Fragrance of Ideas
It has been a common practice over the last one hundred years, and particularly the last fifty years for many, to visit Jammu and Kashmir, meet a few selected people in the state, make a round of the tourist hubs, spend time in hotels or houseboats and on return write book or booklet to get "registered and "recognised" as someone having the value of an advisor on Kashmir.
A plethora of such advisory opinions through sponsored means, events and tours were marketed well by the vested interests all the time. Most of the times, the people in J&K would get annoyed, irritated or agitated with such a campaign of the people interested in making money, name and status in the name of Kashmir without actually contributing to the real solutions.
Generally, these so-called experts would not even care to visit the state next time to have a review and reconsideration of or improve upon their earlier observations regarding the subject which carved out the unrequired niche for them.
Hardly any so-called expert over the last seven decades, including the hardcore politicians who were in the successive governments, pointed to the core issue which created a mess in Jammu and Kashmir. There was always a denial of the political marshy land that was given birth to in and after 1947 by the political vested interests in Jammu and Kashmir on a perpetual basis. It was said in context of Jammu and Kashmir that 'the sky is the limit'. This idea had a genesis in the politically immature statements and projections supported by the constitutional mechanism which was drafted in the Constituent Assembly in 1949 by the stubborn-ness of Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah.
'Sky is the limit' narrative included everything under the sun, and separatism, fundamentalism, majoritarianism, theocratic dispensation, Azadi and militancywere the logical outcome introduced at various intervals by the respective promoters.
Nehru proposed to use the special status granted to the state as a bargaining chip that could eventually be used to reverse the wrongs. His whole political narrative was a double edged weapon and it did what such weapons do in most of such circumstances. It cut the core nationalist and historical narrative in the erstwhile state of J&K, oftenly, to unimaginable size.
Seven long decades failed to realise the desired national interests in Kashmir. Instead, core nationalist constituency in Kashmir was forced to make exodus ab initio in 1947 culminating in 1989-90 due to militancy.
The Nehruvian vision of politics and statecraft failed to win over anything tangible from Indian point of view in Kashmir. Militancy and migration of a particular community in Kashmir, communal massacres in Jammu and Kashmir, political uncertainty in the state coupled with reactionary, seditious and highly provocative statements by the mainstream and separatist politicians in J&K set the stage ready for final think-over on the issue.
Pakistan's interference added accelerating the processes that were ignited in 2012-2014 period in this regard by the new the then would-be dispensation at the centre.
Consequent upon a persistent and continuous debate, discussion and campaign, August 5/6, 2019 wrote a new history with the introduction of new political realities and division of the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state.
The initial public reactions are justifiable so are the administrative measures to save human lives. Both the security forces and the public in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir deserve kudos for maintaining law & order, peace and tranquillity. Restrictions are preventive and are a matter of short-term targets. So are the preventive custodial detentions. But the time for introspection has come. It would be wise to do it sooner than later.
As long as, Pakistan considers Kashmir a boundary issue, it will always find itself wanting to get any sort of international support. History bears a testimony to the fact that no nation likes to interfere in an issue of boundaries between the two countries.
Militancy hasn't and cannot fetch the political results to Pakistan nor would it have an unchallenged situation in this regard. Scores of militant outfits and militant kingpins in Pakistan are on the UN and US sanction-list. India is also determined to finish militancy from Jammu and Kashmir in order to establish peace and gear up for the process of unprecedented development.
The changed scenario post abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A is irreversible, undoubtedly. There is an overwhelming opinion in favour of the move both in the government and in the parliament of India. The determination of the political class has got reinforced due to the miserable failure of Congress and Co. in the last general elections to improve its strength. There is no likelihood to visualise a possible reversion of this constitutional revolution in future course of time.
A number of other political measures are in sight which will make and take the new political narrative on Kashmir to the new heights. In such a situation, it would be prudent to scan the scenario keeping in view the past and future of Jammu and Kashmir.
The modern generation of Kashmir has an ample opportunity to draw lessons from history. Nobody would like Kashmir to become another Iraq or Afghanistan, Syria or Yemen. Enough is really enough, let there be an introspection. Kashmir has potential to throw the window of development open with a clear vision of futuristic goals. There can be no denying the fact that Kashmir has suffered but the fact of the matter is that it happened due to our own follies and pedalling of wrong notions.
Today Kashmir has an opportunity to once again catch the new horizons of imagination. There are now qualities and qualities available within Kashmir in the field of technical and academic pursuits. We have read and heard that Kashmir was once the centre of learning, it can be made the same once again, provided we wish and follow our cherished missions.
The buzz words doing rounds internationally are educational tourism, medical tourism and spiritual tourism. Kashmir has a great potential in this regard, historically, naturally and academically. The only thing needed is will and infrastructure. This has capacity to bring Kashmir on the new path of research, development and excellence.
The infrastructure can be developed on the Bali (Indonesia) model which draws the maximum tourists round the clock for all the twelve months. Srinagar as on date is well connected since it has now an international airport. New locations within the valley can be developed with an eye on the global star attraction for the people who are destined to spend their surplus money during their vacations.
Kashmir can also earn the distinction of being a venue for organising International and National conferences on various issues of humanity and sciences. The lakes like Wular, Manasbal, Dal, Nigeen and other such destinations need to be cleansed with the help of modern equipment so that the beauty of original landscape is protected and promoted.
The government and the civil society are duty bound in the new scenario to disallow any sort of encroachments on the banks of the historical lakes and mountainous regions. Those who are responsible for such acts need to be brought before justice. Every inch of Kashmir is sacred for every human being in Kashmir. There is no possibility of allowing any sort of illegal and even legal manipulation of the encroachments.
There is an imperative need to rebuild Kashmir with a view to make it a liveable place for anyone and everyone irrespective of status, position, community and faith. It is the highest opportunity to select the new path for a secure and sound future and the younger generations have a big role to play in this connection under the able guidance of their seniors and superiors. Better late than never.