Wednesday, January 04, 2006
  Why Kashmir is important for India?
I have often met Indian leftists and liberals who argue that it might be better for India to give up Kashmir for the sake of establishing peace in the South Asian region. I think the Kashmiris want an independent Kashmir more than anybody else. Some of them might be willing to join India or Pakistan but most of them would definitely like to have independence. There are surveys available to prove my previous statements incorrect. But I will stick to the assumption that Kashmiris do not like their fellow Indians from outside Kashmir. This is quite unfortunate in spite of the fact that taxes accrued from Indians by the GoI have contributed to prop up the economy of Kashmir. The following column by Arvind Lavakare - J&K: Time for gratitude, not petulance, provides a more better picture of the central assistance provided to the state of J&K since 1995.

I am an advocate of human rights. I also acknowledge that there have been human rights violations by Indian security forces in Kashmir since the start of insurgency in 1989. It is sad but inevitable that in a conflict like this, it is impossible for the armed forces of any country to maintain a clean record. Excesses are bound to happen. The important point is whether punishment has been meted out to people who have been responsible for these excesses. I am not quite sure how successful Indian security forces have been regarding this aspect of the conflict. My knowledge regarding this is incomplete. I promise to research more about the rate of prosecution in Indian armed forces for human rights violations in Kashmir in the future.

I admire pacifists. I think nothing is more noble than understanding that every life on this planet is precious. However, it is important for people to realize that in this world there are people whose ideology is truly heinous. Yin comes with Yang. Ahura Mazda has His/Her opposite in Ahriman. Until and unless one realizes that you can not be prepared to counter that. The first step in finding a solution to the problem is to identify the problem.

Does anybody think that Gandhi would have survived his non-violent non-cooperation movement if the colonial power occupying India would have been Hitler led Germany instead of Great Britain? He would have disappeared from the face of the earth within a minute. It is wise to respect everything and consider everybody as your friend but it is foolish not to recognize your enemy.

Lets do an exercise for the sake of trying to make my point more clear. Let us take a look at the link The link features snapshots of some of the Kargil heroes along with their names. After looking at their snapshot and names, I tried to guess the geographical region of origin of each of the listed individuals. Here is the list. This is just an intelligent guess. It might be wrong.

Nagaland - 1, Ladakh -1, Bengal - 2, Kerala - 2, Uttaranchal -1, Manipur - 1, Punjab - 4, Andhra Pradesh - 1, Tamil Nadu - 1,

What does this list show? It shows an Army that truly represents India - a multicultural nation that includes people from every ethnicity. This is the noble vision that the founding fathers of our nation strived for. Those men in that list came together despite their differences in background and fought and died for a cause they believed in. The question is what was their cause? Their cause is what is euphemistically referred to as "Mother India" by the books that we read in childhood.

The so-called enlightened leftists and liberals from India sneer at this cause. They say that those books that we read as children in schools are just propaganda for maintaining the nation state of India. People, when they get educated in institutions like Harvard and Yale in United States, come up with dissertations that end up mocking nationalism and declare how India is poorer because of it. It serves as a nice topic for after dinner conversations with wine in their hand. They forget that people have died for this cause and spilled their blood to let them have a nice meal with a wine in their hand years later. Without those men believing in their cause, the parents of these liberals would not have been alive to bear them for writing their dissertations in Harvard and Yale.

The cause of "Mother India" might be simple but it contains a range of ideas like democracy, secularism, rule of law, diversity, and equality for all. I always squirm when people come up to me and declare smugly that they are the citizens of one world and they do not define themselves any more as Indians. Why? Because being an Indian is a very narrow identity which is not convenient for them any more. I always smile and say I understand. They mistake it as my acceptance of their rationale.

How many nations in the world have achieved what that list that I compiled earlier shows? Isn't it time that Indians themselves recognize this and feel proud for their own nation rather than whining every time about why India has no hope? The list represents something that is a pet topic for all the liberals in the world - acceptance of diversity. Isn't it ironic that the much reviled Indian nationalism by the liberals and the leftists has achieved in creating a society that encourages "unity in diversity" rather than their own home grown pet theories?

United States was the first place that showed the world what the democracy can do in 1776. It was a profound leap in the evolution of human society to think about the fact that "all men are created equal". Americans took another two hundred years to convert that idea into some kind of reality after banning segregation in 1960s. India's contribution to the world will be to show how people of different faiths and ethnicity can live together harmoniously. Samuel Huntington's "The clash of civilizations" need not be a reality. I know that we have not achieved this ideal of a harmonious state yet. In fact, we have repeatedly faltered in our steps towards this goal. Delhi riots in 1983 and Gujarat riots in 2002 are an ample proof of that. There are other instances too but I think the two riots mentioned earlier are enough to prove the point that India's record in fulfilling the vision of its founding fathers has not been clean. In spite of this I have faith that one day we will achieve it.

The biggest threat to this vision comes from Pakistan in the form of Islamism and its support for the cause of Kashmiris. The whole premise of the Kashmiris demanding an independent state based on a single religion is antithetical to the concept of India. I fear that one day we will come to a crossroad where the choice will be to either fight for the vision that I mentioned above or just give up and see India disintegrate along with our vision. This is the essence of Kashmir conflict in my mind! And this is why India will fight for Kashmir.
Very nice article, enjoyed reading it ..

a very good article indeed, but, its quite evident that you need to research this topic a bit more.

You wrote "I am an advocate of human rights. I also acknowledge that there have been human rights violations by Indian security forces in Kashmir since the start of insurgency in 1989."
Are you aware of the existance of Kashmiri Pandits? Do you know how they were threatened and killed and thrown out of their own homeland. They have been living as refugees in their own country for the past 17yrs. Don't you think THAT is voilation of human rights?

"But I will stick to the assumption that Kashmiris do not like their fellow Indians from outside Kashmir."
Very true, but, only for the Kashmiri Muslims. Pandits have always wanted to be a part of India. And what does GoI do for them? Interestingly, only sympathize. I know this sounds like any other complain against GoI, but, if you do a bit more research on this topic, you'll know what I mean.

By the way, I'm a Kashmiri Pandit myself.

Thanks for visiting and reading this piece.

I know all about the sufferings of Kashmiri Pandits. My roommate in the first year of my undergraduate engineering - Rathinder Bhat, was a displaced Kashmiri Pandit. Many of my perspectives about Kashmir has been shaped by him and his anguish.

Yes, the article has points that does misrepresent what I am trying to say. I should have mentioned Kashmiri Pandits when I talked about human rights.


I would like to ask these peaceniks who suggest to give up Kashmir that if separate state for Kashmiris was the solution, if religion is what should form the basis of a nation, why is it so that India has succeeded as a nation whereas Pakistan is a failed state and Bangladesh is not any better?

Millions of Indians love Kashmir and its people. We have seen the result of partition once and it will be foolish to let it happen again.

Wishing you success in breaking out of the academic world and join back the action.

I remember you expressing your frustration before leaving for US "when r we going to have cars?" but am pleased that you still are so passionately connected to India. Btw there are 57 new models expected to hit the roads(should I say potholes?) in 2007.

Hey Neerav,

Thanks a lot for your comments. I could not respond to you earlier. Sorry about that. Its nice to meet long lost old friends. How are you doing?

why is that india has to give up teritory to live in peace? why cant the pakis give up teritory to live in peace. SINCE THE DAY ISLAM CAME TO THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT LIFE IS BEEN HELL. Indians are not fighting separatists in kashmir, they are fighting a distorted way of thinking. " RELIGION IS POISON" any religion for that matter. ALSO LADAKH WITH 60% BUDDHIST AND JAMMU WITH 67% HINDUS WILL NEVER JOIN PAKISTAN==== yes yes---- kashmir valley might joing because they are mostly snni muslimes.
Blaming will take India nowhere.
I think that blaming will not take us anywhere.
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