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Cutting the Kashmir melon

india Updated: Aug 16, 2008 18:33 IST
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The sudden explosion of violence in Jammu & Kashmir over the trivial matter of some 40 hectares of forest land clearly shows a deep communal divide that has its roots in history. The state, as we know it, comprises of three regions, which we have treated as one administered from Srinagar and Jammu. This is entirely because ever since the annexation of Punjab by the British in 1849 and its sale to Maharajah Gulab Singh, it has been treated by his descendants as a Dogra fiefdom till India attained its independence in 1947. It is time we took a good look at the ground realities, however unpalatable they be, and found a solution that will be acceptable to all three regions as well as to India and Pakistan.

The three regions are geographically divided into the Valley of Jhelum, Jammu and Ladakh. They are also distinct from each other in religion, language, and perception of their future. The people of the Valley are over 90 per cent Muslims, speak Kashmiri and demand azadi (freedom) without defining its full implications. The people of Jammu are predominantly Hindu, speak Dogri, Hindi or Punjabi. They definitely do not want the kind of azadi the people of the Valley clamour for. Nor do the Ladakhis, who are Buddhists and speak their own dialect.

The core of the problem is the demand for azadi by the Muslims of the Valley. It can be met without upsetting their relationship with India. It is too small and landlocked to become a sovereign, independent state. Its economy is largely dependent on India which is the only outlet for its agricultural produce (fruit, saffron etc), its handicrafts, carpets and shawls. Most of its tourists come from or through India. There cannot be, nor need be, any break in its relations with India. India should and must give the Valley complete autonomy to manage its internal affairs without meddling with the administration of Jammu and Ladakh. India must continue its military presence but only to guard its borders against infiltrators from Pakistan and no more.

If the people of the Valley are agreeable to this kind of a settlement, I am sure Pakistan will accept it as well. We have had enough of ill will and violence — it has gone on for far too long. It must be put to an end, and the sooner the better.

The Ramayanas, in a volume

Scholars of ancient Indian history are of the opinion that there are over 300 different versions of the epic in existence. However, they are agreed on the main episodes: the birth and upbringing of Sri Rama and Lakshmana in Ayodhya, Sri Rama’s marriage to Sita, their 14-year exile, abduction of Sita, her rescue and triumphal return to Ayodhya. This drama is enacted year after year as Dussehra in every village, town and city across our subcontinent. It is also usually the first story that mothers and grandmothers narrate to children. It is deeply embedded in the Indian psyche.

The version most widely accepted in northern India is the one narrated by Valmiki. In 1649, Rana Jagat Singh of Udaipur (Mewar) commissioned his court artists to paint a series of pictures depicting the entire story from beginning to end. The task took four years to be completed. It is our misfortune that the collection was sold to English connoisseurs and fragments are found in the British Library in London. It is also our good fortune that these fragments have been put together in collaboration with the British Library by Niyogi Books with a detailed introduction by the Indologist JP Lusty. So, we have a beautifully produced coffee-tabler: The Ramayana: Love & Valour in India’s Great Epic (Niyogi Books). I can’t think of a more suitable gift for growing children on their birthdays or on Diwali to make them aware of their heritage.

Film Songs on Confidence Vote
Prakash Karat: Dost dost na rahaa...
Manmohan Singh: Merey dushman tu meri dosti ko tarsey...
Sonia Gandhi: Aaj phir jeeney ki tamanna hai...
Somnath Chatterjee: Jhoom, jhoom ke nacho/Aaj kis ki jeet hui hai/Aaj kis ki haar...
Mulayam Singh Yadav: Na na kartey haan tumhi ko kar baithey...
Lalu Prasad Yadav: Samajhney-wale samajh gaye hain/Jo naa samajhey woh anari hai
Amar Singh: Lagaa chunri mein daag...
Mayawati: Mera sundar sapna toot gaya...
Sitaram Yechury: Merey tutey huey dil se koi to aaj yeh puchhey...
AB Bardhan: Kasmein, vaade, pyaar wafaa sab/Baatein hain, baaton ka kya...
Rahul Gandhi: Hoshiar! Hum hain yahaan ke Raj Kumar
LK Advani: Raha gardishon mein har dam...
Arun Jaitley: Yeh kya hua, kaise hua, kyon hua...
Pranab Mukherjee: Duniya kee sair kar lo...
Vayalar Ravi: Jo vadaa kiya hai nibhaana paadey ga...
Shibu Soren: Jo tum ko ho pasand wahi baat karenge...
Deve Gowda: Mujhe tum se kuch bhi naa chahiye/Mujhe mere haal pe chhod do…
Ajit Singh: Kora kagaz thaa, kora hi reh gayaa...
SS Dhindasa: Garibo ki suno, woh tumhari sunega...
Raj Babbar: Ghungroo ki tarah bajta hi raha hoon main...
Omar Abdullah: Begaani shaadi mein Abdullah deewana...
Manmohan-Bush, over phone: Yeh dosti hum nahin chodenge...
Aam Aadmi: Jinhein naaz hai Hind pe, woh kahan hain?

(Contributed by KJS Ahluwalia, Amritsar)