Sunday, October 17, 2010

Random Walk: History and Stones

Dear All,

It seems that today was a day of silence, at least in terms of activity at our blog. Nobody has posted anything. Hence, as an editor(?), I take up the onus. You might have started disliking me by now. However, by the time you start despising me, let me finish off this piece.

As I told you before, going through the websites of DAWN and other media outlets of Pakistan; for instance Newsline, provides me with some exposition about our 'childhood enemy'. Today, when I was about to switch over to other serious sites pertaining to guerilla tactics (these days, among other things, I am studying the Maoist movement in India), my attention was grabbed by the picture of a handsome hunk placed at the right hand corner of the DAWN website.

Believe me, I am straight and in no way was physically attracted to that picture. Nevertheless, it was an eye-catcher as it was the snap of the editor of Granta. And why was he being carried by DAWN? Because Granta had carried Pakistan as a cover story in its latest edition. So, the editor becomes an instant celebrity in 'the land of the Quaid'.

What is Granta? It is a literary magazine which boasts of names like Salman Rushdie and Arundhati Roy et al. I was feeling chilled while I perused its website. Again, accidentally, as it quite often happens while one is browsing the internet, I came across an essay by one of the future Rushdies at Granta. The author's name was unknown to me though. So what? As I have already stated, and don't want to repeat it in any future conversation with you, that I do not know everything.

Whether Newton (err, Sir Isaac Newton) was an alchemist or Basharat Peer is an author or for that matter, Nadeem Aslam is already a name to reckon with in literary circles, I should not carry the burden of knowing everything. You know, sometimes lack of knowledge is also a virtue. Who am I in that regard? For instance, a scholar of the level of Francis Fukuyama can be ignorant and still enjoy the bliss of being an acclaimed intellectual.

You will be shocked to discover that in his 1989 paper, "The End of History", Fukuyama calls Netaji a fascist collaborator!

No yaar, not the Netaji of your local constituency. What does he know of fascism? Or for that matter communism; though, yes I fully agree with you that he belongs to the Marxist party of our emaciated province.

I am referring to our Netaji; aare bhai Chandra Bose, as he was addressed by the Japanese. The person who gave up his job in the Raj-bureaucracy to join the freedom movement. Do you remember him? Yes, I understand that your knowledge of History was not upto the mark. You barely passed your standard tenth examinations in that subject.

Okay, okay. No offence please. I am not proscribing you for that. You can very well forget History. A pretty useless subject. As long as you know how to decode 'programs', you shall hop from one job to the other. A nice apartment. A cool car. A plum wife. Sauna bath. Or may be Hamams. All at a considerably young age. So, enjoy.

But you see, I feel that History is rather pretty; may be not as pretty as my crush in the sophomore days, but in exactitude, something more than her pulchritude.

History is beyond the boundaries of delusion. It teaches us to imagine, by situating us within the realm of reality. It is not a mere collation of factoids, rather an epistemological discovery of human progress, at times being propelled by causality. It does not merely teach us but exalts us.......

Okay, I empathise with you. No more definition, no more scholarly jargon.

What I was trying to point out to you was the fact that even Fukuyama did err and his knowledge was abysmally poor regarding our Netaji: one and only one Netaji that our country has created, if at all our country did 'create' anything substantial for that matter in its lifetime of thousands of years. However, I have forgiven Fukuyama. I am a kind person, as you very well know.

Going back to Granta and Basharat Peer: though the author was unknown to me, the subject was familiar. More so, because I wrote an essay on the very subject a couple of months back. Ah, right; you are too good in guessing, my dear. Your guesswork used to catapult you to successful heights in the competetive examinations that you sat after plus two. Well, I could not qualify. I know that. No need to remind me of those 'horror' days when all my classmates, my seniors, my relatives had brushed me aside as a mere single-film jubilee hero. And you had given me that crooked smile.

Fine, I agree with you that you are indeed successful and I am slowly proceeding toward the dungeons of failure.

Thik hai bhai, I know that you don't have much spare time. And we need to finish off the conversation, as assured at the outset, very soon. Yeah, so we were into Basharat Peer's topic. Yes, his topic was Kashmir. The Indian-occupied part, according to him, not me; I am also a true Indian and patriot like you. Don't doubt my integrity.

He wrote a gripping piece, travelling through the lanes and alleys of Srinagar, lined with walnut trees and turrets and then climactically watching the Kashmiri Intifada at the boulevard of the city. He has given graphic details of the history of the militant movement since 1989. The sad part of the whole piece was the title of the story. It read "Kashmir's Forever War".

Another sad part is the grotesque revelation, to me at least, that there might be mass graves in Kashmir, dug up by the Indian forces.

First, Peer terms it as a 'war', a war with the Indian state. Apparently, he presents an unbiased picture of the stone-pelting Kintifada. However, at closer scrutiny it appears that he might have missed a couple of points. Like, he does not talk about the plight of the Kashmiri Pundits. He does not talk about any demographic cleansing. As a mainland Indian, I felt disheartened to know that Indian forces could be so brutal, so Nazi-like as portrayed by Peer. Or may be, that is the very essence of Realpolitik, the very ingredients of counterinsurgency, which we as city-bred, potato-fleshed, chicken-hearted individuals are not able to fathom, let alone digest.

Would war continue in Kashmir? Can there not be any solution? Can there be a referendum in Kashmir? Or that the people can decide their fate, ever? Would that be detrimental to India's prestige in the world fora?

As a believer in Realism in foreign policy, I think so. On the other hand, as a humanist, I feel a referendum is neccessary, however, not before relocating the Pundits in Jammu.

Geopolitically, India may not afford the loss of Kashmir. But who would be held responsible for the reddening of the orchards in the times to come? The Indian state, the Kashmiri separatist strand or the western importation of the concept of nation-state itself?

The malicious campaign is on. I had actually written this post yesterday, but it is showing a different date. May be a virus!
Uddipan Mukherjee is a late riser. Still, he works 'very hard' to edit Indian Policy. By the way, he writes in diplostratics

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