And the winner is…

Results of the INI Essay Competition

We didn’t receive as many entries as we would have liked. And among them we didn’t find enough that stood out. So we decided to award only the first prize for the best entry we received.

We asked for your solution to Jammu & Kashmir, “that if it were up to you, how would you solve the problems in Jammu & Kashmir? Be imaginative, be bold and be compelling. Your essay should present the solution and support it with arguments.”

The prize goes to Dilip D’Souza. You can read his essay “Free to Choose India” over at The Indian National Interest.

Congratulations, Dilip! And thanks to everyone who participated.

26 thoughts on “And the winner is…”

  1. Can the judges please disclose the criteria they used to assess the essays? I presume this is not a high-school essay writing competition where articulation of the idea is given more weightage than (originality of) the idea itself. Yet, the only redeeming quality about this prize-winner is its readability. It does hold your interest till the end — “compelling” in that sense — though the first one-fourth is fairly redundant. (Indeed, the first few paras set expectations that the author fails miserably to meet later on in the essay).

    How is holding a referendum in J&K a “bold” and “imaginative” idea!? Allright, with a strech of imagination and a bit of skillful persuasion, one might be led to believe that it is a “bold” idea. But how on earth can an idea bandied about for as many as sixty years be deemed “imaginative”?

    Well then again, it surely is “imaginative” in the sense that there is an air of fiction about it, and to enjoy it requires a willing suspension of disbelief. The demographics of PoK has completely changed since 1948, and according to some reports the majority of the population in that area is not even Kashmiri. Ergo, to treat a vote in this area as “Kashmiri” vote really calls for some “boldness” and imagination!

  2. One thing abundantly clear from Dilip D’Souza’s solution for the imbroglio is that, he does not, even remotely, understand Kashmir or the Kashmiris remaining in the valley.

  3. I must say the solutions are pretty optimistic and misleading. Misleading because it is built on wrong information by the esteemed author.

    To understand Kashmir, one must look at its history and also have some info. on the ideology of islam.

    My own short and concise essay follows. {sorry for the late submission}.

    1} The seeds of islamic jehad was laid by us Indians when Nehru decided to stop the Indian army campaign midway and go to the UN. {the edwina effect}.

    2} Further complications arose when Nehru allowed himself to be blackmailed by Abdullah and imposed article 370 in the muslim majority state.

    3} We lost half of kashmir in a war we were about to win, and the other half was lost to the islamists by another nehruvian blunder, the imposition of 370.

    4} the islamists, were thus able to maintain there demographic supremacy over non-muslims in the state.

    5} The Indian establishment under the Gandhis opted to control kashmir through puppet regimes, and this strategy finally collapsed after 1989. Mainly because the pakistanis started diverting the soviet jehadis into kashmir. The pakis were also sufficiently confident because they now had the ultimate weapon {courtesy china}, which provided them with the essential cover as well as the audacity to take on India.

    6} The islamists were able to move very decisively and very fast. Even before Indians would come up with some answers, they were successful in killing around 5000 to 10000 hindus and evict the entire minority population out of their ancestral homes in kashmir.

    7} Note should also be taken of the period between 1989 to 1991. It was a very weak moment in Indian history, one of the prime causes of the early success gained in Jehad.

    8} Islamism has been always a reality in kashmir, and the only way to contain it was by implementing the China model, ie, Demographic Inundation. To read more on the China model, here is a link.

    http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/6807/UIGHUR.html

    Article 370, unfortunately prevented this and has somehow been elevated to be one of Indias great secular template.

    9} This development has led the brave Indian army to fight a two-front battle for about 20 years. One against the trained jehadis exported by pakis and the other against a very hostile muslim population.

    It is only due to the doggedness and the committment of the Indian armymen that we have prevailed against all odds in kashmir.

    10} As regards the islamic demand for freedom from Indian rule, the answers are all there in the ideology of islam. Read up on dar ul harb and dar ul islam. And understand that is islam can never be separated from islamization of land. Territory and the establisment of islamic rule over conqured – occupied territory, is one of the cornerstones of islam.

    11} So what can be the solution under this historical background. Surely not ones suggested by the winning essay. Otherwise we will have referendums in Bengal and Assam ten years from now. Twenty years from now, it will be Kerala in the line. Followed by Azamgarh, Bombay and parts of Bihar and UP to join the queue. As Indians indulge themselves with some heavy duty intellectual wanking termed as “out of the box” and “fresh” thinking.

    12} I have no suggestions. I only assert that we are now fighting the menace of islamization in kashmir. And we must win it all cost. Even if it takes a continous hammering of the islamists till they submit.

    It is very important for us to win a thousand miles away in kashmir because if we dont, than we run the risk of gradually ceding all our lands piecemeal by piecemeal to the islamists.

    Learn from History or you will be condemned.

  4. There are two halves of Kashmir that we know of – one claimed by “a fractious, fragile country with a history of regular lapses into military dictatorship”, the other claimed by “an optimistic, confident country that understands the meaning and profound promise of democracy in full measure” [quotes from D’Souza’s article]. And in which half is the mayhem, the terror, and the genocide? Which half is sheltering the Islamic terrorists, homegrown and from across the border? Which half is resounding with calls for referendum?

    The result of this referendum is a foregone conclusion when it is targeted at the “millions of dull, shriveled, stagnant souls that have no thoughts of their own, no dreams of their own, no will of their own, who eat and sleep and chew helplessly the words others put into their brains” [Ayn Rand, We the Living]. I am willing to bet my entire net worth against D’Souza’s pipe-dream!

    I’ll grant it to him that with a weak willed GOI, the referendum may be the only solution that is economically meaningful, not for Kashmir but for the rest of India. I suggest, though, that the GOI use the two year hiatus before the referendum to build a war chest of cruise missiles and fortify its western border, sans Kashmir of course, with a wall, not of barbed wire but nuclear missiles aimed at Pakistan and beyond!

  5. This is astonishing! I agree wholeheartedly with all the above comments. I especially like the details that Pankaj provides. I could not have said it better. Kudos Pankaj.

    Mr D’Souza needs to get a reality check.

  6. What if the Pandits vote for Kashmir to be part of India and the muslims vote for a free Kashmir/Pakistan Kashmir? (which is what I think the actual voting pattern will be) The Pandits sure would be outnumbered. Do we then send them back to Kashmir and wash our hands off or do we grant them some sort of green-card and let them wallow in refuge camps?
    I like Pankaj’s comment, especially on demographic invasion. The solution could begin with abolishing article 370 and letting rest of India to migrate to Kashmir.

  7. Nitin, surprising a left-winger childish, can I say, unoriginal, rant makes it first place, not just a brief mention (for length, maybe), especially on a national interest blog. I’d thought it’s okay to have no winners.

    Doesn’t this guy goes day after day bashing the new economy and economic growth and calls for more regulations on the other India or some such blog. Apparently he doesn’t believe in what he writes.

    If India is such a horrible as he describes in his posts (somehow, it’s a wonderful country in the essay), why wouldn’t Kashmirs choose their fellow Muslims across the border especially with terrorists guns on their head and the recent necessary high handed of Indian army, even if Pakistanis are naive enough to allow elections in POK with the possibility that they’ll choose India or, better yet, want to form a new nation (another country for apparent strategic depth).

    What’s next? Allow Assamese to vote for a plebiscite. I am sure Prabakharan can send a few tigers across the channel and demand plebiscite after a few terror attacks. I forget Arunachal Pradesh – may be the Chinese can tell us what to do (as they are not too keen on elections). The Canadian Khalistanis are interested in knowing. Better yet, let’s ask Sting – he is a British, isn’t he (or was that Reagan)?

    May be Sardarji was stupid when he used all types of coercion to make Bharat a contiguous land with no littles islands of foreign allegiance. Let them be free from allegiance to one state.

    As Gaurav says, let’s break it up and cross our fingers and pray that they’ll rejoin – because motley crew of terrorists demand so.

  8. The argument that referendum should not be held in Kashmir because it opens up flood gates for referendums elsewhere in India is an invalid, unwise argument. The well-oiled leftwing rhetoric machine is ready with a canned counterpoint to it: is Indian nationhood so weak and insecure as to crumble the moment Kashmir is let go of? (In the warped leftwing worldview, Indian nationalism is bad and must be disparaged but “Kashmiri” subnationalism is good and must be respected.)

    My opposition to referendum stems from the fact that there is NO evidence that the “movement” in J&K is any movement at all for “Kashmiri” “self-determination”. This is an Islamic fundamentalist movement, pure and simple, one that is hostile not only to Hindus and Sikhs but also even to Shias and other non-Sunni ethnic minorities of J&K, and one that aims at establishing an Islamic theocracy in Kashmir. The logic behind this “movement” is the same as the one behind India’s partition. Just as the logic of partition spelt doom for Hindus and Sikhs of what today is Pakistan, so will the logic for secession of Kashmir (if it hasn’t already spelt doom for Pandits, that is.)

    As a secular state, India cannot allow religion-based referendums. As a secular state, India is morally bound to protecting the welfare of Kashmir’s religious minorities.

  9. “Is Indian nationhood so weak and insecure as to crumble the moment Kashmir is let go of? (In the warped leftwing worldview, Indian nationalism is bad and must be disparaged but “Kashmiri” subnationalism is good and must be respected.)”

    Not the moment, no. But will it be all right if it were to crumble 50 years later ? What about 100 ? 200?

  10. Chandra & others,

    Selecting this entry for the first prize does not mean that the judges endorse the solution it proposes. We never specified, intentionally, that the essays have to adhere to the general line and position that The Indian National Interest community takes on the topic.

    The purpose of the essay contest was to encourage greater discussion over this issue, and critically examine various positions. Judging from some of the comments to this post, I’m glad that this is happening here.

  11. “Not the moment, no. But will it be all right if it were to crumble 50 years later ? What about 100 ? 200?”

    There are counterpoints to that one as well.

    Eventually it boils down to your idea of Indian nationhood versus the Left’s. I won’t go down that path because then it becomes an ideological dispute.

    I’ll pin the lefties down to values they claim they swear by. If Dilip D’Souza can irrefutably demonstrate that “Kashmiri” identity is at the root of demands for secession, I’m game for his “bold” and “imaginative” proposal.

  12. Forgive me, it’s almost faintly amusing to find the same people with the same fulminations.

    rc: I’m not concerned with what Pakistan’s suggestion is (though somehow I don’t think they have suggested “we will withdraw our forces first as the UN Resolution asks us to do”). The competition didn’t ask entrants to write something “different from the Pakistanis suggestion”. It asked for a solution: I offered what I think will work. Please shoot it down on its merits or otherwise, not on what Pakistani suggestions might be.

    Oldtimer, the demographics of our part of Kashmir has also changed completely since 1948 (the Pandits were driven out post 1989). So? I’m explicitly arguing for the people driven out to be a part of this process. Without that it is meaningless.

    Whether the idea is bold or imaginative or not is your opinion; I’m not concerned with that. But here’s a thought: bandying it about is quite different from actually carrying it out.

    Also, whether it is left-wing rhetoric or not hardly interests me. But I believe the guys who tell us India will break up if a referendum is held in Kashmir are guys who have a fundamentally weak belief in their own country. Ultimately, a country rests on the strength of its citizens’belief in it. In essence, this essay argues for that strength. No more said on that count.

    Anuj, possibly a fair comment. I’ve spent substantial time with Kashmiris of all stripes, in J&K and in camps in Jammu and Delhi, but as always its never enough. This essay comes partly out of the understanding I think I have based on that time spent. Why not offer us — or in fact, why didn’t you offer this contest — the understanding of Kashmir and its people that you have and I lack?

    Pankaj, it takes you till point #12 to say “I have no suggestions”? Or is your suggestion simply “a continuous hammering until they submit”? We have a problem that concerns us all. What will solve it? Can you try answering that, instead of your analysis of the past? I’m glad you say “Learn from history”, because the lesson of history is that “continuous hammering” only leads to losing your possessions (if that’s the word): our own history of freedom from the British tells us that.

    Atanu: I got a reality check. That’s why I wrote this article. I am grateful nearly every day for having had that reality check.

    Chandra: I report on what I see. Some of it makes me pessimistic, some makes me optimistic. I think that’s what makes this country so interesting.

  13. Oldtimer,

    But “nation” is very much a “idea”, why not go down that path ? Why are people so dismissive of ideas ?

    And if someone is ready to grant freedom to “choose” India, how does it matter what is the basis of secession? Seperatist may assert that Kashmiriyat is derived from Islamiat, who are outsiders to contradict ? And why should it matter ?

    For me, “There is no freedom to choose”.
    If someone demands secession, he is guilty of high treason and state should deal with him as it deems fit.

  14. “Whether the idea is bold or imaginative or not is your opinion; I’m not concerned with that. But here’s a thought: bandying it about is quite different from actually carrying it out.”

    Here is another thought: Actually carrying an idea out needs to be judged not so much on the basis of whether it is “bold” or “imaginative”, but on whether it is viable, pragmatic and is the best possible solution. I am not judging your artcile on the basis of the latter parameters, because the competition itself doesn’t consider them. Ergo, I confine to critiquing it on the basis of boldness and novelty criteria.

  15. 1. @ all: I left a comment back at Dilip’s blog that effectively suggests that we proceed to the maximum extent possible to heed to the wishes of Kashmiris in J&K with no deal-breaking linkage to a PoK referendum. I do think that would be bold.

    The problem would arise in the execution- due to PoK. I dont foresee any change there but we can go ahead and try anyway. I am as patriotic as the rest of you but the idea of India as a prison cell holding Kashmiris captive to hold on to land territory does not appeal to me. If that is what Kashmiris genuinely believe (with no guns to their heads) I am not very interested in having them as fellow Indian citizens.

    2. @ Dilip: “…Bold and imaginative is your opinion, I’m not concerned with that…”

    Since you said exactly that on your blog Dilip, (ie. I welcome comments on whether this is bold or imaginative or compelling) this part of your comment was surprising.

    regards,
    Jai

  16. Hi Jai,

    “we proceed to the maximum extent possible to heed to the wishes of Kashmiris in J&K”

    It is not evident at all that there are any one single set of “wishes” of “Kashmiris” at stake here. For instance, an organization called Panun Kashmir wants a protected zone for Kashmiri Pandits within the valley, which zone, needless to add, shall remain an integral part of India. The hurriyat, of course, pays no heed to the wishes of this set of Kashmiris, has its own pro-Paki agenda, wants all of J&K to be part of Pakistan, but is so insecure of itself that it doesn’t participate in J&K elections, depsite its close links with terrorists and their ability to frighten people to vote one way or the other.

    So frankly, this notion of paying heed to the “wishes” of “kashmiris” seems fuzzy to me. What “Kashmiris” are you talking about? Sunnis? Shias? Dogras? Valley’s Pandits? Hindus? Sikhs?

    Note that D’Souza won’t comment on this contentious matter either. There is simply the monotnously repeated assertion that there is this overarching “Kashmiri” identity binding all kashmiris together and that there are no faultlines within the peoples of J&K. This is putting the cart before the horse. First you and D’Souza need to establish the bona fides of the “kashmiris” and their “wishes” that you are talking about.

    “I am as patriotic as the rest of you but the idea of India as a prison cell holding Kashmiris captive to hold on to land territory does not appeal to me.”

    I shall ignore your innocent use of the word “Kashmiris” here again, but my point is: I agree with you. We don’t want to stop any one who doesn’t want to live in India from leaving us. That was precisely the deal of 1947. Partition is a closed chapter, but our approval to those who do not want to live in India to migrate to Pakistan remains.

  17. “…What “Kashmiris” are you talking about? Sunnis? Shias? Dogras? Valley’s Pandits? Hindus? Sikhs? …”

    All of them. Am indeed no expert on Kashmir. But believe that there was a Kashmiriyat feeling and a sense of Kashmiri identity that they shared, (including Pandits), until at some point the terrorists communalized it. I would be glad if this Kashmiri identity is nothing stronger than a feeling of say, Andhra identity.

    It is believed its rather a sense of separateness much stronger amounting to distancing from the idea of India. An objective scrutiny of whether this is completely true is welcome. If it is very largely true, with some exceptions here and there, that should be respected too?

    Their rejection of India set off the basic feeling in me that “Hey we dont want to hold them either” and my opinion is basically derived from *an intense pride in my Indian identity*. If the mischief-makers from Pakistan can be kept from taking advantage out of the mix somehow (I dont know how) there is not too much cost to the rest of India IMHO from territorial concessions to those Kashmiris that want their identity.

    Sujai’s blog (sujaiblog.blogspot.com) has some thinking on these lines. If I recollect, the Vale of Kashmir he feels will overwhelmingly vote to break from India but the results in the rest will vary and much of the rest of Kashmir will vote for ties with India. So heeding the wishes would mean creating an enclave for the Vale of Kashmir that has some limited sovereignty at least while the rest get to stay with India with maybe some autonomy. An enclave that has no direct border with Pakistan could even be manageable realistically?

    Just my ideas, I do realize these may be deeply offensive to many here. Also that there are practical aspects that havent been dealt with.

    regards,
    Jai

  18. A Response to Comment 14,

    It seems that much of what I have stated in comment 5 seems to have gone overhead. The entire objective was to provide a historical framework which is very essential. Otherwise the conversation becomes meaningless.

    The Kashmir is submerged in history, and without any knowledge of that, there can be no understanding.

    Three major points.

    1} Our own failures of leadership and subsequently of the Indian state led to the kashmir crisis. Not being able to reclaim our lands from enemy forces and running away to the UN for arbitration fundamentally compromised Indian sovereignty. We created the “dispute” and our failures have made pakistan a “third party” in that “dispute”. And off-course, it was to be the foundation of a future jehad post collapse of USSR.

    2} Islamism was always a reality in Kashmir. They never wanted Indian {Hindu} rule which they consider to be their “Land”.

    3} The concept in islam of “muslim lands” is a great challenge to non-muslim civilizations, and since Indians have never had the concept of “Hindu lands”, they have not been able to articulate a correct response.
    _______

    Now to me, Kashmir to me is not a humanitarian crisis as portrayed by the communist-muslim combine in India. It is about islamic power and expansion. And the ideology of islam is at the core of it.

    Our losses to this islamic expansionism has been too great to enumerate. Entire territories lost on both the west and east wing to islam. Lahore, which was 40% hindu-sikh also lost to the islamists. Countless millions of hindus also liquidated in the process. In order to make the land pak {pure}.

    Referendums will only open a pandoras box. It will embolden the policy of jehad and attempts would be made to repeat the “kashmir experiment” in other islamic pockets in India. {refer to point 11 in comment 5}.

    It is against this backdrop that I want others to view the situation in Kashmir.

    Since suggestions have been solicited, here are some.

    — I want the Indian state to battle as long as it takes, and whatever it takes, against the islamists. Peace shall eventually prevail. But it will never prevail through the submission of Indians.

    — To me, the kashmiris are free people. They have always been free. But unfortunately, any demand or concession of Indian territory through referendum as part of freedom is untenable. If you dont want to live in India, fine, feel free to leave and gain your freedom. But you wont be allowed to take the territory along with you. Indian lands remains with India.

    Enough lands have been conceded to the islamists and enough blood have been shed. No More.

    — A Kashmir Valley Region, integrating both Indian held South Kashmir with Pak held North Kashmir can be worked out. However,

    This should be done without any referendums. And also by comprehensively ensuring, please note, comprehensively ensuring, and not just accepting assurances, that pakistanis, revoke all proxy war with India.

    – In return of KVR, Indians would establish Panun Kashmir at exactly the location specified here. http://www.panunkashmir.org/

  19. Hi Jai,

    “Just my ideas, I do realize these may be deeply offensive to many here.”

    You need to get rid of your paranoia. You are not offensive at all! Please do not entertain that thought! Personally, I find you quite interesting, though I may find your opinions ill-informed and a bit ridiculous. It’s just that arguments lacking in logical rigor tend to meet with criticism, and you are mistaking this criticism for hostility. If only you stopped insisting that your claims on “Kashmiri” identity must be accepted as axioms of truth, and instead provided a reasoned argument as to why they must be accepted, you’ll perhaps have less reason to feel that people are reacting to you in hostility.

    “But believe that there was a Kashmiriyat feeling and a sense of Kashmiri identity that they shared, (including Pandits), until at some point the terrorists communalized it.”

    You need to seriously listen to Dilip D’Souza when he says:

    “I believe the guys who tell us India will break up if a referendum is held in Kashmir are guys who have a fundamentally weak belief in their own country.”

    The point he is making is that Indian identity is strong enough to survive even a secession of J&K from India. A “Kashmiri” identity that couldn’t survive the machinations of a few terrorists is a pretty lame identity to begin with. Obviously, “kashmiris” themselves didn’t believe it was worth protecting. If they did, they would have fought off terrorists, guarded their pandits and their property, enforced the secularism claimed to be inherent in “kashmiriyat”, and made sure the valley is not pampered at the expense of Jammu.

    At any rate — attribute the denouement to terrorists or whoever — this identity doesn’t exist as of today, and I am glad you admit this fact. It follows then that there is no single set of “wishes” that can be attributed to a well-identified group called “Kashmiris”.

    I am also glad you mentioned Andhra identity. If you observe carefully, you’ll notice that the average Indian wears multiple layers of identity with ease. No two of these identities are pitted against each other. Andhra identity sits pretty comfortably with Indian identity. The “kashmiri” identity that you claim that existed once upon a time seems to have defined itself as “anti-Indian” for it seems to have existed solely to repudiate the Indian! That is incredible. No identity defines itself as anti-some-other-identity, especially an identity that has roots in the Indian subcontinent. You should mull over this fact and seriously examine your fanciful notions about a “kashmiri” identity that was steeped in negativity and hate of the Indian.

  20. Response I put together last evening IST and couldn’t get up here:

    As a secular state, India is morally bound to protecting the welfare of Kashmir’s religious minorities.

    Well said. In fact, the larger point is that India is morally bound to protecting the welfare of all its religious minorities; in fact, that’s what being a democracy really is. Glad you made this point, Ot.

    There is simply the monotnously repeated assertion that there is this overarching “Kashmiri” identity binding all kashmiris together and that there are no faultlines within the peoples of J&K.

    Where was it “monotnously repeated”, please point me to it? Besides, wasn’t it you who was pretty sure who is not Kashmiri? (“the majority of the population in that area is not even Kashmiri”, you said). Was this an “innocent use of the word ‘Kashmiri'”?

    This essay comes from trying to think about the multiple ethnicities in Kashmir; which, again, is why it is important to address the issue of participation from Pandits driven from their homes.

    I am not judging your artcile on the basis of the latter parameters, because the competition itself doesn’t consider them.

    Oh, was I mistaken and you are one of the judges? Because an essay was an entry for a competition, it must not be considered outside of the parameters of that competition? Please judge it on whatever parameters seem appropriate. In any case, you’ve already judged it on those “latter parameters”, it’s beyond me why you would deny that.

    But then again, it’s only what long experience leads me to expect. No more. Don’t lie, won’t ask. Pinning them down indeed.

    will it be all right if it were to crumble 50 years later … For me, “There is no freedom to choose” [etc]

    Why such touching pessimism in the idea of India, I will never understand.

    this part of your comment was surprising.

    Really? I’m not allowed to say I welcome your comments, but that your opinions remain your opinions and don’t necessarily change my arguments?

  21. “Why such touching pessimism in the idea of India, I will never understand.”

    This is realism, as opposed to pessimism, and this is based on, well reality, as opposed to bleeding heart liberalism.

    “There is no freedom to choose”

    Yes there is no such freedom to any Indian or group of Indians to secede from the India. India is “sovereign”, Kashmir is not

  22. “In fact, the larger point is that India is morally bound to protecting the welfare of all its religious minorities; in fact, that’s what being a democracy really is. Glad you made this point, Ot.”

    And I am glad you grasped the point too, D’Souza, which bit of grasping, frankly, came as a bit of surprise to me, because your “bold and imaginative” plan virtually calls for the destruction of Kashmir’s minorities, going by the precedent set in Pakistan.

    To argue that Kashmir must be allowed the freedom to go the Pakistan way — as you have argued — stands in stark opposition to India’s secular tradition. Let us not pretend that your “bold and imaginative” plan is anything but what it, stripped off sophistry, really is: a call for repudiating Indian secularism and endorsing Islamic theocracy.

    “is why it is important to address the issue of participation from Pandits driven from their homes.”

    Your proposal doesn’t address that issue. That it does is another monotonously repeated assertion, like that “Kashmiri wishes” myth you propagate. Allowing the Pandits to participate in referendum — which you no doubt of your generous and kind-hearted nature recommended — doesn’t address their issue. (While on the subject: J&K participates in our Parliament elections. According to your weirdo logic then, that ought to address the “Kashmir issue.”).

    The point is that you are just repeatedly asserting, in a mealy-mouthed sort of way, that the Pandits’ welfare will be taken care of by a referendum. You don’t show how. You don’t show how they will be assured of their property, honour, dignity and security post-referendum. Perhaps you just want them to put their faith in this hare-brained scheme called referendum and be willingly led to slaughter.

    While on the subject, have you cared to ascertain what their views on your bold and imaginative proposal are? Do they like the idea of a referendum? Maybe they’d like a referendum of their own in which they alone participate to decide the creation of a Panun Kashmir? What do you think are the views of Jammu’s Hindus on the proposed referendum?

    Should a referendum be held against the wishes of these people? Is that how you suggest that India must safeguard the welfare of Kashmir’s minorities? If so, I must sadly conclude that not only are you hopelessly deluded, but you also don’t have the faintest clue about what Indian secularism stands for. “The welfare of Kashmir’s minorities” does not mean preparing them for the fate that met Pakistan’s Hindus, Sikhs, Qadiyanis. Their welfare means making sure they continue to live in a liberal secular democracy, entitled to all the rights that the majority Sunni Muslims are. Whatever else you may have grasped (the wrong end of the stick perhaps) this definitely is not a point you have understood.

    “Oh, was I mistaken and you are one of the judges? Because an essay was an entry for a competition, it must not be considered outside of the parameters of that competition?”

    Every reader is a judge, my friend. You shouldn’t be afraid of being judged by your readers, and especially by well-wishing fans like me. But I apologize if I have hurt your feelings by confining my criticism to the constraints that the judges set. It’s just that I was focused on not veering off-topic. I’d be glad to analyze your magnum opus on other parameters as well (in fact I have) but rest assured that the results will be even less flattering to you. You may get shocked, for instance, at the idea of a work of fiction being assessed against qualities such as honesty and integrity, and consistency with the proclamations that the author is known to have made in the recent past.

  23. A thicket of thoughts emerged on this topic, I have tried to refine it as possible. Dont want to drag. Also dont want to hog the discussion.

    I prefer to focus on the points of agreement- in this case, the Kashmir Valley Region accepted by Pankaj.

    The following models came to mind. I’m not particularly endorsing any one over the other or suggesting these are cut and dry solutions, just putting them up for discussion. It looks likely to me that some Kashmiris will accept some of these rather than just “choosing India” as Dilip suggests.

    – UK (with Scotland, Wales etc.)
    – Quebec/Canada
    – Andorra (Spain/France)
    – Vatican City/ San Marino – Italy

    These vary from ‘some separateness’ to nominal to near-sovereignty.There are some similarities to the Kashmir situation , like language/culture with Quebec/Canada, two nations with Spain/France -Andorra etc.

    There are considerable differences:

    1. Largely peaceful, with the exception of N.Ireland
    2. No Indo-Pak dynamics. Neither Spain nor France have placed Andorra as core to their identity and not even elections let alone wars are fought, won or lost over it.
    3. (some cases) Largely inconsequential backwaters/ principalities.
    4. Homogeneity of the base population, as different from Kashmir (Oldtimer’s point).
    5. Homogeneity of the ‘other’ population ie. Spanish or French. Here I agree with Dilip, our identity while more complex, is not fragile.

    Re. Kashmir, these differences are not insurmountable, we can at least sincerely try. The referendum is very desirable but I havent been able to account for Denmark’s vote on the EU (considerable swing within the space of ~1 year or so). I would still suggest that India try to make it happen.

    @ Dilip
    “… Really? I’m not allowed to say XYZ …”
    Please get over the allow/ disallow bit. Just expressed my surprise, that’s all!

    @ Oldtimer
    I am indeed taken up with these questions of identity and am not suggesting that any Kashmiri identity is driven by hate of India.

    I’m going to subside for a while and let some others have their say.

    regards,
    Jai

Comments are closed.