Commentary > Precariats of Indian democracy
  • Sanjay Sas

    The author responds – “This might not be easy given what the Pundits went through, however this, I beleive, is the starting point for a dialogue with the Muslim majority. I also wish to add that I do see the radical Islamisisation of the majority community, especially the youth in the valley. Even to arrest that process, which partly is the result of sustained exceptionalism in the Valley, Pundits could play and a more proactive role in strgthening democracy, without resorting to a counter-productive counter-narrative.”

    1. Why is it incumbent upon a minuscule community in exile to initiate a dialogue, play a proactive role with the perpetrator majority community? Does the author know of any civil society initiative in Kashmir that can claim to be working for reconciliation?
    2. Who is to decide whether the Pandit narrative or the Kashmiri Muslim narrative (that is in denial about the Pandit exodus) is the COUNTER NARRATIVE. How many KM’s has the author met in Kashmir who have unequivocally accepted their culpability / the culpability of their leaders in Exodus?
    3. And conversely, how many KP’s has the author met who will deny the HR violations in Kashmir?

  • Ajay Gudavarhy

    It is unusual for the author to respond to the comments but in this case I wish to make an exception since many who responded are part of the same Pundit community that suffered in course of the exodus. The central point that remains to be addressed is how do we prevent the Pundit community from developing a counter-narrative that denies the suffering of the Muslims in the valley. This might not be easy given what the Pundits went through, however this, I beleive, is the starting point for a dialogue with the Muslim majority. I also wish to add that I do see the radical Islamisisation of the majority community, especially the youth in the valley. Even to arrest that process, which partly is the result of sustained exceptionalism in the Valley, Pundits could play and a more proactive role in strgthening democracy, without resorting to a counter-productive counter-narrative.

  • shailendra dhar

    Having covered Kashmir as a journalist, and almost all elections from student vantage points, let me state categorically this period hasn’t a clue about weekdays going on Kashmir.These ideologically driven perception pieces are best dumped to one odd those campus mags.I am surprised Himal found it worth publishing

  • Sanjay Sas

    This article defines a new low point in Himal Mag’s publishing record. The author here seems to be more inclined to air the jaundiced and bigoted majoritarian ‘perceptions’ and point of view regarding the Pandits than a nuanced and perceptive understanding of Kashmir’s recent history dictates. In 1990 there were about 40,000 Pandits who had stayed back but today there are less than 3000 left. No people anywhere in the world have left their homes of their free accord imagining goodies of the free world. You cannot just deny a people, their rights to life and property and ancestral home on basis that they did not think alike the majority or went against them. The forced exodus of a non-violent, hardworking community from their hearths and lands is a curse on the freedom struggle which the Hurriyat and Yaseen Maliks of J&K can barely attempt to atone for through their protests and hunger strikes against their resettlement. Pressed to the limit, Pandits will perhaps be left with no choice but to throw away their Palestinian mindset of victimhood and return to their lands like the Zionists did. (though I do not think that will be a right course) but it is the people like authors and publishers of this article who in the end hold moral responsibility for pushing a peaceful group of people into hard choices. This magazine has become a party to justifying the killings and near extinction of Pandits from their lands for holding their own counsel. At some deeper level, this article reeks of the deep levels of inhumanity to which some professedly progressive authors and publications have sunk, This is a shame.

  • arvind manwati

    I am sorry to write telling that the author does not have the facts with him he should have done further research before attempting to write this article , it looks that he dreamt and put his dream on the paper with out realizing how it will hurt the Kashmiri pandit , how many pandits were massacred / women raped/ cut into pieces , in spite of that continue to stay there
    dear author use energy to write on anti Indian people in Kashmir, people who killed Kashmiri pandit men & women walking free & the amount of money they are getting , treated as son in laws of india
    no advise pl if you do not have the facts

  • sandeep badoni

    Writer needs to check facts before writing an article on a sensitive issue like displacement and ethnic cleansing. Government has clarified time and again that there will be no separate zones based on religion. But writer has persisted in the narrative based on his own assumptions.

  • conifer

    Fellow commentator seems to prove Gudavarthy’s point that the 1990 displacement of the Pandits is still a contested idea for many, without adding substantial content towards understanding this phenomenon apart from displaying their use of a dictionary. Said commentator’s position can be sympathised with, speaking on behalf of the loss of the Kashmiri Pandits, but cannot be uncritically supported, given her/his’s naively infantile nitpicking over ‘who suffered the most’. One’s suffering, does not give one the higher moral right to deny someone else’s suffering, even if it may only be a broken toe nail.

    On a different note, I find Gudavarthy’s choice of words ‘the new pecariats of the Indian democracy’ strange. My understanding of precariats is that of a class of people whose existence at socio-economic levels is uncertain and insecure. I find the priviledging of the Kashmiri Pandits as the main ‘new’ class that challenges the mythology of Indian democracy, slightly paternalistic and somewhat offensive. Surely the Kashmiri Pandits are one community amongst numerous others whose existence is as precarious in the fable of India, like the tribals and the Gujarati muslims, and not exactly ‘new’? Of course, I do not want to deny them their loss, but identifying them as the new precariat class, is maybe playing into the right-wing narrative of a Hindu democracy and their superior appeal to rest of the nation because they don’t happen to worship strange gods and eat strange foods as compared to the equally unfortunate adivasis in Orissa?

    In another words, who have the Pandits become representatives of except themselves? To imagine them to represent India is like drinking the cool-aid, not distinguishing between those who do, why they do it and those who don’t. Surely that would offer a more nuanced discussion on the complexities of the Kashmir conflict and their right to return to home and live in peace, without it being hijacked and written by India’s reactionary ideologues.

  • xyz123

    This article by Mr. Gudavarthy is so atrociously self-parodic that it’s hard to believe that it ever got published. In this piece, which presumably reflects the very best of the Gudavarthy brand of scholarship, the author delivers what can only be called a tour de force in the art of circular reasoning, while also partaking in the finest that the Big Book of Nauseating Euphemisms has to offer.
    1. What occurred in the late 1980s was not ‘displacement’, but ethnic cleansing by any reasonable definition.
    2. ‘Normal’ and safe lives: These lives are normal and safe the same way the lives of any terminally threatened minority that is below critical mass for organization is ‘normal’ and safe. I refer you to Muslims in Gujarat, who continue to live in a state of fear, while being completely safe and ‘normal’
    3. “Kashmiri Muslims, however, feel that Pandits left of their own accord”. Because who won’t surrender one’s home for generations and any property they may own in order to become a refugee? As for the notion that only the well-to-do pandits left the region, I would be curious to know- in how many of the impoverished refugee camps he undoubtedly spent a considerable amount of time in, was Mr. Gudavarthy welcomed with caviar and Cristal? I’ve heard they’re quite the rage in the slums.
    4. In the same vein, the authors repeatedly harps on perceptions as if they were realities. In this he is an intellectual equal of such scholarly luminaries as George HW Bush, who once remarked to journalists when confronted with a controversial statement by someone in his administration, ” I would like to be perceived as having distanced myself from that”. Mr Gudavarthy, were he a one of the scribes present, would no doubt have eagerly obliged.
    5. ..apprehension that “this move will create a situation like that in Palestine “. Who exactly is in the position of the palestinians here? the ethnically cleansed minority population, many of whom still have the keys to their homes, and are eagerly seeking a right of return, or the people who arrived in the land subsequent to its original settlement, and chased out the native population at gunpoint? Another fine example of superlative scholarship from Mr. Gudavarthy, our fearless runner-against-the-grain, and voice-of-the-voiceless.
    6. Finally, where the author really jumps the shark and exhausts the remainder of one’s patience, is in the last two paragraphs. The ‘counter-narrative of the Pandit population’ is a revolting slander. Since the author is fond of the palestinian analogy, i would point out that his reasoning is akin to the israeli line of argument that all palestinians support the suicide bombers of hamas. I think the author would have discovered, if he had actually spent any time thinking about the problem rather than hurriedly putting together this boring salad of conventional wisdom, that people living under oppression and constant mortal threat tend to relax some standards when it comes to the treatment of their oppressors. I deplore the human rights violations carried out by the Indian Army in the valley, and intensely dislike the rhetoric of the Indian Government on the matter, but to blame a minority forcibly evicted from its ancestral home for sympathising insufficiently with the plight of its evictors is an insufferably self-righteous posture to assume.
    7. “Kashmiri Pandits constructed a discourse that is in opposition to the popular sentiments of the region – the hurts and grievances of the majority Muslim population “- this is so offensive and provocatively brutal a sentence that one can only surmise that Mr. Gudavarthy’s immense, albeit unsuccessful, efforts at coming up with half a cogent thought in the preceding paragraphs had so tired him out that his id just took the wheel.

    Once again, what is truly disappointing in all this is that the article was published without an attempt to mitigate the appalling looseness of its language and content.

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