6.6.13

Mahatma Gandhi in Kashmir





If one were to go by news reports, then all that the people of Jammu and Kashmir have been waiting for these past decades is the autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi.

'The Story of My Experiments with Truth' is being translated in Kashmiri. Of course, since it is not just about any state, there is always a message. And according to the managing trustee of Navjivan Trust Vivek Desai:

"Gandhi's life would offer a solution to the problem of terrorism to the locals. We hope it helps trigger a mental thirst for peace through non-violence."

Take any of the initiatives of Gandhian ahimsa and there is underlying violence, perhaps self-destructive. If the freedom fighters of India took the lathi blows of the British, then the Kashmiris have had to deal with such blows and arrests from security forces. Whether it was Gandhi's 'jail bharo' andolan or the Dandi March, the consequence was violence.

Kashmiris too can claim that their protests at Lal Chowk qualify as legitimate dissent. The youth taking to stone pelting might be deemed as a soft stance to make a point. What makes the publishers believe that the people do not want peace? They just do not want to be bulldozed, and the Constitution grants them that right.

His role in Kashmir is dicey and he was most certainly not beloved of the king, let alone the people. Campbell Johnson in 'Mission with Mountbatten' wrote, “Both Nehru and Gandhi have been very anxious that the maharaja of Kashmir should make no declaration of independence."

Besides that, the Mahatma who happily went along with Hitler's forces during the World War can hardly be seen as a paragon of peace to find a solution to terrorism. Wasn't there much sniggering when JKLF leader Yasin Malik said that he was Gandhian?

The paths are not black and white about what is good and bad. In fact, Gandhi used a religious paradigm to deal with many problems, and much of his decision-making was driven by his conscience. It really was about one man's inner voice that colonised a large part of the independence movement.

If at all, his life story is one of struggling with his own flaws. It is essentially a Biblical thesis on how to cope with moral dilemmas. In a land where so much blood has been shed, a book is not going to teach them anything.

The Kashmiris, even its separatist leaders, do not suffer from this sort of humble arrogance where they can afford to decide on what people want. There are checks in the form of the Central and State governments, oppostion parties, security forces, outside forces — mainly Pakistani insurgents as well as the government — and many militant outfits.

In some ways, this is democracy even if there are weapons that talk.

Mahatma Gandhi did not get crushed in the stampede or under British boots. He sat with a charkha, spinning yarns, with a White woman as one of his devotees.

Let a Kashmiri try emulating this and he will be rounded up for suspicious activities. The people live the truth. They do not need to experiment with it.

End note: What if Kashmiris clamoured for Shaheed Bhagat Singh's works? Think about it.

© Farzana Versey

9 comments:

  1. Mahatma Gandhi's "My experiment with truth" is a fine book and reading it is not a bad way to spend time. Claiming that this will somehow have an impact on the Kashmiri political scene though is nonsense. I like how you explain this very nicely and patiently in this article.

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  2. FV

    I think they must translate Golvalkar's 'We, Our Nationhood Defined' into Kashmiri. That will tell the misguided Jihadis that the 'oppressive' Indian state they claim to be fighting is actually a harmless Disneyland ruled mostly by ridiculous Mickey Mouse effigies.

    Who knows, perhaps that may land us the elusive solution to this Jihadi killing spree!

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  3. FV

    Throwing stones at cops on duty and provoking them with anti-India slogans (while Jihadis lurk with greades at the rear of the mob) is soft expression of dissent? Then I think even demolition of Babri mosque was peaceful agitation. After all, it was a symbolic act and did not involve actually hurting or killing anyone. Except perhaps unintentionally with the falling debris. What say?

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  4. Being that I have not read "The Story of My Experiments with Truth" I can not comment on it. I will however submit that any experimentation involves variations about the nominal. Something, for example, what Timothy Leary did ... with LSD. That being the case, when you vary truth, does it retain its properties? Are variations of truth, still true?

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  6. Sai:

    Indeed, it is a fairly good read, although self-indulgent.

    The publishers, or whoever is creating this fake demand, knows that it won't have an impact. It did not in the state the Mahatma was born in - Gujarat. Such changes do not just happen, and there are 'other' things besides non-violence that a most certainly not worthy of emulation.

    What bothers me is that one state has been targeted for this, knowing well how the 'Kashmir problem' arose. I am amused to see rightwing sympathisers make it their 'cause', aware that this was way before the BJP had any say in national matters. To claim a 'hot' issue they will forget history.

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  7. Anon:

    {I will however submit that any experimentation involves variations about the nominal. Something, for example, what Timothy Leary did ... with LSD. That being the case, when you vary truth, does it retain its properties? Are variations of truth, still true?}

    Good point. Truth by its nature is variable and based on perception, as opposed to fact. Let us take the example of painting, say Modigliani. There will be one of his famous nudes. It is his truth. Then reprints will try to replicate that truth, but not quite. Then, there might be the reality of the model, if any. And the possibility of someone who admires the artist thinking that a person reminds her/him of a Modigliani work (a comment I did read once on a blog, and have heard at other times) - (under the influence of LSD?)

    Now, how true are these depend on the honesty in 'seeing'. I do hope I've been able to explain this adequately.

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  8. F&F:

    Forget translating Golwalkar into Kashmiri (I am told most Kashmiris cannot read Kashmiri, so this is just so much hype, anyway), I think they should translate some Kashmiri writings of sages and poets into English or Marathi for you to understand a few things. 

    {Throwing stones at cops on duty and provoking them with anti-India slogans (while Jihadis lurk with greades at the rear of the mob) is soft expression of dissent? Then I think even demolition of Babri mosque was peaceful agitation. After all, it was a symbolic act and did not involve actually hurting or killing anyone. Except perhaps unintentionally with the falling debris. What say?}

    1. Who are the 'jihadists' you speak about? Do learn to differentiate between different movements there. 

    2. If insurgents or militants were lurking, there would be huge casualties among security forces. Do tell us when and how many happened during the stone throwing. Also tell us how many of the boys were rounded up. 

    3. Your analogy with Babri demolition is unfortunate in its choice of language, but I've learned to keep my expectations low where you are concerned. 

    However, again, people did not die due to the falling debris after stalwarts bayed for the blood of a structure. Really, pathetic. People were killed in different cities that were far from the demolition. You must have heard about the Bombay riots of 1993. 

    I wonder what debris fell in Gujarat. I am sure you have some 'historical' information about that, too. 

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  9. FV

    Nice to know where your sympathies lie. By the way falling debris did kill people after Babri came down. The people in question were standing under Mumbai stock exchange.

    I am not an ideologue nor even an experienced freelance blogger-journalist. No surprise if my articulation is below par. Pitch your expectations right! :)

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