Friday, September 17, 2010

Another voice which echos my thoughts...

I am in awe of this man...Arnab Ray for saying it as it is and saying it so well. In times when it is fashionable to be secular, (whatever that means) and label everything evil as saffron terror/ Radical Hindu state, this comes as a breath of fresh air. It also is loaded with courage, for he who speaks like this stands alone today. But we the people of Jammu...or atleast I a person of Jammu cannot agree more with you :)

Before I give the link of the suggested and highly recommended post by Radical Thoughts of a Demented Minf aka Arnab Ray, some points to be kept in mind.The points have been duly typed and sent to me by my young cousin living in Jammu."Young Troubled and Gravely Conecerned Cousin" I quote you here...

"Both in population and area wise jammu region is many folds ahead but in figures but we get less seats both in state assembly and parliament..our representation has been restricted .. out of the total annual funds for j&k (9000cr ) jammu gets 750 cr and ladakh 250 cr, rest resides with kashmir.. there is nit in srinagar , 3 medical colleges and various educational institutes ,, but when jammu was sanctioned central university , there was resentment in kashmir and finally kapil sibal has to ammend law by offering one university to jammu & one to kashmir... the annual amarnath yatra has been restricted to 2 months and every food(langar) stall during yatra is charged 25000 each in the name of tax. home ministers said that kashmiris are unemployed that's why they adopt the path of violence but 45% kasmiris are govt. servants and rest are induldge in private and co-operative sector and only4% are bpl ( below poverty line) contradictory to Jammu.. Jammu is isolated when it comes to development and progress ... .. In this part of world " survival of the fittest" is the point to remember otherwise you would be ruined. we are paying the price of the blunders by our duo leaders nehru & gandhi ...... But still, peole of"city of Temples " are optimistic and hopeful that all this will end one day and they will live in a atmosphere of peace, prosperity and a real human development will be possible where all the three regions will get their due share and again it will become " the paradise on earth" in a real sense."

The Must read post by a Non JK State Subject:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

My Voice...


The first time around when there was terror unfolding in the valley we, the Dogras watched in pain and mute horror. In the aftermath we opened our hearts and hearths to our shell shocked and exiled brothers, the Kashmiri Pandits.

The second time around we watched in growing frustration as we were portrayed as the rabid, fundamentalist, right wing Hindus as the peaceful Amarnath Yatra became a major issue in the state with national political parties also playing mischief and trying to get as much mileage as they could from it. Immediately after being misunderstood, misrepresented and being shouted down by over-zealous and biased TV Hosts in various programs, the youth and the old alike catapulted into action. A host of online groups were launched. An immediate need to address our identity crisis was deemed necessary. The demand for a separate state Duggar Pradesh became louder than a whisper. We did all this because we woke up to the fact that yes indeed we were the step-child.

The third time around the problem has magnified, made only glaring by the fact that we lack good orators, and courageous and visionary leaders. Our Hindi is not so great and our English, a language better understood by the majority of those who form opinions and take vocal stands, even worse. With an escalating sense of abandonment we have watched the coverage of the drama in the valley. We have waited that someone; anyone will ask us what we feel and what we want. We are amazed that mainland India, the political leaders and the media have blinders on. They refuse to see that the state of Jammu and Kashmir has different ethnic groups with different loyalties.

The Ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, a Dogra signs the Instrument of Accession, Nehru, a Kashmiri Pandit blunders afterwards and yet amongst all…the Dogras (Hindus and Muslims) , the Kashmiri Pandits, Ladakhis( Buddhists), Gujjars(Muslims), Bakerwals (Muslims), Sikhs. Paharis, Poonchis (Muslims and Hindus) it is only one group which asks for Azadi and Autonomy or accession to Pakistan!!! Has anyone questioned why? Has anyone demanded to hear from the other actors of this high strung drama?
We the Dogras have always been voiceless. The Kashmiri Pandits who did manage to get well deserved sympathy after the mass exodus are becoming victims of weak memories and are out-shouted by their brothers who continue to live in the Valley.

I am a generation who has grown up witnessing and hearing about gross injustices playing out in the state. Despite being a larger geographical area and with a greater population the Jammu Region has only 37 seats compared to the 47 from the valley. 70% of the government jobs go to the Kashmiris as opposed to all the other communities from the state. All the money flowing into the state goes to the valley. Kashmiri ad hoc government employees earn more than their Dogra counterparts. The Valley wants the Central University and IIM (Indian Institute of Management) to come up in Srinagar as opposed to Jammu or Ladakh. They created a hue and cry to oppose it coming up in Jammu!!
We have seen systematic ethnic cleansing in the valley. We have witnessed the Kashmiri Pandit exodus from the valley and the massacre of the Sikhs in Chattisinghpora. We are aware of the continued threat to the Hindus, Sikhs and any India supporter. I have heard of my people complaining that we are suffering the mistakes committed by Nehru. We have suffered terribly under the draconian Article 370. I know Ladakhis do not want to be administered by the Kashmiris from the valley. On one hand a Dogra girl will have no right to property in her home state if she marries a non-state subject, even if it is a Dogra from Himachal Pradesh or Punjab. And on the other hand grooms from POK and Pakistan are brought into the state under any pretext. Sometime back there was even a discussion in the Assembly that a non domicile daughter in law should lose her right to property in the state in the eventuality of the demise of her husband. Is this not a gross violation of basic human rights? The Kashmiris from the valley are buying lands and apartments all around me in Jammu but I cannot dare to do the same in the valley. Is this not an extension of subtle but sure ethnic cleansing?

On what grounds is it justified that just one of the many players gets to decide that they want to break away? After the systematic cleansing of the Kashmiri Pandit after torture, killing, rapes and worse how can one expect a fair plebiscite and a just demand for autonomy?

There have been demographic changes on the other side of Pir Panchal too. Hindus have been driven away in the Jammu division too, by home grown militants, foreign mercenaries and ISI operatives. Village Defense Committees have had to be set up and innocent villagers have been armed so that they can fight the so called “Freedom Fighters” who rapes his women and kills his kinsmen. A detailed study of the Operation Hill Kaka in the Mendhar Region highlights the fact that villagers, Muslim Gujjars helped the Army to flush out the terrorists hiding in the adjacent mountains. Their human rights were brutally violated and they snapped out of the mass and false propaganda to fight against the militants. My family member too, an innocent civilian Doctor posted in a mountain hamlet has been shot at and managed to escape with 3 bullet wounds to his body and 70 bullets to his car. Is this in any way in tandem with the insincere voice from the Valley which says we want the Pandits back?

There is no denying that stories of Sufi traditions and harmonious co-existence are a thing of the past. The present generation of Kashmiris in the valley, hate India, very clearly mirroring policies and even getting covert direction from Pakistan but the Dogras and Kashmiri Pandits reciprocate the sentiment keeping their fervor of Azadi from this tyranny and violence alive. I have heard Kashmiri Pandits who have been driven away from their homes say that they prefer to destroy/burn Kashmir rather than see it separate from India.
We have seen how money coming from the Centre has been lapped up in the Valley. We are put off by the double standards, practiced in the valley. There are the well- to- do Kashmris who are getting richer and louder day-by day. As opposed to the poor Kashmiri who is sitting on a rickshaw, going down some dusty lane in Central India selling carpets in attempt to make ends meet. His children cannot go to school because the more powerful Kashmiri tells him not to do so or the militant beats him if he dares oppose. Meanwhile the children of the well off Kashmiri get degrees in quick succession, out of the state and holds placards in front of UN agencies in far away lands.

We believe that the stone pelting, Indian flag burning, Kashmiri has many faces. Some who actually believe their cause? Some who are brainwashed and are victims of the herd mentality. And there are many who are being paid for it. It has indeed become an organized crime. We believe that these stones that are being thrown today have been collected over a period of time and there is a certain going rate for a day of stone throwing.

As a people of the state we are pained by the human rights violations occurring in the valley and beyond. But we see that the abuse is happening from the armed forces as well as the militants. We agree on the concept of gradual de-militarization. But we will never agree to Autonomy. We dare not compare notes on our sufferings but that does not stop us from being victims too. We are a people who not want to be invisible anymore. And unfortunately we are beginning to come to terms with the fact that we may be heard and seen only if we pick up that stone too.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Practicing Vedaant

This is an older post with a new title. This one is especially for you Chachu. It does not cover Vedaant in its absolute entirety obviously, but touches upon a few ways it touches my way of life.....

I am the New Minority. I am young and I am deeply religious. I am not God fearing but God loving.
I am a little weary of the ongoing litany, that non religious is the harbinger of peace and religious means trouble. I agree with the seperation of the religion and the state but fail to see the reasoning behind distancing the individual from faith. I need to make a case for myself and people like me.

I was born religious, then I became indifferent and then rediscovered my faith and became religious again. Religious and secular are not two opposing forces. Though this holds good for those alone who understand and practice the tenets of their faith in all honesty.
I am not in a position to write about this journey or my faith in absolute terms because I am still learning. I will touch on some things which change color and content for me as I slowly discover.

My Approach: "Sarvasya Chaham Hridhi Sanni Vishto" Bhagvad Geeta, which translated means: All are equal since He resides in all of us.
I believe in One creator. Hence everyone irrespective of color, race,religion,caste or creed is a creation of that One Supreme Being.Will I hate/kill another human being because they belong to another faith.? Never, because I believe in Divine Brotherhood under the Fatherhood of God. And it is my religion which teaches me that God is within me as well as in others.

My Temple: My Temple is certainly not one for which I stand in line for hours and could, maybe cut that wait short by bribing the priest or making a handsome donation, where they have a separate line for people based on the amount being donated, where one jostles amongst unruly crowds and is afraid of one's modesty and wallet, where the Idol is adorned with gold and diamonds and Rolex watches when there is a line of starved beggar children outside.
My temple or 'Amrutalayam' is Vedic in its concept and character. It is made of local materials and by local resources and is a socio economic center too.A place where all are equal in the eyes of God. It is simple and peaceful enabling a conversation with God and fellow human beings. Its a place where one could study the Geeta/Bible/Koran. Its a temple where the 'Brahman' teaches and simplifies the scriptures for me and not just chants Sanskrit shlokhas which make no sense to me.
It is a place where people donate because they believe the wealth they give is Gods share and that wealth, then is given to those who need it as Prasad, most likely in the dark of the night,anonymously.The concept of this impersonal wealth leaves no room for any feelings of superiority/inferiority between the giver and receiver.

My Caste: 'Brahman/Kshatriya/Vaishya/Shudra'...Caste was not an adjective but an adverb. I am not a Brahman because my father is...I am not born into a caste category , I become one due to my 'work'. I am a Brahman if I selflessly teach, I am a Kshatriya because I am responsible for the socio-political running of the city/state, I am a Vaishya because I am an entrepreneur, and I am a Shudra if I am a service provider...a engg./doctor etc.
When the scriptures talk about the glory of a Brahman, it is not the Brahman they talk of but "Brahmanatva"...a quality...a teacher who selflessly teaches the scriptures, an educationist who moulds the future generations, imparts life skills and not livelihood skills alone. And all this and more is done as a non commercial activity. Hence the Vedic society protected and cared for its Brahmans. Gurudakshina was not a compulsion yet something everybody did. A child would not be refused admission to a particular Gurukul because of a paucity of funds. State interference in the education system was unthinkable. The brahmin was free and independent and hence the best teacher. The society provided for him because he did not ask anything in exchange of what he gave. Our education system is a failure because it is a commercial enterprise, because state interference is the norm of the day. Because as a society we fail to take care of our teachers and as people we confuse education with livelihood training.
All varnas/castes are interdependent and there exists no hierarchy.

My Feminism: The Royal Guru Vashishtha saying that Sita is the most able to rule Ayodhya, in the absence of Ram, is my idea of feminism. Sita choosing to follow her husband into the forest is love. I did the same I left my work, my life to follow my husband across the globe. Does that make me a weak woman? Is my worth measured only by the amount of money I bring in at the end of the month? I do nothing, if I do not have a pay slip/fancy designation to show for it? Do I need to abuse my body by drinking ,smoking, showing my cleavage to prove that I am emancipated? Must I leave my 6 month old baby with hired help/day care to prove that I got an excellent education.Those are choices and definitely not a show of my freedom.
"Stree Shakti/woman power has been recognized and worshipped in my faith. I am an 'Ardhangini' or an equal half in the partnership of marriage.The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world is amply visible in the stories of so many great women...Aditi, Anusuya,Jija Bai etc.
Vedic theology conceives God as bipolar, having both male and female aspects.Vedic religion treats man and woman as equal.
P.S do not waste time reading the countless and completely wrong translations (sanskrit is a language in which 1 sentence could be understood in 3 different ways) and interpretations (there have been both conscious and un conscious efforts to malign vedic philosophy and literature). I can only suggest,get a Teacher who is well versed in Sanskrit and is a Vedic Scholar.

My Environmentalism: The Tenth Adhyaya of Geeta talks about the presence of God in the mountains, rivers, trees, land, air, water. If we only understood this without just casually brushing it off as nature worship/pagan religion, we would not be wracking our brains to reverse global warming and climate change. We need to look at the deeper thought than getting put off by the idea of watering a Tulsi and doing circles around a tree or worshipping a cow. Doing it mindlessly of course, also serves no purpose.
My religion teaches me to take nothing for granted and certainly not abuse what is a precious gift.

My Self Worth: Ishavasya Upanishad warns of becoming a victim to "vishay". Subjective happiness versus objective happiness.I am not incomplete because I do not have a fancy job title. I am not incomplete because I do not earn a jaw dropping salary. I am not incomplete if I do not own a fancy apartment or car. I do not become less if I am not vacationing in Europe. Should I wallow in self pity or spend thousands for plastic surgery if I do not meet the ever changing societal standards of beauty. List is endless and from the society's perspective I cannot please all and never will...and since the society at large is misdirected, should I care?
I am complete and I strive for subjective happiness ( easier said than done, but I am practicing...and God, is it tough or what Phew!!!).

My Fasts: The many fasts where people eat more than on reguar days are senseless. My fast is a way to detoxify and to not waste time on cooking. That time is to be used for doing God's work which of course does not mean bhajan keertan and prayer beads. It could mean amongst other things going out and meeting someone for no reason at all. Connecting with another human being, where no 'len'den'/ transaction is involved.To develop a relationship with another human being and to do something for them selflessly. Try it out... I was surprised by what doing for others,did for me.

There are many more things...........but I am still learning and loving every step of it. I am religious and deeply so and I am not sorry for it. Do I seem like a threat? And yes years and years of contortion and corruption will not stop me from researching and re-learning. I have a brain and I can distinguish between ritualism and religion. Thank God for an excellent teacher. For how do I learn my religion if not from a teacher, a true Brahman. My parents could not teach me all. I saw rituals and no religion around me...everywhere. Thats was and still is very unattractive.
My religion teaches me reverence for everyone and everything. This reverential attitude towards the world is a direct and natural result of acceptance of God who resides in one and all. Some fools who do not understand and practice my faith in its true essence, cannot stop me from doing so.

True Bhakti for me is a powerful positive social force which inspires me to pray everyday for universal peace and happiness.

"Sarvetra Sukhinah Santo Sarve Santo Niramaya
Sarve Bhadrane Pashyantu Ma Kvashchit Dukhmapunyaat"

Meaning :
"Everybody here should be happy. All should be free of pain and problems. All should see only good. No human being should suffer."