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Opinion

Reviving the Real Kashmiriyat

Monitor News Bureau

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Kashmiriyat as a concept traces its roots in the history and legacy, which is specifically indigenous to the region of Kashmir. It fully encompasses in itself the inter-cultural syncrasy finely interleaved together amongst the populace of Jammu and Kashmir. During 1947-48, when the whole of Indian sub-continent was withering with bloodshed and violence due to partition; Kashmiriyat showcased the shining example of religious pluralism in those pressing times. It prompted Mahatma Gandhi to declare that he sees ‘a ray of hope in Kashmir’ in spite of communal discord present in rest of the sub-continent. In the latter half of 20th century, Kashmiriyat appealed to the local masses and thus gained significant political momentum, irrespective of prevalent religions in the land.
Kashmiriyat has often been taken as a synonym for its political connotation only. However, this term imbibes in itself the varied phenomena associated with ordinary life in Kashmir. Kashmiriyat has been a common thread connecting the collective psyche of the populace from a time immemorial. The essence of Kashmiriyat has been omnipresent since it first manifested in the collective conscience of the people during 1970s. In the contemporary times, the need for its assimilation in our day to day affairs is felt more than ever. The present transforming times have brought many changes in people’s outlook and behaviour towards the ground realities. But the appeal of Kashmiriyat still reverberates in culture and tradition of present-day Kashmir.
Cultural assimilation has been a unique trait of the Kashmir. Due obeisance is accorded to the saints, rishis or peers of the land, who in their respective times served the masses and left us with the rich cultural legacy to be preserved and followed. Hence Kashmir is also called as Rishvaeer or Peervaeer (means, a garden of saints). The people pay a visit to the shrines of saints who are revered by one and all. The shrine of Nund Rishi at Charari Sharief has been the iconic building of Kashmir for long. As a founder of Rishi order in Kashmir, he is bestowed with the title of “Alamdar-e-Kashmir” (flag-bearer of Kashmiriyat). Rishi aka Saint tradition of Kashmir dates back to antiquity. It is this version of Kashmir which holds the notion of togetherness in it. It gave us Lalla Ded aka Lalla Arifa who had a very deep spiritual influence on Nund Rishi aka Noordin Noorani. Such has been the inclusion and acceptance among the Kashmiri populace that the common mystics and saints were given names as the people deemed fit. This inclusive character of people had evolved over the passage of time. This resilient character of people endured and safeguarded the notion of Kashmiriyat in the times when the region came under the domination and heavy influence of foreign powers and invaders. It is these common cultural traits and their firm conviction to pluralistic beliefs which held the populace together.
Pluralist Kashmiri culture has given us a best possible collection of Music, Literature, Historiography, Architecture, etc. From the times of Pandit Kalhana to the times of Jnanpith awardee litterateur, Prof Rehman Rahi; the Kashmiri culture has produced numerous giants in the fields of Literature and Music. Several of the Kashmiri people are awarded Padma awards every year. There have also been commonalities in rituals and customs among the Kashmiri folk. Biggest common legacy is the ‘Kashmiri’ language, which spoken by all in Kashmir with small regional variations giving diverse color to it. The Kashmiri Language is a unique blend, incorporating in it several Sanskrit, Persian, Hindi words and phrases.
Kashmir has a glorious history of Buddhist traditions which reached to its zenith during the reign, of Emperor Ashoka. It is Emperor Ashoka who established the city of Srinagar. He was instrumental in organizing 4th World Buddhist Council in Kundalvan, Kashmir. Kashmir has also been the graced by Shri Adishankara who laid the foundation for Tantric traditions Kashmir-Shaivism. Recently in a scientific study published it has been depicted that the first known documentation of supernova in pre-historic anthropological finds lies in Kashmir’s Burzahom village famous of its human pit-dwellings. It is also believed that the Emperor Lalitaditya, regarded as ‘Alexander of Kashmir’ had empire ranging from Kamrup (Assam) to Central Asia with Parihasapora as its capital. There are several other common historical facts which make the land of Kashmir, an origin point of several philosophical thoughts as well.
Kashmiriyat has been a pillar for social assimilation too. The Kashmiri people share the common eating habits, language and lead a way of life which is distinct in itself. Kashmiri food habits have also evolved over the time. It comprises of many Central Asian recipes and cooking methods. Kashmiri bakery is very unique and Kashmiri culinary ‘Wazwan’ is best known for its non-veg recipes. It is savoured and liked by all. Further traditional apparels & dresses like pheran (a woolen long gown) are worn by all men and women alike which gives Kashmiriyat a visual tinge.
During post-World War II period, the Leftist movement was at its peak globally with the USSR leading the communist revolution. Kashmir also witnessed the rise of Leftist movement which catered to the aspirations of agricultural labourers, rural folks, and general masses. To overthrow the Dogra Monarchy which was ruling Kashmir at that time became the mobilizing factor. It provided a common platform for political movement. No religious affiliations were sought; Kashmiri Hindu and Muslim participated equally with the common goal of overthrowing autocracy and ending feudal structure of administration. The naming of Common Square in central Srinagar as Lal Chowk shows the impact of the times when all people shared a bond together. This sense of Camaraderie and brotherhood gives us the firm ground to build the foundation to create a common shared path for inclusive Kashmir.
In 1927 the then Dogra ruler Maharaja Hari Singh sanctioned a special provision which was to define the distinct rights of permanent residents of the state of Kashmir from non-state subjects. It was a blessing in disguise, which further strengthened the concept of Kashmiriyat. Thus helped safeguard the distinct culture and traditions of Kashmir from foreign influence. This rule stopped non-permanent residents from settling permanently in the Kashmir state and barred them from acquiring any immovable property, taking any state government jobs, educational scholarships or aid of any kind. It is said that the Maharaja acted at the behest of Kashmiri Pandit intellectuals in his Durbar. It is they who sensed the grim situation prevalent due to the continuous influx of people from neighboring Punjab and adjacent states. Jawaharlal Nehru also shared the same concerns about the Britishers and outsiders who possessed no eligibility to settle in Kashmir. He feared that British with enormous financial resources at their disposal would settle in Kashmir, could cause demographic change and gradually own the state resources, which will at the end render local populace slaves in their own land. This narrative also points to the fact that there have been several instances in the history that became a common rallying point for Kashmiriyat to survive and thrive in the times of need.
However, the noble cause of Kashmiriyat has taken a hit in the current times of continuous turmoil and political instability. Instead of glorifying the diversity of Kashmir and addressing the political divide. The young generation is brought up, not knowing the ethnic diversity of Kashmir. They have evolved a skewed mindset, often vulnerable to religious radicalization. It has rendered a great disadvantage for the Kashmir, Kashmiri, and Kashmiriyat. The need of the hour is to seek the truth by accessing the real goals and orientation of present-day political movements in Kashmir. Islamic radicalization and extreme religious fostering etc, which are alien to Kashmiri culture is to be checked.
The innocent Kashmiri people often fall prey to the political propaganda and fake news which often in the guise of harsh realities on the ground, camouflage the real politic behind every event occurring in Kashmir. Further, it has to be borne in minds and hearts of common Kashmiri that it would be disadvantageous to establish a mono-cultural uni-religious political entity. It would rob Kashmir of its soul and will shred Kashmiriyat into bits and pieces. Shared common traits and customs often acted as an insurance for the survival and common good of the community.
History of mankind is riddled with the battles which were fought for the glory of one’s identity. However, its impact on society has been negative and resulted in an unending conflict for eternity. In present times, the battle for identity has surpassed the idea of survival. It has emerged as a tool for a political bargain and it will have far-reaching ramifications if turned into a territorial conflict. There are several instances worldwide where nurturing the schisms has been the leading cause of conflict. For instance, the conflict between Iran-Saudi Arabia, Israel-Palestine, Chechnya-Russia, Xinjiang-China etc. Similarly, Kashmir also has a possibility to fall into the same trap, but what can safeguard it from falling into such conflict is the concept of Kashmiriyat which has stood the test of times.
Nurtured by generations of peers, fakirs, rishis, rustic folks in the form of fables, tales, and folklore, with wanwun, ladhishahs of the yore; the all-encompassing inclusive pluralistic concept of Kashmiriyat is the only insurance cover an ordinary Kashmiri can have. Each section of Kashmiri society must act together to preserve, promote and propagate this legacy of rich inclusive culture for which Kashmir has always stood for. It will be the guiding light for strengthening the foundations of peaceful cohabitation and harmonious living for all times to come.
(The author holding M.Tech, and B.E. degrees is a Ph.D. Research Scholar with Centre for Rural Development and Technology, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi)


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Opinion

SRO 202 against the basic rights of employees

Monitor News Bureau

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By Bhat Zaieem

The youth of J&K have consistently raised the voices against the anti-youth job policy in vogue for the last four years. But it seems, no one in the administration is bothered to even listen to their genuine concern. The youth of J&K have always suffered due to the absurd and unjustifiable policies of J&K government. A similar iniquitous policy was framed in June 2015 by then PDP-BJP Government which has adversely affected the dignity, honour and social setup of employees recruited under it. SRO 202 is a gross injustice to employees who are facing the brunt of such policies while government has absolutely no satisfactory reason to issue such orders.

The scene of the policy is that a candidate selected for a government service will get only basic pay for the first five years of his or her service. They will be devoid of their right of getting different allowances during this period. Also, they will not be entitled to New Pension Scheme (NPS) benefits for the timeframe.

 

It is most unfortunate that the youth who have doctorate, post graduate and professional degrees are petted against such policies as a reward to the hard work of their academic career spanning over 20 years. Such employees get selected through JKPSC and JKSSB where the the success rate is just 2-5%.

Making the policy selective for non-gazetted cadre posts and certain gazetted posts shows its unequal behaviour, absurdness and nonsensicalness. Some government institutes like Jammu & Kashmir High Court, Kashmir University are not enforcing any rule of the SRO 202. There is no uniformity at all. But irony is that rich are made richer and poor poorer. They just doubled the salary of MLAs at the same time to ensure maximum turnout for themselves and leaving the issue of working staff brooding over the shelf.

Leaving the efficient youth in trouble for their sake is no less than a turmoil. And I remember when the candidates would frequently pressurise the government to scrap the policy, they would utterly eulogise that it was meant to curb the financial crunch in J&K and where not you already acknowledged with the terms and conditions of your job. Such imprudent and hypocritical character of policy makers was always disheartening besides taking  off their belief on democratic institutions.

The policy has inflicted vigour of corruption and nepotism in the minds of new employees. The mark of disloyalty with their service will touch new heights and they do have a solid reason for it and that is ignorance of the government. When they are not treated with equal pay as their old counterparts, the have started the other mediums of earning on the same table. ‘Right to Equality’ has been shattered deeply. The Supreme Court judgment ‘Equal Pay for Equal Work’ has been rendered meaningless with negligible application here. In short this policy has been a bruise over the policies of the governance. Moreover, according to the rules of this ordinance any recruitment made under it must be completed within a period of three months and appointment order to be issued within 15 days from the date of issuance of selection list. The government posts are supposed to be filled on fast-track basis. But they failed here too as almost all the selections done under this policy took more than one and half years on average to complete and appointment orders also were issued accordingly with same sluggish speed and took two to three months for formal appointment orders for all the advertisements.

Coming to the financial burden, it is very meagre almost negligible with respect to total financial implications of J&K. Till now merely ten thousand appointments have been made under this policy. With implementation of seventh pay commission, the difference in salary between SRO 202 employees and their Non SRO 202 counterparts has been severely reduced and is ranging between four thousand and six thousand. So increasing these few thousand rupees for some ten thousand employees has very less financial implications for the government.

The government must come to the rescue of the career of faithful and hardworking employees and the removal of this policy is the only way out. Both students and impacted employees expect that Lieutenant Governor GC Murmu who is talking much of corruption, transparency and equal opportunities for all will come to their rescue.

The author is a teacher in Department of Education and can be reached at [email protected]

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Opinion

Let education be never hampered

Monitor News Bureau

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By Abid Hussain Rather

As it is said education leads us from darkness to light and nowadays right to elementary education is fundamental right of every human being. Educational standard of a nation depicts its developmental level. When we have a look at the history we see that only those civilizations were able to progress where knowledge was given first priority and those civilizations where other things dominated to knowledge vanished within the corridors of time. It is the education which moulds the behavior of man, the social animal and makes him superior to the other creatures in the universe. It is said that educational institutes are more sacred to religious places because these educational institutes lead us to the religious places and teach us how to pray. If a nation wants to develop and progress it should always try to create and maintain an atmosphere which is most conducive for education and education system should always be given the first priority. Educational processes and educational institutes should be spared and always kept away from the dirty games of politics and other likely things.

Our valley, though famously known as paradise on earth, has always seen political and climatic instability which have turned this paradise into hell and made the lives of people miserable here. Keeping the climatic instability aside which is natural in cause and on which we human beings have no control, the political instability in Kashmir is now a big name world over. Whatever the reasons for this instability may be, undoubtedly it has hit each and every corner of our life and spared no one. Whether it may be socio-cultural, economic, or any other sector, this political trauma has caused big losses in every sector of the valley. Among all it is the educational sector which has been most affected by the political instability of the valley.  We can somehow repair the economic losses caused due to the unstable conditions of the valley. We can put our extra efforts and can work in off times to repair the loss.  But we can’t regain the losses to the education system, because a student can’t regain his academic year. Career building of our youth is a pre planned process in which each and everyday counts. Closing of educational institutions for one day means too much which can be understood only by  developed nations. But here in our valley due to bandhs and curfews, our schools and colleges remain closed for months, and we and our government seem to be least concerned about this matter. Looking at the past many years, we can aptly say that these uprisings occur concurrently at the peak academic session of the year and our educational institutes remain closed for months, which adversely affect the studies. It is not wrong to say that now our educational institutes have just become examination conducting centres without any teaching-learning process and students are just promoted to next classes with zero quality. Sometimes the political atmosphere of the valley becomes so unfavourable that conducting of classwork becomes a day dream for months and even conducting of the annual examinations becomes hard and impossible. In such situations most of the academic courses in the valley become time consuming and causes mental stress on our young generation.

 

Last year after the abrogation of Article 35A on August 5, the whole valley was put under siege, curfew was imposed in the valley for a long period and along with other government offices all the educational institutes remained close for many months. Though the whole valley became standstill and the normal life became paralysed, I think it was the education system which suffered the most. Though it was ‘Kashmir bandh’ for months, shopkeepers used to keep their shops open in the early morning hours and in the late evening hours.  No doubt their business was affected, but they somehow compensated it. Some of the shopkeepers misused the abnormal situation of the valley and sold their goods at higher rates as in some regions of the valley rice was sold at the rate of Rs. 3500 per quintal by private dealers which was earlier sold below Rs 2500. Government employees got their salaries without attending their duties as their offices remains closed. Even though some employees used to attend offices, it was only for the purpose of marking their attendance. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that even some people enjoyed this unstable situation of the valley. Though all the sectors suffered partially, it was the student community which suffered the most. They couldn’t attend even a single class for months and their loss was the biggest. They became wanderers of the valley. Funniest thing to see was that at the end of the session the students in lower classes were provided with question papers and were asked to solve them at home and then bring them back to school in order to get promoted to next classes. It was beyond the understanding of common masses what was the fun of all that process.

Currently we are unable to understand the loss which our education system suffers from the political unrest in our valley. Its jolts will be felt in the near future when our nation will have only quantitative literates but without quality. Then there will be no way to repair the damage. It is high time for all of us to understand this grave issue. We should try our best to create a favourable atmosphere for education in our valley and as far as possible we should try to spare our educational institutes from this political instability. Our young generation has enough potential to be our future scholars, doctors, engineers and scientists. This potential shouldn’t be marred by political unrest of the valley rather it should be sculpted in best possible way by our educational institutes for the betterment of our nation.

(The author teaches Geography at GDC, Kulgam. He can be reached at [email protected])

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Opinion

Understanding Drug Addiction

Monitor News Bureau

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By Faizaan Bashir

The need of the hour is to understand what drives youth to drugs. Understanding and avoiding the reasons is far crucial than treating the actual addiction.

“There was a time when ‘divine signs’ were seen in children, but now, it’s like a complete obverse of it,” whimpered a very old, frizzled and pale man in a tone of despair. Watching through the window, the man enjoined upon me for having a disheartening view of two of his younger children puffing weed. So much so, their style of talking and bodily movements would quiver with each passing second. Wherefore, I was able to squueze out the memories of my teen when I too had grown the victim of these life-abrading habits. The clutches of this trap, as far as I could remember, had gripped me to the hilt. None could prevent me from doing so – almost none. It was as if the permanent seal of drugs had been tacked to my heart and mind. For the most part, a person is tend to ‘considerably’ think about crucial and critical aspects of life, but the whole self of mine was in a state of utter freeze just by its disgrace & medically proven-pernicious effects.

 

Anyway, it’s sure, many questions must be doing rounds inside your mind, and it should be so: What is it that drives a normal being into these destructive physical activities? Why is it that these life-hollowing drugs the more a man becomes addictive to, wouldn’t probably do away from us? Even after, having felt its repurcusions, why is not he able to take control over himself, or left himself uttering “I were to have stopped it that time and this time while dying in self-pity!?” Or is there some kind of mystery that lies with the drug-ridden? The answer to all these hardly-contemplated-over-questions is that: of all the drug-addicts, more than 70 percent of its populace have already been suffering from depression, stress, anxiety and many other psychological disorders that seem too difficult to put up with. So, in order to give to the mind a ceaseless rush of dopamine, a chemical in our brain responsible for mood boosting- or giving a temporary feeling of relief, consuming drugs becomes the fitting choice.

There are different drugs available to be sold and each of them has its own features. The way cannabis can give momentary a sigh of relief, couldn’t probably cigarettes do and the continuous cycle of consuming one over other becomes the nasty priority! Drugs are the cruelest killers disguising as relief and mood boosters. A sign of stress is indicative of mind demanding something to get the relaxation from; and here the depressed folk becomes an easy prey to drugs – finding it as swifter working alternative than anything else could be doing! When a man has a huge stress over something, to put in this way, he is bound to consuming the substance having mammoth influential features. So that, the temporary relief from the mess could be achieved; but, that is where a man starts to grow addictive.

Drugs, cruelest killers, have a plethora of dreadful effects on our lives. It’s been found that taking drugs reduces oxygen level in our viens, therby affecting our heart. Others (experts in morphology) would say that it alters the inner structure of mind, thus giving rise to to the life-snatching pshychological disorders – and then one grows paranoid. Many fears take up his mind and tend to neglect the society. She becomes socially bereft! Some would even – for the inability in dealing with people – consume drugs thereof in secret. Substatial number of them are seeing no way to reclaim their lives, thus adding only to the woes and life becoming sheer predicament.

Having refrained from taking these silent killers, I can say that those that are used to devouring or snuffing or whatever ways they take them in should at least check the status of thier lives. They should ask themselves what is it that prompts them to become the easy victim of drugs. Anaylysing the root causes would do plenty in helping one recover from the predicament. If there is any kind of stress or depression or strain, as the major causes remain so at most of the times, despite the fact we don’t comprehend it at the moment, self-control, meditation etc should be considered, wholeheartedly, instead; or even if one is most glued with these drugs, reduce the quantity of it each time. Wait for the due course. Rise to the occasion and stay away from these killing stuff.

It is noteworthy to mention that those who, fortunately, have not become the victim of these killers, must pay no heed to it ever, for once it has been consumed, one fails to understand what to do and what not. The need of the hour is to aware the unawares regarding the downsides – trap – of taking drugs. We must impart in our education sysyem the whole conept of drugs as to how it affects the health and pshychology; and, most importantly, how to waive off our uneasiness at times by mental excersises to keep us calm, secured from the lure of drugs.

There is an urgent need to start a campaign, protest against those dealers and smugglars who dispose of different kinds of drugs whether in manifest or secret to the mentally disturbed victims. The adminstration ought to put more effors in busting such elements. At the same time, instead of penalizing the drug takers, they should be given counselling sessions to squeeze out the things that prompt them to take these drugs. Furthermore, parents must keep a vigil eye on thier children: from where they are coming, who are they friends with, why are they coming late, what has been done to the pocket-money are the questions which every parent must pose on their children. Talking freely with your children is an another thing which is needed to reduce any strain taking up their minds.

We will have to do these things for the sake of our people in general. Our children, who are our future generations, in particular. 

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