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Nation in Unmaking

Radhakanta Barik

Liberal nationalists such Naroji, Banerjee and Gokhale came to Indian politics between 1885-1905 who founded the Congress Party and gave a slogan " Nation in Making" made by Surendranath Banerjee. They all placed a brick by brick in construction of a pyramid of a nation. Gandhi- Nehru brought masses to provide a base to the national movement. Many more leaders worked in different schools including Subhash Bose, Marxists and socialists all had differences of opinions but each placed a brick in a pyramid of making of a difficult nation with so much diversity and pluralistic thinking. The whole pyramid of nation building was a difficult task and they worked as masonists and workers who combinedly worked together in constructing a nation. The climax came at the time of making of Indian Constitution which became the best written constitution in terms of social and economic and political revolution. Ambedkar, Patel and Nehru worked hard to create a political framework by which 25000 castes, so many linguistic groups and ethnic groups worked together. Nehru Patel worked hard in an imaginative manner to bring Kashmir to the nation in making by inserting Art 370. Ram Guha in his book India After Gandhi gave a chapter description of difficulties and nitty and gritty related to Kashmir issue that  In the middle of night Nehru's emissary went to meet the Hari Sigh the king of Kashmir who was toying the idea of merging with Pakistan but in a sleepy and dozing mood Nehru's emissary brought his signature which in the process integrated Kashmir into Indian Federation.' Lot of dialogues and discussion between Patel and Nehru on one side the other side Sheikh Abdulla created a nation. After 70 years Soviet Russia collapsed and after 73 years Indian nation has started in unmaking by a single action of abrogation of 370 from Kashmir. The foundation of stone of unmaking of the Indian nation has started by the actions of Modi and Shah. Patel was interested in giving Kashmir to Pakistan but Patel could not prevail, Soz said, because Nehru was very strong. His connection with Kashmir was very strong. He believed Kashmir should come to secular India, it will be safe here. He was very close to the National Conference. He had even come to address the Sopore session of the National Conference in 1945. He knew Kashmir’s history completely, Soz, a leading politician from Kashmir said.

While conducting a study on 13 festivals in 12 months of Odisha I came to realize an underlying point that all festivals for having fun and sharing good food among your relatives. But Eid is different which explains the sacrificing quality of a family. As I was living next to old Delhi for two decades I experience the great festive mood the Old Delhi wears on this occasion. It is a beautiful sight and a feast for eyes. This year Eid is not being celebrated in Kashmir because of Curfew has been imposed there. Their freedom has been restricted by the present central government. They have experimented an attack on minorities while they were in power in Gujarat. Muslims of Gujarat faced the similar situation in 2002 riots. This is getting repeated in Kashmir for the reasons they are aware. As I have spent many months in Kashmir and found people are very generous in their approach to outsiders for sharing a good feast. They are being barred today. It is shocking news. Let me share their pains with us. Dickens wrote in A Tale of Two Cities: It’s the best of times (rabid Hindus) and worst of times (innocent, poor Muslims). People of Kashmir have been confined  to their houses and they are unable to look to the Chinar trees through their windows as each window there is a soldier standing covering the window. They do not have any communication with their neighbors. They are being confined to their homes without communicating with each other in the family as there is fear haunting them. A young Kashmir poet died at young age but wrote a poem regarding their confinement to their four walls. Agha Shahid Ali, the Stephenian and went abroad but died at young age but as a poet he had immense sufferings within his heart which he expressed in his poems. Every family in Kashmir is feeling like his poem ' Post card From Kashmir' 
"Kashmir shrinks into my mail box 
My home is a neat four by six inches" 

Every family is waiting for a letter from their dearest ones but waiting for opening his or her letter box and each home has been reduced to four by six inches. What psychological stress they are suffering I can feel as I did the work in Gujarat affected during 2002 riots which created a tunneled consciousness and suffered from post Trauma anxieties both Muslims and Hindus as both suffered psychologically. It is interesting to note here that Modi government has revoked Art 370 to have a control over their land for rehabilitation of Pandits but Kashmir Pandits have given a statement that they oppose the withdrawal of Art 370. As both Hindus and Muslims experience the Modi government's attack on Kashmiryat which has been constructed over centuries.

Fascism has creeped into politics today. The Hindutva forces are experimenting in the case of Kashmir by militarization of the region. On a normal day one sees armed forces are being posted in every corner of the state. Today additional forces have been posted. This looks like a cantonment one hears the sound of boots of soldiers and holding the guns at you. Civilians are being terrorised by the presence of these forces. There have been armed forces act where a soldier has the right to fire at them. Atmosphere in Kashmir was getting normal and less number of terrorist attacks got reduced there. With the coming of Modi and this political rule has created alienation of people from the state. The number of terrorist attacks has increased after 2014 which led to death of many soldiers of Indian army.  
Hindutva does not believe in federalism as a part of democracy. They want a centralised rule over India including Kashmir. This brings the issue of fascism as the former chief Minister of the state Gulam Nabi Azad was not allowed to enter into his state.  Furthermore political leaders from opposition parties have been stopped at airport and forced them to return back to Delhi. What is the character of the present rule which has removed the Art 370 which gives special privileges to a cultural community? Moreover there is fear lurking in the hearts and minds of an average citizen regarding the future of Indian democracy.

Tagore made an attempt to place Indian nation in a multi-cultural one where Kashmir and other Himalayan States got expressed in the poem as 'Himachal' in Jana Gana Mana which got later recognized as national anthem by Constituent Assembly of India. It recognizes the supremacy of People which gets articulated in writing of the constitution ' We the people of India' where multi-cultural nationalism gets imagined by Tagore. We are celebrating 73rd Independence Day where one cultural community feels unfree. Kashmir is under curfew and most of its politicians are under the house arrest. Tagore's national anthem feels pain as Himachal or Kashmir or other Himalayan States get protection under the Art 370 and Art 371 are getting pushed out of special protection. Kashmir has been reduced to a geographical region without its people as they are not celebrating Independence Today. Under the present regime what is going to happen to Tagore's famous poem ' Jana Gana Mana' one can imagine it.

Teaching undergraduate students one gives a comparison between America and India. On the level of Constitution as a text India is much more superior to American Constitution. American statesmen who sat in Philadelphia convention and drafted the Constitution were highly educated and professional people. In India there were many types of people who worked in the constituent Assembly for writing constitution. There were small number of people who were highly educated and most of them less educated but all of them had experienced national movement and social discrimination. They built into constitution a powerful idea of equality and justice over which our political pyramid got constructed. So many castes, communities and ethnic groups and so many religious groups live together which got articulated in making of Indian Constitution. "We the people of India" brought all these groups to negotiate with the Indian State. In a hierarchical and class ridden society they spoke the language of equality, Justice and fraternity. The most revolutionary idea is fraternity as people from one lane do not know the people of other lane. In such a complex and difficult society Raj Kapoor could not find a place for shooting his film songs. Then he found only place people live together and a sense of equality prevails is the street. All his major songs of his popular films of 1950s and 1960s got choreographed on the streets and that was the only space which has a sense of fraternity. In such a difficult society we created a constitutional right to Right to equality which is powerful and meaningful as equality on a society where all sorts of discrimination are structurally designed. But Art 14, Art 15 and Art 16 brought social revolution by recognizing the social problems be it gender, caste, race or ethnicity. They took the bull by horns and confronted these problems where American framers left unfinished the document by recognising the Art under the Right to Equality which is simple a legal document. It is the court which gave the famous Brown Judgement where forced black students to study with white students in 1964. By 1964 India was much more ahead on the path of social revolution and they brought all these social groups into class rooms and got debated in the class rooms. This is a bold step which needs to be recognized after two centuries. This gives a wider social meaning to our constitution where American Constitution could not do so.

 Understanding of level of income of an average Kashmir person and his or her access to nutrition and health services can be understood by my personal observation in the year of 1972. I was a student of JNU and in the summer vocation I made an adventurist trip to Kashmir for a month. In that month I moved around the villages of Kashmir I got a chance to see shooting of the Boby film by Raj Kapoor in Yus Marg and in those days there was no hotel and but only government guest house which drew Kapoor's team and all the tourists to the place while it started raining. While moving around the Kashmir I found every village had a primary school and children used to go to school. In the villages one did not see the trace of hunger in their faces of working people. Access to rice and sheep meat made them healthy and fit. They were hospitable to the extent they did not charge any money for the food they offered me. We moved around their apple orchard and ate apples.

Access to health services was available. Once I was staying with a guest house managed by a Sikh person where I spent my night and while I was sleeping I was covered with a big blanket by him. Kashmir was less urbanised in those days but people were happy and hospitable. Their cultural identity has been already constructed under the Art 370. Their political opinions were divided into many groups. The best thing one sees the level of prosperity of people as they used to employ labour from UP and Bihar in cultivation of rice in summer.

Whenever the BJP goes to a new area, they will speak of double engine growth in that area. Kashmir will usher into prosperity and growth under the Modi Regime after the removal of Art 370.But in terms of Human development Index the Kashmir is much ahead of Gujarat the model state of Hindutva rule. In terms of education Kashmir is ahead of Gujarat. In terms access to health services Kashmir is much more ahead to Gujarat. In terms of number of BPL families Kashmir has the lowest in comparison to Gujarat and other BJP ruled states. While I was conducting a study on Kashmir regarding Public Distribution System, I found that all citizens are under the food security system as destitute on the street gets their quota under the Annapurna project. Food is reaching every village in Kashmir. Furthermore an additional information regarding the PDS of Kashmir I found that in pre British rule when Ranjit Singh was ruling Kashmir he introduced the Public Distribution System for providing food security to people of Kashmir. The present system of food security coverage is an extension of the old system of Ranjit Singh.

India Today channel held a discussion over the issue of dynastic politics organised by Rajeev Sardeshai. Some body has conducted a survey where 60 percentage of people do not want the dynastic politics. It has got twisted by the moderator in the discussion that Indian political parties are by nature dynastic except the BJP. BJP backed by the RSS the most authoritarian political party has been characterised as democratic where as other parties are being called as dynastic or feudal in nature. But there are two lady MPs from Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have some association with the royal families of these States claim that they have a close association with the royal family of Lord Ram. It is interesting to note here that this imaginary lineage belonging to Ram dynasty only being claimed by the BJP. Furthermore these two Lady MPs campaigned against the Hindi Film in the name of hurting the Rajput sentiments some months back. They do oppose the democratic spirit of Indian State. They claim the lineage of Ram dynasty. This brings the critical point that Sardeshai should answer which is dynastic in character. It seems that the BJP is the only dynastic political party which believes in Chaturvarna where the Rajputs should rule India. The political party reinvented a Rajput clan where this does not exist like in Eastern India as Bengal and Odisha there is no such Rajput clan. Recently they have invented a Paik community of Odisha as the Rajput clan and gave MP and MLA tickets to them. Their political order is based on Rajput- Brahmin combination which should be placed in the ruling dynasty.

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Frontier
Aug 17, 2019


Prof. Radhakanta Barik [email protected]

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