Zubin and his Childish enthusiasms

Zubin Mehta, conductor of perhaps the finest orchestra in the world, the Berlin Philharmonic, is happy he made music to bring solace to the people of Kashmir. Had he followed up with the kind of reserve he maintained in the run up to the Srinagar event, he’d have been lauded for his stress on the healing qualities of great Western music rendered by top grade musicians. But he had to open his mouth and spoil the effect. There’s something childishly silly about Mehta’s ventilating his thoughts, among which was the nugget that Article 370 has been a boon and ought to be retained in perpetuity because as he said “can you imagine” what all the settlers from elsewhere in India would have done to the beautiful surroundings of the Valley had 370 not been there to prevent just such a catastrophe?!

Obviously, Mehta, who has spent most of his life outside the country, mostly in salubrious climes, from his personal perspective, considers aesthetics more important than the national interest or the fact of this offending Article in the Constitution turning the Kashmir dispute into a suppurating wound that has become septic after 60-odd years of obvious non-treatment. What is desperately needed is ridding the Constitution off this bothersome provision. May be Zubin saw how his home city of Mumbai has been converted into a vast and expanding slum with shanties and lean-to colonies occupying every spare bit of space in that island city — populated by precisely the kind of outsiders all over, including from the Maharashtra countryside, he does not wish to see flooding into Kashmir — the “Switzerland of Asia”.

But what does Mehta care that Art 370 keeps the dispute with Pakistan simmering and the status of this province within the Union distinct and separate, providing legal license to certain natives of Kashmir to keep their agitation going, even as the people of the Valley survive on handouts from the rest of the Indian people who financially support their “separateness”. The largest quantum of subsidies transferred by the Centre to any Indian state is Kashmir.

The more troubling question is the Motivation of the German Govt to finance this little cultural do amidst the beauty of the Shalimar Gardens in Srinagar. Indeed, before approving of any such event, did the MEA at all wonder about the purpose of it? Did somebody in that Ministry not consider the fact that allowing such an affair would not so much put a stamp of international approval on the relative peace prevailing in Kashmir at the present time as confirm Kashmir’s disputed status and its standing as an issue that can spark conflict between India and Pakistan? Are none of the MEA officials aware of the interest and the effort of the West European “do gooder” states — UK, France, and Germany, to try and slyly push for international mediation on Kashmir?

What Kashmir needs is not just expeditious abrogation of Article 370 but grants of lands all along the LOC to ex-Indian Army soldiers on the condition that the title to these pieces of strategic real estate can only be sold and ownership transferred to other ex-military men. This will, as I have argued in my writings, create a defensible buffer zone preventing the crossovers by terrorists, so-called “azadi”-seekers, and Islamist extremists from POK. It will once and for all put closure on the Kashmir dispute with the Pakistanis having their slice of Kashmir. Remarkably, GOI/MEA these days does not even mention POK as being disputed territory, which only leads the International public to believe that what’s being contested is only Indian Kashmir. More evidence of MEA being on the ball!

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
This entry was posted in Asian geopolitics, civil-military relations, Europe, Geopolitics, Great Power imperatives, guerilla warfare, India's Pakistan Policy, Indian Army, Indian Politics, Internal Security, Pakistan, Pakistan military, South Asia, Terrorism. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Zubin and his Childish enthusiasms

  1. Mr Karnad,

    Zubin also said that as an Indian he would like to buy a house on a hill here. My view is that if the separatist oppose it then the decision is simple I support it. Removing article 370 is complex politically but it can be made irrelevant that was the Idea which even PM Nehru had. Process of integration should continue, the reverses the happened because of 1989 should be set right again and state subject laws should be diluted may be a start can be by allowing industry to acquire freehold property and build townships (new cities like Jamshedpur) for their employees. People who have lived and worked in the state in certain government agencies for a certain number of years can be given domicile along with their immediate family. This can be done for center government employees, teachers etc in universities. Village land may be kept out of bounds for now but cities can be made open for migration etc to improve state of economy. But the support of state government is needed to do this peacefully and can only be done if the state government is not in bed with the separatist. After all the J&K government wants FDI in retail then why this partiality towards Indians, the so called :”Lala’s” and “Dal khor’s”. The state finances have to be more transparent after all the insurgency affected states have the problem of state funds ending up financing the insurgency.

    Any proposal for more “autonomy” should be junked. Separatists are not going to give up their demand with autonomy anyways they are fighting psychological war by changing the discourse by using terms like “Kashmiri Nation”, use invented terms like “sovereignist” rather than separatist. They survive on two essentials “violence” and “international exposure”. Deny these to them and they will be less of a potent force. Do our leaders have any strategy for dealing with the problem or they only “react” to situations as they develop. A small population of separatist in the valley(compared to the entire silent nation and other voices in the state) have managed to hijack the discourse in our media and internationally. This should be countered with a well thought out strategy that is institutionalized and followed by each successive government may be a decade or two long process. This problem cannot be resolved with good intentions alone.

    It is also a fact that when Pakistan was silenced in 71 the plebiscite forum came to an end. To bring the current separatists to mainstream the Pakistani aggression(war by proxy) has to be brought to an end. How can that be done? Not by the so called Musharraf formula please. Its like paying a ransom.

  2. Hari says:

    Its all very nice to suggest that ex-servicemen should be sent to settle in J&K. What makes you feel that these lambs are readily available for slaughter ? Who will ensure their security ? The retired Fauji needs three things:
    a) Security.
    b) Hospitals
    c) Canteen.
    Will you have the Indian Army providing all these facilities to the old and retired ESM? To my mind this whole issue is a non-starter.

    • A good percentage of the Indian soldiery is solid farming stock, who will be very happy with grants of land for terraced farming, orchards, etc. in the border belt. The value-added is their ability to use small arms and to liaise with the army units on the border effectively. While those choosing this option will face some risks, their motivation to safeguard their own property and land will make for a an effective cordon sanitaire as far as the to- and fro-ing terrorists are concerned, and that the point. They will be an informal part of the security grid. The army is entrenched on the LOC so hospitals and canteens is surely not a problem.

  3. Aryan Dogra says:

    Kashmiri separatists are so stupid. They should have killed us ( Kashmiri pandits). While most of us live in pain, a good amount of the youth live for vengence . I hope they realize what kind of an excuse they give to those KP who aspire to join the army (such as myself). Khoon Kharabha hum ne shuru nahi kiya. You got our tooth. Now we have the right to take your jaw. We will take the oath to protect the nation, and with God’s grace we will. But we have not forgotten and will not forget what you have done to us. You have a debt which can only be repaid in blood and tears of widowed mothers.

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