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Leader captures the nuance

Human societies flourish when its leaders turn fault-lines into meeting grounds
12:00 AM Apr 25, 2024 IST | Prof Ashok Kaul
leader captures the nuance

It is necessary to understand the past? For past is settled memory for individuals and for collectivity as well. There might not be any exact cut point to judge the past, but when upheaval of magnitude happens that sets the boundary, at least for point of reference. Kashmir's distinct moral sphere was intentionally dissipated by its social political elite, right after 1960s.


It happened when the emergent neo-rich, semi literate, replaced traditional elite with new understanding of religion and human conduct. Its flash point was autumn of 1990; when nativity was made and seen fractured.


The rupture was the result of long run strategy of racial syntax, but camouflaged by religion to have its currency with majority of Kashmiris. Pandits were soft targets, so they had to die and leave, first. Then, it started with race science that Kashmiris are ‘biological pollution’. Racial hygiene would declare them Pandit-zade, recent converts for material gain, impure.


The stories and literature now reveal how after 1995 until  2010, the breaking and making of militant factions were racially judged, like Kashmiri nose, their voice and facial complexion then  mythologized into religious mould, associated with their native nature of mincing words. There have been huge losses of life, unrecorded.


This has trail in strategic opinion account in Pakistan’s establishment. The  charges are: first, Jinnah's humiliation in 1944, then resistance against   Raiders in October 1947, next exposure and capturing of Razakars in 1965, and then came the policy of participatory jihad - the slogan ‘let them perish but land will not perish’. There was a consensus that bleed India would mean bleed its visible minorities, first.


The history of India is a process of de-centering since 1977 to  the first decade of this century. It has been a narrative of conflicting struggles. The big powers, including India’s powerful neighbors, were managing and directing the rout. ‘What after Nehru and who after Nehru? India survived. The credit goes to its diversity in unity, despite challenges to its magnitude of diverse people and different cultures with dissimilar mode of productions at play all the time, simultaneously. There have been great leaders in between, who gradually took India out of Hindu growth rate to vibrant developing economy.


Narasimha Rao, Rajiv Gandhi and Manmohan Singh have distinct place in its making. Prime Minister Modi changed it at ground level with digitalisation and a shift from command economy to vibrant dynamic economy. Now that phase has gone. The new leap should be collective well being with expressions and dissent to present a role model of democratic functioning.


India’s strength lies in its pluralism.  Like sunshine, seven different colours, but a continuous rhythm that makes it white. Similarly day to day interactions, dependency on one another, market and common moral sphere of different cultures make India a widespread nation of more than 130 crores of people.

The leader has to be a statesman and a visionary. Who knows these fluid boundaries might turn into frontiers of meeting points and interactions, rather than sites of surveillance and image of othering, some day. The countries, which are developed and give better life chances to their citizens, will prevail.  The Middle East is melting to what a ghastly shocking results the war has brought. Only death and destruction and notional justification for fifty thousand deaths that their cause is live, a mockery of human tragedy.

There are commentaries from our neighboring countries that India is treading the path that Pakistan had taken in mid seventies of previous century; bleeding neighbours and painting nationalism through internal religiosity in public institutions. I asked informally this question to our LT. Governor, some months ago. I hope I quote him well. He had a persuasive answer that needs introspection. “India lives in its essence of Indian-oneness.

Today you may say anything, tomorrow history will record that our government saved Kashmiri natives from their final despoliation. It is true we have not been yet able to give Kashmiri Pandits their dignified place, but we have brought space and discourse back to track that native cultures have reason to flourish in building a vibrant India.

Hindu is not a monolithic community nor is Islam in India is a monolithic social religion. Kashmiris love Zain-ul Abadin (Bud Shah), but not his father Sikanda. You have to understand these social and religious nuisances to reach any conclusion. Pakistan would say like that, because its foundations depict fault lines”.

On this social nuisances and religious sagaciousness, I am reminded of an occurrence in early 1970. One of my class fellows, not good in studies, left after schooling and set a medical shop at a distant village Ashtangu, on the road side between Bandipur and Sopore. He was the only Pandit in that vicinity. Months passed, he would not pay visit to his parents. One day, the news spread that he has turned a Muslim and married the girl of the house owner.

He had well qualified employed brothers and sisters and it brought sudden embarrassment to them. His dignified father on the advice of his friends, after failing to change the mind of his son, met that respected Imam E Hayye, Mama Sahib of Bandipur.

Mama Sahib was soft spoken noble person, a real Muslim teacher, who enjoyed the esteem of his Pandit friends and of his community as well. He immediately went to the village, called the local Molvi and some senior residents of the village along with the father of the boy and then asked three direct questions to them:

Does he know Arabic, Persian or any foreign language? Has he undergone learning in any workshop or in any Islamic institution, for at least a period of six months? Is he qualified or financially rich enough to contribute, academically or economically? The answer to these direct questions was in negative.

The he asked the boy why he had become a Muslim. The boy replied that these ‘Bata will make me remain unmarried. She was ready to marry me on this condition that I should become a Muslim, so I did. Mama Sahib patiently listened to all.

And then gave his verdict that he cannot be converted. We have enough of such persons and it will be a liability, instead of him get one qualified pandit from his family or other families of Kalusa, if he agrees! There are many well educated meritorious children in their community. The boy without any resistance was handed over to his parents. Each one in the community appreciated his wisdom and sagacious intervention.

The other day, a spectacle display at Hazratbal of a conversion felicitation of an outside subaltern worker made me to ponder over how individual interests have brought deep down collective repercussions, which has nothing to do with the religion. This world moves by the material interests of this world and put into the account of the otherworld. It is necessary to have visionary social and political leaders. Let us hope we have capacity to produce them.

Ashok Kaul, Retired Emeritus Professor at Banaras Hindu University