Hari Jaisingh
Hari Jaisingh

Looking beyond Kashmir challenges

Hari Jaisingh

Hari Jaisingh

Pakistan is badly caught in its own shadows of war-mongering. Prime Minister Imran Khan the other day threatened India with direct military confrontation, even with the use of nuclear weapons, over the scrapping of Article 370 and the present situation in Kashmir. Does he fully realise the result of a nuclear war? I hope he does. Then, why
this rhetoric? It exposes Imran Khan to Islamabad’s old games of nonsensical talks. And now in a U-turn, Islamabad has said there is no change in its nuclear policy! One does not know for how long.

Even otherwise, how come the Modi government’s scrapping of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir is a matter of concern for Islamabad? This measure was a temporary move when Jawaharlal Nehru was at the helm of affairs in New Delhi. It was and is, therefore, India’s internal matter. But in the name of Islam, Pakistan leaders wanted to acquire the state by hook or by crook. The tribal raids, unleashed by Pakistan, were part of its larger game plan which did not succeed. In that situation, Maharaja of Kashmir Hari Singh had no choice but to seek India’s military assistance and save the state from “Pakistan-sponsored invasion”? Since then India has been struggling hard against Pakistan’s “proxy war” in J & K.

What we see today is PM Imran Khan’s crocodile tears over Kashmir. He must have forgotten that India refused to be a theocratic state as that would have done grave injury to the genius of our people and their civilizational values. Our BJP leaders must realise serious implications of such a stance.

We have to continue to preserve our credential as a secular, multi-ethnic and multi-religious entity, though Hindu-oriented. But Hinduism is the world’s greatest liberal philosophy. And remember the words of newly appointed Kerala Governor. He says Ram is the greatest unifying factor in India today.

I firmly believe that we must preserve our civilizational values, with the spirit of tolerance and an open mind. It is tolerance that creates diversity. We must not allow fear of diversity to snuff out our tolerance and create an intolerant society. My regret is that our leaders are living in a world of make-believe, could not explain to the world leaders in the right perspective our civilizational values.

For millennia a Shaivite Centre, the Valley was considered the embodiment of Uma, the wife of Lord Shiva. Also, Srinagar was (and is) situated on the banks of the Vitastra (now renamed Jhelum) mentioned in the Rig Veda. Unlike other parts of India, Kashmir has an uninterrupted record of history.

Much of its earlier part is legendary, and has been recorded by the great historian of Kashmir, Kalhana, in his work Rajatarangini. Kalhana admits that he had himself consulted about 11 compositions on history. They are not available. But Pandit Ponaraja has brought this history up to the 15th century AD
while Srivara and Diwan Kirpa Ram took it forward till 1586, when the Valley was annexed by the Mughals.

While delinking the ups and downs of the past, we have to face the realities of present-day Kashmir, constantly keeping in mind our deep-rooted civilisational values. Till the advent of Islam, Kashmir was a flourishing centre of culture. Even Al Biruni has observed that the land was “the high school of “Hindu Science” in such disciplines
as medicine, astrology and astronomy.

My purpose of giving some glimpses of Kashmir’s rich heritage is that our politicians must not forget its outstanding facets of Vedic literature and arts under the undue influence of Pak propaganda, and religious extremism and fundamentalism. Amidst the run of history, Islamabad has pursued a policy of keeping to the beaten track on Kashmir for over 70 years. This is not acceptable to India and its people.

History is a great teacher. It forces the pace of events if the right lessons are not learnt or followed. We are a democratic nation with a broad liberal outlook. We have to utilize intelligently the instruments of democracy and the tradition of tolerance, understanding and respect for all creeds to build a new image for 21st century
India. The country cannot be seen to be compromising its vibrant democratic strength in critical areas of policies and postures.

The power of democracy apart, it is essential to remember in today’s global setting that real power flows not from the barrel of the gun, but from the strength of the economic muscle that a nation is able to flex. So, the first and foremost task for the leadership today is to put the economic challenges on top priority.

It is a pity that the Modi government has neglected this formidable task. What is equired is freeing the economy from the stranglehold of the bureaucracy and creating conditions of opportunities for new entrepreneurs to move forward without fear or suspicion. We have to widen the range and dimension of opportunities in our country to get the maximum mileage from the resources and human talent available in plenty within our system.

This home truth has to be re-conveyed to Prime Minister Modi, keeping in view the challenges India faces in Kashmir and the nuisance value of Imran Khan’s Pakistan and its Generals. It needs to be appreciated by our leaders that India
right now is caught in certain geopolitical situations which cannot be termed friendly. China’s power is very much looming large on the horizon. So is Pakistan’s jingoism.

Under the circumstances, it needs to be noted that the roots to the renewal and reconstruction of India of tomorrow do not lie in simplistic and hackneyed slogans. Today, we are under very grave compulsions to think out for ourselves a new conceptual framework for “a good society” and qualitative governance.

That good society can operate through “enterprise and initiative of individuals as well as through “intelligent and sensitive state interventions”. Indeed, hard realism requires redesigning of a vision of India’s future, keeping in mind J & K’s ground realities and its
integration with Mainstream India. Much will depend on PM Modi’s political will to go in for hard options while taking the people of the Valley along.