Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Eternal Debate

When Geelani begins to quote Mahabharat, Ajaz is amused

(Mr. Ajaz ul Haque, 40, was born in Srinagar. He completed his school and college education in South Kashmir. He is presently on the faculty as Producer in the University of Kashmir Educational Multimedia Research Centre (EMRC), and a columnist and opinion page editor for the Greater Kashmir. In leisure time he enjoys reading.)

Kashmir Mahabharata

Kashmir, says Syed Ali Shah Geelani, is a Mahabharata. Kashmir Saga, like this old Sanskrit epic of ancient India, also throws some immortal characters and unforgettable lessons. This Krishna-Arjuna trope has been excessively and quite naively discussed in the Kashmir context. Our analysts interpret it as a neat and clean battle between the good and the evil. Our leaders locate two kinds of people in the whole story. Those who fight and those who succumb. In the process, we forget Mahabharata is about incomplete lives where nothing is final, none infallible.
From poetry to scriptures to legends, we are always into the habit of extracting our own conclusions from everything we lay our hands at. In the battle between Kaurvas and Pandvas, Arjun (the Pandav), as we are being exhorted to believe, was incited by Krishna to fight. Krishna, we are told believed in principles and advised Arjuna not to worry about the results and continue fighting. So far, so good. Moving a little ahead with the text of this dialogue between these two characters would have opened up a broader and a maturer chapter for us. When Krishna motivates Arjuna, how does Arjuna respond to this act of motivation. The words explain the whole story. Arjuna, while expressing his reservations to fight, replies.

It’s better in this world to beg for scraps for food
Than to eat meals smeared with the blood of elders
I shall not fight

This response has generated a huge debate in the philosophy of justice. Arjuna's answer sounds profounder in import and appeal than Karishna's incitement. One is rooted in spirituality and the other in practice. One's source is supernatural, the other's natural. One is bothered about obligation, the other about consequences. Amartya Sen, a noted Economist places this conversation as a classic case of deontology versus consequentialism. He calls Krishna’s order a consequence independent deontology and Arjuna reservation to fight as consequence sensitive assessment.

We don't want to complicate a simple point by philosophizing it needlessly. Ideologies that divide people either into brave hearts who don't relent or corrupt souls who sell their conscience are potentially violent. Kashmir can't be divided into Kouravs and Pandavs where one group fights for principles and the other surrenders the claim. A dispassionate and emotion-neutral sense of consequentialism can present things differently before us. Doing an Arjuna may lead us to a dangerous commitment unmindful of results however disastrous they may be. Legends are not for certifying people fighters and sitters. Legends carry a message far beyond the obvious. We can serve better as Arjunas by sheathing our sword than as Krishnas by brandishing it. There is a lot of space to be explored between fighting or not fighting. Mahabharata is about exploring that space.

1 comment:

swani said...

well said ajaz baih guess?
your writing carries a mmeaninful message so keep updating god bless u.