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Of Nationalism and Love in South Asia

August 14, 2012

The predominant emotion with which jingoistic Indians and Pakistanis view each others’ misfortunes is schadenfreude. They count each other’s conflicts and rebellions to keep score. The Indian will talk about sectarian violence in Pakistan, and the Pakistani will ask about the treatment of Dalits in India. The Pakistani will complain against Indian atrocities in Kashmir  and the Indian will point fingers at Balochistan.

When I see such Indo-Pakistani interactions online, I am reminded of these words:

Dushman mare te khushi na karey
Sajna vi mar jaana 

(Rejoice not the death of the enemy
The beloved may also die)

Those stark words are from Mian Muhammad Bakhsh’s most famous book of poems, Saiful Maluk. Bakhsh (1830-1907) was a Sufi pir and poet from Mirpur in modern-day Azad Kashmir, though his ancestors hailed from the Gujrat district in Pakistani Punjab. Known in Pakistan as Rumi-e-Kashmir, I learnt about Bakhsh from my friend Saqib Mumtaz who hails from Poonch on the Indian side of the Line of Control. A student in Delhi, Mumtaz grew up literally on the border which is not a border, watching Doordarshan and PTV alike, making him a bit of an Indian and a bit of a Pakistani.

Culturally, my friend feels close to Kashmir but also to Punjab. Bakhsh’s poetry sounds very Punjabi, but my friend tells me there’s a dispute over Bakhsh’s language. He wrote in Potwari (or Pothohari), Pahari and Punjabi, using words from different dialects so that everyone in his land could understand him, as they still do.

The dispute over which language Bakhsh wrote in should perhaps not be resolved. It is proof that the defining feature of the culture of his land is the intermingling of cultures. That, indeed, is also my culture. That is South Asia – our tongues and stories and folklore speak to each other, allowing a second-generation Punjabi ‘refugee’ like me to feel at home in north India.

I think about this, and then I think about the Indians and the Pakistanis, bearers of artificial identities barely 65 years old, who score points against each other on Twitter, and I wonder if the absurdity of their war ever strikes them? Do they wonder if the legacy of Mian Muhammad Bakhsh is Indian or Pakistani? When the Indian points to the plight of Pakistani Hindus does he realise, for even a moment, the pain of Indian Muslims? What do they think nationalism means for an Amritsari Sikh whose holiest shrines are in Pakistan? What does warmongering mean for a man in Karachi who has family across north-India? Do they not see the absurdity in taking hawkish positions regarding their own country while embracing the left-liberals and rebels of the ‘enemy’ country?

Cartoon by Beena Sarwar and Kunda Dixit

Hall of mirrors

The people have had enough of repression and political manipulation. They want freedom. They assert their right to self-determination. They say they were never a part of your map. They want to make their own map. They take up arms against the state. The state responds with brutal repression. Men in uniform march down, take over the streets, bazaars and dreams. They make people disappear. Catch and kill. Kill and dump. They even get rewarded for doing so.

That could well be the story of Indian-administered Kashmir, except it is the story of Pakistan’s Balochistan region. As an Indian, the events in Balochistan pain me, not least because they remind me of everything that my government has been doing in Kashmir in my name.

One would have thought the Pakistani state would have learnt lessons not only from East Pakistan but also from the many insurgencies in neighbouring India, some of which it has helped foment. Reading the news from Balochistan is surreal, because it seems to be a carbon copy of Kashmir in the 1990s: missing persons, impunity, rebel-held territories. Even the discourse around the violence is familiar. Just as Kashmiris insist Kashmir was never a part of India, the Baloch insist Balochistan was never a part of Pakistan. Both conflicts stem from the messy history of Partition and the princely states, with post-colonial India and Pakistan both treating their provinces even more heavy-handedly than the British Raj did. Just as Indians blame Pakistan for the Kashmir rebellion, Pakistanis blame India for Balochistan. Just as Indians blame a few ‘separatist’ leaders to suggest that the Kashmiri rebellion is not a popular one, Pakistanis insist the problem in Balochistan only has to do with three tribal sardars. Just as Indian point to the plight of the Kashmiri Pandits as an argument against azadi for Kashmir, the Pakistanis point to the killings by Baloch rebels of non-Baloch settlers in Balochistan.

There are of course many differences between Balochistan and Kashmir – to begin with, the territory of Balochistan is claimed only by one state, while Kashmir is claimed by two. Yet the Baloch will tell you how a part of Balochistan is occupied by Iran as well. The root cause of Baloch grievances is economic, where in Kashmir it is political. Yet, both nationalists will tell you it’s all really about identity.  The Kashmiris assert that they are different from ‘Indians’ and the Baloch assert that they are different from ‘Pakistanis’. Kashmiris assert that their Central Asia-influenced culture, of which their Islam is an element, sets them apart from north India. The Baloch insist on their secularism and do not subscribe to the notion that Islam binds them to the Pakistanis. But in the way the two peoples articulate their struggles, and how the Pakistani and Indian states have decided that their only option is to militarily crush the rebellions, the similarities between the two conflicts outweigh the differences.

My Kashmiri friends don’t like Kashmir being compared to Balochistan. They point out that the status of Balochistan has never been disputed at the United Nations. For Kashmiris, Pakistan’s actions in Balochistan present a moral problem that is best avoided: how can we be counting on support from Pakistan while it does in Balochistan what India is doing in Kashmir? Looking at South Asia from Kashmir, this is not the first occasion that such questions have arisen: take, for instance, East Pakistan’s blood-soaked transformation into Bangladesh. Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the only credible and respected Kashmiri nationalist leader left, is said to have made it clear to Pakistan (albeit privately) on more than one occasion that it must put its own house in order in Balochistan. That, however, does not translate into supporting the Baloch people’s right to self-determination.

The Kashmiri feels that if he criticises Pakistan on the Balochistan repression, then Kashmiri would lose a friend in Pakistan. More importantly, this will be used by Indian nationalists to say that if Kashmir’s friend Pakistan can crush a “separatist” movement what was so wrong about what India did in Kashmir? This idea of tactical silence is not practised by Kashmiris alone: Indians practice it too, on the question of human rights violations in Kashmir, lest it be used by those who want Kashmir to not be part of India. And so, in nationalism’s hall of mirrors, our silences scream at each other.

For a variety of reasons, the people of Indian-administered Kashmir today overwhelmingly demand azadi – independence – rather than a merger with Pakistan. This change in aspiration has become so widespread that even S A S Geelani has replaced praise for Pakistan with demands for ‘azadi’ in his speeches. Yet there are still those in Kashmir who dream of joining Pakistan, and some of them say there is no problem in Balochistan, and that the crisis is all Indian propaganda. Within Pakistan, meanwhile, there are those on whom the parallels between Balochistan and Kashmir are not lost.

In February this year US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher introduced a resolution in the US House of Representatives endorsing Balochistan’s right to self-determination, causing much consternation in Pakistan. In Kashmir, S A S Geelani said the US should not interfere in Pakistan’s internal affairs. Baloch nationalists insist Balochistan is not Pakistan’s internal affair because Balochistan is not a part of Pakistan, and is illegally occupied. That refrain sounds very familiar to Indian ears, because India insists that whatever happens in Kashmir is India’s internal matter, while Kashmiri nationalists insist Kashmir was never a part of India. Thus, the great South Asian hall of mirrors keeps trying to fool us all.

When Rohrabacher explained his position in an article in the Washington Post, he wrote:

…every Pakistani ambassador to the United States for the past 20 years is well aware of my support for the Kashmiri people. Indeed, at the Feb 8 House subcommittee hearing on Baluchistan, I compared Baluchistan to Kashmir. In 1995, I introduced a resolution that stated in part: “a cycle of violence exists in Kashmir as a result of the Indian Government’s refusal to permit the people of Kashmir to exercise their right to self-determination.”

Rohrabacher’s clarification, however, did not receive much attention in the Subcontinent because it pleases neither Indians nor Pakistanis, not even Kashmiris. It only pleases the Baloch, who don’t have much of a voice in any media.

A South Asian tragedy

Kashmir and Balochistan are both part of the unresolved problem of nationalism in South Asia, but they are not alone. In contrast to the popular armed rebellion in Kashmir, the revolt of Indian Punjab in the 1980s was, by all accounts, never a popular one, though there was widespread disaffection with the Indian state amongst the Sikhs. Remnants of that disaffection came back to haunt India recently after the president decided not to forgive the death sentence of a Sikh citizen who assassinated Punjabi chief minister Beant Singh in 1995. Yet that was not the only high-profile assassination in India’s history. In 1984, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was killed by her own Sikh bodyguards. Her assassination was avenged through riots in Delhi and elsewhere, in which over 3000 Sikhs were killed. Leading members of Indira Gandhi’s own Congress party are accused of perpetrating those vengeful killings. So the Sikhs have a point: why will you not punish those killers of Sikhs, but hang Beant Singh’s killer? Such is nationalism: those who do not want a flag imposed on them seem to deserve no justice, only death.

In the Indian Northeast, the picture is even more complex. Some ethnicities and states have withdrawn their demands for secession from India, making some Indian analysts theorise that rebellions and insurgencies are like children who cry for attention, but are ultimately loving and loyal towards their parents. Other states and ethnicities still demand freedom from India, some insurgencies are coming to terms with the end of their struggle, and some still want greater autonomy within the Indian Union. Yet from Assam to Nagaland all rebellion, regardless of scale or kind, is crushed with the heavy hand of the Assam Rifles. The Northeast remains massively militarised. Many Indians know and understand what has happened in Kashmir, even if they don’t acknowledge it, but most don’t even know what has been happening in the Northeast.

The nature of the conflicts in the Northeast was mirrored somewhat in the two decades of conflict between a newly independent Bangladesh and the people of the Chittagong Hill Tracts. A peace accord in 1997 ended that insurgency, but the conflict isn’t entirely over even today. That conflict is only one example that India and Pakistan are not the only South Asian states to behave like empires.

Sri Lanka recently declared victory over the Tamil rebellion, yet the Sinhalese-dominated state sees no need for reconciliation. Victors don’t want reconciliation, only the arrogance of victory.  There was talk of emulating the Sri Lankan strategy to crush the Maoist uprising in central India, but that talk has thankfully been put to rest, at least for now. While human-rights violations by Indian state security forces are reported almost every day – especially the indiscriminate targeting of those seen as ideologically sympathetic to Maoist politics – New Delhi has refrained from deploying the army. The army refuses to do the dirty job of crushing a rebellion unless it is granted impunity under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), and there is some noise in New Delhi that we can’t do that to ‘our own people’. That is only further proof that people on India’s peripheries – in the ‘disturbed areas’ of Kashmir and the Northeast where the AFSPA permits unspeakable state-sanctioned brutality – are not regarded as ‘our own’. In other words, the nationalist mainstream unwittingly admits that the people of Kashmir and the Northeast are not part of the imagined Indian nation.

The ‘happy’ state of Bhutan also proved itself capable of nationalistic cruelty when, in the 1990s, it expelled at least a hundred thousand of its own citizens because they were of Nepalese origin. Many of those people languish in refugee camps in Nepal to this day.

Such conflicts are not peculiar to South Asia. China’s actions in Tibet are well known, but few in South Asia are aware of the conflict in a place the Chinese call Xinjiang, and which its inhabitants – the Uyghurs – call East Turkistan. Some years ago I met a Uyghur refugee in Delhi. He tried to explain me, amongst other things, that his home and its conflict weren’t as far away from South Asia as I thought. “It’s right here, behind Kashmir!” he exclaimed in broken Hindustani. I wondered about this way of thinking about geography. ‘Xinjiang’ is in China. East Turkistan is ‘behind’ Kashmir. The latter, my political scientist friend Nivedita Menon told me, is a post-nationalist way of thinking about the world. In this way of seeing, good old geography rather than man-made borders define us.

Indigenous imperialism

For those who cannot bring themselves to see through a post-nationalist prism and still insist on forging nationalism by the gun, here’s a question: Does militarily crushing a popular rebellion make it go away? By gunning down citizens who take up guns against the state, by incarcerating or killing citizens who dare to be ‘separatist’, do we solve the problem? Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse would perhaps answer that question in the affirmative, but all Sri Lankans should look seriously at the costs of what he has done. The authoritarian regime in Sri Lanka affects the Sinhalese and their democratic rights too.

Take the example of Kashmir. For a variety of reasons, the insurgency in Kashmir began to give way to what the Indian government called ‘normalcy’ by 2002. Indian analysts were still touting the arrival of ‘normalcy’ in 2006. In 2008, the Kashmiri people rebelled again, this time with stones and words and marches. The dispute was not over, the grievances remained, and the Kashmiris still wanted azadi. India allowed some expression of such opinions, but in 2010 decided enough was enough, killing over 120 protestors to put an end to mass demonstrations of people shouting, “Hum kya chahatay? Azadi!” (What do we want? Freedom!)

Every time Kashmir erupts, Indians go back to the old keywords – Pakistan, ISI, Islamism, paid separatists, etc – to deny any Kashmiri problem of India’s own making. Last summer in Kashmir I met a few young men who were born in or around the fateful year of 1990. They told me how they sometimes wake up in the middle of the night after having nightmares about the military ‘crackdowns’. I met a 14-year-old who spoke of avenging his father, who was left with debilitating mental illness after being tortured by Indian forces. His idea of revenge was to die pelting stones at the people wearing the same uniforms as those who took his father in.

I have sympathy for Indian military and intelligence officers who have the unpleasant task of administering an occupation in Kashmir while pretending that there isn’t one. Sanjay Kak, whose film Jashn-e-Azadi is a vital document of the Kashmir conflict, pointed me to the film Battle of Algiers, where French liberals ask their army not to commit human-rights violations in Algeria. The army chief replies that the violations will cease, but only if France is ready to let go of Algeria. There is no such thing as a good occupation.

Indian analysts who talk of a ‘post-conflict’ situation in Kashmir today speak as if the occupation never existed. India is back to the old charade of peace talks, while the army refuses to allow the elected civilian government of Jammu & Kashmir to lift the AFSPA even from Srinagar, which sees no militant activity. The AFSPA effectively negates the fundamental rights granted by the Indian Constitution – yet more proof that Kashmir is treated as enemy territory.

As an Indian, I have learnt from Kashmir that the only thing sadder than crushing a rebellion is having to govern a crushed people. The Indian government has to administer an occupation while pretending that democracy is flourishing. As my Tamil friends in Sri Lanka tell me, reconciliation becomes well-nigh impossible after the human-rights violations required to break the will of a people. The people ask: after such knowledge, what forgiveness? It’s like the British trying to pretend the Raj was for India’s own good after the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

The analogy with British colonialism is neither rhetorical nor facetious. Mridu Rai, a historian of Kashmir, points me to a 1934 article by Jawaharlal Nehru in which he condemned the British Indian government’s repression of protests at Chittagong and Midnapur as part of the anti-tax campaigns of 1930. Nehru wrote:

It is a strange record, worthy of preservation for an incredulous posterity… large military forces are brought from distant places; they occupy territories in a way no alien army occupies the enemy’s land in wartime. They treat almost the whole population as suspect and force even young boys and girls to go about with cards of identity of various hues with photographs attached. They limit the movements of the inhabitants and even lay down the dress that must be worn. They turn out people from their houses at a few hours’ notice. They close schools and treat the children en bloc as enemy persons. Under various pains and penalties they force the people to welcome them publicly, and to salute the flag which has become the sign of humiliation to them. Those that disobey have to suffer heavily and to face reprisals.

A strange record worthy of preservation – indeed! How did we become what we once stood against? We have inherited from colonialism the evil of nationalism.

In Battle of Algiers, Algerian separatists go about killing French civilians – clearly there is no such thing as a good rebellion either. All nation-states are formed and kept together by violence; this is as true of the occupier as it is of the rebel. In which case why should we privilege one upon another? The absurdity of the nation-state will dawn upon the world only if nation-states multiply like amoeba! A world full of smaller nation-states, rather than monstrously big ones, will be a world without Empires. Only then will nation-states become less overbearing than they are.

Poets as politicians

I am reminded of Bengali polymath Rabindranth Tagore’s lectures on nationalism. Tagore wrote songs for the Indian freedom movement, but he was critical of nationalism as he encountered it in his travels across the world before World War II. For Tagore, a nation was nothing more than a population coming together for an organised “mechanical purpose”, and yet he said this purpose became associated with selfishness, which can be a “grandly magnified form” of personal selfishness. It is ironic that one of South Asia’s greatest intellectuals was decrying the evils of nationalism just as so many South Asians were about to get a freedom that would only make us more nationalist.

Whether in Kashmir, Balochistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Tibet or East Turkistan, not to mention the quarrel between India and Pakistan, the common thread among South Asian conflicts is ‘mainstream’ majority’s refusal to admit that their blinkered nationalism remains unquestioned and unresolved. Admitting to any fault in nationalism is seen as an admission of the nation’s failure, and to deny existing failures we make sure our respective states succeed in repressing those who don’t identify with our respective flags. What do we need to rise above this grand collective manifestation of personal selfishness?

Nationalism is so much a part of our personal identities that, for many people, exposing it for what it is seems a personal insult. The arguments against the right to self-determination predictably follow. Writing in The Express Tribune, Pakistani columnist Ejaz Haider offers a typical example:

Balochistan is indeed Pakistan’s internal issue. Those who want Balochistan to secede from Pakistan will get the state’s full reply. That too, given how states behave, is a foregone conclusion. Hell, states don’t even let go of disputed territories and care even less about whether or not people in those territories want to live with them.

In response, political scientist Haider Nizamani gave three examples of nation-states readily parting with territory: the separation of Slovakia from the former Czechoslovakia; the Canadian government’s non-violent handling of the Quebec sovereignty movement, allowing a referendum which the movement lost by a thin margin; and finally, the impending Scottish referendum in 2014 to part ways with the UK, in response to which London isn’t sending soldiers to eliminate the Scottish Nationalist Party.

In the three examples Nizamani cites, many people seem to appreciate that the nation-state deserves to be nothing more than an organising, administrative principle. But how do we make South Asian people realise as much?

Aql ke madrase se uth, ishq ke maiqaday mein aa – Rise from the seminary of the mind, come into the tavern of love – wrote Sufi pir and poet Shah Niaz. The most powerful rendition I have heard of those words is by the Karachi-based qawwals Fareed Ayaz and Abu Mohammed. Arguably the best qawwals alive, they hail from Indian Hyderabad but have traditional roots in Delhi. When I met Fareed Ayaz in Delhi some months ago, he knew Old Delhi better than I did. Since he was 12 years old, he has visited India every year, often several times a year, except for years of war. Such is the spell-binding power of their music that it melts the barriers between India and Pakistan. “What is Sufism?” Fareed Ayaz asked me, before answering, “It is nothing but the love of humanity.”

Aql ke madrase se uth, ishq ke maiqaday mein aa – as I hear them sing these words and explain their import, their message strikes me as the best answer to our great problem. Our minds are conditioned to think of our nations as maps and flags rather than collections of actual people. If only we can love humanity rather than maps, we’d all be much happier.

What would be the implications of acting out of love rather than the dictates of the nationalistic mind? Solutions that seem fantastical – open borders, shared sovereignty, trade-driven integration, regional autonomy – will suddenly begin to seem possible and real if we can put our love of humanity above our love of abstract nationalism. This is not about creating an Akhand Bharat (‘Greater India’) but about the Akhand World we have divided with cartography and nationalist myth-making.

Himal Southasian’s upside down map of the subcontinent

(This essay is dedicated to Ilmana Fasih, an ‘Indian Pakistani. First published in Himal Southasian on 19 June 2012.)

From Kafila archives:

28 Comments leave one →
  1. August 15, 2012 1:30 PM

    Thank you for this. It made me aware of many things I didn’t know before. No doubt you will be pilloried soon by some in this space as being anti-national (which of course is precisely what you are being), so before that sets in, I wanted to offer a word of appreciation. I can only dream and hope that there will come a day within my lifetime when such articles have become redundant.

  2. Rahul Siddharthan permalink
    August 15, 2012 8:35 PM

    I agree with most of your article except the use of the name “Azad Kashmir”. As everything else in your article makes clear, that part of Kashmir is not more or less “azad” than India’s part of Kashmir, or Balochistan, or many other places. I like the BBC-favoured terms “Pakistan-administered” and “Indian-administered”.

    Quebec has witnessed violence in the past, and Canada has reacted with what would be called “appeasement” by many nationalists elsewhere. Scotland has a long “history” with England but today, in many ways, the Scots have more rights than the English — they even have their own parliament, which the English don’t. The Basque and Catalan regions of Spain have substantial autonomy. These things are resented by the majority community but have helped keep the countries together. The key thing is that the majority of the civilian population is fair-minded in these places and is prepared to ignore past wrongs for present-day concessions. In Kashmir, and Balochistan, the wrongs are on-going. Until there is a long period of good, fair, democratic governance, there can be no hope of a peaceful resolution.

  3. natashar permalink
    August 16, 2012 2:49 AM

    thank you for your insightful piece and the connections you have drawn. sindh and sindhis on both sides of the unfortunate indo-pak border drawing have also suffered greatly in the last 65 years. after moving prosperously past their refugee status, sindhis in india now struggle to keep up their language and culture, while sindhis in sindh, and pakistan at large, are made to feel out of place and disenfranchised. like in kashmir and balochistan, there is in sindh a separatist movement, albeit of less strength and certainly less media attention. i hope that progressive social movements of marginalized voices can foster solidarities with each other.

  4. Ranbir permalink
    August 16, 2012 2:44 PM

    What are artificial identities? There is no reason why anyone should buy into a separate and genuine Kashmiri identity if you choose to deny any Indian identity.

    At least the post-independence Indian identity is inclusive enough to be non-religious and non-ethnic. It is not an easy goal to achieve, but India was founded on ideas which are forward-looking, democratic and tolerant.

    Azad Kashmir, like Pakistan, is an idea which is closely bound up with religion. The models for these are the traditional European nation states which were founded on a view of history which makes one religion and language the basis of polity, morals and legal practice. The nation states of Europe, with their long history of discrimination against minorities are presumably your models for natural identities as opposed to the “artificial” identities which you speak of with contempt.

    The claim that Kashmir has never been part of India is always justified by a reference to the Islamic history of the region as being separate from Hindu India. “Hindu India” is of course standard separatist parlance. But what about Kashmir before Islam? Was the region culturally isolated from the rest of India?

    I can see my liberal audience shaking their heads and smiling. Surely, we do not not go back by a millennium to look for justifications for present day politics? But by the same token, the Kashmiri separatists have no historical justification for defining Kashmir as Islamic.

    Ibn Warraq, born in Pakistan, is critical in his book “Why I am not a Muslim” of the founding of the Pakistani state as a religious state. He noted that in India no attempt was made to base the constitution on several centuries of religious tradition. India was founded as a secular state where there would be no state religion.

    But your self-styled liberal readers are so conditioned to write disparagingly of India, that even the sound of separatist Kashmiri rhetoric is more pleasing to your ears than a defence of “artificial” India.

  5. Anando permalink
    August 16, 2012 4:14 PM

    I guess you have taken significant lessons from Rohrabacher’s observations, which failed to score any impression with either India, Pakistan or Kashmir, since it pleased none. Which is why in order to please pro-freedom or separatist quarters in Kashmir, you have effectively kept the Pandit question, and the insurmountable atrocities committed on them by the same “pro-freedom” elements, out of the debate. You just referred to Mr Geelani as only respectable nationalist leader, but made no mention of how this man, even a few years earlier, would condition that the exiled Pandit community could return to Kashmir only if they vowed to support the pro-freedom or separatist movement. This is the ideological mooring of an autocrat, certainly not that of a nationalist. Your usage of the term “Azad Kashmir” is not in sync with the position taken by UN or other international organisations again, and it also assumes the predilection of the people residing in that part of Kashmir even before a plebiscite was held. Lastly, as much as I support the fact that Jammu and Kashmir was not a part of India in modern world geo-politics, it is ridiculous proposition to say it was never in entire history. In Kashmir’s thousands of years of history, until at least as late as the 14th century, it was a Hindu civilisation which merely fell prey to Muslim conquest and the forcible conversions that followed. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, or Kashmir, has been part of the same Indus valley civilisation, and do not have separate histories. This truth cannot be obliterated by high-priest rantings. Recently, when I had the chance to interact with Aitzaz Ahsan, even he underlined the fact that anybody who says Pakistan has been a separate civilisation is just out on self-interested propaganda, and that his country as far as civilisation is concerned is more South Asian than West Asian. The Kashmiris having a Central Asian origin resurfaces the same propaganda which Ahsan laboriously dismissed. However, that does not give India the right to hold the Kashmiri aspirations hostage or subject them to torture. There, i religiously agree with you.

    • Eric Cartman permalink
      August 19, 2012 8:38 AM

      You seem to forget that before calling Hindu/Muslim. All human beings evolved from monkeys. Your argument is flawed. I rest my case.

      • Avinash permalink
        August 31, 2012 12:38 PM

        @ Eric Cartman, then why all those who have evolved from monkeys cannot live together? Why some people want an independent Kashmir, that too when you are talking about an “akhand world”??

  6. Avinash permalink
    August 16, 2012 10:41 PM

    Just wondering why “a second-generation Punjabi ‘refugee’ like Shivam Vij is waxing eloquent about “Of Nationalism and Love in South Asia” knowing fully well what is happening to the “minorities” in the neighbouring country even now.

    • Eric Cartman permalink
      August 19, 2012 8:36 AM

      You never understood the crux of the article didn’t you? Such a waste of time.

  7. JGN permalink
    August 16, 2012 10:44 PM

    @ Shivan Vij, this is what Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the only credible and respected Kashmiri nationalist leader left said:

    • Eric Cartman permalink
      August 19, 2012 8:34 AM

      You seem to forget the crux of the article and are still narrow minded in pointing fingers at people. You seem wanting to take positions and not focus on the interests/intent.

      If I’ve to summarize this article, it would be more like this:

      Aql ke madrase se uth, ishq ke maiqaday mein aa.
      Our minds are conditioned to think of our nations as maps and flags rather than collections of actual people. If only we can love humanity rather than maps, we’d all be much happier.
      What would be the implications of acting out of love rather than the dictates of the nationalistic mind? Solutions that seem fantastical – open borders, shared sovereignty, trade-driven integration, regional autonomy – will suddenly begin to seem possible and real if we can put our love of humanity above our love of abstract nationalism. This is not about creating an Akhand Bharat (‘Greater India’) but about the Akhand World we have divided with cartography and nationalist myth-making.

  8. Varun Shekhar permalink
    August 31, 2012 10:19 AM

    Okay, but the onus shouldn’t be on India to achieve such a state “Akhand world” by itself. Every country should strive for it. But guess what, the biggest opponents of the ‘one world’ idea will be Moslems, first and foremost, followed by Chinese and Americans, certainly the American government and strategic think thanks. Probably, India, Africa, South America and non-Islamic south east Asia will be its greatest proponents.

    • Eric Cartman permalink
      August 31, 2012 1:17 PM

      Every community has its own sets of opponents, don’t single out Islam, US & China!

    • Eric Cartman permalink
      August 31, 2012 1:28 PM

      Who said that the onus is only on India! You still seem to think in a confined way, get out of the box. Every community has its own sets of opponents, don’t single out Islam, US & China!

      • Avinash permalink
        August 31, 2012 2:57 PM

        Islam, US and China stands out as they are the ones who wants to subjugate the entire world. What about the maxim of the great George W Bush: “either you are with us or you are against us” ??

  9. Varun Shekhar permalink
    August 31, 2012 7:47 PM

    Well said, Avinash. Islam, China and the US are all empire builders and controllers, the US being the most ‘benign’ of the 3, though still obnoxious. Islam and China want totalitarian fascist control of the whole world, where there is no freedom for anyone. The US would like its corporations to be in a dominant position globally. India desires to see multi-polarity, integration, pluralism, accommodation, never seeking to destroy or displace, rather to co-exist. An idea so alien and repugnant to Islam, and opposed to linear,expansionist Chinese thinking.

    • Eric Cartman permalink
      August 31, 2012 10:02 PM

      And not to forget Shiv Sena in India which drives out its Indian brethren.

      Also, RSS, VHP & Bajrang Dal. Anil Patel, a VHP departmental chief, said: Our war cry was ‘Lock the door from outside and burn the Muslims from the inside’
      Subramanian Swami says: Make Sanskrit learning compulsory and singing of Vande Mataram mandatory, and declare India as Hindu Rashtra in which only those non-Hindus can vote if they proudly acknowledge that their ancestors are Hindus. Rename India as Hindustan as a nation of Hindus and those whose ancestors are Hindus.

      Anyways, you people are trying to sow further seeds of divisiveness. It doesn’t help. The common man wants peace.

  10. September 3, 2012 5:51 AM

    August 15 is Sri Aurobindo’s birthday. His FIVE DREAMS Manifesto broadcast on August 14, 1947 over All India Radio, Tiruchirapalli on the eve of India’s independence is prophetic:

  11. Varun Shekhar permalink
    November 1, 2012 6:23 PM

    Incidentally, the equation of Kashmir within India, to India within the British empire, is utterly repellent and false. Kashmir is not a colony of India, India was certainly a colony of the UK. The word ‘colony’ denotes a superior-inferior dichotomy, economically, politically and socially. Kashmir is not seen, has never been seen as, inferior in any way. If anything, the contrary! Which of course, is also bad. Indians were regarded by the British as an inferior sub-species of humankind, who would always need the rule and guidance of the superior Caucasian British, lest they revert to savagery and backwardness. There is also the tiny, little matter of the economic exploitation of India to obtain huge profits to the British, profits that were turned into the UK’s economy, not India’s. Kashmir is not institutionally, nor actually, in an exploiter-exploited mode economically.The whole idea is ridiculous.

  12. Ramesh Narendrarai Desai permalink
    November 2, 2012 5:00 AM

    You have in the beginning of your article quoted a beautiful verse which asks people not to rejoice at others’ misfortune for tomorrow, it could be yours. You said his language is a mixture of various dialects. It is not the language but the idea behind the words that is appealing. Words are only a medium to express the idea. We are in the habit of debating hotly about the words used, bypassing the idea behind. The same thing in this issue. Yes, peoples’ wishes are important but are they wishes that lead to happiness ? Should they not strive to better than lot in other aspects of life rather than harp on only one aspect of it which is Azadi ? This rebelliousness has its good points but if it becomes a credo, it is self-defeating. Look at the history of people rebellious by nature. They were not happy under alien rule. They were not happy when they had self-rule. this time the grouse was that the ideology of the rulers was not what they wanted. When rulers with that ideology came to power, they were again unhappy because it did not lead to prosperity as was assumed. They once again rebelled. Now the next excuse for rebellion is being searched and i am sure, it will be found and the cycle will go on. No soul searching is done. No doubt Azadi is good but aren’t other aspects of life important ? Have we bettered our lot in them that are in our hands ? I am not referring to Kashmir, Baluchistan or any other part of the world. I am talking about rebelliousness per se. Should we not give athought to what I am not saying ? Mind you, I am not advocating defeatism either. All I am saying is that we should take lack of Azadi as a constraint for the time being and work on other aspects of life which can be bettered, under both – Azadi or Gulami. When Azadi comes, Sone pe Suhaga ! A man called Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi did a lot of work on social betterment front rather than harp only on Azadi. After India’s political Azadi, economic slavery is being imposed on the people by sibsidies. Please remember that the British too had made inroads into Assam by offerrinf gree Opium progressively as they went inwards. Once they enslaved the people, opium was withdrawn. What was at fault ? The British perfidy or the locals’ penchant for opium ? Subsidies are the worst form of collective narcotics that we are being subjected to. For how long shall we allow this gradually tightening economic stranglehold of the state on the people ? Azadi, yes. From what ? Only political ? Only economic ? Only from blind religious faith ? Only from bad social customs ? Only from a violent mindset ? Out of all these which one is more easily feasible ? Are we trying to achieve it ? Political Azadi is not everything.


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