After battling the harsh and cold winter, the valley of Kashmir has stepped into the year’s most glamorous and exciting season—the Spring. This is the time when all the flowers are in full bloom. The blossoming flowers from the perennial wild trees to apple, almonds, and cherry and other fresh fruit trees make the valley look a heaven in real. The biggest attraction currently is the Tulip Garden laid out in the Zabarwan foothills—the bulbs for which have been imported from Holland. The tulips which flower by the end of the March have life of around three weeks. It is currently in full bloom and has become a centre of attraction for a large number of local as well as domestic tourists. With the onset of the spring the voices of promotion of tourism have also begun to echo in the air. Kashmir is nature’s gift with extraordinary beauty and breath taking forested and snow-peaked landscape. It is bound attract the outside visitors. Government, every year, specifies crores of rupees on advertising and propagation to lure outside tourists. Tourist sector has always been termed as the mainstay of the state’s economy. But a keen study of the case makes one to feel that tourism is overemphasized while talking about economic development of Jammu and Kashmir. All the studies and surveys conducted in the state have shown that tourism is no major contributor to our economy. It contributes less than 3 percent to our overall economy. This can well be understood from the fact that tourists have been coming to Kashmir in large numbers ever since its existence. But tourist trade never expanded beyond the Dal Lake and limited places of Gulmarg and Pahalgam.
The state tourism department, after the collapse of so-called tourist industry in the wake of militancy, conducted a survey in early 90s, which showed that hardly around 10,000 people were directly and indirectly associated with tourist trade. If a similar survey is conducted even today, the conclusions would not be too different. People associated with tourist trade could be counted on finger tips. A limited chunk of people in and around Dal Lake in Srinagar, and some hoteliers, shopkeepers, taxi drivers and labourers (including poneywallas) in Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Sonamarg are all who are related to tourist industry. They do not form even one percent of our overall population.
There are no two opinions about the fact that Jammu and Kashmir requires development at all levels and in all sectors including tourism but overemphasizing least important sector would serve no purpose. It appears that people at higher levels have got influenced by the false propaganda. It goes without saying that around 80% population of the valley is directly and indirectly involved in horticulture and allied activities. As per estimates over 10 lac families are actively involved in horticulture sector. This sector is one of the most important employment generation sectors in the state. Agriculture and handicrafts are two other major sectors which could be termed as mainstay of our economy: the service sector being the other one. The state government should place its priorities right. Promotion of Horticulture, agriculture and handicraft industries should be the top priority of the government. Tourism is simply a political slogan. Initially it was raised to underline the disadvantages of militancy. One hopes that the Governor Satpal Malik is not unaware of the key economic sectors of the state and he would himself monitor the development of basic economic sectors of the state. The government should place its priorities right and promote and project horticulture and handicraft. Let us make apple and Shawl as the brand ambassadors of the state.
Promises for power continue
As parliamentary elections are underway, election promises by the candidates and their campaigners are all time high. They are promising everything under the sun. National Conference leadership, the state’s key pro India party, is leading the election campaign with all the promises it knows would never be fulfilled. National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah once again repeated his rhetoric of abolishing Public Safety Act(PSA) if his party comes to power. The former chief minister, during a rally in Khanabal,Anantnag, said the party will withdraw all the cases against the stone pelters and will also abolish Public Safety Act (PSA) if it is voted to power. Interestingly, the party has made similar promises in the past as well but once attaining power, it, like its rival PDP, has put the issue on the back burner. Instead, the draconian law that PSA is has been used with more impunity than ever in the recent years. In north Kashmir alone, official data reveals that as many as 779 persons have been slapped with PSA from 2009 to 2017.Omar and president of his rival party PDP, Mehbooba Mufti, both served as J&K’s Chief Ministers during these years. The law was introduced during the Sheikh Abdullah government in the 1970s, initially to discourage timber smuggling. However, it has often been used by the successive state governments against their own people, drawing severe criticism from human rights groups at home and abroad.At present, according to January 2019 figures, there are as many as 230 people who have been booked under the Public Safety Act in 2018 alone. Recently, after Government of India banned the socio-religious group, Jamaat-e-Islami (J&K), the authorities detained hundreds of its members and slapped PSA against many of them. Other than this protection of special status of the state has been the scoring point for valley based political parties. Kashmir-centric political parties, on threatened to fight against BJP’s election commitment of abrogation of the Article 370 and annulling the Article 35A. The BJP has made the promise in its election manifesto .Peoples Conference leader, Sajad Lone, whom the BJP has been supporting, has also criticised the move and said it would be a “disaster”. National Conference chief, Farooq Abdullah, who is seeking re-election to the Lok Sabha from Srinagar, said abrogation of Article 370 will pave way for “Azadi” (independence) for the people of the state. Pakistan has also warned that abrogation of the Article 370 will not be accepted. Pakistan’s foreign office spokesman Mohammad Faisal had, on Saturday, claimed that abrogation of the Constitutional provision by India is violative of UN resolutions.PDP president Mehbooba Mufti is using the special status of the state and the buzz surrounding it to stage a comeback after her party’s coalition government with the BJP fell last year.She has adopted a more hardline posture than any of the regional parties on the issues related to Article 35A and Article 370. “The relationship between our state and the country is based on our special constitutional position that legitimises it. If we remove, what legalises this relationship, it will turn into an occupation and colonization,” she recently said. On the other hand Sajad Lone, who was a minister in the PDP-led coalition government in the state from the BJP quota, has also vowed to defend the state’s special status.”Article 35A is a matter of faith and dignity for the people of the J&K through which the Constitution of India guarantees to safeguard the special identity and unique status of Jammu & Kashmir. In matters of pride and identity, profit and loss is immaterial. Can a country allow a foreign country to undermine its sovereignty and national pride just for the sake of some monetary gains,” Lone asked.Although Congress leaders in their campaign have focussed more on issues dominating the discourse at national level, the local leaders have made it a point to raise the issue of protecting the special status in electioneering in the valley.”No power in the world can revoke Article 370 and Article 35-A,” state Congress chief Ghulam Ahmad Mir, who is contesting from the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat, claimed.
Imran Khan is right
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is not altogether out of place when he said that there might be a better chance of peace talks with India if Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wins the general election polling for which began on Thursday. Hindu nationalism is the fundamental plank of Modi and his party BJP’s election campaign. An atmosphere of sorts has been created all across the country by the BJP leaders and cadres where elections are seen as crucial to Hindu existence and assertiveness. “Pakistan and Musalman” are the main targets of all this new wave of Hindu bravado. Only the other day, Amit Shah, the BJP president said that the party’s new government at the Centre would implement National Register of Citizens (NRC) across the country and would scrap Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. Addressing an election rally at Kalimpong in Darjeeling district, Shah said the BJP government will throw out every infiltrator from the country barring Hindus, Sikhs and Bhuddists. “We have made a promise in our manifesto that after the Narendra Modi government is formed at the Centre for the second time, we will implement NRC across the country and will throw out every single infiltrator from the country. The BJP government will also grant Indian citizenship to every Hindu and Buddhist refugee across the country,”. On the scrapping of Article 370, which gives Jammu and Kashmir a special position in Indian union, the BJP leader (to a thundering response from the audience) said, “They (Opposition) say that Article 370 must remain in the country. Tell me whether Article 370 be removed from Kashmir or not? Modi ji has decided that Article 370 will be removed from Kashmir once BJP government is formed at the Centre).” Narendra Modi himself on many occasions in the ongoing election campaign said that Article 370 would be repealed as it was hindering the development of Jammu and Kashmir. The Article 370 besides Article 35-A of Indian constitution have been challenged in the court of law as well by Hindu extremist individuals and groups seeking their annulment from the constitution.
During his 2014 campaign, Narendra Modi promised jobs, development, and growth. Hopeful Indians handed the BJP India’s first single-party parliamentary majority since 1989 and a mandate for reform. But at the end of mandate period, these promises remained unfulfilled. For having failed to keep its word on the promises of economic development, the BJP has no other option but to resort of populist and emotional agenda. The recent heightened military tension with Pakistan is also the main issue in the election campaign of Modi and his party. With all out support from the media, mainly from TV news channels, BJP’s ‘nationalist’ agenda has pushed the opposition parties mainly Congress on the defensive. The opposition parties are finding it difficult to take a reasonable position on issues. Their idea of secularism, the very basis of Indian constitution, is at times projected as anti Hindu and anti national. In this context Imran Khan’s assertions cannot be dismissed arbitrarily. The Pakistan Prime Minister argued that if the next Indian government were led by the opposition Congress party, it might be too scared to seek a settlement with Pakistan over Kashmir, fearing a backlash from the right. “Perhaps if the BJP — a right-wing party — wins, some kind of settlement in Kashmir could be reached,” he told a small group of foreign journalists in an interview. It goes without saying that hard-line Hindu nationalism has become a norm in India through draconian cow protection laws, renaming of cities and streets with Muslim names and appointment of extremist Hindus like Adityanath Yogi to powerful positions. It would be quite a difficult task for any non-BJP government to reverse this “new” India. Imran Khan is right the best bet in this context is only and only Modi.
Moderation in Islam
The word “Moderation” generally means “to avoid the extreme” in every matter. The action of just avoiding the excessiveness does not convey the exact implication of this term, as it could be taken in the context of both good and bad. For example, we normally take telling lies while joking as appropriate whereas we consider it only wrong being in serious conversation.
The true gist of keeping balance in one`s life in the light of Islamic principles is a lot whole different than the common perspective. Speaking falsehood is forbidden altogether, whether one verbalizes it seriously or jokingly.In the same way, everything which surpasses the threshold of morality needs to be avoided having the faith in the religion of peace. Allah SWT says in the Holy Quran:
And thus we have made you a just community that you will be witnesses over the people and the Messenger will be a witness over you. And We did not make the qiblah which you used to face except that We might make evident who would follow the Messenger from who would turn back on his heels. And indeed, it is difficult except for those whom Allah has guided. And never would Allah have caused you to lose your faith. Indeed Allah is, to the people, Kind and Merciful. [Quran, 2: 143]
There is a common misconception that Islam is a strict religion and is against modernity. While in fact, it never opposes having possessions which benefit a man and the whole society. Had it been against the usage of such property, our Holy Prophet (PBUH) would not use a horse for travelling. As, a horse used to be the best mode of journey in that time, same way a person can use the one of supreme object for its ease in this day and age. The verity of the subject is to keep the right level of equilibrium between one`s needs and wants.
But seek, through that which Allah has given you, the home of the Hereafter; and [yet], do not forget your share of the world. And do good as Allah has done good to you. And desire not corruption in the land. Indeed, Allah does not like corrupters.” [Quran, 28: 77]
One must not become too much indulged in the materialistic world that it forgets the remembrance of God and its other religious and moral responsibilities. That is why Zakah (charity) has been made obligatory to perform so that the love of worldly possessions could be moderated through it.
Although one must strictly fulfil its spiritual duties like offering prayers five times a day to get closer to the Almighty, fasting for sake of pleasing the Lord, performing Hajj etc. but one is also excused not to complete such acts being in a state of some difficulty. Allah SWT tells us in Furqan e Hameed:
“O you, who have believed, when you rise to [perform] prayer, wash your faces and your forearms to the elbows and wipe over your heads and wash your feet to the ankles. And if you are in a state of janabah, then purify yourselves. But if you are ill or on a journey or one of you comes from the place of relieving himself or you have contacted women and do not find water, then seek clean earth and wipe over your faces and hands with it. Allah does not intend to make difficulty for you, but He intends to purify you and complete His favor upon you that you may be grateful.” [Quran, 5: 6]
It means that if someone has some problem and cannot accomplish the actually required level of cleanliness due to some unavoidable circumstances, there is no compulsion in this matter, and one can do as much as it can, as intentions decide the outcome of the deeds. Moreover, God, the Exalted says that He does not want to create any kind of complexity for us, rather He wishes only what is good for us.