Tuesday, August 26, 2014

India cannot have a Muslim PM!

Kashmir can have a Hindu Chief Minister but a Muslim cannot be an Indian Prime Minister!

According to a news report, the BJP Chief Amit Shah is working hard to install a Hindu Chief Minister in J&K. Reportedly the right hand man of PM Narendra Modi is banking upon consolidating Lok Sabha poll gains, enrolment campaign for eligible Kashmiri Pandits and an understanding with regional players. The declaration of the ruling Congress minister Sham Lal Sharma for having a Hindu Chief Minister possibly from Jammu in J&K lends some uneasy credibility to the alleged move. It is quite well known that in case of J&K, all the Indian political parties work in unison. Legally and technically as per the constitution of J&K there is no bar in having a Hindu as a Chief Minister. The J&K Constitution is more secular than the Indian constitution. It does not have religion as basis for any constitutional activity by the state unlike the Indian constitution, the clause 25-2 (B) of which gives the state the power to throw open institutions of a Hindu character, thereby, implying that the constitution framers were sure that the state would be always Hindu!
However, the entire plan has some sinister background which has been slowly emerging over past sometime. These may be the various tactical moves of a long term plan devised by the Hindutva brigade for a diabolical final solution of the perennial Kashmir problem. They probably dream about its reconversion into the ancient Hindu Kingdom! There have been a series of actions already taken or there are still actions purported to be taken which fit into a long term plan. The progressive increase in the number of pilgrims as well as duration of the Amarnath Yatra. Search for new pilgrimage spots which never existed in the history of Kashmir to present Kashmir as a holy land for Hindus. The permanent settlement with the giving of property rights to Pakistani refugees in Jammu. The clamour and the initiation of practical steps to abolish article 370 giving special status to Kashmir under the Indian constitution. The eroding of financial autonomy of the state including the bringing of the J&K Bank under the total control of the Reserve Bank of India. Kashmiri Chief Ministers have already been converted into puppets on a string! The Kashmiri equivalent of which is “Badri Nathin Adri Mohar”!
The only problem with the plan of installing a Hindu Chief Minister is the fall out which may ultimately result from its initiation. Kashmir is not an isolated island of ab origins or a reserve of Red Indians which can be colonised after decimating the local population. It is home to millions of Kashmiris majority of who have been professing the religion of peace, Islam for last more than 8 centuries. Their neighbours in close proximity are not as peace loving as the Kashmiris. They have universally declared to protect Muslims all over the world and any disturbance in Kashmir is an open invitation to them to fulfil their declared obligations!
  In 1947 as stated by the BJP leader Chaman Lal Gupta, Kashmiris were forcibly married to India and it was not a temporary marriage called “Mutta”. Unfortunately, it is the Indian leaders themselves who declared it to be “Mutta” by taking the marriage deed to the UN Security Council. The entire story since then has been about the Indian attempt to wriggle out of the basic conditions of the marriage deed.
While debating the installation of a Hindu Chief Minister in Kashmir many people have posed a question whether there can also be a Muslim Prime Minister in India? The answer to that question is a big no! This has already been made clear by the RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat in a recent statement, “Hindustan is a Hindu nation. Hindutva is the identity of our nation and it (Hinduism) can incorporate others (religions) in itself.” In fact, he needs to be appreciated for speaking the truth fearlessly. He is not beating about the bush like the pseudo secularists of the Congress or other political parties including the Communists. Ostensibly, India in the west has been portrayed as the largest secular democracy in the world. However, the reality has not only been stated by Mohan Bhagwat but by Arundhati Roy who calls it, “the Upper Caste Hindu Corporate Republic”! The recent elections have vindicated her description. The paint of secularism has been slowly but steadily peeling off and the crowning of the RSS nominee Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister has been its ultimate climax.
 In spite of all the constitutional guarantees regarding the basic human rights and the equality of all citizens, there is no chance of a Muslim becoming the Prime Minister of India. This is especially so after the creation of Pakistan whose existence is still a sore point with the Hindutva brigade pinning to re-join it with the mother country, Akhand Bharat! However, Kashmiris should be prepared to accept a Hindu Chief Minister if the RSS plan goes according to schedule. But one does not need to panic or get worked up by such a move. Sometimes certain steps taken in haste have consequences which the initiators could never imagine. If the Pharaoh’s daughter had not taken Moses as an infant floating on the Nile in a basket for adoption, the Israelis may still have been in the bondage of Egyptians! A Hindu Chief Minister may unintentionally result in the ultimate salvation of Kashmiris!

Friday, August 22, 2014


The Alumni of the National Institute of Technology, Srinagar, formerly known as the Regional Engineering College are planning to meet in the Institute Campus on 15th of September, 2014. The Director of the Institute Dr. Rajat Gupta has offered to host the meet. Former students of the Institute from within the country and abroad are expected to attend the meet.
The Institute was started in 1960 as a Regional Engineering College in the most famous garden of Chinars in the whole valley called Naseem Bagh on the shores of the famous Dal Lake. The garden is said to have been set up by the Mughal King Akbar in 1586 and Shah-i-Jahan is reported to have planted 1200 Chinars there. The Institute has produced some brilliant engineers who not only made a name within the State and the Country but also took important assignments abroad. Some of the trainees from the Institute rose in various administrative assignments to the top level.
From the state side, most of the Chief Engineers in various engineering departments have been students of the Institute. C. Phonsog, former Chief Secretary, J & K is a graduate of the NIT. Dr. Rajkumar Abrol from the first batch retired as the Director of the CEDT, GOI. Mohammad Ashraf also from the first batch retired as the Director General Tourism, J & K. Mr. Farooq Shah, the present Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar; Aamir Ali, the head of the Disaster Management Organisation and Imtiaz Parray, SP South are also engineering graduates from the Institute.
In other states, Vimal Wakhlu, Chairman and MD Telecommunications Consulting India Limited; Harish Kumar Sharma, Vice-President Tech Mahindra; Sanjay Purohit, CEO, Infosys subsidiary, India; Ramesh Kaul, MD & Global CEO, Mahindra Gears; Anil Kumar Bhat, HOD Management School at BITS Pilani; S S Bajaj, Chairman Atomic Energy Regulatory Board; Malay Chaterjee, ex-Chairman Hindustan Steel, India have been graduates of the Institute.
Among the foreign assignees, Dawood Danesh Jafri, Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Iran ; Irshad Ahmad Bhat, Consulting Technical Director, Oracle, USA; Vijay Kumar, Chief Regulatory Engineer, New York State, USA were once students of this prestigious Institute which ranks quite high among different such institutions.
All the former students of the Institute are eagerly looking forward to the meet. The organisers have requested all the local graduates of the Institute to get registered with Mahesh Gupta 9419126230 or Aamir Ali Mir 9419007285 by August 28 to enable proper reception and other arrangements.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Badri Nathin Adrey Mohar!

 Kashmiri proverb aptly describes the status of all Kashmir Chief Ministers in relation to Delhi!

Badri Nath was a Wazir in the court of the Dogra ruler Maharaja Gulab Singh. His authority is supposed to have been unenforceable in spite of his being a Minister in the court of the Maharaja. He is reported to have been obliging everyone having some work with the Maharaja’s government by stamping their applications in lieu of some monetary consideration. When a person would approach him with an application, he would take some money and stamp the application as its approval. Then someone else would approach him and he would repeat the process with higher consideration and in the end none of the applications would go through. This earned him the nickname of “Badri Nathin Adri Mohar”!
In the present context, all the Kashmir Chief Ministers have been functioning as Badri Nath because of their authority too being unenforceable due to continuous orders and dictation from Delhi. They have practically no inherent power of their own even though the Kashmir constitution gives them absolute power. No Central Law is applicable in J & K without the concurrence of the State Government. However, by their malleable and demeaning attitude, the state Chief Ministers have been signing on the dotted lines. This loss of power has been gradual over the years and now the present set up makes the head of the government look like a puppet on a string.
In the beginning, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah did exercise some decisive authority in regard to Kashmir as its Prime Minister. In fact, his legislation of giving land to the tiller and freezing the debts was unique in the whole sub-continent. However, his authority did not last long and he was deposed in 1953. Bakshi Ghulam Muhammad exploited the weaknesses of the people and tried to outsmart Delhi which finally removed him by turning the holy relic agitation against his family.
During his second tenure starting from 1975 after the Delhi accord, the Lion of Kashmir had to truly follow in the footsteps of Badri Nath. He could not exercise absolute authority even in regard to certain areas which were within the constitution of J&K. The only thing he could do as a last attempt to retrieve the authority was the introduction of the Re-settlement Act which unnerved Delhi. Unfortunately, the intervening Chief Ministers especially G M Sadiq had totally diluted their powers through the tunnel of Article 370. This enabled the Government of India to put the Act in deep freeze even though Dr. Farooq Abdullah got it passed through the Assembly. In fact, that very action cost him his job. The same was the fate of the Autonomy Resolution passed by the State Legislature. The NDA Government threw it into the waste paper basket even without reading it!
 After the death of the Lion of Kashmir, the Chief Ministers who followed him had absolutely no say. They truly acted as Badri Naths! The last one has been the epitome of all his predecessors in regard to been a spineless Chief Minister. He totally abdicated his authority. Even curfews were imposed and relaxed by the Ministry of Home Affairs in Delhi. There are umpteen instances where he behaved as a totally unsure and wavering person. The starkest instance is the revocation of AFSPA. He even announced in an address to Policemen that the draconian law would go in days! However, years passed without any movement on his proposal/request. In the absence of exercising his constitutional authority of revoking the Disturbed Areas Act which would automatically make AFSPA redundant, he had no option but to request the Central Government for revocation and even review of the law. However, his umpteen pleas made no difference and he had to eat a humble pie. Same is the case with the return of NHPC power projects. In spite of repeated declarations to get these back, no progress was made. Rather, the NHPC rebuffed him! Now, in his last days of the tenure he is stamping like “Badri Nath” every paper that gets to him. However, he very well knows that these would not be honoured. Thus he can be termed to be the real and the perfect “Badri Nath” with an “Adri Mohar” of the Kashmiri proverb!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Forays of Symbolic Pilgrimages

Yatras to some natural spots can’t revive Kashmir’s Hindu past but would rather damage centuries old  composite culture

Vijay Bakaya, a prominent Kashmiri Pandit leader has said that Kousar Nag was never a pilgrim destination. It has always been a trekking destination for adventure lovers.In the past, off and on some Kashmiri Pandits would visit the place but there has never been an organised pilgrimage like the Amarnath Yatra.
For past some time, there have been repeated attempts to revive the mythological instances of the ancient Hindu past of Kashmir. It is a historical fact that Kashmir in ancient times was a well-known Hindu Kingdom. It continued to be oneuntil the arrival of Shah-i-Hamadan (RA) in 12th century A.D. In between it turned to Buddhism and the fourth Buddhist Council which completely changed the Buddhist thought from the strict Hinayana School to moderate Mahayana School was held in Kashmir in first century A.D. Thus, Kashmir has gone through three religious faiths of Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam but all the transitions were peaceful through preaching and not through any compulsion.
The main cause of Kashmir’s composite and tolerant culture is this peaceful transition. Kashmiri Muslims have never objected to Pandits paying obeisance at their holy places. In fact, they have always been helping them. The living example is the Mela Kheer Bhawani.This spring is the most revered pilgrim spot for all Kashmiri Pandits. Every year, thousands of Kashmiri Pandits have been converging here from all over the world. They are not only welcomed but hosted and supported by Kashmiri Muslims.
Unfortunately, a section of Kashmiri Pandits after their unfortunate departure in very unusual circumstances from Kashmir has been aligning itself with the extreme rightist Hindutva elements of North India not only to malign Kashmiri Muslims all over the world but by initiating measures which appear to be vindictive. An interesting aspect of the whole situation is that the basic Hindu philosophy of Kashmiri Pandits is totally different from those of the Hindus of other parts of North India. Kashmiri Pandits follow the Trikka School of Saivite Philosophy while as the predominant Hindu philosophy of North India is Vedanta. One of the reasons for peaceful conversion in Kashmir has been the basic philosophy of this Saivite School of Hinduism prevalent in Kashmir and South India. It is based on Monism.
Shiva being the ultimate power is formless but manifests itself in the world as Brahma, Mahesh and Vishnu. Saivism also believes in what Muslims call Qayamat and the equivalent word is Pralaya, the end of the universe. This commonality in basic philosophy helped quick spread of Islam in Kashmir through peaceful preaching.
However, the Indian mainland has faced many forays from Muslim invaders and conquerors. The most known in history is Mahmud of Ghazni who is supposed to have invaded India 17 times and during the last raid destroyed the famous Somnath Temple. Apart from Mahmud there have been many other conquerors whose wrath was faced by the North Indians.
Reportedly, in most of North India, there is a feeling among some Hindus that the Muslims came to India as invaders and conquerors, ruled over them for 800 years and in the end permanently occupied half of their country under the name of Pakistan. They yearn for uniting that part with the mainland to restore and revive Akhand Bharat. No doubt the north Indians suffered these forays but ultimately the Muslim kings especially the Mughals became truly Indian by naturalisation and birth. Akbar was the most revered King! All the conversions in India were not by force. People to a large extent adopted the Islamic faith of their own volition. Spread of Islam in South India too was a result of peaceful preaching. The first preachers came to Kerala in the lifetime of Prophet (PBUH), the proof of which is the first mosque in India near Kochi. Kashmir and South India because of the Himalayan barrier surrounding the valley and the long distance to southern areas remained more or less unmolested from the forays of Mahmud and others. This made them more tolerant towards Muslims.
Converting the symbolic ancient pilgrimages into forays by hundreds of thousands of people is not only damaging the ecology but also alarming people about something like Palestine happening here. If only one percent Hindus from other parts are motivated to come here it would mean a crore of pilgrims! The once very much revered holy Amarnath Yatra has now turned into a battle for Hinduism. The sanctity of the yatra with a limited number of pilgrims going through traditional route is no longer there. Now hundreds of thousands of people throng the place through the short route of Baltal and fly even by helicopters.
 Trudging the difficult terrain of the Himalaya to the heights, supposed to be pure and holy, was a journey of faith. Now, it is a quick visit spoiling the serenity and ecology of the area. No religion sanctions destruction of nature! Both the routes are now garbage trails the conditions of which have even been extensively covered by the National Geographic magazine.The latest attempt in this regard of starting another pilgrimage to Kousarnag has sent alarm signals. As described by Kalhana in Rajtarangni, Kashmir in ancient times was the land of Nagas and Pisacas. In that regard every spot in Kashmir is a holy spot. One has to accept the fact that Kashmir now is a Muslim majority land. The valley is now dotted with the shrines of mystic and sufi saints.Reviving ancient Hindu past by conducting pilgrimages is not going to change that character. In fact, these activities are not only going to cause damage to the fragile ecology but also drive Kashmiris up to a wall by hurting their sentiments. Moreover, it is not fair and just to take revenge from the followers of the most revered saint Shah-i-Hamadan for doings of Mahmud of Ghazni! One must also remember that the progeny of Mahmud is still very active in our neighbourhood and has driven both the Russians and the Americans disgracefully out. Kashmir should not be deliberately turned into an excuse for them to conduct new forays to this side!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Lone Example!

All revolutions begin with someone setting a lone example of standing against injustice and all wrong doings.

There is a saying that “A reasonable man adapts to the ways of the world but an unreasonable man tries to adopt the world to his own way. Therefore, all the progress in the world depends upon the unreasonable man!” This saying aptly fits the recent episode involving a state officer, Mr. A.M. Lanker, the Chief Engineer, Public Health Engineering Department. Had he been a “reasonable” man in the present situation of stinking corruption, he would have meekly obeyed the Minister. However, he proved to be the revolutionary “Unreasonable” man. By submitting his resignation instead of meekly swallowing the insult he has shown the way to change our most corrupt system. There has been a feeling that most of the engineering departments are epitomes of corruption. This instance has shown that it may not be true in regard to everyone manning these departments. It may not be that all the officers in state administration are dishonest and corrupt. There are honest, hardworking and upright officers also. However, it is said that honesty flows like water from the top downwards. Honest people have no chance of survival when the top echelons of politics are corrupt surrounded by equally corrupt sycophant officers.
There is no chance of reforming such a dirty system. It is a historical fact that once in a while someone takes a lead to stand against wrong doing. It happens very rarely. However, if such an event occurs, that signals the beginning of a revolution. In the present circumstances, when a thoroughly corrupt system has been deliberately created to support a particular ideology against the basic aspirations of the people, it is extremely difficult to dislodge the dishonest and corrupt people. Like a sphinx they are made to rise again and again from their ashes. But nature has its own ways of setting things right. As happened in case of ancient Egypt, Moses was brought up in the house of Pharaoh and ultimately proved his nemesis! In the present case, Mr. A.M. Lanker got vindicated because people for a change decided to stand by him. This not only reportedly forced the Chief Minister to apologise to him but also gave a strong rebuff to all corrupt elements in the government. This step will not only embolden all other honest and upright officers in all departments but will also make the corrupt bosses think twice before giving them any affront.
An unfortunate and sad sidelight of the happening has been total silence from the leaders of the popular movement. They not only claim to stand for the basic rights and aspirations of the people but project themselves to be epitomes of honesty and uprightness. They always refuse to compromise with any wrong doing from any quarter. It would have given a tremendous moral boost to the honest and upright people if they too had appreciated the stand of this bold and upright officer. In fact, Kashmiris’ main grouse is the dishonesty of the people in authority in accepting the basic truth of the decades old political problem. It can only be corrected when we encourage people in all spheres of the society to stand up for truth and honesty. This instance may be a drop in the ocean but it is said that it is the drops which ultimately make an ocean!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Kashmir’s Orphan Tourism Industry!

In spite of the tall claims about the Tourism Industry being the backbone of Kashmir’s economy, in reality the sector is an orphan, owned by none!

Most of the politicians never tire of claiming Tourism to be the backbone of Kashmir’s economy. In fact, the slogan has become a vote catcher and a barometer of political normalcy. No doubt, Tourism has the potential of becoming the mainstay of Kashmir’s economy but with a big if! That big if is the prevalence of real peace which is the basic requirement for development of tourism all over the world. There is no doubt that Kashmir has the best tourism potential in various types of this activity. The salubrious climate, the wonderfully serene and pure nature, and unlimited avenues for adventure give Kashmir a unique treasure for developing all kinds of tourism activities both in summer and winter. The meadows in the mountains could easily be developed into dozens of mountain resorts. The winter allows various mountain areas to be converted into ski resorts with excellent snow conditions. The mountain streams are ideal for white water sports. There is no dearth of mountain peaks and trails for mountaineering and trekking. Next to prevalence of a peaceful atmosphere, the most important requirement is planned development for sustainable tourism. All over the world tourism and environment seem to be at loggerheads with each other. However, for tourism activity to be beneficial to the people, there has to be a balance between development and sustainability of environment for this activity. The greatest enemy of tourism is ad hoc development which plays havoc with environment the very basis of attraction in the first instance!
In spite of the fact that Tourism is touted as the backbone of Kashmir’s economy, the government has so far failed to produce a vision document and a perspective plan to let people know the goals set and the road map to reach these goals in a stipulated period of time. So far everything is being done on ad hoc basis by pick and choose. On and off tourist arrival figures are given in millions of tourists and pilgrims visiting Kashmir. The arrivals are not so important. The impact of tourism can only be judged by the status and profile of tourists and the number of nights spent by them at a particular destination. A lesser number of up market tourists staying for longer duration contribute more than millions of budgeted tourists. Moreover, every tourist destination has a carrying capacity and anything beyond that capacity is detrimental to the very environment which attracts the tourists to that place.
In addition to a workable perspective plan to develop sustainable tourism, the other most important requirement is the professionalism of the members of the organisation entrusted with the implementation and monitoring of the same. In every field in modern tourism there are experts and professionals. Tourism marketing needs a person trained and experienced in marketing of this type of product. Tourism planning is a specialised subject. The most popular active or adventure tourism involving activities like mountaineering, skiing, rafting and so on is the job of adventure specialists. All these professional jobs cannot be handled by officers trained in mere administration. Again there is need for co-ordination and focused development as well as promotion. At the moment there is no single head that could co-ordinate and monitor activities of the three distinct destination regions. Each is going its way! The post of Director General Tourism as the head of the State Tourism Organisation has probably been abolished? There is need to revive the post to co-ordinate various activities and project J & K State as a composite tourist destination.
Almost two decades back Tourism was declared as an industry but due to paucity of funds at that time, the package of incentives was restricted and was not commensurate with the incentives given to other industries. This especially applies to power tariff, land and availability of capital on special interest rates and so on. In case, the government wants development of infrastructure to meet the demand of increasing tourist arrivals, all the incentives available to other industries need to be extended to tourism activity also without any reservations. Then above everything else, the government itself needs to get out from the commercial side of developing tourism. At the moment government is itself getting into commercial exploitation of tourism. In fact, Comptroller and Auditor General of India in its last report has pointed out that the State has set up infrastructure in new tourist areas through more than a dozen Tourism Development Authorities which has remained unutilised and is virtually infructuous expenditure! If tourism is to be developed on modern scientific lines as a viable economic activity, then government must follow the declaration of Margaret Thatcher that “government has no business to be in business!” Unless some practical steps are taken, the Tourism in the state will continue to be an “Orphan” industry merely used as a political slogan by every Tom, Dick and Harry!