Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Kashmir needs resolution, not management!

(As always, people from every side are trying to “manage” the problem in Kashmir rather than resolve it once for and all!)

Image result for kashmir stone pelters

The authorities in Delhi and Kashmir are these days announcing a number of measures to somehow engage the “rebellious” youth all over Kashmir. Firstly, harsh measures are being taken to trace and liquidate militants. In fact, the Army Chief has declared that these operations will continue as long as militants are around. From his point of view, it is a war which has to be fought till the end. However, the moot point is why these militants have taken up arms? Why even after liquidating some, others are ready to replace them. It is here that the real political aspect of the problems comes to the fore!
The basic political problem of Kashmir has now been there for almost 70 years and it continues to be on the agenda of the UN Security Council. It has been there since India approached the UN in late forties regarding Pakistan’s aggression to grab Kashmir which had, as claimed by India, duly acceded to the Indian Union under the instrument of accession signed between the then Maharaja of Kashmir Hari Singh and the Governor General of India Lord Mountbatten. As a result of the signing of the instrument of accession, the Indian Army had been air-lifted to Kashmir to halt the Tribal Raid supposedly engineered by Pakistan to forcibly annex Kashmir to Pakistan. India had claimed that the people of Kashmir had supported the accession through their leader Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. The story after that is well known and documented event wise in dozens of books. The two parts of the former state of Jammu & Kashmir remain under the administrative control of the two neighboring countries. Although both countries claim these to be their parts yet the UN does not recognize the arrangement as the final settlement of the dispute regarding the owner ship of the State. A UN military Observer Group tasked with keeping an eye on the status of the ceasefire line now called the line of actual control is a living proof of the existence of the basic political dispute recognized by the world body. 
On the Pakistani side, the administration has been virtually run from Islamabad by their Minister for Kashmir Affairs and the most powerful person in that part of the state has always been the Chief Secretary, a senior Civil Service of Pakistan officer. In the case of Gilgit-Baltistan, formerly known as the Northern Areas, it used to be the Commissioner for Northern Areas. In the recent past, they have got their own elected Executive Council which has given them some semblance of autonomy. On this side the system has been better with an elected government notwithstanding allegedly the fact of the disputed fairness of the elections. The State did enjoy some sort of autonomy till Sheikh Abdullah was dethroned and imprisoned in 1953. Since that time there has been gradual erosion of autonomy and at present only the hollow shell is left!
Unfortunately, some over eager members of the present ruling set up are bent upon removing this empty shell of so called autonomy.  They want to demolish the special status of the state by totally merging the Indian part of the state into the Union of India. They have declared that they are determined to remove all special privileges including the state subject law which guarantees Kashmiris’ individuality in the vast ocean of the Union of India! The two initiatives cannot go together. You cannot claim to be embracing the youth of Kashmir on one hand and then on the other take measures to destroy his individuality. The right approach would be to accept the existence of the basic problem and take measures in earnest to resolve it by approaching all the stakeholders.
The present unrest which the government has totally failed to curb has actually originated in the election debacle of 1987 when people were denied the right to choose their own representatives under the Indian Constitution. That story too is well documented. The result of that denial was the outbreak of militancy in 1990. According to government figures more than 50,000 people died in that uprising over a period of few years. Unofficial figures put the casualties much higher. About 10,000 people are supposed to have disappeared without a trace. Some of the relatives of the disappeared are still waiting for their return! After those events of the nineties the real peace has never returned to Kashmir in the true sense. A fall out of the uprising of the nineties has been the continuous harassment of the youth by the security forces and the Police. The Burhan Tsunami which was generated by the killing of this popular militant leader was the bursting out of that pent up anger which is still simmering among the youth of the valley. Now, instead of facing the reality, the authorities are once again trying to manage the situation by using the proverbial stick and carrot! It is a crude attempt at firefighting without bothering about the cause of the fire. Well, they may be able to subdue the youth temporarily by using the stick of the security forces and at the same time by dangling the carrot of jobs and so on but the embers of the fire will continue to simmer for another flare up sooner than later! The alienation of the youth is now at the extreme.
Incidentally, during the rule of Congress which lasted almost 70 years since independence, there was always an excuse given by them that they will not be able to take a decisive stand on Kashmir because of the fear of the Hindu backlash. It was opined by many that only a strong Government supported by the major Hindutva parties would alone be able to take a final decisive step in resolving Kashmir as they will not have any fear of the backlash! It is true that with such a decisive majority and the support of the Hindu masses they could easily take a decision to sort out Kashmir once and for all as they would be able to sell any solution to the bulk of the Indian masses without any backlash. Unfortunately, they seem to be more concerned with their vote banks rather than ridding the whole sub-continent of this festering problem. It is a pity that the people do not realize that all efforts to develop the sub-continent in every way will go up in smoke if the spark of Kashmir lights the nuclear fuse!
There is still time to revive a real peace process by active and unconditional dialogue not only with the people of all the regions and with all alienated parties including the youth but even across the border. The only catch is for the process to be for a real and practical resolution of the basic problem and not for its temporary management! Can the present government in Delhi rise to the occasion? If not, the alternative is unthinkable as it would be a disaster not only for Kashmir but for the whole sub-continent as well as South Asia.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Reviving Kashmir’s Ziraat

(Any initiative in reviving and expanding the agricultural base of Kashmir which has been the backbone of our economy is most welcome)
Reviving Kashmir’s Ziraat
A columnist friend Arjimand Hussain Talib has recently launched Ziraat Times both a print publication and an online portal to fully revive and promote the dwindling agricultural economy of the State. The focus of the bi-lingual print publication (English and Urdu) is to act as an information catalyst to promote sustainable growth in horticulture, agriculture, animal husbandry, fisheries, forestry, sericulture, floriculture and other sectors of J & K’s agro-economy. The special focus is to be on food safety and climate-change resilience. While describing reasons for focusing on agriculture, it is mentioned that, In 2015-16, agriculture sector contributed Rs 13,893 crore, or 15.89%, to Jammu & Kashmir's Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP).  While in percentage terms agriculture's contribution to the GSDP has been reducing, it is not unusual. It is a global trend for agriculture percentage in GDPs to decline as the scale of manufacturing and services grow.  However, we believe J&K still has immense potential in enhancing agricultural productivity”.
There are no two opinions that the agriculture has always been the real backbone of Kashmiris economy for centuries. Even at present the 80% of the population consists of cultivators. Unfortunately, over the years instead of progressing this sector has been rather dwindling and we are at a juncture when we depend on imports for most of our agriculture based products! While on one hand most of the agricultural products and the people engaged in producing these have been declining over a period of time, on the other the only thing which has grown geometrically are the government employees! A sizeable chunk of the State budget goes into the salaries of these employees. Unfortunately, over a period of time we have depleted slowly the dignity of manual labour and created a mind-set of white collar jobs among our youth. According to some estimates almost a million youth are educated but unemployed. Most are waiting for the white-collar government jobs even at the lowest level. This is the greatest disservice that has been done by our rulers for last 70 years or so! The culture of subsidy of fifties was its beginning! The other disservice we have done to our beautiful and naturally resourceful land has been to convert our rich cultivable land into plots to construct houses, shopping complexes and colonies.
Kashmir’s greatest resource is water which could be used to generate power for our own use and sale to our neighbours. Unfortunately, this resource has been mortgaged by our so called leaders and there is no chance of retrieving it. The only way forward is to give full throttle to agriculture and all other related activities. Not only can we be self-sufficient in all these products but we could even export some of these. The sector could also provide jobs to the youth once they are retrieved from the white collar syndrome. Almost half a million outsiders are working in Kashmir in both skilled and unskilled jobs making us comfort loving and lazy. According to some estimates almost Rs. 40 crores go out of Kashmir everyday as the wages of this skilled and non-skilled labour force! Incidentally, the State Government has announced proposals for regularisation of 60,000 casual employees. One would not question the advisability of the step as by all canons of justice people having been kept hanging as casual for more than 20 years need to be regularised. The question is why the governments have been taking this easy route of casual employees continuously? Simply, vote bank politics detrimental to the economic well-being of the state. The easiest way is to create armies of slaves and keep them on the dole! They would be the future vote-bank!
The possibilities in agriculture and related activities are immense. One is reminded of the first tenure of Mufti Sayed during which he visited Dubai and invited some experts from the largest consortium of companies dealing in various food products. A team consisting of some specialists in various agriculture based fields visited the state. They were taken to a number of places including Kokarnag and Laribal Trout farms, Botanical Garden and Floriculture seed farm and Agriculture University in Shalimar. On trout they offered to pick up as much as Kashmir could give! They had been importing trout of much lower quality from Chile. In the agriculture university they were surprised to see some Kiwi Fruit trees and they could not believe that it could grow here! They informed that Dubai was re-exporting Kiwi to India after importing it from New Zealand and Italy. One of the floriculture experts said that they could take any quantity of cut flowers from here. In fact, he remarked that the amount of lavender growing wild in Kashmir could enable setting up of a dozen perfumeries! Unfortunately, all the plans made with Mufti Sahib after their meetings with him died along with his departure from the Government and he could not get a chance to revive these during his second tenure which he may have definitely liked to do!
Incidentally, Kiwi is now grown in Kashmir. Cut flowers are also being sent to different places by some private entrepreneurs. However, the State Government is spending crores on a short time show piece Tulip Garden which money could be utilised to give a boost to cut flower production by private entrepreneurs! Unfortunately, we are fonder of show biz than any productive and gainful work! In these circumstances, any initiative to revive and strengthen Kashmir’s agricultural base is more than welcome. It should not only receive approval from the Civil Society and the Government but total and unconditional support if we want Kashmir to be self-sufficient and economically strong!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Kashmir’s Own Air Service

(The operation of a private helicopter service is welcome but it needs full government backing from the State and the Centre to succeed)
Image result for helicopters

Recently the announcement about the formation of a private limited company, Kashmir Air Services was made by some local entrepreneurs known as Dar brothers. They have been operating a reputed timber company known as Dar Timber Company. They are also in hotel business. According to press reports the entrepreneurs have already done the ground work like approaching the Directorate General of Civil Aviation and so on. They intend to operate a helicopter service to various Tourist Resorts and some other places which sometimes remain cut off especially during winter such as Tanghdar, Drass, Kargil and Uri. They claim to have selected key professionals to operate these services. Initially they plan to induct six helicopters. They may also operate services to Shri Amarnath Ji Cave and Vaishnov Devi Ji Shrine. They have also indicated possible operation of an air ambulance. The initiative is most welcome and timely and is in fact most needed. However, the question is how soon their proposals will be cleared by various authorities?
Incidentally, the State Government itself had taken a decision couple of decades back to start such services. In fact, a Department of Civil Aviation was set up which still exists! Some helicopters and a small plane were procured for the purpose but unfortunately after sometime the state authorities developed cold feet and the fleet of the aircraft remained for the use of the Chief Minister and other important officials. The state government has been going in a see saw manner in this regard. There never was a genuine interest and a really sincere effort even though such air services by helicopters and small aircraft are very urgently needed especially during winter. The state government has mostly been depending upon the Indian Air Force to operate courier services through M-17 helicopters during winter to cut off places like Tanghdar, Gurez, Zanskar and so on. For these services the Air Force charges are quite high. Sometime back the State Government had also taken on lease two helicopters from the Pawan Hans limited. These were operated to Gurez, Tanghdar and sometimes to Kargil and Zanskar. One was later on kept at Vaishnov Devi Ji shrine for taking Pilgrims up from Katra. A small aircraft service was also started between Jammu and Rajouri but was subsequently discontinued. In fact, Ghulam Nabi Azad, the then Civil Aviation Minister also travelled in a small aircraft on a maiden flight to Kargil for a survey but the flight never started. For reasons best known to the government, no one has so far seriously considered operation of a regular helicopter or small aircraft flight to these far flung cut off areas especially during winter.
Incidentally for some years starting from 1987 Pawan Hans helicopter leased by the state government was regularly used in winter to ferry heli-skiers from Srinagar Airport to Centaur Hotel and then from there to Gulmarg and Sonamarg. The French heli-ski expert Sylvain Saudan used his own small French Lama (Cheetah) helicopter in Gulmarg and Sonamarg for heli-skiing. These operations continued even during the turmoil of nineties! A similar operation can be again started for current winter as there would be many foreign skiers interested in coming to Gulmarg. They can be ferried straight from Srinagar airport to Gulmarg.
In view of these possibilities, it is more than welcome if a private initiative has been taken in regard to the operation of a helicopter service to various tourist resorts and cut off places. The state government needs to encourage and assist such ventures. A similar initiative from reputed domestic and international airlines needs to be encouraged for operating international flights from the Srinagar Airport to South East Asia like Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and in the Middle East to Dubai and Jeddah. Even flights to Central Asian destinations like Tashkent, Coolab (the burial place of Shah-i-Hamadan is in Khatlan Province of Tajikistan) could be very viable. Unfortunately, all these initiatives have to pass through the prism of “Security” which shoots these down without any argument. Even night flights from the airport are still hanging fire. One hears that these would be soon started.
 But there is still a “Security” question mark! If Kashmir has to revive Tourism and provide succor to stranded patients in far flung areas, the “Security” grid has to take a broad minded decision and not only allow but encourage such initiatives. However, keeping the past in view, one has to keep the fingers crossed and wait to see if the private initiative really materializes!

The Political “Leeches” of Kashmir!

(Some politicians have been virtually acting as leeches, stuck to the body of “Kashmir”, sucking every drop of its blood and attaching to it again and again even when thrown away!)
“Mainstream” is a very commonly used word in Kashmir these days. It is generally applied to the politicians advocating and supporting Kashmir’s relationship with India. When one talks of streams, the first impression is about the geographical streams. Kashmir’s mainstream is the River Jhelum which flows south and after traversing Pakistan drops into the Arabian Sea! Kashmir’s entire history is woven around this River locally called Wyeth or Jhelum. In ancient times in Sanskrit it was known as Vitasta. Most of the time it used to have clean and pure water but due to “advancement” of the civilisation, it has become most dirty and polluted! There was a time when one could drink the pure water of Jhelum and there used to be lot of fish in it. In fact, downstream in Sopore and Baramulla area the famous Mahaseer fish was in abundance! These days we have mostly polluted water which is not fit even for washing not to speak of drinking!
 Right from 1947, the Kashmir’s Rivers including the geological “Mainstream”, Jhelum, have been carrying all along their course the blood of martyrs. People have given their blood to attain their aspirations of a free Kashmir where they could stand with self-respect and dignity. On the other hand the so called political “Mainstream” has been a two way channel for muck and dirt of all kinds. This stream has given rise to what one could call the “Political Leeches”! As mentioned, unfortunately, the real geographical mainstream too has become murky due to all the waste and filth dumped into it by the people residing on its banks! Even the water bodies which were once a sight to behold have been dirtied and in some cases, totally filled up due the insatiable greed of the people for material things. This is in contrast to centuries old spiritual values because of which Kashmir has often been called the “Resh-e-Woer”, (the bowl of saints)! The pollution process has been presided over by these “Leeches” of the “Political Mainstream” all these years! Forget the Political Autonomy; they have not virtually done anything worthwhile to save the River and the water bodies!
According to Wikipedia, “Leeches are segmented worms which feed on vertebrate blood and most of the species live in freshwater environment. Leeches have been historically used in medicine to remove blood from patients. The practice of leeching can be traced to ancient India and Greece, and continued well into the 18th and 19th centuries in both Europe and North America”. In Kashmir, traditionally, it used to be the barbers who used to carry the leeches to draw blood from people desirous of doing so to cure certain ailments especially high blood pressure. Drawing of blood by leeches used to be a popular treatment for many other ailments. Politically, Kashmiris have faced for last 70 years or so two “Barbers” on two sides of the border who have been continuously drawing their blood through some “Political Leeches” owned or patronised by them not to help Kashmiris but rather to nourish and cure their own ailments!
The greatest misfortune of Kashmiris is that they easily offer themselves for all sorts of exploitation. Instead of taking a stand based on certain principles they follow like a herd of sheep every shepherd even though he may have misled them many times in the past. The story of last seventy years is a typical example of this behaviour. As some foreign authors have observed, the Kashmiris seems to have evolved a philosophy of survival. If you can’t beat them, join them but only for survival and not for the sake of any principles. What they want in reality, they keep it hidden in their hearts and when any opportunity shows up where the resolve of the oppressor appears weakening, they burst out with vengeance!
The tragedy of the present times is that the very political leaders who did everything in their hands to weaken whatever autonomy or independence the State had for their own selfish and short term goals are now crying hoarse for its restoration. There cannot be anything more hypocritical than that! On the other hand, the others who painted some alluring and beautiful utopian dreams of a free and a self-ruled Kashmir are making every possible effort to remove any traces of the autonomy left unintentionally by over sight. The misfortune is that the gullible people would again be taken for a ride by these virtual “Political Leeches”! However, the only light at the end of the tunnel is the new generation which refuses to budge and is determined to reach the goal of ultimate salvation. So if peace is to return to Kashmir, it is this generation which needs to be approached and spoken to in a totally free atmosphere without any allurement or fear. How can that be done and who can do that is a million dollar question!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

CBM’s for the Youth!

(Recalling youth from violence through confidence building measures is good but the question is why did the youth take to violence in the first place?)
CBMs for the youth!

The Chief Minister has announced amnesty for the first time stone pelters. The cases against these would be reviewed and withdrawn. The initiative is supposed to have been taken on the advice of the new Interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma who has recently started his second visit to Kashmir. He has probably realised that the greatest stakeholders are the alienated youth who at present constitute the bulk of the population. There have been many other suggestions from various quarters to turn round the alienated youth of Kashmir. The new generation of Kashmiris especially the ones born and brought up during the turmoil of nineties of the last century has mostly been volatile and irreconcilable. It is this generation which has seen the worst part of violence due to which it is fully restive and completely alienated. In fact, stone pelting started right from 2008 with the first agitation generated by the Amarnath land row. It reached a peak in 2010 when over a hundred boys were killed. Stone pelting was then likened to Palestinian Intifada!
The latest violent upheaval was the Burhan Tsunami of 2016. All these incidents which became a virtual tide were caused by total suppression of free expression guaranteed under the constitution. The government was not ready to tolerate any demonstration or procession regardless of the fact whether people demanded “Azadi” or even better power supply or even jobs. Curfew was continuously imposed without any relaxation, days on end. People were not even allowed to offer Friday prayers in local mosques not to talk of the Grand Mosque which remained locked up on umpteen Fridays! Somehow the authorities had a fear that every demonstration regardless of the issue at stake will turn into a March for “Azadi”! Well, even if such a thing would happen that would not take out Kashmir physically from India with a million strong fully entrenched army guarding it! Rather the peaceful marches if allowed would end up in a dialogue as happened in 1963 Holy Relic agitation. The agitation ended in a dialogue as a result of which Sheikh Abdullah was released.
No doubt the other side across the border is looking for any opportunity to rake up trouble on this side but that only happens when opportunities are provided to them as happened in 1965 after suppression of a student movement which had risen as a result of the holy relic agitation! In fact due to suppression of that movement including the arrest of Sheikh Abdullah on return from his foreign tour, not only a gulf was created between the people and the rulers but the two countries went to war which caused destruction all around. After the reinstallation of Sheikh Abdullah in 1975, there was a lull which again got disrupted in 1990 because of the underlying problem remaining unresolved! The main drawback has been always the attitude of authorities for managing the basic problem rather than solving it once and for all! Unless that is done, the Kashmir’s volcano will continue to simmer and erupt without warning off and on!
Why have the youth been so much alienated this time again and driven to extremes? Well, simply because they have been and are still being continuously harassed by various security agencies, paramilitary forces and even the special operations group of the local police. In fact, the intelligence agencies have indexed every Kashmiri especially the youth. Reportedly, boys are picked up, beaten and then released after few days, sometimes against consideration by their parents and relatives. It is alleged that the harassment of the youth has become a lucrative business for some security agencies including the police. The reason for Burhan Wani to pick up a gun was his continuous harassment by security forces. In fact, the beating given to him and his brother by the security forces was the last straw!
Amnesty is being given to first timers but does anybody care why there are second timers and the third timers? So the most important confidence building measure is to immediately stop harassment to the youth by all agencies and allow total freedom of expression. This can only be achieved when draconian powers given to security forces are withdrawn. As long as they enjoy the freedom to harass everyone without any accountability and as long as all their actions get a blanket cover of “National Security”, peace is not going to return to Kashmir!
An important confidence building measure requiring immediate action than giving Amnesty to first timers is to take care of political prisoners in various jails within J & K and outside. The Government should bring all Kashmiri political prisoners languishing in different jails outside Kashmir back to the valley. Allegedly, some of them are being beaten and ill-treated and some are not being provided medical treatment. These people seem to have been virtually forgotten and their families are going through worst kind of torture and hardship. Even if they are not released immediately merely bringing them back to Kashmir will give a big relief to them and their families. They are virtually being subjected to the “Kala Pani” treatment of the British days! Reportedly, there are about a thousand Kashmiris in various prisons at the moment. About 350 or so are in Jammu in various Jails like Kotbalwal, Reasi, Poonch, Rajouri and Udhampur. Around 50 or so are supposed to be in Tihar Jail, Delhi. Approximately, 300 are detained under Public Safety Act. Additionally reportedly over 200 boys are detained in various Police Stations of the valley. Giving relief to these people will also be an appreciable CBM for their families! Let us hope the Interlocutor keeps this in mind!


Thursday, November 23, 2017

Kashmir on “Auto-Pilot”!

(People allege that the governance is missing in Kashmir but in reality, the State has been put on an “Auto-Pilot” like an aircraft taking a long range flight!)
It is usual practice with the flight crew of a long range passenger aircraft going on long flights usually inter-continental ones, to put the aircraft on “Auto-Pilot”. The “Auto-Pilot” controls all functions of the flight along a pre-determined flight path. The pilots can even go to sleep one by one with someone from the crew remaining awake to retrieve the aircraft from automatic controls during any sudden or unusual weather disturbance or some other mechanical problems enroute. A similar situation exists with the state administration in Kashmir these days. The pilots have put the valley on “Auto-Pilot” and have gone to the salubrious climate of Jammu for the winter break. In fact, the whole Kashmir both administratively and politically has been on an “Auto-Pilot” for last 70 years or so!
Politically, all the stakeholders have been almost mechanically following certain set flying paths. Some are on the “Mainstream” path while others are on so called “Separatist” path. Both seem to be using “Auto-Pilots” and take manual control only when there is some major “Weather Disturbance” on the route! Both the crews have been making hay while the Sun shines! The poor passengers have always been left high and dry! There are two antagonistic claimants who declare themselves to be the owners of the Aircraft called Kashmir. While one side has the physical possession of the same, the other side claims that the Aircraft is legally their property and has been stolen by this side. Unfortunately, none of them is bothered about the fate of the passengers stuck on the aircraft! The tragedy is that there appears least possibility of the aircraft safely landing somewhere! The misfortune of the passengers is that the landing gear of the aircraft is stuck and none of the Global Air Traffic Controllers are prepared to guide the aircraft for a safe landing somewhere! The only possibility seems a crash landing after the aircraft runs out of fuel! The only silver lining is that the passengers are least bothered about the ultimate fate of the aircraft and are enjoying the discomfort of the crew who are now fighting among themselves!
Regarding the “Developmental” side of the flight, the less said the better. The proverb that left hand does not know what the right is doing absolutely fits the situation. Let us start with the power scenario. According to Power Engineers themselves it is the worst power situation Kashmir has ever faced. The irony is that there is enough power available in the market and our rulers are ready to pay for it but we have no way to carry it home. This is allegedly thanks to some bureaucrats who have been sitting on the proposals for expansion in receiving capacity for years! It seems the bureaucrats are ruling the roost everywhere. Normally, in a democratic government, the policy and power flow down from the ministers but here it seems some of the ministers are not aware of this fact and depend totally on the bureaucrats surrounding them! Ultimately, it boils down to accountability from the lowest to the highest level, which, unfortunately, is totally missing in the present set up!
Another instance of “Auto-Pilot” pertains to the flood prevention measures. No one in the government including the Chief Executive seems to be really bothered about it. The “Auto-Pilot” will stop once another disaster strikes! It will be too late then! Instead of the works connected with these flood prevention measures being monitored on a continuous basis, no one is showing any serious concern and one only hears routine announcement that some of the measures are being executed. Three years is a long time. These measures should have by now been completed in all respects especially when the Chief Executive of the state is supposed to be heading the Committee for implementation of these! The stark example is the flood spill over channel. She needs to take a trip along its banks!
If one goes on describing the situation in various other administrative fields, it will take many columns. No one seems to be really in charge. Things seem to be moving on their own like an aircraft on a long range flight switched on to an “Auto-Pilot”! The captain needs to wake up and take full charge before the aeroplane crashes! The captain appears to be scared of Delhi! In fact, the reverse should have been true. Delhi should have been scared of the Captain as she could abandon the aircraft anytime she likes along with its Delhi passengers! Let us hope the captain becomes a real commander and takes charge of the aircraft by switching on from “Auto-Pilot” to manual in all respects otherwise there is every chance of the plane crashing without warning!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Flood Channel, invitation to disaster!

(The present condition of the flood spill over channel is such that even a small flood can turn into a disaster!)
Flood Channel, invitation to disaster!
For last three years various engineering departments have been inspecting, debating and discussing flood prevention measures to prevent any disastrous floods in future. The 2014 flood which was the most disastrous to have occurred in a century, has not taught any lessons both to the authorities and the common people. While the authorities are in a deep slumber, the people are busy in encroaching the flood basins and the spill over channels. No less a person than the Chief Minister herself is chairing a committee to oversee the completion of various essential measures for prevention of disastrous floods in the future. However, nothing substantial is happening on the ground.
A typical example of apathy and total neglect is the condition of the flood spill-over channel. It has been specifically made to by-pass the flood waters so as to save Srinagar from any disaster. It was constructed in 1904. Many times, this channel has saved the city from inundation.  At present the channel is fully silted up. In fact, in some places trees are growing inside it. At many spots its bottom is hardly ten feet lower than its banks. Because of encroachments and the silting, in 2014 the channel failed to save the city. But if excavated and deepened properly it could prevent inundation of the capital city during future floods!
Well, there were other reasons for the 2014 disaster. Kashmir used to have incessant rains earlier too. In fact, spring and autumn are rainy seasons in Kashmir. So why these floods that still cast a shadow of trauma over the entire Valley? There has been extensive cutting of forests by timber smugglers in collusion with the security forces and forest official. Even young trees have not been spared. Meadows have been over grazed. The result is a quick run off. The rainwater hardly stays in these areas and quickly comes down with earth and boulders down the slopes. Thus the river rises in a very short time causing floods.
The flood waters need a place to go somewhere if the city is to be saved. Almost the entire valley used to be a flood basin and the water would thinly spread without causing much harm. We have drastically deprived the River any room to thinly spread its excess waters. Most of the flood basins in the vicinity of Srinagar have been converted into housing colonies. Srinagar was known as the Venice of the East because of numerous canals and water bodies. The canals have almost all been filled up and converted into roads and the water bodies have been encroached inch by inch and converted into land. Only the names remain! Nalla Mar, Gill Sar, Anchar, Khushal Sar and so on.
Dal Lake is in the last throes of death. We have not only encroached the lake from all sides but also polluted it beyond redemption. Same is the fate of Wullar Lake which was reputed to be the second largest sweet water Lake in Asia after Lake Baikal in Russia! To tame the river somewhat our ancestors had constructed embankments especially to save the city of Srinagar. However, we have vandalised these everywhere by constructing houses, hotels, hospitals and in some places even mosques!
There were two things which needed to be done. First was to conduct an investigation for various failures at all levels. This was essential to prevent similar mismanagement of floods in future. However, more urgent task than this was for the government and the people to take an initiative for flood prevention measures. These included dredging of the river all along its length; desilting of the flood spill over channel; clearing of some of the flood basins and strengthening of the embankments. Nothing substantial has been done so far. Everything is going at a snail’s pace. On the contrary the government is quietly sitting on its three years long inaction. What an irony! Had this happened in any other country, apart from some people having been put in the dock, massive flood prevention measures would have been completed by now?
There is still time to save the situation. The winter is the best time to excavate silt and earth from the River and the flood spill over channel. It just needs a couple of dozen JCBs and about 100 or so tippers. The excavated soil can be used for filling wherever required by various departments. Interestingly, recently there was news about people being restrained from excavating earth from the Budgam karewas to fill up Rakh Arth area where Dal dwellers colony is supposed to be constructed. There was no need to destroy karewas if people had been directed to excavate the flood channel. The same soil could be used for filling wherever there was a need!
Such tasks cannot be done through usual tendering procedures because of the urgency and the disastrous consequences which may result due to administrative dithering. The Chief Minister being the Chairperson of the Committee could directly order some reputed company within the country or even from abroad or even a government organisation like Hindustan Construction Corporation or so to take up the job without going in for any tenders. She has all the residuary executive powers under the constitution and can order in public interest, anything in relaxation of all rules! But the question is will she do it? Let us hope, she does it and is not misguided by the motivated administrators and the engineers!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Kashmir’s Unending Power Famine!

(An area having one of the highest potentials of hydro-electric power has been facing a perennial power famine due to corruption and criminal negligence of its politicians and bureaucrats!)

Keeping the tradition of the erstwhile Maharaja’s tradition alive, the Durbar has moved to the salubrious climate of Jammu, leaving the valley people to face the worst ever power famine during the freezing winter! It is the worst tragedy of Kashmir that in spite of the capacity to generate thousands of megawatts of hydro-electric power, its inhabitants are always facing shortage of power especially during severe winters. Kashmir’s two neighbouring countries in connivance with the World Bank have virtually robbed it of its invaluable resource. It is a pity that an organisation like the World Bank did not keep any provision for the inhabitants of a territory whose water resources they were mutually dividing between its two neighbours! In a way, while dividing the waters of Kashmir without keeping a provision for the local inhabitants, India and Pakistan have committed a robbery! Pakistanis probably thought that one day Kashmir will fall in their lap and because of that accepted all Kashmir Rivers as their share. On the Indian side, the National Hydro-electric Power Corporation stole whatever was left as Kashmir’s share. From the profits of their Kashmir projects they are supposed to have earned 900 billion rupees so far!
However, if one delves deep into this whole mess which has created a power famine in Kashmir, it transpires that basically it is Kashmir’s politicians and bureaucrats who have actively connived in this loot! For last few decades, power woes are very much a part of the Kashmiri life in winter. It is not only our misfortune but is also a disgrace for the ruling elite which have been in political power all these years. There is hardly anyone who has not heard politicians of all hues and shades claim from the pulpits the hydro-power generation capacity of our rivers. The estimates vary from 20,000 to 25,000 megawatts or even more. Unfortunately, as already stated, all these rivers have been mortgaged to Pakistan by the Indian government. Kashmir’s so called political leaders have either signed on the dotted line or in some cases have not been taken on board at all! Well, the loss of our rights on these rivers through Indus Water Treaty is not the only basis for the mess even though it is one of the major factors. The entire process of power development in the state has been lopsided from the very start. Initially, before 1947 we had only the Mohura Power House which used to supply power. It continued for quite some time.
Those days one was not used to cooking or heating with the help of electric gadgets. A light bulb was the most precious possession. After 1947, the demand for power increased and the state went in for newer projects. We got P S Gill as our power commissioner who worked out a detailed plan for development of various projects. Two projects, one at Ganderbal and the other near Baramulla, the Lower Jhelum came up. Gill was totally attuned to run of the river projects and did not consider any storage based project. We also got bogged down by the Indus Water Treaty which had tied our hands behind the back. The result was a perennial race between the demand and supply. We have still not been able to bridge the gap between demand and supply especially during winter. This is because the freezing temperatures decrease the flow of water in our rivers and the power houses operate at a very low generation capacity.
It is not only the lack of generation within Kashmir or the import from outside which is the main culprit. Basically it is the system which is thoroughly corrupt. We want power but do not want pay for it. It is often given out that we have over 50% transmission or distribution losses. This is not true. These losses only amount to no more than 10% or so. 40% loss or even more is due to pilferage. Dishonesty at all levels. Corruption has seeped into our bloodstream. One would not have expected any pilferage in the metered areas but unfortunately it may be as much as in non-metered areas if not more! Strangely it is the linemen supposed to check pilferage who are showing consumers how to by-pass the meters. They are alleged to charge 100 rupees per month from these pilfers. Some consumers have a separate service line which they hook onto the mains bypassing the meter after dark. The linemen know this and keep their mouths shut against a monthly “fee”.
According to recent press reports, the present winter is going to be the worst in our memory as regards the power. The latest problem has been caused by the lack of facilities for transmission of power from the Northern Grid to the valley! Allegedly, there have been inordinate delays on the part of the administration in sanctioning and releasing funds for the two grid stations which could have increased the capacity for transmission. The peak requirement of the valley is supposed to be 1700 Megawatts while as the transmission capacity is only 1200 Megawatts. In fact, it is a funny situation, there is enough power available in the market and the government is ready to pay for it forgetting the realisation of revenues, yet we cannot bring it home as we have no carriage facilities. There could not be a worse misfortune than this! Will there ever be accountability for such lapses! Not till Kashmir remains an orphan! Everybody wants it but no body sincerely owns it! Well, the only choice is to forget all the modern gadgets and go back to Kangris and Bukharis and pray for our salvation!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

End repression before talks!

(For any dialogue to succeed the primary requirement is a conducive environment. One cannot ask somebody to talk by holding a gun to his temple!)
Image result for repression in kashmir

It is a very welcome initiative from Government of India to hold talks with all stake holders in Kashmir to resolve the basic problem and bring peace to the area. Kashmir problem has been hanging fire for a just and equitable solution for last 70 years. It has not only been a disaster for the local people but has caused immense damage to the whole sub-continent by diversion of valuable funds urgently needed for the welfare of the poor people, towards mutual war efforts. Apart from outright major wars, the two neighbouring countries have been fighting proxy wars with Kashmir being the main theatre of operations. Kashmiris have been virtually turned into guinea pigs for testing the two conflicting ideologies. Not only have Kashmiris suffered physically, economically but also mentally. According to “Doctors without Borders” almost every second Kashmiri is suffering from psychological problems including traumatic disorders.
The new generation of Kashmiris has become totally irreconcilable to the status quo and want a change.  They are not under the control of any leadership and now constitute 60% of the population. Thus when declaring that the Government representative is going to talk to all stakeholders, the biggest ones are the youth representing the majority of the population. Let us hope the interlocutor is able to find a way to talk to this generation.
For starting a dialogue one needs a conducive and a peaceful atmosphere. For quite some time Kashmir is not in an environment of peace and tranquillity. Firstly, most of the fundamental rights including even the right to life remain suspended! (Example is AFSPA) Every nook and corner has presence of armed troops whether regular or paramilitary. Even foreign journalists have remarked that Kashmir is at present the most militarised place in the world! Cordon and search operations are going on for suspected militants on a continuous basis throughout the valley. In fact, the Chief of the Army has declared that process of dialogue through the interlocutor is not going to affect the military operations and these are going to continue without any break. There appears to be strange dichotomy in the approach of New Delhi to the present volatile situation in Kashmir. Some of the opposition leaders have characterised the appointment of the interlocutor and starting of a dialogue as “diversionary tactics”! A.G. Noorani terms it “The Kashmir Ruse”! The basis for this observation could be the earlier such attempts for reconciliation and dialogue which have unfortunately all been unsuccessful due to lack of sincerity in approach.
There is no change in the response of the leaders presently heading the movement for “Azadi”! They have rejected the dialogue offer calling it time buying tactics. Earlier they used to demand admission of the existence of a dispute about Kashmir by Government of India before any dialogue. Additionally, it has been often given out by the leaders of the local movement that Pakistan has to be a party to the dialogue. Now, they seem to be totally unreconciled for any dialogue. This shows that they are under tremendous pressure and do not want to climb down from their extreme position due to the strong sentiments of the youth and the contradictory statements of BJP leaders. Normally, any offer of unconditional dialogue with all stakeholders needs to be given a try if a climate for the same is created by ending repression.
There have been observations by some people regarding the assigning the job of an interlocutor to a former intelligence officer. Many have opined that the task should have been assigned to an upright politician of some standing. Normally, political disputes are best sorted out by politicians rather than intelligence men. However, it is also true that an intelligence officer would be in a better position to know the actual ground situation and who is who of the whole movement especially in a place like Kashmir teeming with intelligence agencies! However as already said, the main catch is the conducive situation. People have to feel that the offer of talks is genuine and the Government of India is really interested in peace. This can be judged only if all the repression is ended. One cannot claim sincerity for peace when a gun is held to ones temple. All restrictions need to be withdrawn. There should be total freedom of expression. Detained people being slapped PSA after PSA need to be released. Cordon and search operations should be halted. Forces presence especially in civilian areas must be decreased. They should be sent back to barracks. Draconian legislations need to be withdrawn. An atmosphere of freedom rather than of fear needs to be established. This is a pre-requisite for any meaningful dialogue intended to bring in peace. Otherwise the whole exercise, as termed by many intellectuals and leaders, is a diversionary tactic for firefighting and not for removing the cause of the fire!
A journalist friend from Chennai has written an article about the dialogue offer stating, “As a flag-waving Hindu nationalist, Modi is in a better position than anyone around to push for a settlement of both the internal and external aspects of the Kashmir problem. But can he display the level of statesmanship it calls for?” Let us hope he does!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Promoting Gulmarg Ski Resort

(The excellent snow conditions on world class slopes with maximum sunny days make Gulmarg the most attractive ski resort urgently needing intensive marketing among ski enthusiasts world over!)
Promoting Gulmarg Ski Resort

Not many people may know that skiing in Gulmarg was started almost at the same time when it had become a popular sport in Europe. In fact, the Ski Club of India was established by Major Metcarp and Major Headow, two British Army Officers, in 1927 at Gulmarg. Mr.B.N.Pestonji was its first Secretary. Ski races had been introduced as a sport in Gulmarg area almost at the same time as these were introduced in the Alps. Those days all ski competitions were held at Khilanmarg and the pony track was kept open throughout the winter. There were two major events, the Christmas and Easter Competitions. The famous British Sports Equipment Firm, the “Lilywhites” had introduced some trophies for various ski competitions. In fact one of the ski slopes above Khilanmarg is still called the “Lilywhite Slope”. The attendance in the open competition held at Christmas in 1938 was over 500. Gulmarg had two 100 room hotels and hundreds of chalets. There was a Cinema and a Golf Club House with two eighteen hole courses. One could get everything aristocratic and fashionable in the “Bazaar” of Gulmarg directly imported from all parts of Europe. Families of some of the British Army Officers would come to Gulmarg simply to buy these goodies. Marion Doughty in her travelogue, “Afoot through Kashmir Valley” makes a special mention of the “Gulmarg Tea Dance” and the preparations she had to undergo at the British Residency in Srinagar for participating in the event. Gulmarg was discovered by Yusuf Shah Chak, the last Kashmiri ruler who used to camp here for days with his poetess Queen Habba Khatoon. The Mughal Emperor Jehangir and his Queen Noor Jehan too were very fond of Gulmarg.
The departure of British in 1947 threw the resort into total oblivion. Skiing completely vanished from Gulmarg. The establishment of the High Altitude Warfare School of Indian Army revived the activities of winter sports again. However, it was only after 1965 that the Government of India, Ministry of Tourism, made out a plan for converting Gulmarg into a Ski Resort of International Standards. A National Ski School was set up and “Gulmarg Winter Sports Project” was launched. Even UNDP had got interested and had donated ski lifts, equipment and assigned an Austrian Expert, Otto Santner, to render advice in the setting up of the resort. Dr.Jens Krause, an Austrian ski teacher was appointed the first Principal of the Ski School who trained the first batch of National Instructors in Gulmarg. The first batch of National Ski Instructors graduated from the School in early seventies. Some of these were absorbed in the Central winter Sports Project and School while the trainees from the State became part of the Adventure Tourism Wing of the State Department which was set up in 1973. Thus restarted the Skiing in Gulmarg and a large number of foreigners were attracted in addition to domestic ski lovers.
The main foreign clientele was of the British expatriates working in South East Asia. Both at Christmas and Easter, Gulmarg used to be full of British families enjoying ski holidays. Sometimes, the locals, especially in hotels and on the slopes would appear to be the “foreigners”! The State Tourism Department also invited the top French Ski Professors from their National Ski School at Chamonix for imparting training to local instructors. The level of skiing rose and the first National Ski Championship was held here in March, 1986. Same year some top skiers from Gulmarg participated in the Asian Ski Championship at Sapporo, Japan and won some top positions in Slalom. One of the instructors also participated in Winter Olympics in Canada.
Apart from foreign skiers, Gulmarg became an ideal outdoor location for Bollywood producers. Almost entire winter used to see team after team of Bollywood film producers coming to Gulmarg for shooting on snow. However, all these activities got a severe set back by the upheaval of 1990. In spite of turbulent conditions, skiing continued at Gulmarg. The famous French Skier Sylvain Saudan also known as the “Impossible Skier” for his most difficult descents, continued heli-skiing at Gulmarg. If skiing could continue in such turbulent times there should be no problem in continuing it during the current situation. However, it needs marketing in most well-known ski areas of Europe and Australia. These people had been coming to Gulmarg regularly. In fact, some Russian skiers too have been visiting Gulmarg in recent times. Last year the Chinese Ski Team had shown desire for training in Gulmarg. It could be an ideal place for many national teams to train their skiers for various championships. The State Tourism Department needs to market Gulmarg and also provide facilities on these lines. The Government should back all these efforts to keep Kashmir in circulation in the International Tourism Market.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Kishtwar, a forgotten adventure!

(The valleys of Kishtwar have been proclaimed in many travelogues as mysterious and adventurous but these days the adventure tourism potential of the area has gone totally into background!)
Image result for sicklemoon peak
In 1918, Otto Rothfeld, an Indian Civil Service Officer wrote a book titled, “With Pen and Rifle in Kishtwar”. In the preface, the author describes Kishtwar as, “…the province of Kishtwar, situated between Kashmir and Chamba on the way to Simla, and ruled by H. H. the Maharaja of Kashmir and Jammu, is not only very little known, but is in itself extremely interesting. Its scenery is almost unique; its inhabitants are peculiar; its remains are undeciphered; and its sport is exceptional”. Even though the area is now developed and modernised yet some of the valleys there retain the mystery and adventure. The book can be downloaded free at this link:
Before 1990 Kishtwar was the most sought after destination for adventure lovers especially mountaineers and trekkers from U.K. Almost a dozen expeditions would come for climbing various mountain peaks in the area. The attraction of these mountains apart from being high and difficult was the trek involved in reaching the base camp. In Ladakh especially in Suru and Zanskar Valleys where there are dozens of mountain peaks, there is hardly any trekking involved in reaching the base camps. These are almost all approachable by road with hardly a day’s trekking. This does not give sufficient time for acclimatisation.
The most frequented valleys in Kishtwar area include the Wadhwan and Paddar Valleys. Most of the mountain peaks are in the range of 6000 to 7000 meters and are very challenging. These include Brahma, Brahma’s Wife, Ekfeiler, Dreikent, Sickle Moon, Barnaj-I, II and III and so on. These have been climbed many times. Even Chris Bonnington, the famous British climber has been on Brahma! There is a very famous trek through Paddar Valley to Zanskar Valley over the Umasi La pass. This trek too has been very popular with foreign trekkers. On the way is the famous Cedar forest of Machail. In fact, this trek has historical significance. The Dogra General who conquered Ladakh and annexed it to Dogra Kingdom, General Zorawar Singh went into Zanskar valley through this pass and then conquered entire Ladakh. Another interesting episode relating to the pass is the carriage of huge cedar logs across from Machail to Zanskar by the lamas of Karsha monastery! The monastery has huge wooden columns made from these Cedar trees.
The Wadhwan valley itself is a fascinating trek. It is the most beautiful valley in the entire state. At an average altitude of 8,500 feet above sea level, there are many villages on the two sides of Wadhwan River which flows through the middle of the valley. On two sides are long forested slopes. The River itself has many islands on which there are Pine trees giving a fascinating view. From Kashmir side the valley can be approached through Margan pass across into Inshan village. There are many villages like Tsodraman, Wurwan, Sokhniz on the two sides of Wadhwan River. The valley also lies on the trek to Suru valley of Kargil through Botkol pass. Some treks lead to Lidder valley and one track comes straight over Shesh Nag through Golule Gali. The area has equally good potential during winter for skiing, cross-country skiing and ski mountaineering. It can be an excellent area for different winter sports. Wadhwan valley in winter would be a paradise for cross-country skiing.
The Department of Tourism in eighties of last century after the popularity of Kishtwar as a take off point for multiple adventure trails had set up an equipment store here. Imported trekking and climbing equipment was kept available for trekkers and climbers. However, after the outbreak of militancy in 1990, the store was taken over by the Border Security Force.
Kishtwar also has a landing strip where small aircraft have landed sometimes. Apart from developing adventure tourism, there is urgent requirement of providing an air connection to this area which sometimes remains cut off for days on end due to landslides. Even a regular helicopter service can be of good use both for the tourists and the local population. Earlier Pawan Hans had started a helicopter service which was subsequently discontinued. In view of the set back to leisure tourism due to unusual conditions in Kashmir valley, it is advisable to promote adventure tourism and Kishtwar approachable by road through Simthan pass or by helicopter from Srinagar could be a good alternative in addition to Ladakh. The adventure tourist who goes for all types of hazardous activities is not easily put off by unusual local conditions. Additionally, most of the adventure areas are away from population centres in wild valleys and on high mountains and remain undisturbed by local problems. Let us hope, Kishtwar gets re-activated as an Adventure Tourism destination and the spirit of adventure in Otto Rothfeld’s book gets rejuvenated

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Integration or assimilation?

(Mohan Bhagwat’s declaration of integrating Kashmir fully into India may, on the contrary, begin the process of disintegration of India itself!)
Get your word right
The Oxford dictionary defines “Integration” as an action to bring together different countries, blocks, units and so on for political or economic integration. The best example of the process is the European Union. The integrated countries or states retain their individual characteristics but become part of a whole. On the other hand, the “Assimilation” is the absorption and integration of people, ideas, or culture into a wider society or culture. The best example is the absorption of various races, nationalities into what we now call the American Nation which basically is an artificial creation.
RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat has declared that Kashmir will be fully integrated into India after amending the Constitution. He seems to have confused the words “Integration” and “Assimilation”! In fact, he appears to be saying that Kashmiris would be fully assimilated into the Hindu Nation of the Indian mainland which he intends to turn into Golwalkar’s dream of a Hindu Rashtra. Incidentally, he does not mention Kashmiris who have inhabited the territory for thousands of years but talks about Kashmir, the land. He probably considers Kashmir only as a territorial unit of Hindu origin. Unfortunately, right from the start, both India and Pakistan have been laying claim to the territory of Kashmir and none is really interested or bothered about its inhabitants, the Kashmiris!
In ancient times, Kashmir was known as a separate independent kingdom at the same time when India was known to be a country inhabited by Hindus. No doubt at that time the religion professed by Kashmiris was Shaivism, a school of philosophy of Hinduism practiced only in Kashmir and most of South India. However, even at that time, Kashmir was not associated with the Indian mainland in any way but remained as an independent sovereign kingdom. No doubt, that was a glorious Hindu past of Kashmir but that past has gone by and we are now living in a totally new and a different present. Kashmir is now a Muslim majority state with the most tolerant and accommodative religious practices. History always moves forward and pinning about the past glory is not going to serve any purpose or change the ground situation. That can be done by physically changing the demography with outside settlers and displacing the original inhabitants. That seems easier to say than to do practically on ground. This is especially so because of the restive youth fighting bullets with stones! They have been alienated beyond redemption. Even BJP leader Yashwant Sinha says that India has lost Kashmir emotionally!
Regarding integration, well, Kashmir is already integrated with India. This had happened right after the signing of the accession document and the Delhi Agreement in forties and fifties of the last century. Had the Indian authorities honoured these documents and implemented the same in letter and spirit, there would have been no problem. In fact, Kashmir would have been another Bhutan! Had India honoured its commitment of full autonomy, the other side would have been in trouble. There one central minister of Kashmir Affairs in Islamabad controls everything in supposedly “Azad” Kashmir! The other part earlier known as Northern Areas and now called Giligit-Baltistan is now totally merged into Pakistan for all practical purposes. The setting up of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which passes through Gilgit-Baltistan forming part of the disputed state of Jammu & Kashmir, has made this part unnegotiable both for Pakistan and China! They cannot afford to change its status at any cost for their own survival!
Thus, if Mohan Bhagwat really wants to integrate honestly and genuinely Kashmir and the Kashmiris living there into the Indian Republic, he has to restore the integrity of the agreements which India had signed with Kashmiris rather than amend the constitution to assimilate the state and its people into his utopian Hindu Rashtra! Kashmir can become part of Hindu Rashtra only if all Kashmiris are either converted back into Shaivite Hinduism or they are forcibly displaced from there by new Hindu settlers. This, as already stated, is an impossible task! On the contrary Mohan Bhagwat should advise Prime Minister Modi to start a dialogue in Kashmir if he really wants “Emotional Integration” of Kashmiris!
Incidentally, in view of the above realities, one needs to go deeper into this tirade of Hindu Rashtra and full integration of Kashmir into it generated by BJP and RSS. There is only one plausible explanation. All the BJP and RSS statements and declarations are intended to create a wave of religious euphoria for the next Parliament election which may even be preponed from 2019 to 2018. The declaration of the Election Commission that they are fully geared for holding both the State Assembly Elections and Parliament Election simultaneously in 2018 itself seems an uneasy indication of the real cause for such emotionally charged religious waves. However, such drastic declarations, instead of fully integrating Kashmir into India, may, on the contrary, disintegrate India itself!