistan-occupied and India-administered Kashmirs together would turn into a convenient transit route for the military of two hostile neighbours — Pakistan and China. It is not for no reason that the Indian Army has been guarding the inhospitable heights of Siachen for more than two decades. Obviously, if Kashmir goes, so does India's control over the Siachen glacier. A free Kashmir takes India farther away from the southernmost tip of a friendly Russia, congenial Commonwealth of Independent States and a north-eastern edge of what is now our big beneficiary — Afghanistan. This is not to suggest that a terrestrial connection exists between India and these countries at the moment. Rather, the geographical proximity to friendlier states comes in handy during emergencies like war. Let's not forget that when the once-unfriendly US stayed away from confronting India militarily during the 1971 (Bangladesh) war, one of the considerations was that the USSR was much closer to the region for a possible counter-action.

Orange alert! The Indian army controls all of the 70 km long Siachen Glacier as well as all of its tributary glaciers as well as the three main passes of the Saltoro Ridge immediately west of the glacier, Sia La, Bilafond La, and Gyong La, thus holding onto the tactical advantage of high ground. Gyong La is at 35-10-29 N, 77-04-15 E; that high point is controlled by India. The Pakistanis control the glacial valley just 5 km southwest of Gyong La. If this area stays with India, it's not likely that the Pakistan and China military will scale the heights of the Karakoram range to encircle the Indian positions

So, when Pratap Bhanu Mehta says, "I cannot imagine what it is to live like under half a million troops, a standing reminder that no matter what our politicians claim, our bonds are sustained more by force than by spontaneity," it reminds us of a 1997 television interview with the then prime minister, otherwise famous for his abnormally docile "Gujral Doctrine", where he had said, "The Indian troops are not in Kashmir on a picnic; militancy necessitated their presence in the valley."

As for Kashmiri Muslims’ ‘legitimate grievance’ — if that were the 'root cause' of militancy — here is the truth. The pre-1989 status of Hindus and Muslims in Kashmir is described as under:
• Kashmiri Muslims owned 97.4% of the agricultural land, leaving 2.6% of agricultural land to Hindus and other minorities who together constituted about 11% population of the province.
• Muslims owned 96% of the fruit orchard acreage in the valley, whereas Hindus owned only 2.8% of the fruit orchards.
• Muslims owned 98.7% acreage of Kareva highland, growing saffron, whereas Hindus owned 0.03% land yielding saffron.
• The export of dry fruits — almond and walnut — was a monopoly of Muslims in Kashmir, with Hindus having negligible or no share in the export of dry fruit from Kashmir.
• The export of precious walnut and willow-wood was wholly a monopoly of Muslims, with Hindus having no share in it.
• Muslims’ employment in the horticulture industry approximated to 800,000 people working on 481,000 orchard holdings. The employment of Hindus in the horticulture industry was less than 0.5%.
• Of the industries using electric power in Kashmir province, Muslims owned 98.9% and only 0.02% were owned by Hindus.
• The handicrafts and handloom industry of Kashmir was almost wholly owned by Muslims; it provided employment to 91,941 people of whom only 0.4% were Hindus.
• Of the 17,776 members of the handicrafts and handloom cooperative societies in 1985-86, the years when the Muslim fundamentalists were turning militants, only 0.3% belonged to Hindus.
• In 1985-86, the number of small-scale industries and industrial units registered with the Directorate of Industries in Kashmir province was 46,293. The number of units registered in the name of Hindus therein estimated to only 0.01 %. 98.7 % of the industrial units were registered in the name of the Kashmiri Muslims.
• The Khadi and village industries, registered under the Khadi and Village Industries Board, provided employment to 28,110; of them, 98.8 % were Muslims.
• Road transport in Jammu & Kashmir, the primary means of communication in the absence of railways, was a monopoly of Muslim transporters and transport companies, with Sikhs having a marginal 4.2 % share. Hindus of Kashmir had a negligible share in the transport organisation of the state.
• According to the statistics and figures collected from government sources for the years 1985-86, the State Transport Corporation employed 6,434 persons of which Kashmiri Hindus accounted for 0.8%.
• According to the figures available for the year 1985-86, the entire boat transport in the state was monopolised by the Kashmiri Muslims. The number of the various types of boats, was as follows:

Type of Boats .....…………………….. Number……… Number of persons employed
Tourist house boats .......................... 825 ........................... 3, 300
Passenger boats ............................ 1, 152 ........................... 2, 304
Carriage boats ................................... 685 ........................... 1, 037
Fishing boats ..................................... 480 ............................... 960
Tourist doonga ................................. 275 ............................... 825
Taxi boat ............................................ 785 ........................... 1, 570
Total ................................................ 4, 232 ........................... 9, 996

The entire fleet of the boats of various types, listed above, was owned by Muslims. The fleet included high-cost luxury house-boats, which had considerable commercial value.

• The hotel industry is a highly lucrative industry in Kashmir. It was always a closed preserve of Muslims of Kashmir. Muslims owned almost 96% of the hotel property in Kashmir, Hindus owned only 2.2% of the hotel property.
• 94% of the State subsidy paid on horticulture, agriculture, agricultural implements, fertilisers, pesticides etc. was appropriated by Muslims in Kashmir with less than 2.4% of the subsidies received by Hindus.
• Muslims appropriated the whole of the subsidies directed to the state on industrial loans, exports, self-employment schemes, etc. The share of Hindus of Kashmir in such subsidies was negligible — less than 0.1%.
• The share of Hindus in the industrial loans provided by the state government, the loans on self-employment schemes, loans on small-scale industries and cottage industries like handicraft and the lands allotted for the establishment of such industries, was negligible — less than 0.1%.
• Hindus were almost fully excluded from contracts and public works undertaken by the Government and were given, on an average, a share of 4% in the works undertaken by the state.
• The share of Hindus in the exploitation of forest products, until the forests were nationalised in 1979, was 6.2%.
• The licensing for quarrying and mining of marble brick-kilns was a monopoly of Muslims.
• The manufacture and export of carpets, of Kashmir was a monopoly of Muslims.
• The manufacture and export of shawls of Kashmir was a monopoly of Muslims.

In any event, losing Kashmir will be a big embarrassment for India which has, since its inception in a new awatar in 1947, always opposed the idea of the two-nation theory. The possible argument that can be guessed hypothetically at the moment, which the government might forward then, is that "a 'Hindu' India did not throw out a 'Muslim' Kashmir"; rather, "the 'Muslim' Kashmir, despite all efforts by a 'secular' India, did not want to continue to live as a part of this country". And Pakistan would be happy that it's agenda of partition is finally complete.

A whole lot of untruths would start donning cloaks of legitimacy if India and Kashmir were to part ways. The international community would forget the incursion and invasion of the valley by Pakistani tribals in 1947. In India, the Hindu right wing will feel less inhibited to call first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru a moron; for it was his wisdom that brought about the UN-imposed ceasefire over the Line of Control at a time when the Indian Army was pushing the invaders back and was on the verge of recovering the entire lost territory. Whichever party rules India at the time of Kashmir's departure would have to forget coming back to power for a long time to come. What would be touted as "self-determination" or "plebiscite" would camouflage the 1990s' brutal religious cleansing — it's not "ethnic" cleansing; Kashmiris converted to Islam and, hence, cannot have a different ethnicity — carried out by Muslims in the areas and the hurrah of AzAdi would outshout the agonising cries of Kashmir's Pandits, which are already reduced to a squeak, in wilderness.

Why did things come to such a pass? It beats reason why India cannot be a Melting Pot; why it should follow the British ways of multi-culturalism where every culture keeps demanding a bigger share of the pie, gets it more often than not but is still left feeling let down. For, this is the root cause of the strife: The more you give, the more they demand. It beats reason why India has to be condemned to live forever the folly of the foolhardy promise that was made to Kashmir during its accession to the union and not repeal Article 370. What is so communal about all states of a union being governed by the same set of laws? What is so communal about a uniform civil code where all religions ought to be bound by the same set of civil and criminal laws? Why should Muslims fear that bringing about uniformity in law would mean a 'Hindu-isation' of the laws of the land and, therefore, oppose the idea? There are indeed a few exemplary acts in the Muslim Personal Law that, in case of a uniform code, can be incorporated to let citizens of all religions benefit from them.

Vir Sanghvi thinks that Indian Muslims do not share any affinity with their fellow religionists in the Kashmir valley, and so his proposed separation of the region from India will not have a telling effect on this country's secular credentials. So I thought, till I got to see a written statement in the last blog-post here in Research from an Aligarh Muslim University staffer. In context of the controversy surrounding the now-dumped state government proposal of transferring some land to the Amarnath Shrine Board for two months every year during the pilgrimage, N Jamal Ansari had originally written: "There is (a) danger of permanent settlement if any temporary settlement is allowed in the area. Then it will change (the) demography of the region, which will further complicate the issue." Since this is a perception and not the absolute truth, I had to edit it to: "Kashmiri Muslims are not convinced that there is no danger of permanent settlement, if any temporary settlement is allowed in the area. They fear it is Government of India's conscious effort and first ominous step towards changing the demography of the region." One might, of course, argue that the cited writer does not represent all of India's Muslims. Those forwarding this argument should then be reminded of another Muslim homogeneity: When the nation was debating whether or not Parliament House attack conspirator Mohammed Afzal should be hanged, while Hindus and followers of other religions were divided on the issue, not a single Muslim thought leader or opinion maker based anywhere in the world spoke or wrote in favour of Afzal's hanging.

Nevertheless, on the basis of informal talks with several members of the Muslim community, it is reassuring to find that hardly any Indian Muslim living outside Kashmir wants the valley to secede. Should that lead to a deliberate communal state policy wherein India engages Kashmiri separatists of the Hurriyat fold in talks with delegates of government functionaries that are predominantly Muslim? No. The incident of arson and setting a local police commissioner's house afire, despite his being a Muslim, indicates that this tactic will not work. Several Kashmiri Muslims who wanted the region's freedom but were against the idea of joining Pakistan have been eliminated from the scene. The compulsion to toe the Pakistani line is so pitiable that the son of one such victim, Sajjad Lone of People's Conference now speaks of separation from India but keeps the choice of the valley's independence or its acceding to Pakistan tacit. This is to cite just one example of the fear factor. Much as the separatists fashion themselves, militants and terrorists as "freedom fighters", and draw audacious comparisons with Bhagat Singh and Subhas Chandra Bose while arguing with Indians, the difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter is all too known: Unlike the Kashmiri murderers, India's freedom fighters never bombed and gunned down ordinary civilians, school children, office goers, shopkeepers and bystanders during the Raj.

Kashmiri terrorists killing Kashmiri civilians:
• January 1999: 56
• February 1999: 40
• March 1999: 36
• April 1999: 43
• May 1999: 37
• June 1999: 67
• July 1999: 42
• May 2000: 74
• June 2000: 14

Muslim terrorists killing Muslim civilians:
• The 19 February attack on the Friendship Train service between New Delhi and Lahore, Pakistan, that killed dozens;
• The 18 May bomb blast at the Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad that killed eleven;
• The 11 October blast at a Sufi mosque in Ajmer, Rajasthan, that killed three.

Freedom fighters? Whose freedom?
True, the times are too volatile to repeal Article 370 that caters to Jammu & Kashmir or enforce a UCC in the whole of India. But granting more autonomy to a region, which is already more privileged — and pampered — than any autonomous domain can be, makes little sense. Kashmiri separatists are bound by no code of ethics or bond of religion or ethnicity. It is impelling to conclude that they are a band of sick marauders who relish the feeling of perpetual anger, enjoy the sight of constant destruction and are alien to the idea of a normal, peaceful life. The world in general and India in particular cannot afford to lose Kashmir to a mob.

Innocent blood: Lying in these coffins are little children who fell to the bombs and bullets of Kashmir's terrorists

The writer is a mathematician and linguist, now a corporate communicator and has been a science journalist, a teacher and a marketing manager (in reverse chronological order) in his previous vocations


I. Instrument of Accession executed by Maharajah Hari Singh, ruler of Jammu & Kashmir (princely state), on 26 October 1947:
Resolution of the UN Security Council of 13 August 1948
Article 370 of the Constitution of India:
Temporary provisions with respect to the State of Jammu and Kashmir. —
(1) Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, —
(a) the provisions of article 238 shall not apply in relation to the State of Jammu and Kashmir;
(b) the power of Parliament to make laws for the said State shall be limited to —
(i) those matters in the Union List and the Concurrent List which, in consultation with the Government of the State, are declared by the President to correspond to matters specified in the Instrument of Accession governing the accession of the State to the Dominion of India as the matters with respect to which the Dominion Legislature may make laws for that State; and
(ii) such other matters in the said Lists as, with the concurrence of the Government of the State, the President may by order specify.
Explanation. — For the purposes of this article, the Government of the State means the person for the time being recognised by the President as the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir acting on the advice of the Council of Ministers for the time being in office under the Maharaja’s Proclamation dated the fifth day of March, 1948;
(c) the provisions of article 1 and of this article shall apply in relation to that State;
(d) such of the other provisions of this Constitution shall apply in relation to that State subject to such exceptions and modifications as the President may by order specify: Provided that no such order which relates to the matters specified in the Instrument of Accession of the State referred to in paragraph (i) of sub-clause (b) shall be issued except in consultation with the Government of the State: Provided further that no such order which relates to matters other than those referred to in the last preceding proviso shall be issued except with the concurrence of that Government.
(2) If the concurrence of the Government of the State referred to in paragraph (ii) of sub-clause (b) of clause (1) or in the second proviso to sub-clause (d) of that clause be given before the Constituent Assembly for the purpose of framing the Constitution of the State is convened, it shall be placed before such Assembly for such decision as it may take thereon. (3) Notwithstanding anything in the foregoing provisions of this article, the President may, by public notification, declare that this article shall cease to be operative or shall be operative only with such exceptions and modifications and from such date as he may specify: Provided that the recommendation of the Constituent Assembly of the State referred to in clause (2) shall be necessary before the President issues such a notification.

The US's Worldwide (Terrorist) Incident Tracking System: Spotlight Kashmir
The Amarnath shrine land transfer dispute


Chaitali said...

So, that is why we need Kashmir. Due to its history and geography.

Earlier I did not think much about it, but it is true that our "truck vs. pedestrian" mentality completely obscures the very basic truths. Maybe it takes a different kind of mentality to be "truly secular", without ANY bias towards Hindus or Muslims.

Sandeep said...

Kashmir is pretty straight forward situation. India captured it by force under the curtain of Instrument of accession which is actually an excuse for its acts. Pakistan is furious about Bangladesh and wants a revenge. Muslims in Kashmir are divided under two banners: those who wants independence from both India and Pakistan and those who consider Pakistan as their motherland since It was created for Muslims. Hindus want to be in India because however "secular" it projects itself, it still harbors Hindu fundamentalism and hence they feel safe there. Now the actual truth about Kashmir independence is that it will never come into existence for many reasons. One of them is that Kashmir cannot sustain itself.

There cannot be any solutions until there are "two religions" or should i say in a better manner then there cannot be a solution unless people have "religion". It blinds masses towards reasoning.

Reasonable solution will be to make J&K autonomous state and make it a marketing hub between India and Pakistan. This would require true leaders in Kashmir, India and Pakistan and we have none. All three of them have leaders who have short sighted visions about power.

Surajit Dasgupta said...

India captured it (Kashmir) by force under the curtain of Instrument of accession which is actually an excuse for its acts.

This is not true. I hazard a plausible guess that your inability to complete PhD in India has left you very bitter about this country, which reflects on your standpoint.

Maharajah Hari Singh indeed signed and executed the Instrument of Accession to India when a band of Pakistani tribal population invaded the princely state of Kashmir. Your argument later that — Hindus want to be in India because however "secular" it projects itself, it still harbors Hindu fundamentalism and hence they feel safe there — may be applicable to Hari Singh; it cannot be a blanket statement applicable to all Hindus. He must have had a nervous breakdown seeing the approaching jihadis. "Force", if any, on the region of Jammu & Kashmir did apply to more than 100 other princely states that were served an ultimatum to join India, under the policy of the first defence minister of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Why don't we see an uprising for independence from India in any of those states except Kashmir?

It seems Sandeep has not gone through the appendices. As for the validity of the Instrument of Accession, I deemed it fit to reproduce the copy of the original document instead of copy-pasting the matter in the appendices section. More importantly, India has the document with an original copy image uploaded on its website. Alan Campbell-Johnson, the then press attaché to the Viceroy of India, stated that "The legality of the accession is beyond doubt".

Next is the issue of keeping or reneging on the promise of a plebiscite. India’s stand on the issue is clear: As per the pre-condition for "self-determination" by Kashmiri people set in the UN Resolution # 39, (1) Pakistan should pull back its tropops and people from the portion of Kashmir it occupies and (2) the demography of the state has to be what it was before the Pandits were chased out of the valley. Pakistan won't fulfil its part of the promise and yet expects India to honour the resolution. That's a convenient but preposterous demand.

Pakistan is furious about Bangladesh and wants a revenge. Muslims in Kashmir are divided under two banners: those who want independence from both India and Pakistan and those who consider Pakistan their motherland since it was created for Muslims.

There is a relatively small but sizeable section that wants to stay with India too. After all, the economy of India-administered Kashmir (as much as its geographical terrains) is far better than that of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Also, what is called "PoK" in India and "Azad Kashmir" in Pakistan is aazaad only in name, not in deed. There are dozens of documentaries on the discrimination and brutalities meted out to the residents of that western part of Kashmir by Pakistani people and administration. Moreover, some pakistani presidents have called the region free while some others have called it a part of Pakistan.

That Pakistan was created for Muslims is true. Saying that India was created for Hindus betrays gross ignorance of history. India already existed before 1947; Pakistan didn't. Out of all the Muslims who left for Pakistan, especially from the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, a big portion was condemned to live in Pakistan forever as B-grade citizens carrying the quasi-racist tag of mohajirs. The rest returned to India, disillusioned with the state of affairs of the new state (Pakistan).

India did not want Partition. Pakistan did. India did not want a separate state/union for Hindus. Pakistan did want a separate state/union for Muslims. How can you compare the two?

Hindus want to be in India because however "secular" it projects itself, it still harbors Hindu fundamentalism and hence they feel safe there.

This again is not true. Fundamentalism of the Hindu kind as a popular form of politics is a comparatively recent phenomenon. Borrowing the branding by Indian communists, parties like the BJP, organisations like the RSS and outfits like the VHP and Bajrang Dal can be called “reactionary forces”. Now, tell me, what action caused this reaction? Why did that action take place in the first place?

Atheists are expected to cock a snook at religion. But those who are believers among Hindus are arguably the only religious community in the world that jokes — sometimes vulgarly — about their own gods and goddesses. They are the community that knows the least about their holy scriptures. They readily accept it as a true report whenever a scandal involving a godman is revealed by the media. They discuss and debate religion only when the discussion or debate is forced upon them in fora controlled by followers of other religions. How can such a community not be secular?

By the way, Hindus feel equally safe in Christian societies like the US and agnostic societies of Europe.

Reasonable solution will be to make J&K autonomous state and make it a marketing hub between India and Pakistan. This would require true leaders in Kashmir, India and Pakistan and we have none. All three of them have leaders who have short sighted visions about power.

What more privileges do Kashmiris want? Read the content of Article 370 provided in the appendices.

Nirmal said...

While the emotional, historical, geographical reasons remain on India not parting ways with Kashmir, its only the security reasons that're of any import.
I'm assuming that if we indeed part ways, the security situation will become better rather than deteriorate.
Ideally, as Vir Sanghvi said, we've to conduct a referendum in Kashmir. If the Kashmiris feel they'll be better off as an independent state or with Pakistan, that's their problem. They needn't take part in the economic and socio-demographic revolution taking place in India and can be or be part of a banana republic.
The only loss I see is that of Umar Farooq. Indians don't feel a connection to Kashmir psychologically and this is exacerbated by policy.
Lets not forget that we took Goa and Hyderabad by force. Its a different matter that the populations of these places had no problems with this and weren't susceptible to seperatist agendas.
India also put down by force and some amount of policy compromise, the seperatist movement in TN.
BTW, I completely agree with Surajit's contention on India's secularism. Call me naive but I also think the vast majority of Indian Muslims revel in the democracy and vibrant atmosphere of India. Remember the vast majority of Muslims in India are poor and socially under the tyrranical rein of the brokers of religion (the imams and the mullahs) and if they were in a Pakistan, a feudal tinpot republic, they wouldn't see a Shahrukh or a Premji or a Kalam rise from their midst.
The seperatists in Kashmir obviously don't realise that they would be treated on par with erstwhile east Pakistan or worse. But that again, is their problem.
Let them go. We don't need them. Treat the billions sunk in as a sunk cost. Its time to take our losses and cut loose. India doesn't need this albatross around its neck.

Sandeep said...

Blame game never ends.

If we okay Instrument of accession then we would have to okay many of those documents using which British captured many states in 1800s! There was an uprising in Kashmir against Maharaja's decision because because people felt it was one sided. He never went to UN which was also a solution.

So i guess when we make an argument over kashmir we should leave behind our national and religious associations. Otherwise we are bound to fall into the blame game as observed in earlier post. I prefer reason over nationalism.

Plebiscite is of course not a favorable option now, it might have been an option in 1948. Now a separate Kashmir will collapse under economic burden. Making an excuse that "Pakistan hasn't done that so why us" looks childish as if India and Pakistan are kindergarten kids. This is an excuse for both the parties to maintain status quo and hence maintain hostilities.

Also India is frequently glorified for maintaining a large portion of Muslim population even when originally these two nations were created based on religion. It was Gandhi's dream. And hence he died. Now Modis rule. We have two camps of Hindus now. One who are okay to live with muslims and consider them as brothers. Others who consider them self "elder brother" and harbor anti-muslim feelings covertly. I hope you get the point. These feelings fuels most of the ambitions of fundamentalist organizations like BHJ, VHP and bajrang dal etc. This is not a microscopic view now because other political parties have failed miserably which has lead majority to believe that perhaps these are the men who "can do things". This showed up in last two Gujarat elections. Kashmir situation is closely related to these facts. A country is driven by the opinion of the masses (because thats what drives the direction of political parties). A biased viewpoint derives a divided country. Hence i mentioned that "religion" is the actual problem because it can manufacture blind people.

I try to reason out an unbiased viewpoint. When arguing, As per my previous experience, all countries have their highs and lows and hence i don't prefer a particular country. And i guess thats why am returning back to India :). I would prefer not being personal and calling names as it seems childish while discussing "national matters". I hope that i have put forward my viewpoint neatly.

Surajit Dasgupta said...

Further to…
There is a relatively small but sizeable section that wants to stay with India too.

This section of the population was much larger. They have been brainwashed by pro-Pakistan elements since the invasion of 1947-48. The laidback counter-propaganda machinery of the Government of India watched all of it as if in drunken stupor. In fact, post-1999 (Kargil War) private news channels like NDTV has done a much better job than the official broadcaster, Doordarshan, in spreading Kashmir-related information. I would say the Kargil War did to NDTV what the First Gulf War of 1991 had done to CNN; these were turnaround years for these television news channels respectively.

One watches with dismay yet another instance of laxity by the Indian government. People living along the LoC, who cannot access signals from Indian cellphone towers, are using Pakistani mobile networks. Terrorist masterminds are thus having a field day interacting easily with mercenaries on both sides of the de facto international border. This is also a gross violation of the international convention and protocol on bass transceiver stations, whose installation is prohibited in border areas.

Making an excuse that "Pakistan hasn't done that so why us" looks childish as if India and Pakistan are kindergarten kids.

Not exactly. It’s not a question of India not doing something because Pakistan hasn’t done the same. What India had to do and what Pakistan had to, according to Resolution 39, were quite different. It was — and remains — an international order which could be fulfilled only when the pre-conditions for it were met.

Also, the present ‘let-go’ refrain that one is getting to hear thse past few days—symptomised by a frivolous SMS-voting organised by CNN-IBN — obfuscates the reality that is contrary to the popular belief that Kashmir is wholly anti-Indian or Kashmiris on the other side of the border are very happy with their status as a part of Pakistan.

First, Pakistan sought about 400 amendments to the 10-page long Draft Report on Kashmir prepared by Baroness Emma Nicholson, former EU Rapporteur on Kashmir appointed by the European Union Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs, in 2007. The EU report came against the backdrop of two Human Rights Watch reports on Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Jammu & Kashmir, criticising the human rights violations by Pakistan-backed militants and highlighted Pakistan's role in providing training and other infrastructure support to these militants.

“The EU deeply regrets that the lack of a national political will to address basic needs, provision, political participation and the rule of law in AJK has left women there in a desperate situation following the earthquake,” the draft report noted, highlighting “the recent threats aimed at derailing planned amendments to the rape laws and the repugnant Hudood Ordinances themselves which, despite the will of (then) President Pervez Musharraf, have recently been reconfirmed by a national parliament in which neither the women nor the men of PoK/AJK have any representation”.

Interview with Emma Nicholson by M. Maroof Khan of Voice of Kashmir

Second, most separatist Kashmiris who swear by UN Resolution 39 do not know that the resolution gives Kashmiris only two options: Join India or Pakistan. The UN document has no provision for Kashmir’s independence.

I'm assuming that if we indeed part ways, the security situation will become better rather than deteriorate.

That’s a dangerous assumption. What if it doesn’t come true? That will be a point of no return.

Pakistan has shown not only in its bilateral relations (or lack of it) with India but also through instances in its domestic politics that there is nothing in that country that motivates and drives people as much as the hatred for India. Even in local elections, campaigning Pakistani politicians are heard blurting out anti-India rhetoric. What will Pakistan do after Kashmir is granted to them? It will miss the enmity with India very badly, its 61-year old history suggests.

Remember also that for terrorists, terrorism is an employment. They can’t do without it. Where do you want them to look for their next employment? All border areas of Rajasthan and Gujarat where there are sizeable Muslim populations? That must be another of Pakistan’s “incomplete agendas of Partition”! Next, Bangladesh may claim West Bengal’s Murshidabad and Malda districts!

Unfortunately for India, however, it cannot claim back the Khulna district of Bangladesh and the NWFP of Pakistan, which were pre-dominantly Hindu and anti-Pakistan respectively in 1947, given the sea-change in their demographics ever since.

How do you fancy your chances as the father of a pesky, pestering child? Would you give him whatever he demands, even if it means a part of your house breaking away? You know, such children never stop demanding more.

Sandeep said...

I must stress that one can either play a "blame game" or a "solution game". Thats simple to understand.

Realities cannot be modified according to our convenience. Brainwashing exists both sides, its just a matter of convenience that we blame the other side since its incompatible to our kind of brainwashing.

Since 1947 both sides have been playing blame game. The result is obvious. Kashmir exists in a state of confusion. Blame game just enhances this confusion.

Also, i wonder how many of us have actually lived in Kashmir to discuss it :) The only exposures i had, were through my father who served there in airforce and through my friends serving in Army there. Obviously these are not first hand accounts to derive conclusions so my conclusions might be flawed to some extent. But according to witnesses, ground realities are very different. Majority of Kashmiri population observe Indian intentions suspeciously and see Indian Armed Forces as occupation forces. Terrorism cannot sustain itself without local support. "Jihad" finds its support amongst locals and hence Army have to take some strong actions which amounts to human rights violation. Now i would prefer to investigate solution to this problem rather than blaming locals and pkaistanis for using these incidents for thier own purpose. Army did this job wonderfully for more than 50 years. Using force when required and lending a helping hand when called for. This is the way of thinking which lead us to "solutions" which can be respected by both sides. I do not see an end to the way we are discussing here.

ayush said...

When we talk about a 'solution game' , solutions adopted are often not the easiest choices, and saying the only solution to Kashmir issues is being bereft of religion is again beyond the realms of practicality.
India's Muslim population is larger than the total population of pakistan, and India has never been defined as a state for a particular religion , therefore religion based demographics cannot and should not even be considered when we talk about kashmir or for that matter any other region of our country.
The Khalistan movement of the 80's and early 90's was another proven example of a Pakistan supported separatist movement which was projected as a religion based struggle for Independence, which as we all no never turned out to be the case.
Kashmir has been an Integral part of India and there shouldnt even be a discussion on compromising our territorial integrity, with that said Kashmiris (Including the Pandits) have all the right on Kashmir and India as we as Indians should have on Kashmir. The first step towards seamless Integration of Kashmir with the Indian Union will be abolishing of Article 370 and making Kashmir just another State of India.
We need to learn a few lessons from China on how to preserve our territorial Integrity i guess :)

Surajit Dasgupta said...

Well said, Ayush. I had something in the mind last Saturday after reading Sandeep's last comment, but had to leave for some other work that evening.

Added to my objection to a religion-based 'solution' that I share with Ayush, I would like to add that the proponents of 'AzAdI' are not taking into account the danger of emergence of another Taliban-like regime north of India. Even if an Indian were to be objective, instead of being nationalist, the world's security concern cannot be overlooked.

And how can one forget the plight of Kashmiri Pandits? How can we seal their fate and say, “We have decided that you will have to lose your home once and for all!”?

As for Sandeep's argumentative contention that India too must have given the idea of brainwashing Kashmiri Muslims a try, let me remind him and others that Pakistan's military as well as political strategy has always been India-specific whereas India has, even during its sluggish socialist days, seen itself as a world player. Thus, India's propaganda, if any, on Kashmir has always been a reaction necessitated by Pakistan's action of the proxy war waged on India through terrorism. And that reaction too has left a lot to be desired. For a long time Kashmiris were bombarded with misinformation and disinformation campaigns by Pakistan's state-owned broadcaster PTV while no television set in the valley could catch Doordarshan's signals.

Mercifully, yesterday The Times Of India carried a report on the result of a nine-city survey where 68% Indians shared my idea that we couldn't let Kashmir go, come what might. This was, in effect, a rebuff of the frivolous CNN-IBN SMS poll last week that suggested more than half the population of India was ready to part ways with Kashmir.

Should India let Kashmir go? 68% say no: This survey by a reputed market research agency, Synovate India, is far more credible than the one triggered by a prompt on the TV sets, to which a few hundred thumbs of a cellphone-driven generation responded with juvenile impulse. Those thumbs were guided by brains more or less bereft of the knowledge of the subcontinent's history. In all probability, no Indian above the age of 40 must have participated in that poll conducted by CNN-IBN.

However, there is one confusion that the TOI wanted its readers to sort out. That was: "... more than two-thirds of the respondents said Kashmir should not be allowed to secede from the Indian Union even if the people there wish to do so. This finding did not quite square up with the other finding that said 30% were willing to let Kashmir go if the costs were frightfully high. What does this mean? At one level, it indicates that what was simply not thinkable until now — whether Kashmir could secede from the Indian Union or not — has possibly become a matter of debate, even if it is within a small section of our urban society. It also indicates the thinking on Kashmir is anything but clear — perhaps the reason why the responses to two similar questions don't quite tally." Not quite.

You don't want to give me something that you think is bad for me, yourself and society while I think is good for all. So you refuse and I keep insisting. After six decades of my insistence, you start mulling over my demand. This is a simple psychological game. Big deal! For heaven's sake, recall Paul Joseph Goebbels.

That you feel drained out and tired of a problem that concerns the whole of India cannot be the reason for the rest of India to give up. India is not tired of trying to make Kashmiri Muslims see reason. We cannot let the world conclude that the effort for reconciliation is a weak force devoid of conviction, which must eventually yield to the belligerent demand for separation.

Sandeep said...

what itches me most is the "one-sided" way of thinking. Of course no Indian would like to give away Kashmir but how many would "actually" fight for it. I wonder how many of them will actually go and fight for Kashmir. They even fear to be tourists there! I don't believe in any survey based on these spineless cowards.

As i have repeatedly said earlier, this is a fight based on religion. It will never end if status quo is maintained on religious lines. Arent we behaving like fundamentalist Pakistan in this manner?

Solution lies in involving economies into this game. Economic loss can stop any war. Make Kashmir an economic hub for both countries. Until Indian Army stays in Kashmir, Fundamentalists can only demand separate state but can never achieve it. But Fundamentalism isn't an answer to the same. What army maintained for more than 50 years, was destroyed by Hindu fundamentalists within few days. Pakistan is a live example about what can fundamentalism do to a country. Do we want the same for India?

Whatever has happened in past had its own merits and demerits. But whats the use of crying on split milk?

What lies ahead of us is the future. India 2020. Should we approach it fighting, or should we approach it finding solutions. Also, i must remind that finding solutions involve taking into account valid grievances so that other party also feels that we are serious. One cannot boss around all the time and find solutions.

Surajit Dasgupta said...

Sorry Sandeep, you are mixing the wrong parts of the issue here. The status quo is not religion-based. It is the proposed separation that would be religion-based. If your solution is "economics", Article 370 is a massive bundle of economic sops and give-aways. Kashmiris buy everything they need at a fraction of the price that the remaining Indians have to shell out to buy the same. A Kashmiri can buy immobile property anywhere in India but remaining Indians cannot buy the same in Jammu & Kashmir. For other privileges enjoyed by Kashmiris, refer to the contents of the article in the appendices.

As for your statement, "I wonder how many of them (ordinary Indians) will actually go and fight for Kashmir", that's never a civilian's job in any country. Are common Chinese people fighting the Muslim fanatics in the Xinjiang province? Did ordinary Russians go to fight in Chechnya? Did civilian Britons or Spanish people hunt and capture the masterminds behind the bombings in their trains? Do the French from all parts of France march to the ghettos of Marseille to fight troublesome immigrants from north Africa? And when you talk of tourists, Europeans are the most scared lot. All those countries revel in issuing advisories from their respective embassies to tourists, warning them to return from or not visit a 'troubled region', the moment a frog sneezes in Asia.

"Solution lies in involving economies into this game. Economic loss can stop any war. Make Kashmir an economic hub for both countries."

You are contradicting yourself. The above statement suggests that you presume Pakistanis/Kashmiri Muslims are rational people. Right in the previous paragraph, however, you called Pakistan "fundamentalist". Does a combined study of the state of Pakistan's economy, politics and defence in any way suggest to you that our western neighbour is driven by rationality? Just in case you don't know, let me tell you and remind others of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's (in)famous rhetoric: “We are engaged in a thousand year war with India, and Pakistan will never rest and we have to win this war and build the atomic bomb even if we have to eat grass.”

And you expect such a people to see the reason that you see (economics)? What terrific economics! “Eating grass” for “building atomic bombs”! Indeed, Pakistanis were forced to eat grass virtually after they overlooked economics to conduct the (already tested, illegally imported) atomic devices in the Chagai Hills to outsmart India’s Pokhran II.

Economics as an essential part of bilateral strategy works with sensible competitors like China. It doesn’t work with Pakistan, a society that itches for brawn at the cost of brain (and stomach).

What army maintained for more than 50 years, was destroyed by Hindu fundamentalists within few days

It’s very convenient to club every religion as a bunch and claim oneself to be ‘neutral’. Explain why it was illegitimate of Jammu to erupt after 60 years of the Centre’s giving preferential treatment to Kashmir? Explain how the demography of the valley changes by a land transfer act that is applicable only for two months every year?

The term “fundamentalism” refers to the rigidity about the scriptures being the last word in every aspect of society. Where does such a thing figure in the Jammu & Kashmir imbroglio? In fact, Kashmir’s demand is religion-based; Jammu’s demand is political (Muslim politicians from the Jammu region support the land-for-shrine demand). No established Muslim organisation or institution in India has come out either in support of Kashmiri Muslims’ demand or in opposition of Jammu’s stand. Had Jammu’s stand been pro-Hindu and anti-Muslim, Islamic institutions would not have stayed quiet.

What lies ahead of us is the future. India 2020. Should we approach it fighting, or should we approach it finding solutions.

They are not mutually exclusive domains. We will fight our way to a solution. A ‘give up’ approach will make India look like Europe by 2020 — with some countries’ smaller than some of our largest cities. Both married couples and married societies spilt impatiently in the West. If divorce isn’t a solution in Indian families, nor can disintegration be so in the Indian society. However, the ‘Indian’ way that the Indians should certainly discard is keeping the marriage intact and constantly bickering at the same time.

Sandeep said...

I am not surprised again. Its again the blame game.

To every argument, one can blame somebody else and say that "look they do this way, how can you expect me to follow rationality then".

Its not difficult to conclude that this way of approaching solutions have manufactured present problems all over the word. Similar kind of argument (which has been mentioned above) can be heard from Israelis and Palistanians, Srilankans and Tamilians, Afghanistanis and pakistanis, Georgians and Russians etc. You name it and you find numerous example. This kind of approach is the root cause of problems.

Also about personal involvement in problem solving, I believe thats a "moral" duty because its so easy to be an arm-chair philosopher. (Now at this point, it can be argued that how can you ask us to behave morally if other side is immoral). Bhutto's philosophy will co-exist with rationality in Pakistan. Its the matter of using the right one. Using Bhutto's excuses, India can fight a real 1000 year battle of proxy war.

I must also emphasize that pre-cold war era saw foreign policies whose basic necessity was to keep their neighbor weak. Almost every country (including India) assisting in destabalizing neighbours. But this has changed in post-cold war era. In fact this has reversed. EU is the best example. You do business with neighbors and both prosper. Also, "there will never be perfect neighbors". One has to live with that. many of EU countries had mutual hostilities. There are ongoing territorial disputes between Sweden, Norway and Denmark. But whats the solution: To maintain hostilities or to make business anyway. making business has one profitable advantage that disputes dies with that generation.

The solutions are the "ways to end conflicts and achieve co-existing peace and harmony". Digging up bad memories can only fuel conflicts.

Any kind of preferential treatment to anyone, seeds a conflict. Its quite easy to understand that these issues have been sown by politicians to "divide and rule". What do we want, be divided? Also, unification by "bossing" will also not be a unification as it will have a color of "preferential treatment". Then somebody else from other side will repeat the last post, but with a different "tag".

Perhaps Surjeet fails to appreciate that Pakistan is a better market than China. Its just the matter of maintaining hostilities in "Bhutto mode aka BJP/VHP mode" or living rationally. Choice is ours.

World laugh at us when we fight on petty things like this and still most of us dont feel the shame!

Surajit Dasgupta said...

It’s good to be neutral. But on rare occasions when there is a battle between neutrality and truth, you must choose the latter. For, when you consciously keep a count of how many praises and abuses you are showering on either side in a dispute, and deliberately make them equal in each case, you are overlooking the fact that the two sides may not be right or wrong similarly, identically or equally.

This is the oversight Sandeep is suffering from. When he says a thing against Pakistan, he feels compelled to follow it with a thing against India, lest he be accused of bias. However, this attempt makes every first accusation of his have a greater probability of being true and his counter-blame a desperate imposition, which is sometimes true and more often than not false. This line of thinking dictates that if you must judge a case of murder, accuse the murdered as much as you have accused the murderer! The comparison of ZA Bhutto’s dispensation with (AB Vajpayee’s or) the BJP’s is one such glaring example that would make any politically conscious Indian roll on the floor laughing.

Perhaps the author of this ‘balancing’ act does not know that the leaders of Kashmir’s separatist Hurriyat Conference overwhelmingly prefer Vajpayee to the present incumbent in the prime minister’s office, Manmohan Singh. From Mirwaiz Omer Farooq to the National Conference leader who swears by India, Omar Abdullah, no Kashmiri Muslim worth his salt tires of paying glowing tributes to the efforts of the peace process between India and Pakistan and the negotiations with the APHC that the former prime minister had started. And they all say Singh has not moved the process an inch further after Vajpayee’s departure.

But I am not surprised. Decades of watching and listening to the BBC and reading Le Monde has convinced me that this is an incorrigible European way of looking at distant lands and peoples. Let me be more American — recall former US president Bill Clinton’s intervention during the Kargil War — and let me not shy from taking a stand and call the guilty by name. Let me also not call the colour grey; let me discern which component thereof is white and which is black.

“Hindu fundamentalist”? The VHP? Yes, most certainly. The BJP? Yes and no, both. Yes, because it spares a thought for Hindus. No, because it speaks for Hindus when it is convenient. Yes, because it is boisterous in opposition (from demanding construction of Ram Janmabhoomi temple to ouster of Coca Cola). No, because it is meek when in power (from not getting Ram Janmabhoomi temple constructed to assuring Coca Cola that it is safe right on the day after assuming office). So, if the BJP is “fundamentalist”, what are its fundamentals?

Nevertheless, shooting the messenger is not delivering justice. Much as the BJP may be an opportunistic party, its demands for repealing of Article 370 and the establishment of a Uniform Civil Code are totally justified. The BJP asks for the same set of laws for all states of the Union of India. The Congress and the left ask for preferential treatment to Jammu & Kashmir. Yet, the BJP is ‘sectarian’ or ‘parochial’ and the Congress and the left are ‘egalitarian’! The BJP asks for the same set of laws for all citizens of India. The Congress and the left ask for discriminatory treatment to followers of different religions. Yet, the BJP is ‘communal’ and the Congress and the left are ‘secular’! There cannot be a greater travesty of justice. There cannot be a greater political tragicomedy.

Drawing analogy with the respective disputes between Israelis and Palestinians, Sinhalese and Sri Lankan Tamils, Afghans and Pakistanis, Georgians and Russians, etc is another example of lack of research. All these disputes clearly involve two parties each. The India-Pakistan dispute has a third party — Kashmir — though India calls the dispute over Jammu & Kashmir a “bilateral issue”. Again, not all these cases emanate from differences in ethnicity and religion. The current standoff between Russia and Georgia is entirely political. Some Indian Tamil parties are more enthusiastic to press for a Tamil “Eelam” in Sri Lanka than the Sri Lankan Tamils (barring the likes of the LTTE). Anyway, this is a question of two language-driven cultures’ clash of identities and political rights. Afghans and Pakistanis follow the same religion. This strife again is political. Overall, the comparison of any of these sets of two countries or a country and a community therein with the Kashmir dispute is like comparing chalk and cheese.

I must also emphasize that pre-cold war era saw foreign policies whose basic necessity was to keep their neighbor weak. Almost every country (including India) assisting in destabalizing neighbours.

This is another of Sandeep’s superficial blanket statements. From the 1947-48 invasion by Pakistan’s tribal population to the 1965 and 1971 wars to acts of terrorism in India sponsored by Pakistan, in no instance has India been the aggressor. The older generation may refer to the UN’s documents and the younger generation may refer to Wikipedia for evidence in neutral publications.

Contrary to the above accusation, India was living a Nehruvian legacy during the Cold War, being perhaps the most enthusiastic member of the Non-Aligned Movement. India had no need to destabilise Pakistan; the latter’s raison d’être — obsession with India and hatred for it — and the culture of bellicosity it imbibed through its history of over 60 years was suicidal enough.

The next issue raised is an urge to draw ‘inspiration’ from the European Union. This is again a very different case. The EU emerged more out of the urge to beat the US economically rather than out of a sense of mutual affinity and unity among Europeans. To the extent of developing a strong currency, they have succeeded. But it is still spine-breaking for eastern Europe’s weak economies to do business using the medium of a super-expensive euro. Britain is still dealing with the pound-sterling, keeping a safe distance from the currency common to the rest of Europe. And, in all, Europe is still far behind the US in science and technology and university education system. Militarily too, most smaller European countries, under the NATO umbrella, play second fiddle to Britain, France and Germany when their delegates meet at conferences, with hardly any consciousness of their respective nations’ status as a world player. From Switzerland to Bosnia, these postcard beauties cannot be India’s role models. Despite India’s host of domestic problems including poverty, on any international stage what an Indian prime minister says carries a lot more weight than what the president or chancellor of a twenty-five-square-kilometre country mumbles.

As far as doing business with neighbours despite territorial disputes is concerned, we have our own example. There is a major border dispute with China ranging from the easternmost tip of Arunachal Pradesh to the northern area of Aksai Chin in Ladakh. But unlike the scene across the LoC with Pakistan, there are no frequent skirmishes with Chinese troops across the LoAC or McMohan Line. There is no hatred for or apprehension about China in the minds of ordinary Indians nor do the Chinese hate Indians or are unsure of our intentions. Better still, despite the fact that Bangladesh Army is no match for India’s, India has never used force to recapture the several square kilometres of land the BDR has usurped by advancing its posts along the international border. The only act of hegemony that India indulged in, in recent history, was flying off food and relief items by a cargo plane escorted by four Mirage jets to Sri Lanka during Rajiv Gandhi’s era and the subsequent sending of the IPKF to that country to serve no profound purpose other than flexing muscles.

As for doing business, India is the most happening place in the world after China. Every country, except those who are not interested in doing business with anybody, is doing business with us. Whether it is travel on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad route or conferring the status of “Most Preferred Nation” for bilateral trade, everything hangs up only when Islamabad refuses to do business. Sandeep, you must know that India treats Pakistan as an MFN, giving it special privileges in trade, but for Pakistan, India is not an MFN. Read SAARC’s history and the present. Read about the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline. Read about the reconstruction works in Afghanistan by Indian engineers. Find out the present status of each of these projects, and ascertain where exactly each of these programmes are stuck and for the fault of which country.

Ever heard of any Indian circulating fake Pakistani rupees in Pakistan? Ever read about any terrorist caught in Pakistan with a rifle that sports a “Made in India” tag? Ever saw the photograph of a RSS-brand pathshala training mercenaries to be infiltrated into Pakistan? ‘Neutrality’ and ‘balance’ have made your arguments funny: You hurl 10 abuses at India only because a moment ago you hurled 10 abuses at Pakistan!

It’s good that you think “any kind of preferential treatment to anyone, seeds a conflict”. Yet you are surprisingly silent on Article 370. You say “unification by ‘bossing’ will also not be (real) unification”, but dodge the issue of economics you had raised in the previous post. If I buy rice at Rs 30 a kilo and give it to you at Rs 10 a kilo, and you call this my “bossing”; if you can live in my state but I cannot live in yours, and you call this my “bossing”, everybody in this world would love to have a ‘boss’ like me, I guess.

The world is not laughing at us. Perhaps some retired or unemployed citizens of some 20-acre European countries, sitting in a community club sipping Bourgogne in a lazy afternoon, are. If we bother about their sniggers, tomorrow we will be reduced to their inconsequential size and status.

Sandeep said...

I do not wonder to confuse my arguments with neutrality :) for i don't need to polish anybody intellectual capabilities. People conclude according to their convenience but "universe does not care for your convenience".

The problem with most people is they are in "battle" mode for fake purposes and most often its those who would run away when they would be needed for a real battle. This is why i said "i wonder how many of them will actually fight for what they say here".

People who make wars never fight it and those who fight them, never made it.

Also, i must clarify from the beginning that my views are not inspired by collective principles so i do not care for balancing the viewpoints. I simply reason out facts. Most importantly, being a man of science, its most important for me to judge things unbiased and hence be true. I would recommend that readers must see the movie "12 angry men" to understand this viewpoint. Or you can see its copied Hindi version "ek ruka hua faisla". This is the way we scientist approach any problem and we feel equally comfortable in dealing with people in general.

I wont go into a separate debate about whether BJP is fundamentalist or not (that will deviate the purpose of discussion) but i believe that fundamentalism starts from one-sided way of thinking which comes up as actions much later. Its not difficult to find this pattern within this discussion.

A blunder of the order of magnitude much higher than everest [:)] can be seen when one fails to identify the similarity between conflicts all over the world. Whats so hard to see the symmetry of the pattern. There are always two or more than two sides fighting for irrationalities of their own. They fuel their ambitions using propagandas. Every side projects thats justice flows from its ends whereas actually both sides behave the same fundamentalist way. This way, its not difficult to see similarities amongst the conflicts all around the world. Is it?

Let me share you a funny aspect of this issues. Most often (except for few cases) Indians, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis living in other countries, never had any conflict. Most often they are friends which extends to many generations. In fact people wonder seeing that their countries fight each other. Can you people decode why they fight only in their respective countries? I hope that you can!

It is so easy to start accusations and start a fight, it requires a touch of sanity to stop the fight.

I think i must finally clarify the concept of "doodh ka dhula" India. Its part of International politics to do dirty business. LTTE is just one example. There are many which have never been disclosed to save the "good image". But it is part of the business (at least according to present international standards if politics!)

Patriotism does not mean hating others. It actually means appreciating the good we have and at the same time, improving the wrong-doings.

Unpleasant blame game continues. This forbids us to have any conclusion what-so-ever and hence it will only fuel the present conflict.

Surajit Dasgupta said...

Interestingly, Sandeep, for the very reason that you have quoted -- that you are a student of science (and so am I) -- I expected some research stuff from you. But alas! "Most cases are 'x'; therefore, this case cannot be 'y'" is the best argument you could come up with.

Nirmal said...

We're still talking in the air. I've still not seen one good reason as seen in today's context, let me emphasise Today's Context, why Indians shouldn't let Kashmir secede. We talk about integral parts, security on the international community (no less!), emotional issues, historical issues but nothing that matters on the ground.
Its as simple as this. Many Kashmiris want to secede. Arguably its their loss. But who are we to decide for them?

India is a federation of tightly coupled states. But it remains a federation. If a member wants to secede, we can at best try to convince them otherwise. I saw someone appreciating Chinese methods of keeping territorial integrity. If that is the only way that India's territorial integrity can be managed, what's the use? I also saw someone advice economic integration. Economic integration should be natural not a matter of policy to make a region an economic slave. A combination of Chinese methods and economic slavery was what the British used to keep India a colony. That's what Kashmir is, a colony but one with no visible benefits.
I see a definite bias toward India on Surajit's part. I'm assuming you're not naive enough to assume that India isn't exactly above propaganda, military excesses and misleading the public.

What Sandip says is true. And when he juxtaposes something what Pak did with what India did, he is essentially right, though he is a little off in terms of magnitude. The raison d'etre of pakistani foreign policy is India and Kashmir. But India's highfalutin doesn't mean Pak plays a lowly role in our foreign or domestic policy. Its just that we have other priorities.

Let me also remind people that the "western" way is not because its the "west" and they're some kind of aliens. Its simply the way a people will be after 800 years of maturing democracy, debate, handling xenophobia, wars, integration, competition, free markets etc. etc. The way the west is, is because its been through all that. So if Belgium is smaller than the Ruhr area, its because its evolved that way. We will one day have a mumbai-pune region larger than mizoram and a chennai-hosur-b'lore region larger than haryana. So what? There's no "Indian" way if we choose to be a democracy. All democracies are essentially the same.

Surajit Dasgupta said...

This is a much better premise to argue for or against. Indeed, these were the thoughts that did occur to me while presenting my arguments. To do justice to the line of debate Nirmal pursues, however, would mean that I shall have to take it to its logical extreme. I’ll begin by addressing Nirmal’s last paragraph.

Are we finally looking at a distant future where there are as many countries in the world as there are human individuals in it? After all, given that our species is as selfish as any other, reasons to separate will remain, howsoever small the set-up we are in. To that extent, I do not see a difference between a marriage ending in divorce (in one's personal life) and a nation disintegrating (in a nation's political scene). Now, if that is the extent of individualism you advocate, you should encourage every talk of difference/division that the likes of the VHP (your constant irritant) blurt out.

In this context, of course, I seriously advocate the cessation of all countries. Call it God or nature, He/it only made mountains, plains, plateaus, deserts, rivers, seas, etc. National boundaries are an artificial construct. Let us live like wild animals, then. To begin with, let’s repeal the international system of passports and visas.

As for the bias apparent in my arguments, I couldn't help it. I placed facts the way they arrived to me. Yes, it is naïve to think India wouldn't resort to propaganda, come what may. But look at the gaping holes in its propaganda machinery. If India were a serious propagandist, these holes would not exist. In support of my stand on this particular aspect of the issue, I provided facts relating to both broadcasting and mobile telephony. Neither Sandeep nor Nirmal has so far come up with counter-data from the same fields.

Next point: Pakistan cannot be absolutely inconsequential in India's foreign policy for the simple reason of self-defence. Do note that India's Pakistan-specific actions are all reactions to Pakistan's India-specific steps. Most importantly, a fundamentalist, effectively mono-religionist country and a secular, multicultural one cannot be equated. Any effort to equate the two countries/cultures is only to acquire the status/recognition of an ‘unbiased’ observer. That is the basic flaw in the distant/European way of judging an Indo-Pak scenario. An added compulsion to forge this deliberate and desperate equation is the presence of massive Muslim populations/electorates in those countries that have but negligible Hindu presence (barring the UK).

The problem with the mindset of ‘neutrality’ is a wrong understanding of the definition of “impartiality”. I am biased in India’s favour if I am hiding its flaws while revealing those of Pakistan. Am I? Tell me then, instead of gross generalisations, what India’s unethical — not political harebrained — behaviours have been in the past. Give me specific instances. Human rights violations by the Indian Army? I do not deny that. At the same time, I must rubbish the stand of the likes of Amnesty International that pleads that it is only the day after you take to the gun that you get the recognition of being ‘human’. If you are a law-abiding citizen, who can turn into a victim of terrorists any day, you are cannon fodder. Neither the government nor any bleeding-heart NGO will ever fight for you. If anybody will, it is the only apolitical institution that has a spine — the Indian Army.

À propos:

If this discussion is supposed to head towards finding a solution to the Kashmir crisis, study the case of Punjab. Punjabi Sikhs mellowed finally because their existence all over India made it difficult for them to feel alienated completely from this country. Kashmiris should have a stake in India beyond the autumnal appearance of shawl-sellers in our neighbourhoods every year. It all starts from how you feel, based on where you are and for how long. For all practical purposes, Article 370 blocks even the flow of thoughts of a Kashmiri Muslim. That is the root cause of the problem. Remove it.


When I was a teenager, I used to dream of a government policy wherein a sizeable section of every state’s administrative cadre would be transferred to a state not of his/her origin to be posted there for at least a decade. This would result in a tremendous exercise in familiarisation. That would, in turn, remove the apprehension every Indian has about distant Indians. That apprehension, in turn, causes suspicion and, finally, the spark of violence at the slightest provocation.

The public sector has, however, shrunk drastically in the last two decades. The above policy will only have a marginal effect. But we may not have missed the bus. We can still catch it with a public-private partnership.

Sandeep said...

This is really going hilarious. Nirmal mentioned quite sensibly whats wrong in the argument of Surajit.

We can see "partial behavior" clearly.

I also mentioned previously that this "partial attitude" kills the whole purpose of finding a solution and in facts it is the main reason for maintaining the hostilities. Same kind of partial behavior can be seen from other side and war never ends with each side proclaiming them self to be "pure". Opposite of partiality is "non-partiality" and not "neutrality" as most people often accuse. Neutrality is maintained by intellectually impotent persons.

Also he mentions Punjab. It was united by force (1, 2). In fact force was the only option to quell terrorism in Punjab. But what made the situation go worse? What made Punjabis seek independence? I hope asking these questions wont hurt our Nationalism! It should not.

The important point which i want to emphasize here is that "what makes situation worse enough to be seperate". Partial behavior.

We all have differences. So we have two options. Fight each other or (making a saner option) living cohesively while understanding that actually these differences are minor things compared to major necessities of human life. Best way to adopt second option is to concentrate on others rational part rather than concentrating on ways to flare up differences. Choice is always ours.

Being an individualist, article 370 irks me the most since its a idol of partial behaviorism. Its inclusion into constitution (just like reservation) was necessity of that time but later it became a political tool. Its quite obvious conclusion. (now i can play a blame game very easily here demanding all other "partial" amendments to be removed first. i hope you get the point which essential features to highlight the flaw in thinking pattern)

The best way to maintain hostilities is to highlight each others flaws. Read the previous posts and you will find it not difficult enough to gather sufficient "research" on this topic.

As i proposed that conflicts can be diluted with passing generations (3). The hatred of partition related violence on both sides cannot be found anymore amongst the young ones of those families. It could have been diluted had we played a sane game. We still have time.

Any solution cannot be bossed upon. It can only be found out by by understanding the real cause "impartially". "Main Bada aur Tu Chota" type of starting can never lead to a solution.

1. http://www.hrw.org/campaigns/kashmir/1994/kashmir94-03.htm
2. http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/jaskaran/
3. Aging, time perspective, and preferred solutions to international conflicts
Gergen and Back Journal of Conflict Resolution.1965; 9: 177-186

Chaitali said...

I am not quite able to understand Sandeep's stand. While you advocate "peaceful coexistence", you at the same time would be okay with the cessation of Kashmir. But do you realize that it is much easier to give very "neutral" statements than to come up with something that states your stand categorically?

Kashmir belongs to India at present and therefore, India has a right over it (at least of now). There are factions within the state that demand autonomy but then others want to be with India. If it is a question of making a democratic choice, Kashmir should be allowed autonomy. If it is a question of national interest, it should not. You just cannot do away with a state because it has problems. When Punjab wanted to become autonomous, it had its own justifications. However, Punjab is still a part of India (and happily so). Such might be the case with Kashmir. But only time will tell. As far as national integration is concerned, there needs to be efforts from both sides. Feeling and imagining alienation does not help. Maybe all Kashmir needs to do is try the integration bit with a little more and see where it goes. For once, they need to look at the benefits that they are given as well, in addition to the woes that they have against their "foster parent".

After all, you will realize that the life of a state is a little more than about having each whim fulfilled.

Surajit Dasgupta said...

Thank you, Sandeep. By hurriedly uploading the URL to the Human Rights Watch website (most probably without reading it), you have helped my cause rather than yours. The HRW site has one point against the Government of India and several against Punjab's (erstwhile) militants, viz.,

I. Instance against GOI:
1. "Abuses by Indian Government Forces"
II. Instances against Punjab's militants:
1. "Abuses by Militants"
2. "Random Attacks on Civilians in Public Places"
3. "Targeting the Hindu population"
4. "Bus and Train Attacks"
5. "Election-Related Violence"
6. "Attacks on Public Figures, Government Officials, and Religious Leaders"
7. "Attacks on Journalists"
8. "Attacks on Families of Police"
9. "Use of Religious Sites As Military Strongholds"
9. "Role of Weapons in Abuses by Militants"

I stand vindicated.

Nonetheless, Human Rights Watch's count of abuses on the part of each party to the dispute is not the basis of my argument. The biggest culprit for the revolt in Punjab was Indira Gandhi's crooked politics of using militants as tools to get even with her professional rivals. The second party to blame is the Akali Dal. But for its fundamentalist politics, which the non-Sikh population of the region could not live with, Punjab could today have been a much larger state comprising Haryana and Himachal Pradesh as well.

And the funniest argument post-Operation Bluestar by Sikh fundamentalists (including avowed agnostic Khushwant Singh) was the claim that the army's entrance into the Golden Temple amounted to desecration of the shrine and insult to the faith. Did they not mean as a corollary that the entrance of armed terrorists in the sanctum sanctorum, prior to the army action, had made the shrine many times purer (and enhanced the prestige of Sikhism)?

As the motto of this blog is "every truth is printable", let me not shy away from stating another hard fact that is politically incorrect. Militancy in Punjab ended because Sikhism is part of the Hindu culture whereas Islam is not. Till the time of their ninth Guru, Sikhs were nothing other than Punjabi Hindus learning spirituality anew and fighting social evils under the tutelage of Guru Nanak and his successors. Even under Guru Gobind Singh, Sikhs were distinguishable only by their attire. For your information, the eldest son from every Hindu household in Punjab used to join the Sikh fold only to pledge (symbolically) to protect the local population from the atrocities perpetrated by the soldiers of Delhi-based Muslim rulers. Some Sikhs may disagree that they are Hindus but no one can deny this shared legacy. Had Muslims shared a similar history with Hindus, their Kashmiri brethren could never have thrown out the Pandits from the valley. Even if they had done so in the heat of the moment, they would have welcomed the Pandits' homecoming once tempers cooled down (as it happened in Punjab where many Hindu families who had fled the state during militancy returned after the restoration of normalcy).

Brute police force unleashed by KPS Gill's men did play a role, but it was restricted to breaking the back of militancy. The real victory was winning over the hearts of the disillusioned Sikh population. That victory is complete. You must live in the region between north-western Uttar Pradesh and Punjab to feel the extent of warmth and fellow-feeling between Hindu and Sikh inhabitants. The best example of Hindu-Sikh harmony is perhaps the fact that a Hindu and a Sikh can marry and get both social and legal sanction for the union. A Hindu-Muslim marriage is still, unfortunately, irreligious according to Islam, repulsive according to most Hindus and illegal according to the law of the land (even the Special Marriage Act does not cover it).

Kashmiriyat, I would say, is an overrated culture. Had it been strong enough, Kashmir would have been an exception to the Indian social norm described above.

Anyway, a Hindu lecturing Muslims will not help. But as a Hindu I can do my part by celebrating the marriage of any of my family members with a Muslim, should such a thing ever happen in the future. It is a sham in the name of Hindu tolerance when we see a Muslim finding it difficult to get a house on rent in a Hindu-dominated neighbourhood. If you cannot rent a house to a Muslim, how can you get your son or daughter married to a Muslim? This is where the mask of Hindu 'broad-mindedness' peels off.

I stress on marriage so much for I consider it the best unifier, far more potent than any political action from the Raisina Hills. India will finally be one when inter-caste and inter-religion marriages become the norm rather than sporadic exceptions.

Finally, I would go back to the proposal in my last comment. In the next 10 years if it can be ensured that about 25%-30% of graduates from the University of Kashmir and other Kashmiri educational institutions are gainfully employed all over India, earning salaries unthinkable in the valley, Kashmir's Muslims will see more reason to stay on with India. If we see so many Kauls, Dars, Hingoos, Handoos, Kachrus, Kappus, etc amidst us in our neighbourhoods and offices, why don't we see a single Butt, Lone or Geelani rubbing shoulders with us in any profession in the India outside the Kashmir valley?

Let a Butt know Gujarat. Let him work in Reliance's Jamnagar factory. Is Mukesh Ambani listening? Let a Lone know West Bengal. HCL Infosystems is setting shops in the state. Is Shiv Nadar listening? Let a Geelani know Maharashtra. Let him work in Tata Motors' Mumbai office. Is Ratan Tata listening?

No talk of a national employment and placement policy can end without the mention of the Indian Railways, the country's largest employer. Lalu Prasad Yadav, instead of clowning around employing an Osama bin Laden-lookalike to campaign for his election, may well mull over employing Kashmir's Muslims in the railways.

Send Kashmir to India. When Kashmir knows India, it will want to live with India.

Sandeep said...

The link was not an "ignorant mistake", instead it was a deliberate trap. Now you can see how you selectively focused on particular issues. Do i get my point clear here.

The problem is what goes into your posts. Partial behavior. I hope i am becoming clear now.

Surajit Dasgupta said...

Not really. If the ratio must be 1:9 (1 point against India and 9 against its detractors), my ratio was much less 'biased'. I did mention India's hegemony in Sri Lanka. If there have been more mistakes this country has committed, I would like to know them from a 'non-partial' ('impartial') source like you. As for me, I have been following political news since the early 1980s, pre-dating the Internet; I know what to look for in Google. They say copying during an examination should be allowed by the authorities; for, he who hasn't studied the whole year wouldn't know which part of the book is to be referred to for the answers. Wink! Wink!

Sandeep said...


I agree with the concept of inter-caste, inter-religion marriage as a unifier. It is in fact the only unifier as i see.

But i would oppose any reservation for Kashmiri in any job, be it public or private. Instead would advocate for more public-private partnership in Kashmir based industry. The private money can flow from Indian companies and i could see a good profit sharing in this concept.

"Militancy in Punjab ended because Sikhism is part of the Hindu culture whereas Islam is not."

unless these comments exists, partial behavior will exist. This very idea is "seed" to most of the partial behavior. Sadly this is the most popular opinion of our times. We would need to change this if we want to solve conflicts instead of fueling them.

If culture is defined this way, then lets redefine it on rationality instead. Lets abandon old ideas and make a new beginning where we don't give a damn to any irrational idea (religion, caste or anything which divides). Until we do that "partiality" will exist and we can only claim to solve problem by "force".

Brute force is a sign of intellectual impotence (we say this when we ask students to make computer programs but its equally applicable here)

please refer to the previous post about "neutrality" and "impartial" behaviour. I hope that will clear my stand.

Surajit Dasgupta said...

1. The idea I mooted has nothing to do with reservation. It is less about recruiting and more about placing strategically those who have already been recruited in various jobs (inside the Kashmir valley). As such, I am opposed to quotas of all kinds.

While Article 370 ensures that Kashmir's Muslims get preferential treatment in employment within the valley, the natures of work are not as varied as they are in the rest of the country. Hence, they cannot be offered the kind of salaries executives, managers, vice presidents and CEOs get in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, etc. If the monetary benefit of working in India becomes evident to the frustrated youth in Kashmir, they will certainly turn more materialistic and less political.

2. If "... Sikhism is part of the Hindu culture whereas Islam is not" is a "sad" but "popular opinion of our times", explain why it is an "opinion" and not a fact? Don't you know of the historical flow of events of the Abrahamic faiths in the deserts of the Middle East and those of the Indic faiths in the jungles of this country?

I must clarify here, however, that I do not say something similar about Indian Christians despite their West Asian roots. For, religion has become secondary for both Christians and Hindus in modern India; this applies even to the believers in the two faiths (Let me cease this opportunity to vehemently condemn the VHP’s attacks on Christians in Orissa; even by the farthest stretch of our imagination, Christianity is in no way a threat to Hinduism). However, obsession with religion — and the propensity seen in religious lectures to constantly compare Islam with Hinduism and project the former in better light by the likes of Zakir Naik — is the mark of most Islamic societies including the one in India. Worse, every other day, Muslims raise an issue that no other community considers worth getting agitated about, thus getting alienated from the mainstream further. For one, if singing "Vande Mataram" was objectionable for Muslims, why wasn't it so for Christians? What impression does the world get about the community when a woman raped by her father-in-law is forced to accept that the rapist, by virtue of the rape, has become the rapist's de facto wife? Why does a Muslim clergy call the exposed parts of a woman's body "uncovered meat"? Why did the naqaab and the hijaab become a national issue in the UK? Why does Islam look so cynically to all cultures outside the Middle East that they have something to raise their voices for, every alternate day, everywhere in the world? This penchant for sparking off protests with the drop of a hat is what irritates everybody. It seems as if all non-Muslims — both citizens and governments — have to be constantly on the guard so as not to commit something that could be termed as "un-Islamic" the next morning. Because it is irrational for all non-Muslims to conceive that something so exhaustive could be written in the 7th century that it is equipped to pre-empt hundreds of developments that would unfold in the next 1,400 years and all times to come!

When you say, "let's abandon old ideas and make a new beginning where we don't give a damn to any irrational idea (religion, caste or anything which divides)," remember, today atheists and agnostics are allowed to co-exist with believers in practically all religions in the world except one. No Muslim anywhere in the world can accept your profound philosophy and dare say his faith is "irrational" and escape ostracism (if not more severe persecution).

The problem is — blind atheists are not expected to know this — Islam is indeed more rational than many other religions. That is what emboldens the theologians in the fold. Debating religion with a Muslim is as difficult as debating politics with a communist. Both are well read, as far as the knowledge of the Qur'an and Das Capital are concerned, and both are constantly trained to debate in their respective workshops. Neither democrats nor non-Muslims, in general, have this advantage of institutional backing.

Anyway, back to the topic of rationality, I have no problem in admitting that the teachings of Mohammed were far more advanced than those of Moses and Jesus. Islam tells a story of human being's intellectual evolution. So far, so good! The problem starts when it says, "So far and no further!" by terming Mohammed as the "Last Prophet". “Let’s redefine it (culture) on rationality,” you have surmised. So tell me, if a group of people is adamant that you cannot go beyond a certain personality in history, despite all human discoveries after his death, where is the room left for rationality?

What is more tricky, the problem does not end even if all non-Muslims agree that the Qur'an is the ultimate. For, the Qur'an was hardly the problem. Have you ever entered a debate with Muslims on rationality? This is what always happens in such debates: no matter what problem you cite concerning their society, they, dodging the current affair being discussed, move tangentially to cite their scriptures and repeat ad nauseam that the Qur'an is the ultimate! If you mention the likes of Al Qaidah and the Taliban, a law-abiding Muslim will say, "They are not true Muslims." Now, how many Muslims will you keep disowning as 'untrue Muslims'? If they are so 'untrue' — hence, 'unpopular' among true Muslims, one presumes — why is their movement spreading all over the world like wildfire?

“Brute force is a sign of intellectual impotence,” I agree. Unfortunately, however, you are delivering the speech in the wrong auditorium.

We cannot discuss the present in vacuum. It exists as a follow up of the past. Besides, calling the bygone era horrid is mere lecturing. We know not many people read “The Speaking Tree” column in The Times Of India. Those who do, don’t follow it in life. Give practicable solutions.

And yes, the so-called unbeliever rationalists are not perfect either. Some day sooner rather than later, I will produce an article — a counteract to “Agents of God” — covering a gamut of scandals involving world-famous atheists. The 'rationalist' brigade's holier-than-thou attitude must end.

PS: I made this comment generalised because my opponents are not comfortable with specifics. But I would prefer to get back to a debate based on hard, legal facts.

Surajit Dasgupta said...

A typical debate with a Muslim theologian (Azhar Hawa) —

Click on: Why should Muslims be blamed for terrorism?

It shows that when non-Muslims raise questions on practices (behaviour of the community), Muslims provide clarifications on religious theories (the Qur'an, the Hadith, the Shari'ah). {I ordered an end to the debate when sensed that there was danger of our friendship getting affected}

Sandeep said...

ha ha ha..boy, this debate is getting far more interesting than i thought...

do u realize how much of hatred has been hibernating underground.

Religion has just divided humans. There is no other single idea that has done so much of harm to Huamns (which i use for animals who excercise there right to "think"). Virtually all present human problems (including Kashmir) find its roots in Religion. its just a matter of convenience to blame the "other" party for conflicts then.

Philosophy of religion is same for all of them. They just use different "tags" claiming them self to be superior. Every religion can be reduced to three basic components. A man, A book and lots of blind men to follow.

Now coming to atheism. Let me be very clear here that mere denying the existence of God should not be termed as Atheism because it can still have the "nature of religion as blindly following a concept". Atheism is more about Human right to question and verify each idea himself/herself to the extent of his/her satisfaction. Atheism is more about "verifying by self" than just denying the existence of GOD out of frustration.

People might wonder why we are talking about this in this discussion. Its important because one must understand that the underlining issue is about religion.

India became free as a "free" nation (which it wasn't under British rule). Idea was to create a society where everybody respects each other "truly". Where everybody understands that their nation comes first and then "other things" in life. This is what Gandhi talked about and this is why he was respected and ultimately killed. Because this is not possible in a divided society fueled by religious differences. This is not possible where people have hibernating differences. This is not possible where the first arguments starts with "they don't confirm our way of life so why should we". We's are based on religious/caste lines.

In the wildest of our imagination, if one agrees to remove all Muslims from India (or convert them to Hinduism), India will start fighting for castes. Then even when you divide them according to caste, then they will divide them self up on sub-castes, languages, regions and this will go on. There is no end to division.

Surajit see a Muslim very repulsive to logic. I see the same in him and all hindus/sikhs/christians etc etc. The reason is simple. Its the nature of every religion to base ideas on age old illogical conventions which cannot comply with logic because in old times when these religions were invented by men, they were needed for "uniting" men as sheep for a "kingly" purpose. Logical men would have questioned and then challenged them.

Religion simply converts every logical system to illogical. Indian astronomy became astrology when religion added superstitions to its beautiful mathematics which fundamentalists frequently boast about. How many of them can actually understand the scriptures originally written in sanskrit. Learning sanskrit doesn't pays political leadership over blind men. Similarly religious ceremonies which were ways to gather people to discuss various aspects of life, lost there luster when "authorities" turned them as "compulsory rituals" which one has to follow without questioning. These example are equally applicable to all religions.

As we two mentioned earlier that marriages are great unifier. To avoid this unification and maintain divisions, inter-religious and inter-caste marriages were prohibited. Article 370 bears the same nature.

Whats most important to understand is that "with differences as starting points and hibernating hatred as a source of energy" one cannot solve conflicts ever.

Surajit "researched" well about Christian, Sikh and Islamic faith and quite well highlighted their "flaws". I guess a good research and some words about Hinduism won't be un-nationalist or subscribe to traitorous convictions. Comparing the two researches deeply, one could easily conclude that two "blindmenships" have same nature. They just have different tags.

So much on religion. The root cause of Kashmir problem. I liked the concept of India which spoke of "Oneness". But Oneness cannot be forced. Also Oneness doesn't advocate to loose your own individual identity (the rational one).

I am really sorry for those who feed the hibernating hatred based on religions.

Gods are man made. Religions are man made. If you weren't told constantly since your birth, how would you know which religion you should "follow" and then whom to hate as "kafirs aka adharmi". How long is Hindu past of India when compared to Humanity as a whole? Why does only so called lower oppressed classes of Hindu society convert to "other" religions and Upper class doesn't do anything for them rather than demanding that they convert back and clean their trash?

Also, i must caution that this post is in no way an advertisement for Athiesm. Athiesm, as i explained, has more to do with "question-based-thought process" than "following" and hence advertisements are irrelevant.

Surajit Dasgupta said...

Many people are following this debate. I am worried that this digression could put them off. However, a thing that the following comment will make clear is that I am pitted against an innocent (but, maybe well-intentioned) child. If the onlookers want to bring the debate back on track, they must intervene by writing.

I have a lot of bones to pick from the last comment above. Still, this is one article by Sandeep in which I find several points to agree with, too. But first thing first.

Definition: Sandeep has grossly confused Atheism (antonym of Theism) with Scepticism (philosophy of doubt) and/or Agnosticism (philosophy of uncertainty of the non-matter world, based on insufficient information at human disposal). Whether God exists or not has never been debated conclusively. But Sandeep sounds as if he has adjudicated upon one such world-famous debate and that Atheism won on that stage hands down! The debate between a theist and an atheist is at best one between two blind and deaf men arguing whether or not light and sound exist. In a given restricted atmosphere — all atmospheres are restricted — both or either may or may not exist. In any event, both the answers are speculative.

Otherwise, I agree with Sandeep’s assessment of what any religion essentially is: a dogma.

Analogy: Astrology was a bad example. It has little to do with the religious aspect of Hinduism. In ancient India, we did not have the English legacy of compartmentalised form of academics that we are used to today. Astronomy and astrology were indistinguishable from each other back then. The problem with the latter was that its proponents were incorrigibly lazy. So, today an astrologer knows no more than what his professional ancestor knew a thousand years ago. And it is well known that for a subject to get the respectability of science, R&D is indispensable.

Despite this glaring drawback, astrology, if not successful entirely, was not a complete failure either. Only young adults who read Linda Goodman in college canteens and older adults who read frivolous weekly forecasts in newspapers think that astrology is hogwash. They know no details of stars, planets and their implications on life. I admire The Hindu as an exceptional publication that has stayed away from this popular but worthless pastime. The Bejan Daroowalas of this country are frauds. No part of Bhrigusamhita enables you to predict a person’s life on a weekly basis. Further, unlike what the newspapers’ astrology columns suggest, there cannot be just 12 categories of people in the world. The problem is again with the superficial West. In order to vibe with a burgeoning population of Western educated young people in this country, Occidental astrology’s mainstay — zodiac signs — were made popular in India, though those signs are not that important in Indian astrology.

Yes, astrology is not wholly reliable, I agree. At the same time, it isn’t altogether bogus. You will be closer to the truth in astrology if you have the patience to read reams and reams of paper on which a single star’s — or planet’s — position and its implications are described. When astrologers go wrong it is because (a) they are fakes, not real astrologers, or (b) they pick portions from your horoscope arbitrarily and (c) most importantly, the universe has changed in shape, size and contents, but they have learnt nothing about it anew.

You cannot and should not denounce a subject till you know it inside out.

Motion: There has been no demand of removal of Muslims from India by me in any of my posts. On the contrary, I am a great admirer of several Islamic contributions to Indian culture — chaste Urdu, aristocratic conduct within family and neighbourhood (the celebrated Lucknow culture), use of (Naskh) calligraphy in architecture, fashion in clothing (especially, the salwaar-kameez), etc. India will be much poorer culturally without Muslims. In terms of social conduct, Hindus can take lessons on discipline in rituals and fellow-feeling from Muslims.

If my subjective observation has any value, no needy Muslim whom I have lent money at some point of time in my life has ever defaulted in repayment, though several Hindus have. I attribute this phenomenon to a strong sense of imaan (relating especially to monetary transactions) among most Muslims. I can go to the extent of stating that I can trust a Muslim because he is Muslim, but I cannot trust a Hindu because he is Hindu. To trust a Hindu, I need other reasons pertaining to his person. For, Islam is rigid about how to lead your life and you are damned if you don’t conform. But religious Hinduism though was equally categorical about the rights and the wrongs, today few Hindus give it a damn.

I cherish the company of my Muslim friends. The best of my landlords, both in cases of houses where I have stayed as a tenant and the office I took on rent when I launched my business, have been Muslims. I would like Muslims to come out of their ghettos (an experience spanning Kollutola Lane and Park Circus in Calcutta to Okhla Gaon, Tughlaqabad and Mehrauli in New Delhi), where they raise a terrible stink under extreme unhygienic conditions, and mingle with other communities in cosmopolitan neighbourhoods.

Some clarifications are called for about my past which, in turn, dictates my stand on the given issue. I did not have to carry out any research for my previous comment, contrary to Sandeep’s speculation. Islamic studies (the purported culmination of the study of Abrahamic faiths) were part of my education in Arabic, Persian and Urdu (which I pursued alongside my bachelor's degree in mathematics when life in Calcutta bored me to the hilt — 1989-94). Somewhat like French pedagogy, Arabic and Persian are sought to be taught through the dissemination of knowledge of the culture of the natives who use these languages, instead of the treadmill English method of teaching grammar to begin learning a language.

Several years later, in 2000, a batch of students from Hamdard School joined my institute of languages and sciences. At a certain period when the Urdu teacher had not been reporting to office, I put in my services as a stopgap teacher. That was when I came across the CBSE/NCERT syllabus of Islamic Studies. Therefore, what I wrote in my previous comment had nothing 'Google' about it. Significantly, coming as it did from the CBSE, it cannot be Hindu right wing's propaganda. Indeed, little Muslim children with impressionable minds are taught first about the Judaic history, then about Christianity and finally about Islam, the conclusion being that the third is the "ultimate". This comparative analysis is taught at an age when a Christian, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh, Parsi or Hindu child does not even know what Christianity, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism or Hinduism means. CATCH ’EM YOUNG! Only Muslims do this. And they do it to ensure that before a child turns into a teenager or an adult, and his/her faculty to question matures, the faculty is already blunted by imbibing in him/her a prejudice towards other faiths and the fear for the wrath of God if you refuse to agree.

Sandeep, as an adult you are expected to do more than sing a tiny-tots' school assembly prayer that says "all religions are equal". They are not. For one, all of these are not even religions. Hinduism, certainly, is not. The Buddha was himself an atheist. Jains do not believe that the universe was ever created. Guru Nanak chose the spiritual parts of both Hinduism and Islam to tell the people of Punjab that they had strayed from the original teachings of their respective religions; he did not intend his followers to form a new religion subsequently.

If at all the community of Hindus were religious, that was about till two centuries ago. Today, even the ritualistic section of the Hindu population is not religious by the strictest sense of the word. It may dumbfound the West to know that Hindus are even heard cracking salacious jokes about their gods and goddesses. Had Hinduism been guided by a "book" (Sandeep’s word) that was unquestionable, such a thing would never have happened. No institution less than the Supreme Court of India observes that Hinduism is a "way of life". It is a social assembly that happily includes theists, monotheists, polytheists, atheists, agnostics, self-believers and opportunists (who believe and disbelieve God depending on whether or not they are in some kind of a trouble).

My interpretation of objectivity does not exhort me to ensure that if I have said 'x' against Islam, I must say 'x' against Hindus as well. Yes, the Hindu fold does have its fair share of faults. But they need not be the same 'x'; they may well be 'y' or 'z'. Casteism is one such disgusting aspect of the community. But does it have scriptural sanction? An emphatic NO. Not even Brahmins, the most exalted of the castes, swear by the Manusamhita. As for the chaturwarna system in the Vedas, it was merely a division of work, not a social code of apartheid-like discrimination. The (eldest) son being urged to follow his father's profession was a system to ensure the sustenance of certain cottage industries, supported adequately by business incentives from the king. Today, a weaver's son does not want to be a weaver because weaving does not pay. So the death of this essential service is imminent. Such a thing could not have happened in the Vedic age. For your information, the metre count of silk produced in the Gupta period was 800 (i.e., a silk thread of original length 1 m could be stretched to a length of 800 m before it snapped) while not even the best machines in modern textile industries can produce silk of count more than 400. Such technology was possible more than a millennium ago only due to the able support extended by the royalty which dispersed caste-wise budgetary money. It was really sad that Brahmins later conspired with Kshatriyas to define certain jobs — and, hence, the people doing them — as 'lowly' so that the two upper castes can monopolise power. Vaishyas couldn’t be tamed because of their financial clout. And the revolting present form of casteism started. Anyway, there are several sub-sections to this problem:

1. (a) Are all present-day Hindus casteist? At least Bengalis are not. I belong to a caste that was once known to be even more parochial than Brahmins. In fact, Boddis/Vaidyas considered themselves more intellectually evolved than the Brahmins. Yet, my wife was an Acharya (Brahmin) before marriage. The wife of one of my cousins was a Ghosh (Kayastha/Vaishya). Another cousin got married to a Das (Scheduled Caste) and a third to a Karmakar ('Sonar Bene'/goldsmith - OBC). And mine is quite a representative Bengali family, that is, such marriages in the Bengali community are commonplace.

1. (b) Discrimination by caste is a localised phenomenon that politicians have exploited to give it the look of a national (Hindu) social evil. I recall a few years ago I had read about the Nadars of Tamil Nadu. In course of time I have happily forgotten what the caste means in that state. And I do not want to know once again what I should make out of Sandeep Nadar’s name. I hear these days that Andhra Pradesh’s Chiranjeevi belongs to the Kapu community and that it is a ‘backward’ caste. Is it? Maybe. I am least bothered about such amusing pieces of trivia. That HD Deve Gowda is a Vokkaliga makes no sense to a Bihari. That Nitish Kumar is a Kurmi makes no sense to someone domiciled in Kerala. If I were a CEO of a company whom a Lalthanhawla from Mizoram approaches for a job, I wouldn’t even know his caste. How can I deny him a job based on casteist discrimination?

2. Are Islam and Christianity not affected by the scourge of the caste system? They are not elsewhere in the world, but they are in India. I wish Sandeep had been in touch with the Indian media throughout his course in Sweden. That reservation in education and employment is being demanded for 'low-caste' Muslims and Christians is old news now. That Christianity and Islam are ‘caste-free’ is the most fraudulent propaganda by the evangelists and tablighis in India. My student Jurian has been at loggerheads with his family to get married to a ‘low-caste’ Christian for the last eight years (Jurian’s father is a padre of a church and a member of the Congress party). That Asghars (Indian Muslims of Arab and Turkish descent) do not marry Ajlafs (converted Muslims) is also well known.

3. Calling an Indian who is both non-Muslim and non-Christian a Hindu is merely legal convenience. The section of population that is known as ‘Hindu’ is just a bunch of people guided by no book, no set codes of ethics. There is no Hindu equivalent of an Islamic Friday or a Christian Sunday when he/she should attend a mass. Some Hindus fast on a particular day of the week, some on another day. Some (like me) just don’t bother. My best friend in the first office, Habib, had told me he was an atheist but did not dare say so, lest his sister’s marriage would be affected. But I can scream from the rooftop that I am not an idolater and yet my sister can get married to the head priest of the local temple.

The most important distinction of the Hindu society is that its majority does not even share a fellow-feeling. To that extent, the Sangh Parivar is quite dumb to envisage that it can arouse the religious sentiments of this section of the Indian population. In effect, calling Hinduism a “religion” is as ignorant as calling a European atheist “Christian” just because of his Christian name. Neither a traditional Hindu citizen nor a modern Hindu citizen is traditional or modern because a certain thousand-year-old book dictates him/her so.

It is very unfortunate that we have a new crop of Indians who hardly know anything about India and, hence, offer generalised, one-size-fits-all solutions. When it comes to settling political disputes, ignorance is not bliss. Skirting the issue by calling everybody equal amounts to postponing the explosion, not defusing the bomb. My egalitarianism does not mean that I am hell bent on proving that everybody has a similar (if not the same) history. It means that I see the history of each community as different from that of the others and address those differences to make each community realise what mistakes it has done in the past so that those mistakes are not repeated. A reason why religious intolerance continues in India is that the so-called secularists are lethargic to solution finding. They superficially say “everybody is equal”, call their political opponents “regressive”, ask then to “shut up” and expect the storm to settle down (NDTV style!). The mass observes the fight between the left-wing and the right-wing debaters and find that the former actually has no patience, inclination or education to answer the questions raised by the latter. That is why the storm rages on unabated. If the lib-left is sincere about peace, it must go back to the library to find satisfactory answers to the right wing’s questions. Better still, do not talk to the right if you really find it demeaning to talk to ‘bumpkins’; go straight to the people and tell them something more substantive than “you are all equal”.

Sandeep, if you still continue to parrot this uneducated line of ‘equality’, I would wait for Nirmal or a more informed opponent to butt in rather than spend more time in educating Europe and spoil the debate on Kashmir.

Sandeep said...

here it goes again!

let me continue my "uneducated line of parity" again the "educated line of favoritism".

My brother once told me very casually. "There is no Unity in Diversity". Its a contradiction. Hence its true.

The previous post of mine concentrated on religion because IT IS THE CENTER OF KASHMIR PROBLEM. So i believe that it wasn't a waste.

Pakistan was made under two nation theory. But the fact is that India refused that theory and chose to be multi-ethnic. But just by saying or writing that we are secular, we don't become secular. We don't practice secularism when it comes to majority of the Indian population. We the minority secularist practice in in our life but minorities don't make governments who make policies and decisions. Its may not be hard to find some proofs.

Just like every other concept, secularism has become a political tool. We claim that we have "Muslim friends" but the very fact that we distinguish them as "Muslim" friends eradicates the sense of secularism.

I was brought up in an Air Force Station and studied with person from almost every state or religion. (armed forces don't distinguish a soldier except for his rank, no religious symbol of any kind is allowed when you wear the uniform). Since there were no permanent friends (we use to get posted every 2-3 years), so we never cared for their "background". If you like the person, they will be your friends. Why do we give a damn to distinguish them. Its your choice to call it "neutrality" or "impartial behavior" for the sake of your argument. This argument is essential here since that philosophy has helped me in all my dealings with humans around the world and we never had any kind of conflicts. Some people even asked me "if all Indians do like this as we have heard that Gandhi proposed it to the world". Just as "Bad philosophy", a "Good philosophy" is also contagious. Try it!

Society runs on social habits. Humans make social habits. We have made this distinction a habit. This habit is dormant for most cases. Dormant habits are most explosively harmful because they don't let you know that exist inside you or society in general. Until we change "this habit of distinction" problems are here to stay and we can just fight them fruitless way.

Debate about atheism can be stretched to endless horizons. Lets not enter that arena since it surely diverts the present topic. lets spare the topic of astrology also otherwise we might have to measure the gravitational pull that Venus might exert on me if i speak against them!

The problem is kashmir. The problem is separatism for us and as kashmiris say "independence" for them. Then the problem is our attitude towards it. I already proposed an economic solution which can dilute conflicts over the generations.

Note: I just finished seeing a debate on NDTV India (Hum log) on the same topic. Someone might as well like to see it on its website.

As surajit rightly mentions "all religions are not equal". Perhaps he mistook me delivering the opposite. Instead what i proposed was that all religion propose them self to be "different" than others. Why? Because they were born in different parts of world and belonged to people who were desperately seeking a separate identity. This "differentiation" abhors any possibility of "Unity".

But whats the solution. First solution is "One religion". Second solution is "No Religion". Third solution is "have your religions but don't object to others even if they do" (this is what Gandhi died for). Which one would you pick! this particular choice devise one ideology towards solving problems.

I think it would be better to talk about "solutions" after such a long discussion about "problems".

Surajit Dasgupta said...

Much better! No, Sandeep, this last comment of yours wasn't uneducated. Nor do I disagree with it. But I would certainly like to make my stand clear on the issue of secularism, especially on this statement of yours:

"First solution is "One religion". Second solution is "No Religion". Third solution is "have your religions but don't object to others even if they do" (this is what Gandhi died for). Which one would you pick!"

The third one, of course. But let us not digress further. Let's debate the issue of secularism under a new post. Meanwhile, let this debate be and remain Kashmir-specific.

Surajit Dasgupta said...


walker walkin alone said...

Not every man is equal, and not every religion.
I will opt for no religion, for then there will be no opposing sects of human. But that would require me to prove that religion is not required.
For that to be done, I must know all the religions, and God they are not same, and then I can prove.
But if any religion blanket bans any such proofs, outlaws doubts about God and doctrine, then, it can never be changed. We have to wait for sensible people to come and step out of that particular religion.

About Kashmir. Kashmir is not a part of India, if it thinks so, ofcourse. Not for security regions, not for financial reasons. If people want freedom, then, let them be free.
Of course, but that would set a standard. Now, Assam might want to be free. And so would Nagaland, manipur and mizoram, perhaps, the whole of India would disintegrate. Do we care?

I think, the problem here is, Indianism is not well defined. Though there is a section in constituition that defines India, most of us are unaware of what it is, or have seen it outraged too many number of times. India as a united country does not exist in concept, nothing is meant by it other than a mass of people or a mass of land.

That would bring us to another question, what is a country. I would think, a country is a landmass inhabited by a people who believe in a common ideology, which is the reason for them being together. the country is not the people, or the land. It is this ideology. Everybody that shall identify, can be a citizen with his own landmass, or he can rent some or buy.

As we do not know what is meant by India, we do not know whether Kashmir should stay with India. Yes, it is a danger to the country, of course, but, then letting go of India was the biggest Financial loss for the British. Still we would prefer a safe India to a happy Kashmir.

I said happy kashmir. Then again, who would define what is it...

To sandeep
Mate, individualism only applies to individuals. But all the parties here identify themselves as a part of a mob. And the question is, which side are you?

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Surajit Dasgupta treats no individual, organisation or institution as a holy cow.