Jammu and Kashmir’s Monthly Magazine
Epilogue because there is more to know
RNI : JKENG/2007/26070
Now Telling The J&K Stories
Jammu, August 1, 2009 / Vol 3 / Issue 8 || Price Rs. 30 || Postal Registration No. JK-350/2009-11 || www.epilogue.in
UNFOLDING THE LAND OF MOON Beyond Kashmir: t Understanding Ladakh and its Politics Status of Muslim t Women in High Himalayas The Challenge of t Restoring Old Leh Town Rooting out t Alcoholism The Crisis in LUTF t
How Kashmir Dispute Affects Security in South Asia
‘That Smoke is from Pakistan...’
We show our true colours
J&K Economic Reconstruction Agency under â€œMultisector Infrastructure Rehabilitation Project (MIRP) by Asian Development bank has launched various drainage schemes to augment drainage system in Srinagar city. The J&K ERA committed to provide people of Srinagar city with improved urban services have earmarked Rs. 100.02 crores for drainage sub-component. The drainage system on completion will benefit large population who face cute water logging during rainy seasons.
Scope of work Rawalpora to Tengpora bridge
Allotted cost 32.94 crores
Population to be benefitted (souls) Year 2009- 22000 Year 2039 -50100
Areas to be benefited: Lalded, Goripora, Bagh-i-hyder, Qazi Bagh, Usmania, Ibrahim, Shahanwar, Shiekh-ul-aalum, Syedhyder and Ibrahim colonies. Part of Rehmatabad, Hyderpora, Gulburg, Khaliqabad, Alnoor Gulbahar, Greenpark colonies. Pohru chowk to chanapora bridge
Year 2009-20500 Year2039-46408
Areas to be benefitted: Govt. Housing Colony, Baghimehtab, Alama Iqbal Colony Partly, Alamdar Colony, Chaki-Methan, Gousia Colony, Gulshan Nagar A-B-C, Usmania Colony(Bagh-i-mehtab), Shankarpora Partly, Iqbal colony(Wanabal) Wanabal Nowgam, Shiekh-ul-Alam colony, S.K Bagh, Pohru partly, Railway Colony, Housing colony Nowgam, Basharat colony partly, Palmuhalla Methan partly, TawheedAbad, Gousia colony Lalnagar, Shiekh-ul Nooruddin colony & Umer colony. Bemina to Fruit Mandi
Year 2009-17800 Year 2039-40448
Areas to be benefitted: Parimpora (A&B), Gousia colony (A&B), Sirsyedabad, Police colony, SDA colony, Shamsha Abad, Tawheed Abad, Owaisa Abad, Usmania colony, Ibrahim Colony, Boatman colony, Nundresh Colony, Mansoor Colony, Al-Farooq Colony, Mohammadia Colony, Hamza colony and part of Bemina.
Hotel Tramboo continental, Boulevard Srinagar Tele: 0194-2450762,Fax: 0194-2450067
13 C/c Gandhi Nagar Jammu Tele:0191-24588832,Fax:01912451553
B R I D G I N G
T H E
I N F O R M A T I O N
D I V I D E
Taking J&K Closer to World Bringing World Closer to J&K
Epilogue because there is more to know
32 Volume : 3, Number : 8 ISSN : 0974-5653
RNI : JKENG/2007/26070 www.epilogue.in F O R
T H E
M O N T H
A U G U S T
The present issue is collector's choice and special in presentation. No other news and current affairs publication, at least available in the public domain, has been seen carrying such elaborate account of life and its facets in Ladakh like the present issue of Epilogue has done.
Epilogue Ă˜ 1Ă— August 2009
2 0 0 9
AGENDA FOR OMAR GOVERNMENT :
he coalition government of National Conference and the Congress headed by Omar Abdullah Omar Abdullah took over on January 5 but it did not declare a shared agenda. Epilogue's February issue put together opinions of well meaning people from across the country setting out an agenda for Omar Abdullah government
CONNECTING J&K onnectivity is a major issue in J&K and people in many areas taunt the government saying that roads were laid in remote areas only because they close to borders. Our March issue looked at the connectivity via roads, rail and air to bring to the fore the missing links.
TREADING FAILURE s world watches keenly the new unfolding developments in Pakistan, our Consulting Editor D Suba Chandran travelled to the troubled country to bring fresh perspectives for our readers in April Issue.
A R E Y O U M I S S I N G O U R PA S T S T O R I E S
J&K MOVING FORWARD ay issue was one of the rare collections of ideas where 12 natives from both sides of Jammu and Kashmir poured their ideas out of the heart on how boundaries can be blurred and relations can be strengthened.
LOK SABHA POLLS 2009 ith Prof Rekha Chowdhary looking into various aspects, the May issue offered a complete view of the Lok Sabha elections in Jammu and Kashmir. An interview with Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather explained most critical questions on the state's economy
THE FUTURE OF JAMMU AND KASHMIR uly 2009 issue offered a rare insight into the whole gamut of Kashmir issue. An ACDIS, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign sponsored study, which was the cover feature, examined Kashmir issue from different perspectives.
A limited number of unbound back volumes is available in our stocks. For booking your copies call us at 9797599365
Epilogue because there is more to know
www.epilogue.in Editor Zafar Iqbal Choudhary Publisher Yogesh Pandoh Consulting Editor D. Suba Chandran Associate Editors Irm Amin Baig Tsewang Rigzin
thethat’snews fit to Where is all
Print? An exclusive study on State of Media
Volume 3, Issue 8, August 2009
General Manager Kartavya Pandoh
Manager Adarsh Rattan Bali (Marketing & Advertisement) Art Editor Keshav Sharma
Unfolding the Land of Moon
Beyond Kashmir : Understanding Ladakh and its Politics Sonam Chosjor
Research Officer Raman Sharma Phones & email Office : +91 191 2493136 subscriptions : +91 99060 27136 Editorial: +91 94191 80762 Administration: +91 94191 82518 email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org Printed and Published by Yogesh Pandoh for Epilogue NewsCraft from Ibadat House, Madrasa Lane, Near Graveyard, Bathindi Top, Jammu, J&K - 180012 and Printed at : DEE DEE Reprographix, 3 Aikta Ashram, New Rehari Jammu (J&K) Disputes, if any, subject to jurisdiction of courts and competitive tribunals in Jammu only. RNI : JKENJ/2007/26070 ISN : 00974-5653 Price : Rs 30
Ladakh Asks : Where Is All The News That’s Fit to Print? Rinchen Dolma
Status of Muslim Women in Ladakh Ghulam Mehdi
Rooting out Alcoholism : Ladakhi Women to the Face Yanghan Dolma
The Challenge of Restoring the “Old Leh Town” Living Testimony of Ladakh’s Cultural Heritage Zainab Akhtar
LUTF : The Party is Over? T Sewang Rigzin
Be the Change You Want to See Anshu Meshack
Rewa Society in Service of Disabled Children in Ladakh Karola Kostial
Customizing Housing Needs Sajjad Bazaz
Epilogue Ø 3× August 2009
CONTENTS In Verbatim Prologue Letters
4 5 6
Note Book 5 Essential Entries
Current Affairs The Discourse of Disgrace
Opinion Experts Speak 15 How the Kashmir Dispute Affects Security in South Asia Jayshree Bajoria, C. Raja Mohan M. Farooq Kathwari, Howard B. Schaffer, Daniel Markey and Hasan-Askari Rizvi
Column ‘That Smoke is from Pakistan...’
Jahangir on the Horticulture of Kashmir
Prof. Jigar Mohammad
Political After Life Recent Engagements
H E A R
H E A R
Who Said What
“On the basis of information supplied to him by Home Ministry, the Governor has felt that there is no need for the Chief Minister to resign” A Raj Bhawan spokesman on Governor's reply to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah's resignation offer
“The Raj Bhawan has apparently accomplished in 48 hours what the state Police, the CBI and the Courts inside and outside J&K could not do in four years” A PDP spokesman on CM's exoneration by the Governor in sex scam charges leveled by the PDP
“Nothing to do with any security force, nothing to do with CRPF, yet in the Valley this becomes a major flashpoint and then immediately there is shut down and stone pelting…it is very sad” Home Minister P Chidambram in his observation on how petty personal disputes become a rallying point for demilitarization in Kashmir
“I have already done and am still doing what is expected of me but there is always room for improvement” J&K Congress President Prof Saif-ud-Din Soz who remained in thick of controversy for most of June due to factional fight in party after cabinet expansion
“Government wants separatists to be active and productive…I am willing to clap if they too contribute a hand” Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in a newspaper interview
Epilogue Ø 4× August 2009
P R O L O G U E
From the Editor
This, for the voiceless Zafar Choudhary
eople of Ladakh are quite vocal and full of expressions. They are always clear in their thoughts and actions. They have a very well defined identity of their own and the courage to pursue their aspirations. These qualities make them to stand distinguished. But still I have taken the risk of calling them as voiceless. They do not have the proper medium to make their voices heard and their expressions noticed. This scenario disconnects not only the territorial region of Ladakh but also its entire population from rest of the state, country and world at large. In today's world it is hard to imagine a society without media but the harsh reality is that Ladakh is such an example. With no medium of their own, the world does not know what Ladakh stands for and vice versa. It is much of a common practice these days that for any educated society the day begins with the morning edition of newspapers. Reading a daily newspaper in Ladakh is beyond anyone's imagination and being a newspaper reader, may be twice or thrice a week, can well be described as a luxury available to a selected privileged lot. Problem of living in such an isolation becomes more perverse and cursing when flow of information is absolutely one way. From the newspapers and magazine they get at intervals, Ladakhi people can have a belated idea of what is happening in rest of the world but there are no means of communication which can carry back their stories. Journalism, believed to be one of the oldest professions on world, has its strong roots in Ladakh but there is no medium available to Ladakhis for carrying their message. When it was made known in Ladakh that Epilogue is planning to bring out a special issue on the region, we received an overwhelming response from the local writers and journalists. They had a number of stories to tell. However, Epilogue's one special issue is not enough to satiate the information needs of a land which has been variedly described by many as land of numerous passes, mystic lamas, the broken moon and the last Shangri la. There is imminent need of a vibrant local media and this cannot be achieved without a local initiative. Through this special issue we have just tried to pay a tribute to the people of Ladakh and extend a commitment of giving them an outlet of expression, though once a month. It is very important for me to let it be known to the people of Ladakh that motivation behind this issue was from my Associate Editor Tsewang Rigzin who shared with me Rinchen Dolma's research work supported by New Delhi based Charkha Communication and Development Network. Further
communications with Shanker Ghose and Anshu Meshak at Charka just strengthened our resolve to take the Ladakh stories to wherever Epilogue is able to reach. Sonam Chosjar, a promising Ladakhi scholar, has been another motivating factor for our work on Ladakh. No words are too high to express my gratitude to him for being with Epilogue right since the very first issue of this magazine. While extending my thanks to all these people, I have the pleasure to inform our readers of Epilogue's and Charkha's 'inprinciple' commitment to give voices to the voiceless people in Ladakh and elsewhere in Jammu and Kashmir. Feedback : email@example.com
Epilogue Ă˜ 5Ă— August 2009
L E T T E R S
Police and other government enforcement agencies need to play a proactive role in anticipating these crimes and making critical interventions so that spiraling crime rate is controlled.
The truth is out in Asrar Mushtaq Dar murder mystery! By cracking the case and arresting two of Asrar's friends, Imran and Asim in a case of jilted lovers, police exposed all such mysterious vested interests, which were playing with the emotions of the people of Kashmir. Some stories were communicated through various networks that it was a custodial death and some political opponents distributed money to professional stone pelters to cause damage to shopkeepers. Even thousand-year age-old Chinar tree was burnt by miscreants playing into the hands of vested interests.
People, on their part, need to control their emotions and see that they are not led on the wrong path by vested interests, as in the case of Baramulla woman's claim of alleged indecent remarks by police officers, even overlooking the fact that down the line, although not deliberately, they are helping those people with criminal bent of mind to think that they can now safely commit a crime and escape from the clutches of law as the blame in the first instance, one way or the other, will invariably be put on the police or other law enforcing agencies anyway.
Those defeated elements, who have evil designs to cause embarrassment to government on petty crime, give press conferences and statements instigating violence. They never realize that only these murderous love stories cause damage worth crores to people of Kashmiri and deprive them from earning their bread and better for weeks together.
The ongoing turmoil has wrecked havoc on Kashmir's economy with particularly summer tourist season being hit below the belt. The State is not rich enough to lose crores in mindless hartals and the earlier we realize this the better.
Truth at the cost of Rs 100 Crores
The realization has come too late and at a heavy cost with Kashmiris losing Rs. 100 crore in forced shutdowns and violent protests after the dead body of Asrar was found in Rainawari area on July 7. Time and again, cases of routine crime have been twisted and given political colour by forces which relish a simmering valley and know very well the art of manipulating facts for their own convenience. As details about the murder of Asrar unfolded, it also peeled off layer-by-layer the credibility of quite a few of those who wished to make hay out of a Bollywood style kidnap and murder drama. People need to realize that Kashmiri society has undergone a lot of churning in the last two decades. Our society is not insulated any more against 'normal crimes' like rape, murder, kidnap, eve teasing, stalking or robbery. A peep into official statistics will reveal startling figures and episodes like Asrar's murder by a jilted lover, which are to be seen as events in the same chain of crime that has come to tie our society. The death of a young girl, Romana, who was stalked by two boys and allegedly killed in cold blood on posh Airport Road or the brute killing of another girl where a spurned lover inflicted innumerable wounds on her body are enough indicators of crime entrenching itself in our society. It will be running away from reality if we blame these crimes which are outcome of our generational shift on police or security forces, just for the sake of some people who love to keep Valley on the boil.
Brand of sympathy politics indulged in by separatists and some opposition parties tantamount to promising Kashmiris peace through the barrel of the gun. Everyone knows that these forces are tucked safely in the back-pocket of their gurus and more they scratch Kashmiri wounds, the more it will unveil their own proximity to their masters. SHABIR AHMED Via email
Needed, some corrections Dear Sir, I have gone through the latest issue of Epilogue. Articles “The International Community and Kashmir” by Schaffer; “The Kashmir Conflict: A Kashmiri Perspective “ by Hajni have provided intellectual inputs in understanding the future of Jammu and Kashmir. It is pertinent to mention here that article “The Journey of Women in Kashmir” by Ubbot is not connected to the theme 'Women'. Two figures given in the article is mere repetition. Again Figure 1 mentioned in article entitled “Policy Making in a Terrorist Economy” by Sengupta pertains to the year 1980-1981which is no way connected to period of militancy. Explanation of the figure is also missing. Moreover, the article is also found incomplete. (Page-36). Dr DR KAPOOR, HOD, Educational Research, MIER (J&K)
Epilogue Ø 6× August 2009
STATE POLLUTION CONTROL BOARD, JAMMU
Polythene carry bags are banned within the territorial limits of J&K as per SPCB SRO-182 dated 18 June, 2008 Sale/Storing/Stocking/Transporation/Use of Polythene Bags by any individual attracts legal penalty with imprisonment to an extent of one month or fine to the tune of Rs. 5,000/- or both, alongwith seizure and confiscation, as warranted under the Jammu and Kashmir NonBiodegradable Material (M.H and D ) Act, 2007 THERE ARE ALTERNATIVE TO PLASTIC BAGS Local Administration needs to ensure that the ban on polythene bags is adhered to by the shopkeepers and the public across the area. Traders should voluntarily switch over to alternatives, such as paper bags, jute bags, cloth bag, starch based bags, etc.
C TI S A PL
S G A B
Plastic Bags Bring Pain, To Save Environment, Please Abstain
Help us to make J&K a “No Polythene Bag State” For further information contact : State Pollution Control Board, Jammu Parivesh Bhawan, Forest Complex, Gladni, Jammu - 180006, Ph. : 2476926-27 Any nearest district office of State Pollution Control Board.
“Whenever a Polythene bag is used, Beware, our environment is abused
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NO T E
5 Essential Stories SHERM-EL-SHEIKH THAW
Mixed response in J&K
ndia and Pakistan's decision, at a meeting between Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and Yusuf Raza Gilani in Egyptian City Sherm-el-Sheikh, to carry on with the dialogue process drew mixed response in Kashmir on with mainstream parties welcoming it and separatists insisting that the Sharm-elSheikh meeting was "inconclusive" without the participation of Kashmiris. Among the mainstream political parties, the Peoples Democratic Party of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed felt that the meeting at Sharm-el-Sheikh was disappointing as there was no specific reference to the Kashmir issue. J&K unit of BJP pointed out that India should have made cross-border terrorism a key condition for resuming dialogue with Pakistan. Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah welcomed the outcome of the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani on the sidelines of Non-Aligned Movement summit in Egypt [ Images ] and said that dialogue is the only way forward to improve ties between the two neighbours. "The cordial meeting between the two PMs has become historical as both the countries have agreed to delink terrorism from Indo-Pak dialogue," Omar said in a statement. Asserting that the agreement to discuss all outstanding issues between the two nations is a "positive understanding," Omar said the past is witness to the fact that stray incidents of terror had delayed composite dialogue as had happened after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. Jailed leader of the hardline faction of Hurriyat Conference Syed Ali Shah Geelani, however said, "The meeting
Following is the text of Joint Statement issued after the meeting between the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, on July 16: The Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh and the Prime Minister of Pakistan Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani met in Sharm El Sheikh on July 16, 2009. The two Prime Ministers had a cordial and constructive meeting. They considered the entire gamut of bilateral relations with a view to charting the way forward in India - Pakistan relations. Both leaders agreed that terrorism is the main threat to both countries. Both leaders affirmed their resolve to fight terrorism and to cooperate with each other to this end. Prime Minister Singh reiterated the need to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai [ Images ] attacks to justice. Prime Minister Gilani assured that Pakistan will do everything in its power in this regard. He said that Pakistan has provided an updated status dossier on the investigations of the Mumbai attacks and had sought additional information/evidence. Prime Minister Singh said that the dossier is being reviewed.
Epilogue Ă˜ 8Ă— August 2009
NO T E
5 Essential Stories
between the prime ministers of India and Pakistan would be inconclusive without the participation of Kashmiris." Thursday's meeting at Sharm-elSheikh recognised that "dialogue is the only way forward" and said "action on terrorism should not be linked to the composite dialogue process..." Geelani, in the statement, said, "The meeting is being projected as an important step towards the resolution of the Kashmir issue, but the world needs to understand that Kashmir is not a territorial dispute between the two countries and it can't be resolved without the participation of Kashmiris." Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front Mohammad Yaseen Malik said, "Unlike the past 62 years, which saw several meetings and talks between the two countries, we hope Egypt will finally break the trend of fruitlessness of Indo-Pak talks over Kashmir." "It is a political issue and should be
resolved as per the wishes and aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. We are a key party and our aspirations have to be taken into consideration," Malik, who has been under house arrest since past three weeks, said. The Chairman of moderate Hurriyat Conference Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said, "Kashmir has been the basic cause of tension between India and Pakistan for over 60 years and peace would continue to elude the sub-continent till this issue was resolved according to the wishes and aspirations of the Kashmiris." State secretary of Communist Party of India-Marxist M Y Tarigami said his party "welcomes the delinking of composite dialogue from action on terrorism and hopes that bold initiatives will be taken by the leadership of both the countries to resolve all outstanding issues including Kashmir through sustained process of dialogue and debate.”
Both leaders agreed that the two countries will share real time, credible and actionable information on any future terrorist threats. Prime Minister Gilani mentioned that Pakistan has some information on threats in Balochistan and other areas. Both Prime Ministers recognized that dialogue is the only way forward. Action on terrorism should not be linked to the Composite Dialogue process and these should not be bracketed. Prime Minister Singh said that India was ready to discuss all issues with Pakistan, including all outstanding issues. Prime Minister Singh reiterated India's interest in a stable, democratic, Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Both leaders agreed that the real challenge is development and the elimination of poverty. Both leaders are resolved to eliminate those factors which prevent our countries from realizing their full potential. Both agreed to work to create an atmosphere of mutual trust and confidence. Both leaders reaffirmed their intention to promote regional cooperation. Both Foreign Secretaries should meet as often as necessary and report to the two Foreign Ministers who will be meeting on the sidelines of the forthcoming UN General Assembly.
Epilogue Ø 9× August 2009
Now Telling The J&K Stories
Epilogue because there is more to know
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NO T E
5 Essential Stories
J&K Bank profits grow 41%
espite adverse market conditions prevailing in the state, Jammu and Kashmir Bank has registered a business turnover of Rs 51,975.56 crore during the quarter ended June and operating profit of Rs.256 crore, recording a 41 per cent increase over the same period last year. The Bank made a net profit of Rs 117.05 crore, an increase of 24 per cent over Rs 94.56 in the corresponding period of the previous year, a bank spokesman said. The spokesman reasoned the growing profits "vet our renewed strategy where we have focussed on J&K and our investment strategy in a declining interest rate scenario." He said the bank had tailored a wide range of financial products to suit various sectors of the economy which contributed to the healthy performance of the Bank. This initiative had resulted in "tapping the unexplored areas of our economy and enhanced our outreach to unbanked areas in the state," the official added. The spokesman said the bank had also leveraged technology to maximise efficiency and bring down the operating expenses. The bank announced the unaudited financial results for the quarter, following the approval of its Board of Directors. The spokesman said the Gross NPAs and the Net NPAs as a proportion of the Gross and Net Customer Assets for the quarter ended June, were at 2.44 per cent and 0.77 per cent respectively. The NPA Coverage Ratio, which is an indicator of safety and shows the level of provision a bank has for its bad assets, has gone up to 68.79 per cent from 59.53 per cent a year ago. It is now amongst the highest in the industry. As a result of efficient leveraging of its assets, the Bank has been able to
bring down its Cost to Income ratio to 32.79 per cent from 37.66 per cent a year ago. The Return on Assets has improved to 1.29 per cent (annualised) compared to 1.16 per cent a year ago. Due to improvement in yield on advances from 10.37 per cent in quarter one Financial Year 2008-09 to 11.55 per cent for the current quarter, the interest income on advances went up by 19 per cent on a Year on Year basis. Despite increase in Interest expenses by 20 per cent Yearon-Year, attributed to rising cost of deposits, bank has been able to maintain its margins at 3.10 per cent due to a concurrent increase in the lending rates, he said. Operating Income (Net Interest Income plus Other Income) stood at Rs. 381.67 crore for the quarter as against Rs. 291.13 crore for the corresponding quarter of last fiscal, registering an increase of 31 per cent. The Other Income of the Bank has gone up by 78 per cent to Rs. 115.68 crore from Rs 64.88 crore a year ago, largely on account of trading income. The Bank has restructured loans during the quarter to the extent of around Rs 100 crore mostly by way of realignment of interest rates. The Capital Adequacy Ratio under the Basel I norms stands at 14.33 per cent at the end of June 30 and Tier I capital amounted to 13.63 per cent. Net Worth of the Bank stood at Rs.2739.91 crore as on June 30 compared to Rs. 2403.49 crore a year earlier, registering a growth of 14 per cent, the spokesman said.
KASHMIR & WORLD
No special envoy on Kashmir: US
he United States on July 16 once again ruled out the possibility of appointing any special envoy on Kashmir, a demand being made by certain quarters in Pakistan and Kashmiri separatists. "I can assure you we are not going to appoint a special Kashmir envoy," US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake told reporters in Washington. "This is longstanding US policy that this is an issue that
needs to be worked between India and Pakistan, and we do not have plans to appoint an envoy," Blake said, on the eve of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's India visit. Despite pressure from certain quarters, the Obama Administration has been consistent in its stand that the Kashmir issue could only be resolved by dialogue between India and Pakistan and that there is no role for the US in it.
Epilogue Ă˜ 10 Ă— August 2009
NO T E
5 Essential Stories
CRIME IN SOCIETY
Srinagar cools down, for now
he highly surcharged tempers in Srinagar City have substantially cooled down for the while after City Police confirmed that a local youth was murdered by his friends and not killed in custody of security forces. The murder of 20-year-old Asrar Mushtaq that provoked street rage in Srinagar, has been solved with police claiming that a friend-turned-spurned-lover is behind the crime. Twenty-yearold Imran and his friend Asim are accused of killing their friend Asrar after the latter reportedly fell for Imran's girlfriend. Asrar reportedly met the girl, who is based in Delhi, through a social networking site. Jilted by her an angry Imran allegedly bludgeoned Asrar to death, before dumping his body at a graveyard in Rainawari. "The accused confessed to his crime during interrogation. He used a rod used for body building and hit the victim on his head," said A Mujtaba, SSP Srinagar. Jammu and Kashmir Police are now planning to send a team to Delhi to get the statement of the girl in question. Violence had broken out in Srinagar last week after Asrar's body was found in a decomposed state with locals alleging then that he may have been picked up by police
and killed… But with the case now solved, Asrar's family is appealing for peace. "We are happy with the investigations. I request people not to take law onto their hands,'' Asrar's father Mushtaq Ahmad said. Now that the blind murder case has been solved, it has not only given a sense of closure to the victim family but also eased some pressure on Chief Minister Omar Abdullah who was really getting bothered by almost daily doze of bad news.
Violence declines by 34%
he Indian Government of India has said that terrorism incidents in Jammu and Kashmir have decreased in the past years and the state has received an increased number of tourists during the same period. "As per the report of the state government of Jammu and Kashmir, there was a 34.49 per cent reduction in terrorism related incidents in
the state in the year 2007 over 2006 while 35.16 reduction in 2008 over 2007," Minister of state for Home Affairs Ajay Maken informed Rajya Sabha on July 15. He also said, as per the available report, there were 4.37 lakh tourists in 2006, 4.39 lakh in 2007 and 4.66 lakh in 2008 who visited the state.
Epilogue Ø 11 × August 2009
AF FA I RS
The Discourse of Disgrace
After an overwhelming faith reposed by the peoples of Jammu and Kashmir, against heavy odds, in the democratic institutions during the Assembly elections of November-December 2008 and Lok Sabha elections of April-May 2009, the ruling parties and the opposition were expected to respect the mandate and deliver on their promises. Unfortunately, the prevailing dominant political discourse in Jammu and Kashmir is that of disgrace and ignominy which is causing a serious degree of dishonour and humiliation to trust people put in their elected representatives.
hen State Legislative Assembly met in Srinagar on July 27 for its delayed Budget Session, uproar on rape and murder of two women in a South Kashmir Village of Shopian and other cases of violations of human rights was quite expected. The coalition government of the National Conference and Congress led by youngest ever Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has had its numerous errs on crucial issues since its formation on January 6, 2009 and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party has been seen fol l ow i n g th e s e fa i l u re s q u i te vigorously. The way people have huge expectations in government, the opposition too owes a lot to its constituency and therefore its cries on the issues of public importance cannot be dismissed as mere criticism for the sake of it. The scene on first day of Assembly, however, went far beyond the normal course of opposition's right of questioning and government's responsibility of answering. Peoples Democratic Party led by its leader Mehbooba Mufti took on the government with an unprecedented
Epilogue Ø 12 × August 2009
rage and fury. Instead of taking House in confidence, the Government allowed the scene to boil as a personal fracas between activists of National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party –J&K's two premiere political parties locked against each other in a battle of survival. Rest of it was done by Legislative Assembly Speaker Mohammad Akbar Lone who chided the opposition legislators as a street shopkeeper would scold a group of unruly boys quarrelling in front of his shop. Speaker's words like “kis khet ki mooli ho tum” (of which field's radish (vegetable) are you all) were widely televised by India's leading news channels over next two days with scroll's running “Speaker uses street language”. This media criticism, h o w e v e r, d i d n o t b r i n g a n y improvement. The next two days, July 28 and 29, was perhaps most embarrassing not only for the highest institution of democracy, the Legislature, but also for all peoples of Jammu and Kashmir. Former Deputy Chief Minister and senior PDP leader asked Speaker to grant him time for
AF FA I RS Politics
making statement on some important issue. Time was granted. Baig, a leading lawyer of Supreme Court and orator par excellence, began with the issues of human rights, security and governance. Entire House heard with rapt attention. Towards the end of his nearly seven minutes long speech, the fiery orator Baig, forwarded few papers towards Speaker's chair for inclusion in the House records. An expert of Constitution and Parliamentary Affairs, he ensured that the papers reach Speaker's table before makes mention of what these papers meant. Then came the stun: “Honourable Speaker, few years back, there was a sex scandal which is being probed by CBI and monitoring of State High Court…we want the investigation on case expedited…there are many influential people holding public offices are involved…please look at the list…at serial number 102 figures the name of Omar Abdullah son of Farooq Abdullah”. Having made the statement, Baig sat down relaxed but by that time House was on fire. Baig's action had absolutely nothing to do with the public interests. By making such revelations if meant if meant bringing accountability and morality in public life then there are no takers for that. If he actually meant that, he should have made this revelation in 2006 when he was the Deputy Chief Minister and incharge of the Departments of Law and Parliamentary Affairs. Raking up such issue that this stage did not serve any public service as it was clearly meant to discredit the Chief Minister and bring instability in the government. The move was, however, calculated. Chief Minister responded exactly as the PDP has wanted and not any manner a mature political leader should have
reacted. Omar Abdullah announced, at the Floor of the Assembly, his resignation and desisted dissuasions from his party colleagues to rush to the Raj Bhavan to handover papers to the Governor. In 20-minute drive between Assembly Complex and Raj Bhawan came the change of mind. He wrote to the Governor “…immediately accept my resignation in case you are satisfied that there is any basis therein…”. For next two days the Chief
The way people have huge expectations in government, the opposition too owes a lot to its constituency and therefore its cries on the issues of public importance cannot be dismissed as mere criticism for the sake of it. The scene on first day of Assembly, however, went far beyond the normal course of opposition's right of questioning and government's responsibility of answering.
Minister did not attend office even as NC and PDP workers fought pitched battles on streets of Srinagar and Jammu. 48 hours later, Governor's reply to the Chief Minister was on expected lines. An official spokesman of Raj Bhawan said on July 30: “In furtherance to the allegations leveled against the Chief Minister in the Legislative Assembly and the letter that Shri Omar Abdullah had
Epilogue Ø 13 × August 2009
presented to the Governor on 28th July 2009, the Governor has had the matter inquired into through the Union Ministry of Home Affairs…The Governor, NN Vohra has advised the Chief Minister that, based on the information supplied to him by the Union Home Ministry, there is no basis for Shri Abdullah seeking to resign. Accordingly the Governor advised the Chief Minister to most vigorously devote himself to discharging responsibilities of Chief Minister, Jammu and Kashmir”. The high voltage embarrassing drama ended and the Chief Minister returned to office amidst a warm welcome by hundreds of Secretariat employees. Chief Minister's return to the office did not close the sad chapter of political disgrace the Peoples Democratic Party and the National Conference are bringing to the institution of legislature and the larger public faith. Earlier on July 29, the Assembly Speaker Lone accepted a list of questions from an NC MLA meant for Muzaffar Baig. The questionnaire carrying six questions sought from Baig his reply on his moral character as it linked him with as many women. While five women were unnamed (though references were enough to understand who why were), the sixth one was named and identified as daughter of a former Chief Justice of India. Baig did not react the way Chief Minister did. He tore apart paper and threw pieces in Well of the House. PDP is now planning a second round of offensive against NC. Assembly is now meeting on August 9 and PDP says it has a larger list of accused in sex scandal to be presented in the House. The most important question here is: this is what people had voted for despite all odds to send their representatives to the legislature. What
AF FA I RS Politics
has been happening over past six months in Jammu and Kashmir is nowhere close to what the parties promised to electorate in last year's elections and what they promised further as ruling and opposition parties on declaration of results. Omar Abdullah had said, on taking over as Chief Minister, “challenges are numerous but the single largest challenge before me meeting public expectations which are very high”. Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had said: “we have the mandate to work as opposition and we are committed to watching over public interests…we are giving the government time and space to perform and we are watching”.
Both PDP and NC claim to champion the cause of Kashmir but the fact of the matter is that both are engaged in a competition to secure the power. Their current political engagements do not reveal anything beyond that murky competition. They have discredited the legislature and dishonoured the public faith
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Bringing to the Legislative Assembly an issue which PDP as a part of the previous coalition government had itself handed over to CBI and agreed to its monitoring by the High Court and circulating a questionnaire asking former Deputy CM to tell how many women he slept with in life has certainly nothing to do with what people expect their representative to do for them. Both PDP and NC claim to champion the cause of Kashmir but the fact of the matter is that both are engaged in a competition to secure the power. Their current political engagements do not reveal anything beyond that. Because, fighting it out in a graceful political battle is years away (next Assembly elections are due in 2014) they have, meanwhile, indulged in a discourse of disgrace.
during office/after hours You may also contact Chief Enforcement/Khilafwarzi Officers at following Mobiles Nos 1. Jammu East 9419197482 2. Jammu West 9419142505 3. Jammu South 9419141474 YOU MAY ALSO REGISTER GENERAL COMPLAINTS REGARDING SANITATION /DEAD ANIMALS LIFTING, REMOVAL OF STRAY CATTLE, STREET LIGHTS ETC. Health Officer 9419180868 Municipal Veterinary Officer 9419102797 Executive Engineer (Electric) 9419150429
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Epilogue Ø 14 × August 2009
OP I N I ON
US and Kashmir Experts Speak
How the Kashmir Dispute Affects Security in South Asia JAYSHREE BAJORIA
.S. President Barack Obama has defined the elimination of terrorist networks in Pakistan and Afghanistan as crucial to U.S. national security interests. Yet some analysts say the territory of Kashmir could pose a problem to the administration's counterterrorism efforts in the region. Often called one of the world's most dangerous flashpoints, Kashmir has been at the root of two large-scale wars and one limited conflict between India and Pakistan since the August 1947 partition. Tensions between the countries escalated in the 1990s with a rise in militancy in the Indian-administered region. India accuses Pakistan's premier intelligence service, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), of supporting militant groups in Kashmir, a charge Pakistan denies. The two countries started a peace process in 2004 that explored options such as increasing trade and greater people-to-people contact across the disputed border but talks have been plagued by political crises in Pakistan and terrorist attacks in India. Analysts point out that the Kashmir dispute distracts Pakistan's security forces from focusing on militants inside the country since a majority of Pakistan's troops remain deployed on the eastern border with India. Five experts on South Asia-DANIEL MARKEY, C. RAJA MOHAN, HASAN-AZKARI RIZVI, HOWARD B. SCHAFFER, and M. FAROOQ KATHWARI--discuss U.S. interests in Kashmir and propose policy options for the Obama administration to tackle this long-standing dispute.
rom the Indian perspective, there is a short answer to the question on what the Obama administration should do about Kashmir as part of its Af-Pak strategy: nothing. There is also a longer answer to the question--nothing direct-that I would like to develop.
C. RAJA MOHAN, Professor, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
First, the empirical evidence. The many direct U.S. interventions in Kashmir over the last six decades were not only unsuccessful but also prevented the construction of sustainable ties with India. New Delhi saw Washington's Kashmir interest as part of a broader tilt toward Pakistan that began in the early years of the Cold War. If Kashmir has been at the heart of India's accumulated distrust of the United States, the Bush administration chose to ignore the issue as it tried to build a strategic partnership with India. Paradoxically, it was precisely during this period of American "neglect" that
Epilogue Ă˜ 15 Ă— August 2009
India and Pakistan made the biggest progress on resolving their conflict over Kashmir. From 2003-2007, Delhi and Islamabad unveiled many confidencebuilding measures in Kashmir for the first time since the partition of the subcontinent. Above all, Indian and Pakistani leaders negotiated, through an official back channel, the framework of a political settlement on Kashmir. The talks, however, are stalled thanks to internal instability in Pakistan and the renewal of spectacular terror attacks on India like the kind we saw in Mumbai last November. As it understood the costs to America's blossoming ties with India, the Obama administration quickly stepped back from the initial impulse to reinject itself into Kashmir. The administration must nevertheless persist in building on Obama's one important insight: The conflicts on the eastern and western borders of Pakistan
OP I N I ON US and Kashmir
are interconnected. At the source of the trouble in Kashmir and Afghanistan has been the Pakistani army's decades-old policy of nurturing extremist groups as strategic assets against New Delhi and Kabul. Under Obama, Washington has come to recognize that defeating al-Qaeda and the Taliban involves getting the Pakistani army to end its deliberate
M. FAROOQ KATHWARI, Chairman, President and CEO, Ethan Allen Inc., Chairman, Kashmir Study Group
onflict in South Asia poses serious economic and security threats to U.S. interests. The ongoing war in Afghanistan and the fighting in Pakistan are serious and dangerous realities. In order to achieve stability, regional cooperation and trust must be established, especially between India and Pakistan. Resolving the Kashmir conflict will go a long way in bringing peace to South Asia. There is greater realization in India and Pakistan that they need to settle the Kashmir dispute for their wellbeing and that of the region. The conflict over the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir has been the chief source of tension between India and Pakistan, fueling three wars between the nations since 1947 and resulting in tremendous costs to the region--loss of life, impact on economic growth, large defense spending, and rise in extremism. For Kashmir, the conflict has been a great tragedy and a disaster in all respects: a large death toll, human rights abuses, displacement of populations, a devastated economy, serious environmental damage, massive military buildup, and severe psychological distress. The positive news is that in the last few years, through quiet, back-channel negotiations, the parties--India,
Epilogue Ă˜ 16 Ă— August 2009
support of violent extremism. This, in turn, is possible only if the United States can help Pakistan's civilian leaders wrest control over national security policy from the army. If and when he makes progress on these two objectives, Obama will find it no problem at all to convince Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to sign off on the Kashmir deal that he has already negotiated.
Pakistan, and the peoples of the Kashmir region--have come close to a feasible solution. All sides now understand that their stated positions of the last sixty-two years are not realistic and that compromises have to be made. In this regard, I was involved in forming the Kashmir Study Group in 1996 to help shape the debate toward a peaceful and honorable resolution to the conflict. The main features of the proposed solution, developed in consultation with the parties: the establishment of truly self-governing entities on both sides of the present Line of Control; guarantees of human and civil rights for the culturally diverse populations and minorities; and all parties committed to demilitarization and the renouncing of violence. India and Pakistan need to engage in composite bilateral talks on all important issues. Recurrent tensions over Kashmir will undercut any initiative to bring stability to South Asia as well as perpetuate the risk of a nuclear war. While the ultimate responsibility of negotiating a solution is with the involved parties, it is also the right time for the United States to pursue creative, persistent, and discreet high-level diplomacy to help move the peace process forward.
OP I N I ON US and Kashmir
he unsettled Kashmir dispute poses a potentially serious threat to the expanding interests the United States now has in South Asia. Any conflict between India and Pakistan sparked by the dispute could escalate into a catastrophic nuclear war. Pakistan's critical role since September 11, 2001, in shaping the future of Afghanistan has HOWARD B. SCHAFFER, given the issue a further major Deputy Director and Director of Studies, dimension. The traditional focus of the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, Pakistan armed forces on combating a Georgetown University perceived threat from India and the continuing patronage that Pakistani intelligence agencies provide to Islamic extremists in Kashmir make it more difficult, both politically and militarily, for Islamabad to help the United States and its coalition partners combat the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda. These factors also heighten Pakistan's own problems in contending with domestic extremists. Pakistani support for armed insurgents in Kashmir contributes significantly to tension with India and heightens Indian suspicion that Islamabad is responsible for perpetrating violence within India proper. And until a settlement is reached, there will be no dearth of "spoilers" eager for opportunities to inflame India-Pakistan relations. Washington should look for opportunities to play a more active role in helping resolve the dispute while recognizing that this won't be easy. These opportunities will arise only when there are strong governments in both countries willing and able to make the difficult concessions necessary for a settlement. And before the United States becomes more involved, IndiaPakistan relations must improve from their present dismal state. Any eventual U.S. diplomatic involvement should be unobtrusive and avoid fanfare. For instance, assigning a high-profile special envoy would be fatal to U.S. efforts. If Washington does
Epilogue Ă˜ 17 Ă— August 2009
find a propitious opportunity to play a more active role, the settlement it promotes should call for making the Line of Control a permanent border that is porous; autonomy for Kashmiris on both sides; and joint institutions on an all-Kashmir basis. These elements were under discussion in back-channel IndiaPakistan negotiations until the talks were suspended following the Mumbai attacks in November 2008. Both sides state that they wish to resume the discussions on Kashmir and the broader composite bilateral dialogue. But New Delhi has served notice that it will be unwilling to do so until Pakistan has taken satisfactory action against the Mumbai [terrorist attack in November 2008] perpetrators. Washington has urged the Pakistanis to do so. Nothing is to be gained, at least at this point, in the U.S. calling on the two governments to hold substantive discussions.
"If Washington does find a propitious opportunity to play a more active role, the settlement it promotes should call for making the Line of Control a permanent border that is porous; autonomy for Kashmiris on both sides; and joint institutions on an all-Kashmir basis." HOWARD SCHAFFER
OP I N I ON US and Kashmir
DANIEL MARKEY, Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia, Council on Foreign Relations
here is little doubt that normalized relations between India and Pakistan, including a regionally acceptable settlement on Kashmir, would offer tremendous benefits to the United States. Indo-Pak tensions are especially dangerous because they bring two nuclear states toe-to-toe; they distract Islamabad from the urgent task of combating terrorists and militants on its own soil; and they contribute to Pakistani suspicions about India's activities in Afghanistan. Thus, the long-standing dispute over Kashmir is one part of a wider regional dynamic that has direct implications for Washington's ability to support a stable Afghan state and to address the threat posed by terrorist groups in South Asia. Yet in spite of its central strategic importance, the United States is not well positioned to tackle the Kashmir issue. Washington should not seek to insert itself in the diplomacy between Islamabad and New Delhi or to press publicly for concessions from either side. These moves would backfire, since Indian and Pakistani leaders can illafford to appear to their domestic audiences as if they are caving to U.S. pressure over an issue as sensitive as Kashmir. Moreover, the recent history of back-channel dealings between Islamabad and New Delhi suggests that the basic contours of a Kashmir settlement are already well-known to both sides; no need for Washington to reinvent the wheel. That said, the White House is understandably eager to promote IndoPak rapprochement. This urge is all the more desperate because the United States has every reason to fear that Pakistan-based terrorists will attempt another Mumbai-style attack in the near future. In that event, the Indian government might feel compelled to launch reprisal attacks inside Pakistan,
Epilogue Ø 18 × August 2009
prompting an escalating spiral of uncertain duration and violence. Under these conditions, the Obama administration should seek to insulate the Indo-Pak rapprochement process by devoting greater attention to the specific group that masterminded last November's Mumbai attack: Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). The United States should press for more extensive Pakistani investigations, arrests, and military action against LeT and its associated organizations, and Washington should also lend support where possible. Given the group's history of close ties to Pakistani military and intelligence and the extensive sympathy it enjoys within segments of the Pakistani public, undertaking a true crackdown on LeT may well prove a difficult and bloody affair. But without tackling this threat, prospects for progress in Kashmir, for regional stability, and for U.S. success in its counterterror and counterinsurgency missions will remain extremely dim.
"The long-standing dispute over Kashmir is one part of a wider regional dynamic that has direct implications for Washington's ability to support a stable Afghan state and to address the threat posed by terrorist groups in South Asia.” DANIEL MARKEY
OP I N I ON US and Kashmir
HASAN-ASKARI RIZVI, Independent political and defense analyst, Pakistan
mprovement of India-Pakistan relations and the resolution of the Kashmir conflict would strengthen Pakistan's role in the ongoing U.S. efforts to eliminate extremism and terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan and stabilize those countries. This is especially important because Pakistan's civilian leadership and military top brass are now unanimous in viewing all Taliban groups and their allies as a threat to the stability of Pakistan and the region. The military operation in the Swat area [of Pakistan] has dislodged the Taliban and this area is now under the control of Pakistani civilian and military authorities. Pakistan has launched another military operation in South Waziristan and such operations will be launched in other parts of the tribal areas in the future. Pakistan's attention will be partly diverted from its tribal areas and northwestern border with Afghanistan to its eastern border with India if tension increases between India and Pakistan. This was the case after the Mumbai terrorist attack (in November 2008) when Indian leaders issued strident statements against Pakistan, moved their troops from peacetime locations up closer to the border, and toyed with the idea of strategic airstrikes in Pakistani territory. Pakistan's political right and Islamic elements take advantage of troubled India-Pakistan relations-especially the non-resolution of the Kashmir conflict--to argue that India, rather than the Taliban, is a threat to Pakistan. Further, the militant groups based in mainland Pakistan, known for their involvement in Indianadministered Kashmir, use the stalemate on Kashmir to mobilize popular support. The Pakistan government finds it difficult to take a firm action against these militant groups when India-Pakistan relations are marked by high-level hostility and
Epilogue Ă˜ 19 Ă— August 2009
India is publicly demanding action against these groups. Improved IndiaPakistan relations and resolution of major disputes, including Kashmir, will make these militant groups irrelevant and increase the Pakistani government's ability to curb them. The Obama administration is most suited to help ease tension between India and Pakistan and improve their bilateral relations because it has equally cordial relations with both countries. It needs to encourage India to revive the suspended "composite dialogue" comprising eight issue areas including Kashmir and terrorism. Pakistan would like the United States to play a mediatory role on Kashmir. But, this is not possible because India is opposed to it. However, the Obama administration can help the two sides make the dialogue results oriented. If the less complicated issues-the Siachen Glacier, Sir Creek boundary, and the water issue--are resolved, this would produce enough goodwill to resolve the Kashmir conflict. The U.S. administration should be more assertive in working toward improved India-Pakistan relations. With special endowments from council on foreign relations. For more analysis and interviews on India and foreign policy visit CFR.org. Epilogue is thankful to Lia Nortan, Associate Editor, Council on Foreign Relations, NY.
KNOWLEDGE Ă˜ TThe Railway network in J&K State is
the highest altitude railway network in India. Presently the railway network in the State exists upto Udhampur district and the rest between Udhampur to Qazikund is under construction. Intra Kashmir railway line from Qazigund to Baramulla is near completion and has been laid open for railway traffic from (Nowgam) Srinagar to Anantnag on 11th October in 2008.
Politics & Identity
BEYOND KASHMIR :
Understanding Ladakh and its Politics The high profile politics of Kashmir, and the compulsive focus of debate on the issue of separatism and autonomy, substantially leads to the mistreatment of the colossal basis of plurality of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K). Because of this proclivity, the issues of assertion of the regional identities of Jammu and Ladakh have, more or less, escaped sober academic attention. This has led to a serious gap in acquiring a holistic understanding of the internal dynamics of the politics in J&K, consequently leading to a hole in the academia vis-à-vis a peculiar characteristic of rise of ethnic politics in India: that there has always been a parallel assertion of sub-regional identities in J&K in relation to the more popular movement of autonomy and separatism in the Valley. The rise of ethnic consciousness at regional/state levels has led to the rise of alienation among some minority groups at subregional levels (like the rise of ethnic politics in Jammu and Ladakh vis-à-vis Kashmir) leading, consequently, to parallel sub-regional movements along with the mainstream ones. These movements, by and large, have been short of critical academic attention. The present article tries to present an analysis of the nature of politics in Ladakh and its internal dynamics.
Ladakh in Politics and Politics in Ladakh
SONAM CHOSJOR A former Scholar of Political Science, Author now works with J&K Government. Views expressed here are exclusively his and endorsed by Epilogue.
he present day J&K, “on the Indian side of the Line of Control, is formed of three distinct regional identities, Ladakh is perhaps politically most important of them all.” However till date, Ladakh is counted as no more than a “conflict-ridden border land […] devoid of sweet and soft of nature”. In the perception of mainstream Indian citizens then, India stretches from “Kashmir to Kanyakumari”. Some popular Bollywood songs well depict this typecast picture of India. In realistic sense, then, Ladakh remains, more or less, only on the political map of India, not in the collective psyche of mainstream Indians. Aggarwal argues that “central and state policies either domesticate
Epilogue Ø 20 × August 2009
Ladakh's historical and racial differences by the process of tribalisation, or else acknowledge and exaggerate them in distinctively gendered forms so that backwardness, barrenness, and dysfunctional sexuality became characteristics of its women and its soil.” These kinds of projections also preoccupy the premise of Bollywood and Hollywood movies based on, or shoot in, Ladakh. “[T]hey reinforce the structure in which the centre is masculinised and the border becomes female and raced.” Not surprisingly then, even highly educated Indians use the racial stereotyped imaginations to perceive the Ladakhis. On the political front, the patriotic credentials of Ladakhis always have had to face the acidic test of jingo nationalism because of their facial resemblance with the Chinese. Outside Ladakh, Ladakhis have generally been looked down upon as Gorkhas and
L ADAKH Politics & Identity
chinkis by the mainstream Indians, who proudly cherish, at the same time, India's historic stand on the racial apartheid in South Africa. It, however, hardly matters that someone raised in a metropolitan city like Delhi or Mumbai hardly experiences the ideas and senses of Indianness that a person raised in a border area like Ladakh do. Aggarwal argues that more real “ideas of Indianness” can be experienced only in areas and regions like Ladakh where the “border becomes a space where the state expresses itself through a habitualised performativity and repeatedly asserts the physical and symbolic authority over its citizens.” 'Ladakh in politics' has, hence, become no less than a kind of misnomer phrase inapt to comprehend and think of the region for officials and the academia. It hardly figures in the official and academic political discourse of J&K at any level. The academia and the media have never been serious about the political facet of Ladakh. High profile academic debates seeking solution for J&K have never bothered to indulge Ladakh as a stakeholder. People-to-people contact has been reshaping the contours of India's foreign policy vis-à-vis Kashmir during the last few years. The reopening of the road connecting two conflict-prone regions, Srinagar and Muzafarabad, has been projected as a success story. But the opening of the Kargil-Skardo road still remains a figment of the imagination as New Delhi and Islamabad are still apprehensive about letting the people of these two very peaceful regions meet who, like the people of Srinagar, were also divided with their kiths and kin during the partition. Indo-China trade is booming and Nathula has been thrown open since July 2006 for trading purposes with very good dividends for
In the perception of mainstream Indian citizens then, India stretches from “Kashmir to Kanyakumari”. Some popular Bollywood songs well depict this typecast picture of India. In realistic sense, then, Ladakh remains, more or less, only on the political map of India, not in the collective psyche of mainstream Indians. 'Ladakh in politics' has, hence, become no less than a kind of misnomer phrase inapt to comprehend and think of the region for officials and the academia. It hardly figures in the official and academic political discourse of J&K at any level. Therefore, Ladakh has never tended to be counted in the realm of politics. The popular Indian imagination by and large rules out the possibility of any kind of politics in what many call the 'peaceful transHimalayan region'.
Epilogue Ø 21 × August 2009
both the countries subsequently. But opening of the Demchok-Manasarovar trade-cum-pilgrimage route, which can prove to be a boon for the fragile economy of Ladakh, is still a wishful thinking because of lack of political will on the part of Indian policy makers. The media and, to a larger extent, the academia, have been obsessed with stereotyped portrayals of Ladakh constructed mainly by the Western travelogues. Their projection of Ladakh has been that of a “romantic notion of an idyllic land, eclipsed from time and space” similar to the one the Western travellers used to have about Tibet at a point of time. The academic imagining of Ladakh is preoccupied by the Tibetancentric view of Ladakh, and the Buddhist-centric perception of Ladakhi identity. In the popular imagination, Ladakh, because of its geographical proximity and cultural/spiritual links with Tibet, has always tended to be perceived as another Tibet. In fact, the very interest of the academia in Ladakh, which began only after the 1970s when it was thrown open for foreign tourists, seemed to have been generated by Ladakh's proximity — physical and religious — with Tibet, which had been closed for foreigners for many years. On the other hand, the interest in Tibet was generated by “Western travel writings on Tibet through the ages”. Not surprisingly then, Ladakh has been popularly known as “Little Tibet”, “Western Tibet” or “Indian Tibet” in the academia and in the media, giving an erroneous impression, albeit inadvertent it may have been, about Ladakh: that it is a 'Land of Lamaist Buddhism' like Tibet; and that its inhabitants are the followers of Lamaist Buddhism as the Tibetans, by and large, are. This, however, is not to be in breach of the fact that Ladakh used to have excellent monastic, trade and
L ADAKH Politics & Identity
pilgrimage relations with Tibet at one juncture of history. But the obsessive romanticisation of the past sometimes tends to eclipse the present reality in Ladakh: that about half of Ladakh's population constitutes Muslims, majority of those living in Kargil. Such a constrained perception adds to the idyllic perspective of the seeing Ladakh “predominantly as a quaint, colorful backdrop for adventure holidays, populated by maroon-robed lamas living in whitewashed monasteries perched on hilltops.” Such a dearth of attention in real-politic logic subsequently leads to the lack of
understanding about the political articulations of the region vis-à-vis the state and national mainstream, and, more importantly, about the internal dynamics of politics within Ladakh — like that of Kargil's relationship with Leh, and the Muslim's relations with the Buddhists. Therefore, Ladakh has never tended to be counted in the realm of politics. The popular Indian imagination by and large rules out the possibility of any kind of politics in what many call the 'peaceful trans-Himalayan region'. Even those who think of, or have heard of, politics in Ladakh generally try to define
it in the straight-jacket of the politics of Union Territory (UT) being championed by Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA), and lately by the Ladakh Union Territory Front (LUTF). For almost all the outsiders, and even for many Ladakhis, then, politics in Ladakh begins and ends with UT and the LBA/LUTF. Generally the internal dynamics of politics in Ladakh, as analysed later, escapes critical attention: for example, why the Muslim leaders of Kargil oppose the LBA and its demand of UT, and why there is a perceptible rift between Leh and Kargil at large, or between the Buddhist-Muslim relationships, principally, in Ladakh?
Looking Back: Ladakhi History and Indian Nationalism
o get a nuanced understanding of state (Jammu & Kashmir) to India, India. That is why way back in 1949, the nature of politics in Ladakh Ladakh also became a part of India in when Jawaharlal Nehru visited the and the space Ladakh has curved 1947. region, the Buddhist leaders sought for itself in political discourse of J&K, it what they called “the bosom of … Becoming a part of India had been usually becomes relevant to gracious mother (India)” for the recount the modern politicobetterment of the region and its historical background of In 1949, Chhewang Rigzin, the president of Ladakh. people. Coming out of the 100 years of 'autocratic' Dogra rule, In the middle of 10th the LBA, submitted a memo to Jawaharlal it was easy for the people of century, after the assassination Nehru in which he expressed that Ladakhi Ladakh to fine-tune their of King Lhangdarma, the Buddhist were a “separate nation by all the political fortune with Tibetan empire broke up and 'democratic' India. Ladakh became an independent tests — race, language, religion, culture — kingdom. Thereafter, Ladakh Two factors seemed to determining nationality.” The memorandum remained an independent have contributed immensely in further asserted that they (Buddhists) had no kingdom for about 800 years, making the Ladakhis faithful to India. One is the plunging of the ruled by its own kings – from affinity or “link of connection” with the Indian Army in Ladakh during Spalkigon (990-1020) to Tundup Kashmiris with the exception of a “bond of the tribal invasion from Pakistan Namgyal (1829-1834). In 1842, cohesion” of common ruler in the Dogra in 1948 and liberating Ladakh Ladakh was annexed by the from what many Ladakhis regime. Dogra ruler of Jammu, after a believed (and still believe) the series of expeditious forays by brink of another era of political Zorawar Singh, the general of enslavement after the Dogra the Dogra ruler Gulab Singh. well cherished by the Ladakhi leaders. rule. The elderly persons in Ladakh Then, for the next century, Ladakh Right from the very beginning, its would still tell the kind of indebtedness remained a part of the Dogra kingdom. leaders felt very easy to associate its they owe to India and the Indian Army With the accession of the Dogra-ruled political fortunes with democratic
Epilogue Ø 22 × August 2009
L ADAKH Politics & Identity
for what they did for the Ladakhis in 1948. The second factor seems to be the relatively wider democratic space and greater developmental spoils Ladakhis enjoyed subsequently in democratic India in stark contrast to hardships they had to suffer under the Dogra rule immediately before 1947. Therefore, Ladakhis naturally evolved as patriotic Indians despite the lack of earlier connection. From 1949 onwards there have been movements for fuller integration with the Union of
India, and also for the conferment of a national status for Ladakhi language. Ladakh's relationship with the rest of the state and also the political status of Jammu and Kashmir were not resolved when ceasefire was declared in 1949. At this juncture, Ladakhi Buddhist leaders appeared to have preferred a partition of Jammu and Kashmir. In 1949, Chhewang Rigzin, the president of the LBA, submitted a memo to Jawaharlal Nehru in which he expressed that Ladakhi Buddhist were a “separate
nation by all the tests — race, language, religion, culture — determining nationality.” The memorandum further asserted that they (Buddhists) had no affinity or “link of connection” with the Kashmiris with the exception of a “bond of cohesion” of common ruler in the Dogra regime. But these wishes of the Buddhist leaders could not be materialised, and they had to adjust their political fortunes once again in J&K, but this time under the newly emerged leaders of Kashmir.
Politics of Union Territory and Communal Claims
two-third of the state territorially (i.e. fact that Ladakh got a degree college as espite the democratic setup more area than the remaining 20 late as 1994! Hence, they claim that after 1948, a sense of deprivation districts of J&K put together), Ladakh given the vastness of the area, and the vis-à-vis the ruling dispensation (both Leh and Kargil) has got only one very high cost of living there— because in the state — “predominantly Kashmir seat in the Parliament and four in the of lack of primary facilities like road, based” — and a demand for separation state Assembly; the Government of electricity, proper educational from J&K to form a UT-Ladakh has been India (GoI) is yet to include the Ladakhi institutions etc.— it is unjust to treat the preparatory juncture of the popular the region as a couple of districts. perception of politics in Ladakh. The second set of arguments Ladakhi Buddhist leaders have For the LBA, “Ladakhiness” and (though related to the first one) always complained of neglect and “Buddhistness” are one and the same thing. has been that Ladakh has got a maltreatment in the Kashmiri distinctive regional identity with dominated government in J&K. The LBA asserts that the Ladakhi Muslims different sets of problems Ever since the memo of does not fit into the category of “Ladakhis” peculiar to the region and its geo1949, the political discourse in because they are “connected by the ties of climatic conditions. Therefore, Ladakh has, more or less, been the mainstream policies of the controlled by the LBA, and, of religion with the majority population government, and its parameters late, it has always revolved [Muslims] of Jammu and Kashmir.” of development, do not hold well around the issue of UT. The enough for its betterment. justification put forth for the UT Hence, it needs to have a language in the 8th Schedule of the demand has generally been based on the separate administration to frame and Indian Constitution despite the solemn articulation that the Kashmiri prioritize its own developmental wishes of the Ladakhis; also Ladakh is dominated government in the state has agendas. This claim is justified on the yet to get fully connected with the rest never been sensitive to the needs, basis of Ladakh's geo-climatic conditions of the country through an all-season aspirations and peculiar problems being and the problems caused by it, and its motor road as the only roads leading to faced by Ladakh and its people. Hence, geo-strategic importance along with the Ladakh passing through Kashmir (via Ladakh has lagged behind the other two unique socio-cultural heritage. Zojila) and Himachal Pradesh (via regions of the state in every sphere of Rohtang and Taklang passes) remain However, one question that life. The leaders generally seek the escapes critical thought is: Is UT, mainly closed for at least six months in a year; attention of the state for the following championed by the Buddhist leaders, and a sign of grave negligence is also the matters: despite constituting almost
Epilogue Ø 23 × August 2009
L ADAKH Politics & Identity
the only solution to redress these grievances? Of late there have been divisions among the Buddhist leaders regarding the question of the UT movement. Moreover, the LBA's obsession of justifying the movement in the name of religion makes the UT claim more problematic. The LBA has always been fixated with giving the movement a fanatic tinge. One can observe this tendency right from 1949 (when LBA submitted its first memorandum to the GoI), till the most recent memorandum in 2000. Ever since the NDA's “state sponsored Sindhu Darshan”, there have been reports of “dangerous liaisons” of the LBA with the Hindutva forces in Indian politics that could saffronise the region and transform its stability forever. The LBA has, now, started “openly and actively” associating “itself with the VHP, RSS, and Panun Kashmir, not merely accepting their expressions of support, but actually joining a common platform with them for trifurcation—or quadrifurcation, really, if one includes the demand for Panun Kashmir”. One thing that the LBA has kept repeatedly propagating, directly or indirectly, is that the Ladakhi Muslims are not sincere to the region, and, hence, to the nation. That is why it generally constructs a very exclusivist notion of Ladakhi identity restricting it to the religious domain. Not surprisingly then for the LBA, “Ladakhiness” and “Buddhistness” are one and the same thing. The LBA asserts that the Ladakhi Muslims does not fit into the category of “Ladakhis” because they are “connected by the ties of religion with the majority population [Muslims] of Jammu and Kashmir.” In fact, as van Beek argues, the LBA knew the importance of communal claims in the Indian democracy because of the wrong legacy of communal politics in India, perhaps one of the most persisting legacies of the colonial era. By 1969, the LBA leaders realized
that presenting letters and memoranda were not enough to get attention from New Delhi and Srinagar. It launched a massive agitation with the slogan of “Buddhists in Danger”. The agitation was launched in reaction to a small private incident over a family property between a Buddhist brother and a Muslim sister. The LBA exploited the situation and went on to the extent of accusing the minority Muslims in Leh of causing damage to the Buddhists, their properties, and monasteries. Having seen the prospects of success in getting the state's attention through communal agitations, LBA launched another agitation in 1989, in which it forced the local Buddhists to socially boycott the local Muslim population, which remained in force for about three years. Initially, van Beek informs, the agitation was supposed to be launched as a unified struggle of all Ladakhis (including Muslims) to redress their common grievances: for example, “little/non-representation of the Ladakh in the State Assembly”; “sabotage of ST issue”; “dismantling of Ladakh related institutions” (like the Ladakh Affairs Ministry etc.) in the state Government, etc. However, it was transformed into a sectarian Buddhist movement culminating in the social boycott of the local Muslims. Given the LBA's claim that the agitation was a step forward in acquiring UT for Ladakh, one could not understand what the need to boycott the Muslims was. Contrary to LBA's claims, the Muslims alleged that the agitation targeted the Muslims and their property. In February 2006 again, breaking a calm of over 15 years, the Muslims and Buddhists of Ladakh region once again came to brink of odium with each other as communal tension once again broke out between the two communities over an alleged desecration of the Holy Quran at a mosque in Kargil. The LBA and its counterparts in Kargil, Islamia
Epilogue Ø 24 × August 2009
School, almost repeated the 1989 episode. However, the LBA has always been paid off for communal agitations. The central government, while persuading LBA to give up communal demands/claims, conferred the Scheduled Tribe (ST) status in 1989 and the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) in 1995 as a compromise for the UT demand. Nevertheless the LAHDC proved to be damp squib because the then Farooq government in the state did not allow any quantum of autonomy to be exercised by this democratically elected body reducing it an inward appearance of mortgage autonomy. In 2000, the LBA again presented a memorandum to the members of Parliament justifying the renewal of its UT demand. By 2002, a new political conglomerate in the name of Ladakh Union Territory Front (LUTF) had already made its appearance on Ladakh's political scene by what they called 'dissolving all party and political differences' to put forth a unified fight, as they told, for UT. This initiative was hailed as a very good step forward not only in Ladakh but outside Ladakh as well. The LUTF significantly had the support of both the Buddhist and the Muslim leadership in Leh, and people had put great faith in this unfaithful organization (as it turned out to be later on). The fallacies and the shortcomings of the LUTF were exposed very soon when some of its key leaders decided to leave it to revive the Congress. Ever since, Ladakh has witnessed a kind of bipartisan politics between the LUTF and Congress. In December 2002, the coalition government led by Mufti Mohammad Syed, within less than two months of its formation, devolved power to this body to enable it work in its true spirit as apart of its 'Healing Touch Policy'.
L ADAKH Politics & Identity
Beyond Union Territory Politics
ut regrettably the Ladakhi leaders have so far failed to think beyond the UT politics. They still persist with the same old mantra of politics to mobilize people for voting them. Even more unfortunate is the fact that the leaders of the two districts (Leh and Kargil) remain confined in their respective cocoons and have never concerned to fashion a common platform to articulate their political demands in one voice. It is here that the question of emptiness and worthlessness of the UT movement comes to the forefront. The first precondition for the realization of UT for the LBA, or any other organization, is necessarily going to be the winning of the confidence of the Muslim leadership of Kargil. Without their support, the UT demand is going to be a completely futile exercise as the Government of India is unlikely to heed attention to a demand raised by one section of Ladakhi population and opposed by the other half. Therefore, if the LBA (or any other organization) is sincerely serious about t h e U n i o n Te r r i t o r y, t h e f i r s t precondition is to take the local Muslims into confidence. But with all its anti-Muslim rhetoric, the realization of UT seems to be a wild dream for the LBA (or other parties with Buddhist base) because it has been completely reluctant to take the primary step of taking the local Muslims in confidence. This means two things: (1) either the LBA (or other parties supporting UT and the LBA) is/are not serious about the UT demand— meaning that they only use it as a trump card for vote bank politics, or (2) they do not have the capacity to spearhead the UT movement. Regrettably, the leaders of Kargil, on the other hand, remain happy to be in their own insulated space (sometimes also indulging in anti-Buddhist jingoisms)
rather than trying to redefine the political discourse in Ladakh by giving it a more secular dose with long term visions. Pr a c t i c a l l y, t h e n , t h e U T movement remains only a vote bank apparatus. All the political parties having their respective bases in Leh procure votes in the name or with the pledge of acquiring UT for Ladakh; and the leaders in Kargil purchase votes by opposing the same. Hence, every parliamentary election in Ladakh gets
But with all its antiMuslim rhetoric, the realization of UT seems to be a wild dream for the LBA (or other parties with Buddhist base) because it has been completely reluctant to take the primary step of taking the local Muslims in confidence. reduced to a UT and religion affair — nothing more than a Leh-Buddhist versus Kargil-Muslim, or supporters and non-supporters of UT. Whichever party the people vote for, they vote with the same hope that they might get what they voted for sooner or later, but without exactly knowing (or without being led to know by the leaders) as to what UT is, how it can be realized, and what are the hurdles and complexities in its way. What they know (or are being led to know) is that with the homecoming of UT, all kind of problems Ladakh faces today would be completely done away with in one stroke. Nonetheless, apart from the rhetoric during or around elections,
Epilogue Ø 25 × August 2009
every political party or organization provides only lip service to the UT movement. Once the elections are over, UT is hurriedly pushed back on the backburner. The leaders feel very comfortable with the empty promise of UT after all it helps them to shirk and wriggle out of the real problems being faced by the common masses in terms of education, employment, road, electricity so on and so forth. As the UT issue looms too large in the collective conscience of the people of Leh, they tend to forget (or are led to forget) the basic issues that effect their daily life directly or indirectly. When all's said and done, one should not forget to ask whether 'UTLadakh' is a realizable goal or a wishful thinking. Given the present state of J&K, it is very difficult for GoI to consider the UT option for Ladakh. Firstly, UT falls in the trifurcation scheme, and any government at the centre will conceive the division/trifurcation of J & K as a bad ploy as it (J&K) is being, generally, hailed as no less than a symbol of Indian secularism. Secondly, UT for Ladakh, even without trifurcating the state, will sharpen the demand for Jammu state, again leading to trifurcation. But, even if the trifurcation is done with good intentions, it may still be conceived as a weak strategy—a division on religious lines, thereby indicating that different communities can't coexist in secular India. Thirdly, and most importantly, India needs Jammu and Ladakh to recite the nationalistic hymn so as to help India render the separatist movement in the Valley ineffective. In that way India can prove a point to the international community that the separatist movement going on in Jammu and Kashmir is only a sectarian one— opposed by the Jammuites and Ladakhis who run their respective parallel movements for fuller integration with India.
L ADAKH Politics & Identity
Politics of Ladakhi Identity and the Alienation of Muslims
as “outsiders” or t a broader “ n o n - l o y a l level, the Rigzin Jora, MLA Leh and L a d a k h i s ” , justification Minister for Tourism and alienates the put forth for the UT Ladakhi Muslims. Culture, J&K Government, demand has been The LBA generally the distinctiveness told in an interview that provokes the of Ladakhi identity “Ladakh region is a unique m a s s e s b y and giving it a constructing cultural, geographical and political expreimaginary fears of ssion. Mr. Rigzin ethnic identity. The problem demographic Jora, MLA Leh and there is that the uniqueness of i m b a l a n c e , Minister for Tourism conversions, a this identity has not got its full and Culture, J&K future MuslimGovernment, told expression in the political dominated Ladakh in an interview that terms.” and so on. All these “Ladakh region is a go just in line with unique cultural, the Hindutva myth geographical and follow the LBA bandwagon to collect in the Indian politics. Such kinds of missethnic identity. The problem there is cheap votes by evoking emotional projections of Ladakh have only that the uniqueness of this identity has issues. All the Buddhist leaders in alienated the Muslim Ladakhis as not got its full expression in the political Ladakh today are either still members of Ladakhi identity is much more than the terms.” However, the leaders of Ladakh the LBA, or had been its key members at distorted religious identity presented by have so far failed to come to a consensus one point of time or other. LBA and its followers. of what are the essential ingredients of The LBA's construction of an At times the LBA even tried to Ladakhi identity. This may mainly be exclusivist Buddhist identity as the real associate the Ladakhi Muslims with the because of the exclusivist and Ladakhi identity, and its deliberate separatist movement going on in the communal politics of the LBA. It is attempts to exclude the Muslims, Valley. However, it is important to important to mention here that why LBA especially the Sunnis of Leh, from the mention here that there has not been a matters too much in the politics of category of Ladakhis by branding them single stray incident of Ladakh despite secessionism or antihaving popular The LBA's construction of an exclusivist Buddhist identity as national movement in political parties in Ladakh till this date. the region since the real Ladakhi identity, and its deliberate attempts to exclude Despite the fact that very long time. the Muslims, especially the Sunnis of Leh, from the category of half of its population There has been a Ladakhis by branding them as “outsiders” or “non-loyal constitutes Muslims, huge overlapping in there has not been the membership of Ladakhis”, alienates the Ladakhi Muslims. The LBA generally a single Ladakhi the communal provokes the masses by constructing imaginary fears of Muslim so far been organizations and demographic imbalance, conversions, a future Muslimalleged for any kind political parties in of links with the Ladakh. More often dominated Ladakh and so on. All these go just in line with the secessionist than not, the Hindutva myth in the Indian politics. movement in the Buddhist leaders Valley. Rather they find it easy to
Epilogue Ø 26 × August 2009
L ADAKH Politics & Identity
have always condemned the use of violence as a means of political bargaining by the militant groups in the Valley. In fact, a more realistic and inclusive conception of Ladakhi identity has been propagated by the Muslims of Leh and Kargil Districts in the aftermath of 1989-Buddhist agitation: “When one talks of Ladakh, one is talking about [2, 00000] people of mixed Indo-Aryan (Dard, Kashmiri and Indian Origin) and the Mongoloid descent living along the course of the high Indus and its tributaries; of a people who profess Islam and Buddhism in equal numerical strength, and yet speak the same language in different phonetic forms, share the same cultural roots and life style despite the difference in faith”. They accuse that the LBA has created a perception, “that the Muslims of Ladakh”—Sunnis of Leh in particular—are “outsiders” and “recent settlers”. To bear out their Ladakhi identity, the Muslims trace their Ladakhi
pedigree and claim that they were brought into Ladakh by its King Jamyang Namgyal in the sixteenth Century as Mkhartsong-pa (palace traders). For the legitimacy of their claims, they point out that the accounts of Ladakhi history (including the indigenous 'Ladakh Chronicles') approved their existence as Ladakhis. They also argue that Ladakhis as a whole faced discrimination under the Kashmiri elites, not only the Buddhists. It is, then, not surprising then that the Muslims of Ladakh, particularly those of Kargil, always oppose the UT movement. Therefore, whenever the Buddhist leadership raises the UT demand, the Muslim leadership of Kargil losses no opportunity in rejecting and criticizing the same. This, however, does not mean that all is well in Kargil. Even in Kargil, the social and political discourses have been, more or less, overtly controlled by some fanatic Mullahs and Sheikhs. Apart from the antipathy towards the LBA, the
opposition to the UT movement, the leaders of Kargil seemingly lack any political wisdom. They apparently oppose it for the sake of opposing the LBA and the Buddhist leaders. The political short-sightedness of the Kargili leaders was very well reflected when they rejected the mechanism of local Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Act in 1995, modelled on the Darjeeling Gorkha Autonomous Hill Council, only because it was materialized at the effort of the Buddhist leaders of Leh as a concession to the UT demanded. They blindly rejected this political mechanism— now days being hailed from many quarters as a good model for developing the peripheral regions— because of their obsession for opposing the Leh-based leadership without any kind of substantive long-term vision. Only when they saw that the LAHDC mechanism was working well for the betterment of the people in Leh district did they accept the same in 2002 for Kargil.
Language of Politics and Politics of Language
t is, then, quite apparent that, despite the pay offs of communal politics, the language and grammar of the political discourse in the transHimalayan region have been detrimental, among other things, in alienating the Ladakhi Muslims, and hence kept them detached from the UT movement. So, unless and until the LBA and other stakeholders of UT in Ladakh secularize the language of their politics with more rational ingredients, the dream of UT is likely to remain nothing less than a day dream. On another front, the language of politics has also been harmful in shaping the politics of Language in Ladakh.
Ladakhi language is one of the essential components of Ladakhi identity — because anybody from anywhere in Ladakh can interact with everybody from every part of Ladakh easily (without an interpreter). For the past many years, this secular component of Ladakhi identity has also been politicised by the vested interests. Spoken Ladakhi or Phaskat is a Western Tibetan dialect, which is completely different from Classical Tibetan or Choskat in terms of grammar, style, phonetics and vocabulary. But it can be written very conveniently in the Tibetan script with minor changes in the grammar.
Epilogue Ø 27 × August 2009
However, the LBA and some fanatic leaders/scholars are not even ready to accept Ladakhi language as Ladakhi because of their mythical beliefs. These uncompromising scholars from Ladakh propagate that the writing of spoken Ladakhi language, should not be tolerated all. A very popular newsmagazine from Ladakh, Ladags Melong (Mirror of Ladakh), was unnecessarily attacked by them for popularizing the Ladakhi colloquial. Their accusation was that this will dilute the purity of Classical Tibetan, thereby leading to the dilution of the Buddhist religious texts and teachings (which are, more or less, written entirely in Classical Tibetan)
L ADAKH Politics & Identity
through their possible translation into Consequently, the scholars who call the respect it deserves by discarding it Ladakhi language. They even go to the themselves the protectors and the in favour of the Classical Tibetan, a extent of saying that Buddhism is so preservers of Buddhism are, probably, completely alien language for the intimately connected to the Classical afraid of interpreting Buddhism in common Ladakhis. The LBA and Buddhist Tibetan language and script that any spoken Ladakhi as they fear that they leaders have since long been pushing kind of its interpretation in Ladakhi might loss their elevated standing hard to make Ladakhi language be colloquial will lead to its dilution. In among the common people as the counted as one of the national short, Buddhism and languages by getting it C l a s s i c a l Ti b e t a n , incorporated in the The language of politics has also been harmful in shaping according to them, can Eighth Schedule of the the politics of Language in Ladakh.Spoken Ladakhi or not be separated, and Indian Constitution. whosoever tries to do The Muslims of Phaskat is a Western Tibetan dialect, which is completely this is bound to face Ladakh bear a grudge different from Classical Tibetan or Choskat in terms of serious repercussions. that if the Buddhist grammar, style, phonetics and vocabulary. But it can be However, the fact is leaders want Ladakhi that a common Ladakhi language to be written very conveniently in the Tibetan script with minor can not understand recognized as a national changes in the grammar. However, the LBA and some Classical Tibetan. Even language, it should not fanatic leaders/scholars are not even ready to accept the Tibetans themselves be known as the “Bodhi” have become very much (which is generally Ladakhi language as Ladakhi because of their mythical liberal in deviating from associated with beliefs. These uncompromising scholars from Ladakh Classical Tibetan in Classical Tibetan) as propagate that the writing of spoken Ladakhi language, writing school text books persisted by some and news papers in Buddhist leaders. The should not be tolerated all. simple and spoken Muslims endure that the languages. It is quite language should be interpreters of religious texts and understandable that for the common called “Ladakhi” to make it more teachings. They also panic that Ladakhis, Classical Tibetan is an representative of the region. This is popularization of conversational esoteric language. Only few people or apparently logical, because spoken Ladakhi would cut Ladakh off from the scholars with special knowledge can Ladakhi has no affinity — in forms of more popular and wider Tibetan literary understand it. These few scholars enjoy grammar, style, phonetics and world. Consequently, they refuse to go great privilege as interpreters of the vocabulary — with classical Tibetan. along with Ladakhi language. religious texts, all of which are written Hence, it is needless to say that for the The irony in Ladakh, however, is in Classical Tibetan. Therefore, the Ladakhi leaders it becomes imperative that, on the one hand, its leaders and popularization of spoken Ladakhi and that the logic of 'a language of secular scholars press Ladakhi language to be the translation of Buddhist teachings politics' in Ladakh should also be included in the Eighth Schedule of the into it are likely to substantially reduce inclusive of 'a politics of a secular Indian Constitution, while, on the other their significance in Ladakhi society. language' in the region. hand, they do not give Ladakhi language
here is an ominous need to understand the political dynamics of the region in a more methodical mode rather than insulating Ladakh from the mainstream discourse. Nor should it be confined to the narrow frame of UT politics. While
understanding the fact that the modern Ladakhi politics had originated with the popular political sentiment against the Kashmiri-dominated government in the state, a serious effort is also required to understand the internal political dynamics— principally in terms of the
Epilogue Ø 28 × August 2009
inter-community relations between the Muslims and the Buddhists, which, of late, has shown the tendency of becoming very volatile. In 1989 and again in 2006, the clashes between the two communities almost brought the long basis of communal harmony in the
L ADAKH Politics & Identity
region on the verge of extinction. As of now, the intercommunity relations in the region are far from satisfactory. This might be exploited by the rightist forces from outside Ladakh for breeding fundamentalism in the relatively peaceful region. Already there are reports of links between the LBA and the saffron forces outside the region. The rightist forces from Kargil have also shown similar tendencies of linking up their fate with the sentiments of Islamic fundamentalists rampant in the not so far distant neighborhood. At this instant, a hostile competition between the saffron forces and the Islamic fundamentalists in this strategically sensitive region is the last thing that Ladakh and India can afford to have. And so, there is an urgent need to understand the undercurrents of the internal political dynamics and to secularise the political discourse, before Ladakh “become[s] yet another political battlefield where religion will divide people, create dissonance, change cultures, rewrite history, falsify our past.” There is a burning need to make both the Muslim and Buddhist leaders have a handle on the futility of their present mutual antagonism based on the politicised form of their respective religions. Both will have to be made to realise the inescapable necessity of secularising the political discourse to acknowledge each other as equal stakeholders in any kind of future political mechanism to settle Ladakh's political destiny.
ENDNOTES 1. Zafar Choudhary 'Tribute to the Land of Moon', Epilogue, Jammu, Vol. 1(11), November 2007, p. 2. 2. The phrases are taken from Ravina Aggarwal, Beyond Lines of Control: Performance of Politics on the Disputed Borders of Ladakh, India, Duke University Press, Durham and London, 2004, p. 14 and 110. 3. Ravina Aggarwal, Beyond Lines of Control, op. cit., p.116. 4. Ibid., p. 105. 5. In a seminar on 'Issues and Challenges before Ladakh in the 21st Century’ organized jointly by the University of Jammu and Ladakh Joint Students' Federation, Jammu, at the University of Jammu on January 9, 2008, a university Professor, with seemingly utmost concern, asked one of the university Professors: “What would happen to Ladakh if democracy is restored in China?” This, actually, sums up the racial stereo-typed perception of Ladakhis in India even by the highly educated citizens. 6. Ravina Aggarwal, Beyond Lines of Control, op. cit., pp. 11-12. 7. Ibid, pp. 13-17. 8. For an elaborate analysis see Ravina Aggarwal, 'From Utopia to Heteropia: Towards an Anthropology of Ladakh' in Hennery Osmaston and Nawang Tsering (eds), Recent Research on Ladakh 6, Motilal Banarsi, Delhi, 1997, pp. 21-28. 9. For an excellent account on this, see Martijn van Beek, 'Identity Fetishism and the Art of Representation: The Long Struggle for Regional Autonomy in Ladakh', PhD dissertation, Cornel University, Denmark, 1996. 10. For detail analysis, see Sonam Joldan 'Traditional ties between Ladakh and Buddhist Tibet', op. cit., pp 69-88; and Sonam Joldan, 'Relationship between Ladakh and Buddhist Tibet', op. cit., pp. 43-76. 11. Martijn van Beek, 'Dangerous Liaisons: Hindu Nationalism and Buddhist Radicalism', in Satu P. Limaye, Mohan Malik and Robert G. Wirsing (eds), Religious Radicalism and Security in South Asia, Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, Honolulu, Hawaii, 2004, pp. 193-218; also available at http://www.apcss.org/Publications/Edited%20Vo lumes//ReligiousRadicalismandSecurityinSouthAsia.pdf. 12. This was conveyed in a memo by the LBA in 1949. For details, see Balraj Madhok, Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh: Problems and Solution, Reliance Publishing House, New Delhi, 1987, pp. 68-71; and Ladakh Buddhist Association, Why Union Territory for Ladakh,
Epilogue Ø 29 × August 2009
op. cit., pp. 4-5. 13. For detail, see Balraj Madhok, Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, op. cit., pp. 68-71; and Ladakh Buddhist Association, Why Union Territory for Ladakh, op. cit., p.2. 14. The phrase is of Zafar Choudhary. For details, see Zafar Choudhary 'Tribute to the Land of Moon' op. cit., p. 2. 15. Sonam Chosjor, 'Winter woes in Ladakh', The Kashmir Times, Jammu, March 1, 2008. 16. The phrase is taken from P. Stobdan, 'Ladakh-Baltistan and the dialogue process— I & II', The Kashmir Times, December 21 & 22, 2006. 17. This Phrase is of Martijn van Beek. For detail, see Martijn van Beek, 'Dangerous Liaisons', op. cit., p. 213; and also see P. Stobdan, 'Ladakh-Baltistan and the dialogue process' op. cit., 18. See Martijn van Beek, op. cit.; and also see P. Stobdan, op. cit. 19. Sonam Chosjor, 'Ladakhi Politics: Myths versus Facts and Rhetoric versus Reality I & II', The Kashmir Times, Jammu, January 4 & 11, 2007. 20. For more detail, see LBA's memorandum to Nehru in 1949, reproduced in Balraj Madhok, Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, op. cit., pp. 183-4. 21. These leaders accused that the LUTF is being dominated by few vested interest leaders having royal and spiritual background. 22. Daily Excelsior, Jammu, December 29, 2002. 23. Told in an interview to Epilogue, Jammu, Vol. 1 (11), November 2007, pp. 16-17. 24. Muslims of Leh and Kargil Districts, History Repeated in Ladakh: The Muslim Viewpoint of the Ladakhi Agitation of 1989, Leh, 1989, p. 15. 25. Yoginder Sikand, 'Inter-Community Relations in Leh, Ladakh', available at http://www.countercurrents.org/commsikand130206.htm>. 26. The entire episode of this attack on the magazine, and the nature and contour of the politics of Ladakhi language are covered up in Ladags Melong (Mirror of Ladakh), SpringSummer Vol. 2(1-2), 2003. 27. John Bray, 'Ladakhi History and Indian Nationalism', South Asian Research, Vol. II (2), 1991, pp 115-133. 28. Pritish Nandy, 'Ladakh Is Too Innocent for Bloodshed,' Rediff on the Net, 9 November 2000, quoted in Martijn van Beek, 'Dangerous Liaisons' op. cit., p. 193.
Media LADAKH ASKS:
Where Is All The News
That's Fit To Print? Ladakh has its unique importance not only in India but also on the world map. This northern most corner of South Asia is surrounded by the countries of Central Asia has unique geography, topography and culture. Ironically, at a time when world has already shrunk as a global village, Ladakh is still a land in a perpetual incommunicado mode –there is no dedicated press to tell the Ladakh stories to world and bring the world stories to Ladakh. RINCHEN DOLMA looks at the society in isolation
rint media as a mass communicator possess the ability and capacity to build a nation, by educating, disciplining, motivating, exhorting and rewarding people, by promoting tolerance, brotherhood and unity. The press can help the nation to progress, and to usher in prosperity and happiness for all by focusing the attention of the people and of authorities on areas and the people which are in need of development and betterment. It is because of these reasons that over the years press acquired the status of 'Fourth Estate' in a democratic system. During the course of my Journalism degree, I studied about the history of press, learned what significant role it can play in the overall development of an individual, of a society and in turn of a nation. The entire knowledge was enlighting and inspiring. Our history narrates that press was born as an educator, and informer, as a purveyor of news and a modular of views. Press as a regular and constant spokesman of the people and an unignorable intervener on their behalf can bring out the voice of the unrepresented sections of the society, their problems, grievances, hopes and aspirations and ensure their participation in the governance.
Epilogue Ø 30 × August 2009
L ADAKH Media
Thinking on the same line I came to Ladakh but I was taken aback seeing the unfortunate fate of print media here. In the history of Ladakh many a times press in some form or other took birth but got killed at its infancy. It was never nurtured to attain maturity; as a result it could never build its credibility and accountability among the people of Ladakh. So, to have an insight of the reasons behind it, I ventured in with this study as a stepping stone and open a new avenue for putting forth a better perspective and understanding of print media in the
Relations Agency, lacking objectivity and accountability. There's an urgent need to make people aware of their right to be informed and right to express their opinion, and for that existence of an effective and accountable medium is imperative- a sustainable print media. Role of media is just not limited to inform, educate and entertain people but also motivate and inspire them in participating in development oriented efforts. It can mobilize public in support of social issues like family planning, women empowerment, girl child education,
Ladakh has a bureaucratic system where reprisal measures are taken to silence the critical voices and mediums like radio and television are more like a Government's Public Relations Agency, lacking objectivity and accountability. There's an urgent need to make people aware of their right to be informed and right to express their opinion, and for that existence of an effective and accountable medium is imperative- a sustainable print media.
minds of Ladakhi people. The following pages trace the past, discuss the present and cast the future of Press in Ladakh. Regions like Ladakh having a close nit society bonded together by social obligations and where word of mouth is the most dependent medium of communication it is very challenging to do a fair and free reporting. Ladakh has a bureaucratic system where reprisal measures are taken to silence the critical voices and mediums like radio and television are more like a Government's Public
primary health care, self employment and eradication of social evils and blind faith. And press plays an effective function as a catalyst of change by proposing developmental measures, schemes and projects of welfare of the people, by identifying the neglected areas and the needy sections of the society. It's high time that the people of Ladakh realize the role played by press in the development of a society and enjoy individual liberty, the most essential ingredients of human happiness and progress.
Epilogue Ă˜ 31 Ă— August 2009
A post graduate in Journalism and Mass Communications from Punjab University, Rinchen Dolma (Nairpa) started her career as a journalist in 2008 as Editor of Reach Ladakhpioneering web news portal from Leh. Earlier this year, she had an opportunity to attend a workshop organized by PANOS in Katmandu, Nepal for young journalists from both sides of the Jammu and Kashmir. A vivid photographer, she is also a Radio presenter. She undertook the present study on media in Ladakh with support from Charkha Communications and Development Network â€“a New Delhi based nongovernment organization, under its Sanjoy Ghose Ladakh Women Writers' Award.
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Rich History and Uncomfortable Lacun AE
to as early as 14th century, when for the first time scriptures in Tibet and Ladakh came in print. Scriptures are out of the shelves rarely such as during Chosil, an eventful occasion organised at least once in a year when monks and laymen flip through the texts reading aloud to gain merit - a customary practice followed even today in Ladakh.
hick volumes of Buddhist treatises printed on loose rectangular pages wrapped in muslins with nicely carved wooden covers held together by straps provided for a ready and only source of reading available in olden days of Ladakh. Hundreds and thousands of these block printed centuries-old treatises on Buddhism, carefully shelved in monasteries and houses, also tell that people in Ladakh knew about printing for ages. Historians believe that prevalence of block printing dates back
Epilogue Ø 32 × August 2009
But other than sacred books or sometimes chronological description about origin of a monastery (Chagrabs) it is hard to trace any other form of publication that existed in the past. “The history book Kunsel Melong I was able to write was because of democracy,” says Tashi Rabgais, a renowned scholar and historian of Ladakh, while he was explaining the availability of such chance during the pre-independence era of monarchy. Older generations still pick up a scripture when it comes to reading, a habit that perhaps stems from the limited or apparently restricted publication in the past. “I look for my daily prayer book when I feel like reading something,” says 65-years-old Tsering Dolker.
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Post independent era in Ladakh saw many educated locals coming forward to write books, poetry or even novels beyond religious themes on a wide range of subjects. Most of them received institutional support in their efforts. J&K Academy of Culture, Art and Languages and Central Institute of Buddhist Studies (CIBS), having special funds for literary works, published many books and journals over the last over 50 years. Department of Information and All India Radio too gave opportunities to many aspiring writers and poets. Eminent writer Tashi Rabgias, who wrote History of Ladakh (Kunsel Melong) in local language among his many literary works, has served in Information department as the editor of Yargyas Kongphel newsmagazine. Similarly, Doongs Choong Choong, first fiction written in Ladakhi language was by an All India Radio Leh news reader Tsewang Toldan. Hence, the past decades have seen considerable broadening in the scope and horizon of writing and publishing, however, within a certain paradigm away from controversies and issues affecting people. Institutions and organisations in Leh bring out hordes of journals and reports to be made available for masses - a trend that set in during the recent decades. Annual journal called Sheraza or Shesrab Dzom by J&K Cultural Academy, Leh, Voice of Himalaya by Ladakh Cultural Forum , Nangpa by Ladakh Buddhist Association, Ladags Ngada by Ladakh Gonpa Association, Ladakh Journal by Central Institute of Buddhist Studies (CIBS) Leh and more recently Senghe Khababs by Ladakh Culture Centre are among the prominent series of journals apart from books and other publications these institutes or organisations regularly bring out. Books and Journals brought out by Central Institute of Buddhist Studies (CIBS), Choglamsar, Leh are mainly devoted to Buddhist philosophy, history and art. One of their publications Ladakh Journal launched
in 2002, “the academic mouthpiece of the CIBS” as the editor Sanghasen Singh has termed it in its preface, is devoted mainly to researches on Buddhist studies. “The first issue in 2002 has incorporated ten articles in all - two in English, five in Hindi and three in Tibetan, the articles cover different aspects of Buddhist Studies in general and Tibetology in particular,” says the editor. Similarly, the State Govt.'s J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Languages have so far published over 200 editions of Sheeraza magazine. Most of the articles contributed by different authors are on history, monasteries or simply descriptions about the greatness of a past figure in literature, art or religion.
Fighting Against Odds Ladakh’s Tryst with Journalism
Similarly, in monthly journal Voice of Himalaya by Ladakh Cultural Forum, having articles mostly on glory of rich traditions passed down from ancestors, authors tend to compete in taking to greater heights what may be termed as cultural fetishism. Story is no different with Ladakh Culture Centre's Singhe Khababs magazine started recently with an aim to promote Bhoti, a name coined for local language.
adakh claims to be one of the first in the J&K State to own regular newspaper. It was far back in early 1920s, a Brirish Christian missionary Rev. Wa l t e r A s b o e s t a r t e d a newspaper in local language with musthead called “Ladags Phonya”. Since then a series of publication in other languages too in the form of news letters, brouchers, pamphlets, books and magazines appeared and disappeared. However, it has always been a challenge to sustain a publication for long in a geographically harsh region like Ladakh. Sustenance of a publication not only heavily depended on the skills, materials, accessibility but also dealing with the risk factors which are high in a community of close knit small population which is essentially a tribal society.
Despite a rich repository of religious texts and then reasonable works in modern publications Ladakh always holding back from breaking the ice to come up with bold presentations and write ups raising issues with independent opinions is an uncomfortable lacuna in its literary world.
Despite all odds many innovators took the courage and risk to talk about social, development, religious and political issues using various means of print media. Nevertheless, they had to bear
Such conservative approach to writing prevail in varied publications at independent organisational level also, which could be a possible factor behind preventing such published items gaining much popularity as many cease after the initial zeal and motivation, often after the first issue. Recently published issue of Ladags Ngada of Ladakh Gonpa Society highlights achievements of the incumbent executive bodies at different times sans any objective criticism or analytical approach in writing.
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the brunt, sometimes to extend of discontinuing their endeavour and threat to their lives. There was no concrete effort in journalism after the first initiative taken by Christian missionary Rev. Walter Asboe with the launch of Ladags Phonya in 1913, which was the only newspaper, handwritten, ever exist in Ladakh for 40 years. A two page legal size paper in black and white print Ladags Phonya was a monthly news publication brought out using a simple cyclostyled printing machine. It covered other than the world news, national and local news. A good portion
There was no concrete effort in journalism after the first initiative taken by Christian missionary Rev. Walter Asboe with the launch of Ladags Phonya in 1913, which was the only newspaper, handwritten, ever exist in Ladakh for 40 years. A two page legal size paper in black and white print Ladags Phonya was a monthly news publication brought out using a simple cyclostyled printing machine. It covered other than the world news, national and local news. of the publication was devoted to missionary talks, for the editor and publisher Rev. Walter Asboe was a
Epilogue Ø 34 × August 2009
zealous missionary. The missionary write ups were under the headline “Shanskul” meaning “to mobilize” and
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under this he would talk of the verses of Jesus and his life. But at the same time, Phonya had bold and objective coverage of local news events. For instance, news about conflict between the Spituk monastery and villagers lead to the social boycott of six families pronounced by monks who warned against any kind of support to these families including credits. It seemed that this publication after independence was taken over and continued by District Information Department, Leh. Even today Phonya is brought out in a magazine form however, it has somehow ceased to be containing objective reporting instead it has become more of a government propaganda tool highlighting the administrative achievements and official tours. Parallel to Phonya and in the same line a few more publications mainly in form of newsletters were the source of information for a very limited readership among the local population. One such publication was “Voice of Himalaya” brought out by Ladakh Cultural Academy which was second to Phonya in the early series of news publications. In between with short life span there were some controversial and sudden publications mainly to highlight the political rivalry at the time of the most popular leader of Ladakh late Kushok Bakula Rinpoche. He was then leading the Congress party which split into two groups with rebels forming their own party and called it Congress B. Similarly, whenever a major controversy aroused anonymous letters and posters were flashed in the town which can be called desperate social expression in absence of a proper newspaper. Such under cover attempts to reveal information and to make issues public are indicatives of crave for information yet there prevailed a fear
psychosis for anybody to start a newspaper in a society like Ladakh. Ladakh continue to remain bereft of an independent media until in 1993, a social activist Sonam Wangchuk made a deliberate effort to launch for the first time a magazine that talked boldly on jumping loopholes in the prevailing system whether it is government or the society. He was the frontrunner in taking up the cause of overhauling the
whenever a major controversy aroused anonymous letters and posters were flashed in the town which can be called desperate social expression in absence of a proper newspaper. Such under cover attempts to reveal information and to make issues public are indicatives of crave for information yet there prevailed a fear psychosis for anybody to start a newspaper in a society like Ladakh. govt system especially education through his organization SECMOL ( Student Education Cultural Movement of Ladakh) and he used his magazine printed in English and colloquial Ladakhi language called “Ladags Melong” meaning “Mirror of Ladakh” as an effective medium to reflect the burning issues. In September 2004 Ladags Melong edition, celebrating the completion of 10 years of its publication he had said, “in 1993 when Ladags
Epilogue Ø 35 × August 2009
Melong started everything was against us, except our determination to sow the seed of an independent print media in Ladakh. Elders we asked about the viability of such magazine in Ladakh would say “who will read a magazine here?” True, there were a very few readers and even fewer writers, facilities or infrastructure were almost non existent but we held on.” For its reportage and controversial issues it raised, Melong, during its over 10 years of appearances, came under bitter criticisms and even physical attacks at times. Of all, the language issue drew more attention and generated anger and animosity, especially, among the local scholars who believed that using colloquial Ladakhi in Melong magazine and drifting from classical language posed a grave danger of losing the rich Bhoti language based on the grammar of Thonmi Sambhota- a Tibetan scholar of 7th century.The anger grew with Ladags Melong's editors led by Sonam Wangchuk remaining steadfast on their belief that spoken language is more communicable to readership. With some breaks in between Ladags Melong continued for one more year before it stopped further publications. The circulation of the magazine had touched 5000 copies. Currently, the magazine is under suspension and Sonam Wangchok had to abandon his education program mid way and left for Nepal. His unexpected move out of Ladakh, leaving his dream of improving the education standard concern for the future generation and having a sustainable print media came about after a major controversy conspired around him. With him the job of Ladags Melong came to an end, but not without leaving an impression about the importance of print media in the mind of the local people.
BABA GHULAM SHAH BADSHAH UNIVERSITY, RAJOURI ADMISSION
Following cancellation of Off-Campus Centres of various Universities operating in the State, BGSB University on the insistence of student community and parents announces admission to following ENGINEERING (Diploma) programme
3 YEAR DIPLOMA ENGINEERING
Following cancellation of Off-Campus Centres of various Universities operating in the State, BGSB University on the insistence of student community and parents announces admission to following ENGINEERING (Diploma) programme
BBA (Bachelor of Business Administration) BCA (Bachelor of Computer Applications)
Electrical & Renewable Energy Engineering
DURATION 3 YEAR
Eligibility : 10+2 from any any subject combination from any Recognised Board of Higher Secondary School Exam. with atleast 50% marks
(45% for ST/SC)
(45% for ST/SC)
Intake : 60 in each stream
Intake : 30 in each stream
ADMISSION FORMS will be available from any of the following offices on payment of Rs. 800/- by Demand Draft in favour of Registrar, BGSB University Rajouri payable at J&K Bank BGSBU Branch Dhanore, Rajouri from July 27,2009 ¦ Assistant Registrar (Admissions), BgSBU University Rajouri 01962-262616 ¦ Camp Office, Bye Pass Road, Opp, Channi Himmat, Jammu - 0191-2464402 ¦ Regional Office, Rose Lande, Indira Gandhi Road, Parry Pora Baghat Barzulla Near SSRB Srinagar - 9419011449 Note The university holds the right of not conducting admission to such course for which the response may not be adequate . In such eventuality the fee collected will be returned to the applicants.
LATERAL ENTRY TO B.TECH (3rd Semester) 1. Electronics & Communication 2. Civil Engineering 3. Information Technology Engg. 4. Computer Science Engg. ELIGIBILITY : 3 year Diploma Engineering in the relevant or allied stream with at least 60% marks ADMISSION FORMS will be available from any of the following offices on payment of Rs. 800/- by Demand Draft in favour of Registrar, BGSB University Rajouri payable at J&K Bank BGSBU Branch Dhanore, Rajouri from July 27,2009
Electronics & Communication Engineering
Eligibility : 10th from any Recognised Board of Secondary School Examination with Min. of 50% marks
ADMISSION FORMS will be available from any of the following offices on payment of Rs. 800/- by Demand Draft in favour of Registrar, BGSB University Rajouri payable at J&K Bank BGSBU Branch Dhanore, Rajouri from July 27,2009 ¦ Assistant Registrar (Admissions), BGSBU University Rajouri 01962-262616 ¦ Camp Office, Bye Pass Road, Opp, Channi Himmat, Jammu - 0191-2464402 ¦ Regional Office, Rose Lande, Indira Gandhi Road, Parry Pora Baghat Barzulla Near SSRB Srinagar - 9419011449 Note The university holds the right of not conducting admission to such course for which the response may not be adequate . In such eventuality the fee collected will be returned to the applicants.
For Details Please Contact : BABA GHULAM SHAH BADSHAH UNIVERSITY, RAJOURI Mobile : 94191 73358, 94191 71665, Tel/Fax : 01962 262616 website : www.bgsbuniversity.org
¦ Assistant Registrar (Admissions), BgSBU University Rajouri 01962-262616 ¦ Camp Office, Bye Pass Road, Opp, Channi Himmat, Jammu - 0191-2464402 ¦ Regional Office, Rose Lande, Indira Gandhi Road, Parry Pora Baghat Barzulla Near SSRB Srinagar - 9419011449
Note The university holds the right of not conducting admission to such course for which the response may not be adequate . In such eventuality the fee collected will be returned to the applicants.
Carbon Cell รถ bring established at Janipur campus in Jammu. Two brainstorming sessions held on CDM, รถ carbon mapping. Two state level workshops held under National รถ Bamboo Mission. MOU with SMVD University and BGSB รถ University for Joint Collaboration in Research
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A greatest matter of concern in a society like Ladakh is the absence of an independent media, realizing it, I decided to start a newspaper for which I sought my friends support and he was happy to obliged, that's how The Magpie, the first English newspaper appeared in Leh town in late winter month of 2005”, says Tashi Morupp. For the next over two years Magpie brought out some 100 issues giving coverage to a wide range of news and articles on development, politics, environment and other social concerning issues effecting people and sold around 1000 copies. The Magpie too met with the same fate as Melong and died before it could breakeven - a bitter truth in case of print media in Ladakh. The need of a newspaper or a magazine was felt more than ever, the hope and responsibility was now rest on some of the younger loy involved in media. A local journalist freelancing with different national newspapers and magazines Tashi Morup started a weekly newspaper in English called “The Magpie” with the financial s u p p o r t f r o m Tu n d u p D o r j e y, Proprietor, Overland Escape (a travel agency). “A greatest matter of concern in a society like Ladakh is the absence of an independent media, realizing it, I decided to start a newspaper for which I sought my friends support and he was happy to obliged, that's how The Magpie, the first English newspaper appeared in Leh town in late winter month of 2005”. For the next over two years Magpie brought out some 100 issues giving coverage to a wide range of news and articles on development, politics, environment and other social concerning issues effecting people and sold around 1000 copies. The Magpie too met with the same fate as Melong and died before it could breakeven - a bitter truth in case of
print media in Ladakh. “The main issue in sustaining the newspaper was to maintain its regular publication in view of enough advertisement and circulation to bear the cost of its printing, forget about any profit. Secondly, dealing with newspaper is little tricky, there is always some other people agitated over trivial matters shown up before you,” says Mr. Tashi Morup, Editor Magpie. The cost of the printing, arranging other logistics thus does not match with the sale and little advertisements income. Similar view is shared by another writer Chimet Namgyal who brings out a 4 page bi-monthly newspaper on A-3 size paper in black and white print called “Ladags Sargyur” in Bhoti language. It is the only existing print media by a local. “It is always a mentally occupying task for it possesses a challenge to face and when required deal with the orthodox attitude of the people belonging to the different sections of the Ladakhi community. One has to be over cautious and careful,” says Mr. Chimet. Over the period of its publication Ladags Sargyur's
Epilogue Ø 40 × August 2009
readership has expanded beyond Ladakh to as far as Arunachal Pradesh in east and Karnataka in the south besides other places such as Dehradun, Darjeeling and Banaras School mainly catering to a large number of monks and Buddhist scholars in these areas. Today, the Ladags Sargyur circulation has touched the 500 mark and it's still growing but he also complains about the non profitability, marketing and printing problems. Besides, informing and educating people his main motive is to “promote Bhoti language through this publication”- which drives him to go on despite all odds. Other than Ladags Sargyur, in the recent time a horde of newspapers dedicated to Ladakh have come up. Chief among them is Kargil Number or Rangyul which gets published in Srinagar. Its editors and publishers are all outsiders operating from a distance in Jammu and Srinagar, where they do not have to worry about the logistics in printing. Yet how accountable and credible this paper is, for its bases of operation outside Ladakh is questionable. Besides, different State and National daily newspapers are also available in Leh town but on alternate days. With time the people of Ladakh have been exposed to the world outside, life in Ladakh is inevitably changing. And since, the process of conventional development has began, the need for mutual trust in the field of information and education is strongly felt. So, in such situation need for a sustainable and independent print media is the call of time. It's high time that media professionals in Ladakh take up serious journalism and do not let the spirit initiated by the early entrepreneurs die – try again and again until you succeed!
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Is Ladakh Against Media
adakh, an island of humanity interspersed by rising aspirations of a capitalistic economy and deeply rooted mystic Buddhist tradition has awed and inspired many for centuries. Being on the receiving end of tussle between the warring tribes and magnanimous rulers, Ladakh has seen its boundary being redefined for long, which has probably led to its implosion into an idiosyncratic region. From eternity the people of this region of the country have somewhat remained secluded from the rest of the world. Most of the rural areas are inaccessible, mountainous, remote and isolated. There are certain pockets within the district which remain cut off for 6 to 7 months in a y e a r. U n t o u c h e d b y civilization for many centuries these people had developed their own brand of culture, religion and way of life. From time to time many a religion or kingdom has touched these people thereby transferring some ethnic values and systems which were retained by this people, though the original transferors have long bypassed such values and systems. Although modernity has spread its tentacles the simplicity and the ethnicity of this age old traditions has remained embedded amongst the people of the region, who have blended modernity in a fine mixture with tradition. People here still retain their long formed cultures and customs that
give them the distinct identity worldwide. Ladakh is currently in a state of transition. Traditional culture is being replaced by modern values, methods of development. Given Ladakh strategic importance, it has benefited considerably by the creation
o f a logistical infrastructure, but it has yet to receive a push to industrial development of any kind. Urbanization is just getting underweight, but the intrusion of modernity is somewhat limited. It is probably the strong rooted cultures and customs which thereby make this place rigid towards acceptance of any kind of novel intervention like newspaper. Something seemed to have transcended upon this historical landpeople are aware yet ignorant, informed yet blinded, knowledgeable yet submissive, modern yet
conservative. The sheer negligence with which the social norms are treated somehow suppresses the ability of Ladakh's society to evolve from within. In fact, the alarming level of submissiveness reflects in the lack and neglect of discourse on its social issues. And one of the major reasons that can be attributed to this cause is the mere absence of an accountable and sustainable media, especially print media from the region itself. The media landscape in Ladakh has always been ruled by Radio and Te l e v i s i o n u n d e r government control. AIR Leh when first launched in 1971 gained instant popularity with its reach in every nook and corner taking news world, national and local across geographical terrains to remote hamlet tucked in mountains. Despite the monopolistic control of this mass media by government. There is no doubt about its popularity, and it continuous to be most accessible media in Ladakh. In 1984, Doordarshan stepped into Ladakh that too brought about a revolutionary change in media, people could see now world and national news live on TV but again with no local inputs. But in 2002, with the opening of local Doordarshan Kendra (DDK) Leh the waning popularity o national channel was revived with one hour slot for local programmes engaging many local artists, film producers and media
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The media landscape in Ladakh has always been ruled by Radio and Television under government control. AIR Leh when first launched in 1971 gained instant popularity with its reach in every nook and corner taking news world, national and local across geographical terrains to remote hamlet tucked in mountains. Despite the monopolistic control of this mass media by government. There is no doubt about its popularity, and it continuous to be most accessible media in Ladakh. professionals. DDK, Leh also engaged many on contractual basis on meager salaries, however, they are clinging on to it with a hope for a berth in the government job. But the major drawback of TV is its poor accessibility because of high altitude mountain ranges that makes the transmission of the local channel restricted only to the Leh city and villages in and around it, leaving the majority of population deprived of its reach. But if we talk of print media in Ladakh, history narrates a very unfortunate tale; many a times press in some form or other took birth but got killed at its infancy. It was never nurtured to attain its maturity; as a result it could never build its credibility and accountability among the people of Ladakh. Moreover, it's the passivity in Ladakhi culture that restricts a newspaper to flourish fairly and freely in the society. Ladakh claims to be the first in J&K State to own a regular newspaper in early 1920s but the irony is that today Ladakh does not have a regular newspaper published of its own. But luckily a newspaper called 'Ladags Sargyur' brought out by Mr. Chimet Namgyal, one man editor, reporter, publisher is the only existing paper in Leh that too published bi-monthly and
by the time the newspaper is out in the market the news items become stale because they come after a month the event takes place. Despite this fact, the A 3 size two page newspaper printed in Bhoti language, Ladags Sargyur has a readership of around 500 which clearly reflects the crave in the society for an information medium like print media. Keeping the people of Ladakh bereft of an accountable media for 60 years is itself today poses a challenge, a problem to deal with and one has to approach in someway or other by adopting the surgical treatment here and there. Ladakh is a close knit society, intricately bonded to each other. Here lies the challenge of putting yourself at
stake of annoying those, who are at the helm of affairs and who are in one way or other related to you. When it comes to writing one has to bear in mind the sensitive nature of the people and deal cautiously with the sentiments of the people of different sects in the society. Moreover, doing objective writing is the biggest challenge face by local journalists in a society like Ladakh that i s c u l tu ra l l y c on s e rva ti ve a n d pessimistic, where in seconds an issue is blown out of proportion making the concern person answerable to the govt officials, political and religious leader and to the agitated ignorant public, he is left with nothing but to regret his choice of profession. Such society follows a spiral of silence where justifying oneself is inviting more troubles because pubic here blindly goes with the majority without bothering to know the other side of the story. Word of mouth is the primary medium of communication which makes the situation all the more worse. This situation can be dealt systematically with launching a serious newspaper or magazine that can bring about a transition in terms of people's outlook, inculcating practical and scientific approach to the problem they
But if we talk of print media in Ladakh, history narrates a very unfortunate tale; many a times press in some form or other took birth but got killed at its infancy. It was never nurtured to attain its maturity; as a result it could never build its credibility and accountability among the people of Ladakh. Moreover, it's the passivity in Ladakhi culture that restricts a newspaper to flourish fairly and freely in the society. Ladakh claims to be the first in J&K State to own a regular newspaper in early 1920s but the irony is that today Ladakh does not have a regular paper.
Epilogue Ă˜ 42 Ă— August 2009
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Such society follows a spiral of silence where justifying oneself is inviting more troubles because pubic here blindly goes with the majority without bothering to know the other side of the story. Word of mouth is the primary medium of communication which makes the situation all the more worse. This situation can be dealt systematically with launching a serious newspaper or magazine that can bring about a transition in terms of people's outlook, inculcating practical and scientific approach to the problem they face on day to day basis. It can motivate the public to actively participate in the developmental works and make them aware of their duties and rights. face on day to day basis. It can motivate the public to actively participate in the developmental works and make them aware of their duties and rights. Not only in Ladakh press has been playing a important role everywhere, it ensures transparency, lateral sharing with people by acting as bridge between people and developmental agencies which has always lacked in Ladakh, therefore, has resulted in the serious impediment in the overall growth in development of Ladakh. Sometimes, it can prove to be the futile ground for rumours and gossips in the absence of dissemination of proper information. “Good health needs good food, Great mind need good thought, To increase knowledge there is need to write.” Society shapes its identity by discovering itself through its literature. In fact, it's about randomizing the thought process discussing the issue in versatility and not letting the society impose itself in compartmentalized capsules. This helps evolving societies chalk out a way forward. Least of all, it allow us to assess our fundamentals, which increasingly come under varied
influences. Ladakh awaits a great social reform to gear up its social progress that is dawdling like a tortoise and print media could be the most effective medium that will provide with an open ground to read and write on social issues concerning local people in daily day to
day life. Ladakh covers an area of approximately 86,904 km sq and it is largest area, in fact, is twice as much as the remaining area of J&K State. It is one of the most sparsely populated region with a population of 2,70,126 (acc. to 2001 census) and Leh city is the largest area with 3 person per sq km. Population criteria, when we are talking about population factor, which in case of Ladakh is too small given the size of the land, literacy rate comes into play. The current literacy rate in Leh district is 65.30% (census 2001) which was 25.17% two decades back. But what's saddening here is that as compare to the population and literacy rate the percentage of readership is almost negligible and the reasons are many. Main among them is the lack of reading culture among the people of Ladakh. In Leh one gets around 6 daily national newspapers, 3 State newspapers and 5 national magazines but their readership is very less. It's the
The current literacy rate in Leh district is 65.30% (census 2001) which was 25.17% two decades back. But what's saddening here is that as compare to the population and literacy rate the percentage of readership is almost negligible and the reasons are many. Main among them is the lack of reading culture among the people of Ladakh. In Leh one gets around 6 daily national newspapers, 3 State newspapers and 5 national magazines but their readership is very less. It's the offices that subscribes to these newspapers and magazines and very few readers who cares to buy and read them. The literate population mainly constitutes students and working class. The school students have no routine of reading newspapers whereas the majority of college level students are studying outside Ladakh which comprise the major chunk of readership and that is one reason that the sell of newspapers increases in summers when these students come home for vacations.
Epilogue Ø 43 × August 2009
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offices that subscribes to these newspapers and magazines and very few readers who cares to buy and read them. The literate population mainly constitutes students and working class. The school students have no routine of reading newspapers whereas the majority of college level students are studying outside Ladakh which comprise the major chunk of readership and that is one reason that the sell of newspapers increases in summers when these students come home for vacations. Another reason is the accessibility of these newspapers. “The national and State newspapers comes via air in Indian Airlines that runs only three flights a week, thus the newspapers are available only on alternate days and sometimes almost a week when the weather remains bad,” says owner of Fairdeal Stationers. This irregularity in supply of newspapers makes the readers lose their interest in reading and sort to other options like radio and television. This again indicates towards the need for a responsible and reliable local newspaper. Now the onus is on the local government, LAHDC, Leh to bring policy inputs and chalk out measures to encourage entrepreneurial ventures, in other words, they need to play a proactive role in creating opportunities and favourable environment for enterprises such as newspaper business. And to initiate such ventures the people of Ladakh needs to come together and work for a reliable internal discourse rather than being dependent on external top-down information source. Media professionals need to step in with visionary ideas exhibiting strong will and determination that normally Ladakhis lack. It's high time that Ladakhis realize true meaning of development and broaden their vision to have a progressive future.
The Future of Media in Ladakh
here is no denying the fact that the media constraints in Ladakh are directly or indirectly linked to the sheer accessibility of the region and the resources available besides other challenges. Future has many mega-projects in-stored for Ladakh; this coupled with improving literacy rate and education standard can actually bring about the necessary changes for a media to flourish in short period from now. 45-Megawatt each Alchi hydel power project on the River Indus and Chutuk project in Kargil are near completion, and Govt. of India has also sanctioned equally potential geothermal project at Puga in Chanthang for the electricitystarved region of Ladakh which has posed as one of the factors behind any new enterprise to grow and sustain. Government is also spending huge amounts on road projects here and works on National Highway (NH1D) between Srinagar and Leh are being carried out on war footing. Manali-Leh railway line project is also on the card plus government's decision to revive strategic airports in border areas of Changthang (eastern Ladakh) can bring about unprecedented changes by ameliorating the core issue of accessibility to this region. Accessibility factor has remained another major challenge in making a venture like newspaper business run profitably. Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Leh
Epilogue Ø 44 × August 2009
gave education the top priority right from the beginning, which has considerably improved the education standard and also raised the literacy rate to a record high of 70 percent. Parents in Ladakh want to give best education to their kids and in order to ensure that many of them even go for best schools in India. Readership limitation restricts a media to grow and circulate exponentially. These are the important developments taking place in Ladakh today that could create the necessary forum for a natural outgrowth of an independent media in tandem with the social transformation entailing such infrastructure growth. Moreover, today being the age of Information Technology (IT) Ladakh has also witnessed a tremendous use of it especially in view of flourishing tourism industry. This provide for a scope for online journalism in this region where difficult terrains make other media, except for radio, to reach out to every community settled in remote corners. Meanwhile, with these changes overall people's perspective in terms of shifting their outlook from a conventional mode of thinking towards freedom of speech and right to express can give an impetus to the emergence of more and more independent media. And the fact that with more exposure to outside world and understanding of democratic principles by the people could push the close knit community to accept the modern developments and the need to have an independent
L ADAKH Media
medium of interaction and discussion on issues affecting their lives. Many degree holders in journalism from universities in Delhi, Chandigarh etc. returning to Leh are at their levels try to create niche for themselves which in turn building up pressures to break the lull over intriguing matters in sociopolitical spheres prevalent at present due to the lack of actively operating bodies of independent media. The state-run radio, Doordarshan and Information department enjoy least freedom and the staffs strongly feel that they are operating under all kinds of pressures and control measures. And the motivation of those who intend to or start independently a magazine or newspaper eventually fizzle out due to tremendous pressures and challenges posed by the socio-political dynamics of remote border region of Ladakh. Nevertheless, changes are fast and
drastic and gradually younger generations are getting accustomed to i t . L a t e l y, s o m e i m p o r t a n t developments at organizational levels indicate the future occurrence of positive outcome such as organizing conferences; seminars of national and internal levels here encourage more interaction and debate with healthy criticisms. One such instance is the interactive seminar to discuss objectively on outlooks of different sects of Buddhism held in Leh and promoted by a Head Lama of Drigung Kagyu sect of Buddhism with a purpose to get to a common understanding and remove misconceptions. Research scholars on Ladakh from different backgrounds and international institutions get together for their biannual colloquium to present papers on various topics, and bring out journals and volumes of these works regularly.
One of the aims of these organizations called International Association for Ladakh Studies (IALS) is to give a forum to young local aspirants in the field of history, culture, art, anthropology and come up with more researched works based on Ladakh. There are different organisations, such as Charkha, Panos within the country keen to facilitate and promote writers, journalists from remote regions to encourage raising regional or local issues on national platform through their resource network and J&K in general and Ladakh in particular being their special focus. Already Charkha has five fellows from Ladakh including four women writers. They are at their levels struggling to be on their toes to traverse the difficult path towards that goal of more freedom of expression and emergence of independent media.
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Status of Muslim Women in Ladakh Muslim women's empowerment is much talked about, especially in the last few years. Muslim women form a considerable segment of society, and the Qur'an and the Hadis emphasize on protecting their rights, including rights to education, worship, freedom of opinion, choice of spouse, and economic freedom. Despite this, Muslim women remain extremely vulnerable.
GHULAM MEHDI Author, a Scholar of Sociology at University of Jammu, comes from a remote village of Kargil
his article attempts to provide an overview of gender and development concerns in Ladakh. It endeavors to examine the trends in women's health, and their participation in political and decisionmaking processes. In Ladakh, the challenges faced by Muslim women are manifold. Women – whether married or unmarried; young or old – face genderbased socio-economic biases in some form or the other on a daily basis. Some people are of the view that in earlier times, women enjoyed an equal status to men in all the fields of life. They were even free to choose their own husbands. However, some others differ in opinion. During the time when conversions to Islam took place, and when there was a revolution in the education sector (mention a time period!!!), it was assumed that women's upliftment would be a natural outcome of it. However, it was not so. On the contrary, women's freedom and rights have declined. Several scholars have observed that Muslim women are mere puppets in the hands of their husbands. The conversion of Ladakhi people to Islam did not give them the opportunity to come to a religious order (not sure what this means!). Women face confinement (what kind of confinement?), various other restrictions. Child marriages take place even now. In most cases, a girl's marriage is fixed during
Epilogue Ø 46 × August 2009
the very first year of her birth. Polygamy is widely practiced, especially among the influential families of Kargil, Chuchot and Turtuk. Women are sexually exploited as well. In many families, women are secluded to zenanas (an exclusive section of the house, only for women). Some civil society workers and government school teachers attempted to educate and train girls in school, and their work initially faced strong criticism and resistance from the local and religious fabric of Ladakh in the name of religion. In spite of these conditions, some Ladakhi women have excelled in the fields Agriculture and Education. Latest Census figures reveal that the Buddhist population in Ladakh has dropped from 53.83 to 45.87 percent over the past four decades, while the Muslim population has increased from 45.43 to 47.40 percent. The Muslim population in Leh district exhibited a phenomenal growth of 65.40 percent, which even surpassed the overall growth rate of Muslims across Jammu and Kashmir. The Hindu population, non-existent for four decades, now contributes 6.22 percent of Ladakh's population. In Ladakh, Buddhist women have a better literacy rate (46.16 percent) than Muslim women (35.76 percent) (of which period??). (Is it relevant to give census figures related to HinduMuslim population here, especially when there is no mention of the sex ration!!?) In the political sphere, although the
L ADAKH Society
Kargil Autonomous Hill Development Council nominated two women Councilors in the previous Council Elections (year), it did not give the mandatory 33 percent reservation to women candidates in the Council. In the 2008 Assembly Elections in district Kargil, 39347 females exercised their voting rights as compared to 38,770 male voters. In fact, female voters outnumber male voters in both the constituencies of Kargil and Zanskar, which is unique. In 2002, of only 12,244 voters in the Nubra constituency of Leh district, the number of female voters was 6,150 as compared to the 6,094 male voters. Despite these figures, women in Ladakh are not given the liberty to come out of their houses to participate in political, economic and other processes. In some cases where there are women representatives in a Council, the representation in the real sense lies with her husband. He interferes in all decision-making activities. Zahra Bano (Kargil) and Rozi Bee (Bogdang) led a protest against male dominance during elections in the Kargil Autonomous Hill Development Council as well as the Leh Autonomous Hill Development Council. Women leaders united over issues such as female infanticide, gender biasness, women's health, female literacy, and violence against women. in general. They questioned the interpretation, especially by fundamental leaders, of women's rights under the Shariat law, and criticized the triple talaq system. A few years ago, grants from the government and other donor agencies enabled the formation of womenoriented Non-govermental Organizations (NGOs), Self Help Groups (SHGs), full form (ASHA) and Mahila Mandals (women's groups). NGOs such as the Kargil Educational Society, SECMOL, SKARCHEN (full forms), and Women's Alliance have played a major role in the empowerment of women in the Ladakhi society, but there is still a
long way to go, especially since very few women are part of these organizations. There are a few names to reckon with in the Ladakhi society. Kaneez Fatima (Kargil), Zarina Bano (Chuchot), Meena Bano (Chuchot), Amina Bano and Rehana (Turtuk), who were the first few women graduates; Ashia Sudiqa from Turtuk, who became the first woman MBBS; Zahra Bano (Kargil), Rozi Bee (Bogdang), Azima Bano (Chuchot) and Ama Bano (Chuchot) were the first women politicians; Haji Marzia (Kargil) and Zulikha (Kargil), who were the first nominated Councilors; Zahida (Leh), who was the first woman to be awarded a PhD in History; Zenab (Zanskar), who became the first woman journalist; and Shahina, the first woman KPS (Kashmir Police Service) officer. However, there is still a long way to go as women face atrocities, discrimination and violence in many spheres of life in Ladakh. To give a general sense of the status of Ladakhi women, most of them wear salwar-kameez, and artificial jewelry. However, some prefer to wear gold ornaments as well. The female literacy rate in the area is lower than the male literacy rate. Also, compared to boys, there are more girl drop-outs. There is a big shortage of female teachers, doctors, nurses, and administrators in Ladakh. The subdued status of Muslim women and girls in the society means they are less likely than men to receive timely medical treatment or adequate nutrition. Unequal access to food, heavy work demands, and special nutritional needs such as for iron, make women and girls more vulnerable to illness, particularly anemia. Anemia caused by lack of iron is widespread among Ladakhi girls and women and affects the majority of pregnant women. Anemic and malnourished women give birth to malnourished children. A large percentage of women in the area are far less paid for their work than men, despite the fact that women are
Epilogue Ă˜ 47 Ă— August 2009
far greater in number in the workforce. However, as an exception, in Agriculture, where 89.5 percent of the workforce is female, women are at par with their male counterparts in terms of wages and position at the workplace. Many women work twice as many hours as men because they carry out most of the household responsibilities as well as working outside their homes. However, their household work is unpaid and unrecognized. In most Muslim families, women do not own any property in their name, and do not get a share of parental property either. Due to weak enforcement of laws, women continue to have little access to land and property. The Muslim personal law does not give women the right to divorce. However, the husband can divorce a wife just by saying 'I divorce you', or 'Divorce, Divorce, Divorce' under the provision of Muslim laws. Local records show a high incidence of crime against women in the area. Half of the total number of crimes against women reported in the area are related to sexual harassment and exploitation, and divorce. Even though the demand for dowry is illegal, it continues to be present. Many cases of dowry-related domestic violence and wife-beating have been reported. In Muslim women have little control over their own fertility and reproductive health, because religion does not allow them to do so. They are not allowed to use precautionary methods or contraception. Sex-selective abortions are very common. The principle of equality between men and women is deeply rooted in Islam. Prophet Muhammad was known for his equal treatment of the sexes. He insisted that a dowry be paid directly to the bride rather than to her father or guardian, and he offered special protection to widows and orphans. However, the status of Muslim women today leaves much to be desired for.
L ADAKH Society
ROOTING OUT ALCOHOLISM :
Ladakhi Women to the Fore
ine, women and song has been the bane of many a society and the downfall of 'many a good man'. In Leh town the prevalence of this culture as well as the rejection of it by several groups is now taking a visible form. The seeds of this culture lie perhaps somewhere in the lack of job opportunities coupled by a lack of direction. Illegal wine bars operating out of individual houses have mushroomed all over the place. These function not only as watering holes but cesspools of anti-social activities. Many of them harbour criminals and prostitutes spreading a vicious net in the area of their operation. Locals who have wizened up to the degeneration of their environment and have taken upon themselves to clean up the act are interestingly a group of women belonging to the village near the Choglamsar village, 10 km from Leh on the Leh- Manali road and on the bank of Indus River. In an age where the term 'moral policing' is frowned upon as an infringement of liberties of expression and way of life, this gutsy group makes no bones about its role to wipe out the alcoholism from the vicinity. In their range of fire lies the roaring business of wine bars of Napali Sherpa and restaurants of Tibetan Refugees which were spreading their tentacles luring the Ladakhi women and adopting the business. Theft, murder and rape, unknown in the Ladakhi society becoming order of the day.
Epilogue Ă˜ 48 Ă— August 2009
Reason enough for this band of dedicated women to come together to remove the menace from society and restore the dignity and peace they were so used to. The women have adopted some ingenious methods make their point and win opinion. Early in the agitation at Choglamsar in 2006 a meeting was called to draw attention of the political, religious and social leaders about the menace of increasing alcoholism. Group leader, Stanzin Dolma says, the political leaders were asked to refuse to perform the opening functions of wine bars while the social and religious leaders were invited to condemn liquor in the their religious discourse and social functions. One of these was to quote the high monk's religious discourse to condemn the bar business and encourage socially acceptable business like general store and vegetable vendors. This has led to actually few of them turning away from their hoary trade to running normal businesses. The women were instrumental in alerting the police to have raids conducted which exposed the use of poisonous materials in liquor, a common practice by unscrupulous illicit distillers to make the drink more potent and addictive for its hapless customers. While many of them remain or chose to remain trapped in the situation, the raids had an overall effect of turning people away from visiting these.
L ADAKH Society
Even in the upper echelons of society, the reverberations of this movement have been felt. Ex councilor of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Leh Angdu Lachumir surrendered a government license for opening a wine bar. The movement however shows no signs of slack. Ladakh Buddhist Association Women Wing organized a peace rally in Leh market to condemn illegal selling of liquor in the colonies. They have protested against the opening of two bars and a wine shop opened recently in their area through the office of District Magistrate. Here the objection is because it is too close to the School- Central Institute of Buddhists Studies and to residential areas. A circular also issued to the all the village wings of LBA Women wing to replicate the drive against alcoholism in their respective colonies and villages. The first ever movement in recent history against alcoholism is not based on a particular place or event but a widespread reaction to stop and uproot this menace from society. Interestingly, in people have been talking about how company made brands of Wine Rum, Whisky and Brandy have overtaken Chaang a local wine brewed and fermented from wheat and barley. And the need to revive the practice of drinking Chaang as an integral part of tradition and culture of Ladakhi society. However even in this arena, of Chhang drinkers and propagators, the reverberations of the anti-liquor movement have been felt. The women question the practice of drinking Chhang based on the belief that it is nectar of Guru Padma Sambava, a Buddhist Scholar and teacher. Every village has a tradition of celebrating his
birth anniversary with Chaang on 10th of every Tibetan lunar month on revolving basis. The women now celebrate the festival with the same festivities but without Chhang thus sending the message loud and clear and yet retaining their traditional and cultural beliefs. While the practice of saying “Cheers” or “Juley” in some of the Ladakhi villages may have ebbed, for the women and rest of society there is plenty to cheer about. Instead of lamenting the fall in social and moral values associated with illicit wine bars, they have shown that with collective effort and clear determination, the rot can be stemmed. It is a sprit that is spreading beyond Choglamsar where it
Epilogue because there is more to know
all began and found reverberating echoes even in distant areas like DhaHanu belt, bordering Pakistan and a tourist spot, where village women have initiated a complete ban of any liquor other than Chaang. Literally and figuratively Ladakh represents the 'roof of the world' and is cut off several months in the year from the rest of India. Here far away from the influences and trends in various fields and walks of life, a group of rural women has done what they believed in, what their consciousness told them to. And in the process, led to a small transformation within society. Charkha Features
Now Telling The J&K Stories
Contact ABDULLAH NEWS AGENCY, Lal Chowk, Srinagar *** RAINA NEWS AGENCY, Residency Road, Jammu *** ABC STATIONERS AND DISTRIBUTORS, Leh *** SHAHEEN NEWS AGENCY, Kargil *** CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY, New Delhi *** OXFORD BOOK STORE New Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Bangalore, Chennai & Goa
Epilogue Ø 49 × August 2009
The challenge of Restoring the “Old Leh Town” Living testimony of Ladakh's Cultural Heritage The Old Leh town.
n recent years more and more Ladakahis have begun to publicly lament the decline of what was once a pride, their formal capital, the “old Leh town”. Symbolic of a tradition and culture of this remote and desolate region, in the Himalayas, the town is living heritage, a legacy to be proud of. But the ground reality is different, disturbing. Roads are crying out for maintenance and historic monuments are in need of open air. The houses that are coming up in a haphazard way adds to the congestion, the clogging of the town. Yet apart from feeling the pangs of a decaying town, the local Ladakhi did not feel
Epilogue Ø 50 × August 2009
motivated to act. This came from outside through an Indo-German NGO, Tibet Heritage Fund (THF) who were motivated to come up with a plan for stemming the decline and restoring to the Old Town, its former glory. Teaming up with Ladakh's first urban planner, Ms Diskit Dolke, they began with an extensive survey of 178 historic and traditional buildings . The survey showed that over 60% of all buildings in old Leh town were inhabited by owners, either exclusively (37%) or with a portion rented (26%). Only a quarter of buildings were in good condition while 50% were dilapidated .10% of the
L ADAKH Heritage
buildings were abandoned and in a decrepit state with poor drainage and water supply systems which could hardly be of any use in the harsh winter conditions. The THF had triggered a process by undertaking the survey. The next steps was how to address this situation and it was obvious that it could not be done in isolation without the involvement of local bodies and indeed the government. The Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development' (LAHDC) which is the body of local government in Leh district, Ladakh, came forward to collaborate with the THF in the proposed make-over of Leh town. Apart from highlighting the physical condition of the buildings, the survey reflected the contrast between the rhythm and pace of the modern Leh town that was booming and the old Leh town which was declining. It reflected the contrast between the aspirations and way of life, the loss of traditional skills no longer useful in modern economy, the loss of cultural identity due to migration and rapid economic changes. Adding to the problem were disputes over land, tension between communities all of which have contributed greatly in the decay of the old town. In a sense, the THF had opened the veins and lifeblood of the old town exposing its weakness in toto. THF then took steps to address the problem in a holistic way, rather than piecemeal, not viewing it merely as a restoration of buildings but of a life and rhythm of the old town. They sought partnership with the interested local communities and the locals contributed enthusiastically in rehabilitation process, pitching in for construction projects whether a private home, a Buddhist monument or a public road. To keep up the morale dried apricots were distributed and everyone joined in to do their bit. The process was not without hiccups however , inevitable in any such
project but compounded by the rugged terrain and harsh climate. Building drainage systems into sheer rock in the sub zero temperature in winters was excruciating but had to be done. The challenge was met by identifying and using traditional skills in construction, a departure from practice of using subsidized cement and steel. Interestingly, the strategy adopted was similar to conservation progamme for the Lhasa Old City (1996-2000) also developed by THF. To e n c o u r a g e c o m m u n i t y participation which ultimately meant inputs into the overall conservation effort, co-financing schemes for upgradation of housing were offered. The emphasis here was on upgrading instead of restoring. The project offered 50% co-financing for rehabilitation of homes on the condition that indigenous labour and skills prioritized. This rather ingeniously served the dual purpose of conservation and an improvement in quality of habitat and thus the quality of lives of local people . This brought the human interest, of participation so crucial to the success of such a project. Improving compost pits of traditional latrines and enhancing traditional clay mixes used for interior finish and waterproofing roofs was part of this. Restoration of important public monuments such as Buddhist temples, Muslim places of worship and historic fortifications also was a focus area. The restoration work was coupled with moves to open up training and employment opportunities for the local community. It began with training a small team in traditional construction skills. Two persons are being trained as restorers two as surveyors and draftpersons. Addressing in the process, a core social need of generating employment though on a small scale to those locals who had no access to land and had little education . The project has caught the
Epilogue Ø 51 × August 2009
imagination of the local community who were now sensing an opportunity for economic betterment. Self help groups were formed to boost income generation and a growing interest in sharpening their traditional skills to cater to the new-found demand took root amongst the community. The idea was to create a model area which could showcase the feasibility of conservation efforts as a model based on community participation and traditional skills. The model could be used by communities and NGO's to garner support from donors and government agencies. The efforts and ingenuity shown by the THF in taking steps for conservation and resoration of the old Leh town won it the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards in 2006. The old town of Leh is a cultural and historical hub of Ladakh region . After years of neglect, the move towards restoration has kindled a sense of pride in this heritage town and a community spirit for preserving it. Today the old Leh town attracts many more tourists making it a vibrant place and a source of income for the local population. The people can see the benefit of bringing the old Leh town at par with its modern counterpart. THF has only shown the way. And the people have risen to the occasion and responded with enthusiasm. The initiative needs to be now strengthened with steps by local and state government to consolidate the work begun by the project to bring lasting value to the heritage town's structures and enhance the traditional skills its people. And in the process give new life to the an old town and pay a tribute to its unique culture tradition. (This article has been written under the first “Sanjoy Ghose Ladakh Women Writer's Award 2008-09”) Charkha Features
LUTF: The Party is Over?
T SEWANG RIGZIN Author is Associate Editor of Epilogue statined in Leh. He is also a leading political activist in Ladakh.
he Ladakh Union Territory Front (LUTF) seems to be taking its last breath as the LUTF run Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC or also often called as the Hill Council) in Leh has reduced to a mere 14 councilors minority group after seven more councilors resigning from the party on July 29, 2009. This situation could also lead to witness an untimely dissolution of a Council in the history of the LAHDC if any attempt for another arrangement to manage the Council is failed. It is pertinent to mention here that in the 3rd LAHDC polls in 2005 LUTF had registered a thumping victory wining 24 councilor constituencies out of 26 leaving only two constituencies to the Indian National Congress. There are total of 30 councilors in the LAHDC but of out which four members are nominated by the state government. The councilors who resigned in a press released criticized the LUTF run Hill Council for being ineffective to the developmental activities and also not taking steps to raise the UT demand at appropriate forums in the last few years. All seven councilors assured the people of their respective constituencies that they would work for their areas as independent councilors. Sources say that efforts from the LUTF side are on to convince the disgruntled councilors to reconsider their resignations. The whole thing is something to wait and watch for a few days. The resignations of these councilors have come after the Chief Executive Councilor exercised a reshuffle in the Executive Council making three incumbent Executive Councilors resign from the Executive Council and inducting three new members more than a month ago. Observers say the reshuffle was an unnecessary
Epilogue Ă˜ 52 Ă— August 2009
exercise as only one year was left for the present Hill Council to continue in power. The reshuffle seemed to have irked many of its members rather than healing any difference although it was a political decision of the LUTF high command. The constitution of the Hill Council was realized in 1995, and since then Leh has seen three Hill Councils including the present one. It was a moment of jubilation and proud when the Hill council was first granted to Leh as people thought that after years of discriminations Ladakh had suffered in the hands of non-Ladakhi rulers, for the first time the future of Leh Ladakh would be shaped none other than by Ladakh's own sons of the soil. Indian National Congress could win all 26 seats in the first Hill Council in 1995, however, after National Conference formed its government at the state in 1996, it used all tactics to destabilize and defunct the newly constituted Hill Council. Dr. Farooq Abdullah's government had been very reluctant to further empower the Hill Council. However some important powers were delegated to the Hill Council in 2002 with the change of guard at the State by the Mufti led government. When time approached for assembly elections in 2002 Leh's all political leaders came on a single platform by disbanding their respective parties and formed the Ladakh Union Territory Font (LUTF). The newly formed party succeeded to elect Mr. Nawang Rigzin Jora and Sonam Wangchuk Norbu (Pinto) unopposed for the State assembly from Leh and Nubra constituencies respectively. However the members of the LUTF who previously belonged to different political parties with different ideologies seemed to have found it difficult to adjust with one another and therefore some
L ADAKH Politics
political parties restored their local units in Leh in 2004. Those who remained with the LUTF made it a local political party. As the third or the current Hill Council of the LUTF came to power with an overwhelming majority in 2005 people of Leh had immense expectation and hence they had hoped that this Council would also formulate policies to change the face of Leh and struggle for Union Territory demand for Ladakh since LUTF had promised before the public to strive for the UT demand for Ladakh as its priority one besides taking care of the developmental activities of the district. However it was observed in the last few years that the UT demand came up only at times of elections to woo the voters. With the passing of about four years, the LUTF-led Hill Council turned out to be somehow the most controversial, indecisive, and ineffective Hill Council as it failed to meet the expectation of the public on many fronts due to the narrow-minded politics within the party. Most surprisingly some prestigious policies initiated by the then Councils or the present Council have also been derailed. It was a step towards a holistic development of the region when the previous Hill Council under the chairmanship of Sh Rigzin Spalbar formulated the historical vision document for Leh Ladakh called the “Ladakh Vision 2025” – a roadmap for Leh Ladakh. Formulated after lots of discussions and deliberations this prestigious document was launched by the Prime Minister of the country in 2005. However the LUTF-led Hill Council has been very reluctant to consult the vision document while formulating plans and policies for Leh. The Operation New Hope (ONH), adopted as the official policy on education by the Hill Council in 1996, was a nationally acclaimed education
movement of Leh to reform the education system by making it more relevant to Ladakh's life and culture. The movement did improve the education system in the last one decade to a great extent. During the reign of the present Hill Council under the chairmanship of Sh Chering Dorjey, the second phase of the ONH – Ladakh Model of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan – was launched by the then President of India, Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam in Leh in 2006 to achieve the goals envisaged through the Operation New Hope. This project also got derailed due to unfortunate and illogical differences among the members of the LUTF run Hill Council although it was this effort was appreciated by the State Directorate of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and the Ministry of Human Resources. Last year the Hill Council had assigned one executive councilor solely for the Consumer Affairs & Public Distribution department. Yet the Hill Council was always found ignorant about the problems that consumers in Leh face from time to time. For instance most villages in Leh didn't get their due quotas of kerosene oil during the last financial year. According to the norms framed by CA&PD department of LAHDC Leh each family is entitled for 10 liters of kerosene oil per month and additional 20 liters for Losar which becomes 140 liters over one year for a family. Most beneficiaries have received not more than 40 liters of kerosene oil so far. But there has not been any investigation into that despite the pressure by the public and the party in opposition. From official records it is found that Executive Council meetings, mandatory to be held at least once a month as per the LAHDC Act, have held only once in some six months and the General Council meetings, mandatory to be held quarterly, have been conducted about two times a year. The General Council that should have held
Epilogue Ø 53 × August 2009
months ago to approve district plan has not yet happened. These are some gross violation of the LAHDC Acts. The other factors that also weakened LUTF are the egos and disputes within the party which led many of its active members to resign from this party. After years of struggles and agitations the LAHDC was granted to Leh for the preservation and promotion of the centuries old rich cultural heritage and distinct identity of Ladakh while at the sometime developing the region by keeping its traditional wisdoms and values unaffected in the name of development and modernization. When the negligence towards Ladakh continued for the by the then state governments, the Ladakh Buddhist Association launched an agitation 1989 in support of UT demand. Three Buddhist youth were killed during the agitation. The agitation was suspended only when and the then Prime Minister Mr. Rajiv Gandhi intervened and proposed the Hill Council status on the pattern of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council. Subsequently a tripartite agreement was signed by the Center Government, State Government and the LBA and the UT demand was suspended. Leaders of Leh Ladakh, irrespective of their association to different political parties, have always voiced to separate Ladakh from Jammu and Kashmir. Ever since Ladakh became a part of the democratic India, people of Ladakh have always wished to have direct links with New Delhi and accordingly the leaders of this transHimalayan enclave have demanded different arrangements from time such as North Eastern Frontier Area (NEFA) type of administration, Central Administration, and the Union Territory status to preserve Ladakh's unique cultural, linguistic and the geo-climatic conditions. With its unique conditions Ladakh is like a different country to the rest of Jammu & Kashmir.
Be the Change You Want to See
The Fellows and Awardees with their families and Charkha's team on December 7, 2008, CHARKHA'S FOUNDER'S DAY
ANSHU MESHACK Author works with Charkha Communications and Development Network.
n a wintry evening last year, six bright young women came together in the heart of Delhi as proud and vocal representatives of their people, from an enigmatic land much talked about but little understood. They hoped to expand this limited awareness among the esteemed audience gathered that evening; and use the opportunity that had brought them together that unusual evening. The occasion was the Awards function of
Epilogue Ă˜ 54 Ă— August 2009
the Sanjoy Ghose Media Fellowships for Women Journalists in Areas of Conflict in Jammu & Kashmir; and the first ever Sanjoy Ghose Ladakh Women Writers' Awards instituted in 2008. The date was December 7, the Annual Founder's Day of Charkha Development Communication Network, a Delhi based nonprofit organization that seeks to integrate diverse cultures based on the universal values of equity and social justice. It also marks the birthday of Charkha's Founder, Sanjoy Ghose, who inspired people, even in the most
L ADAKH Making Difference
marginalized and disturbed corners of our country, to discover and build on beauty and hidden strength. Since 2004, Charkha has been working through Fellowships and Awards to inspire young people in the state to share with a wider audience and readership, their perspectives on social and development issues within their societies, in a bid to generate a better and mutual understanding between diverse communities and seek ways to improve the lives of the most marginalized among them, viz. the disabled and elderly, the women and children. This initiative first took the form of the Sanjoy Ghose Media Fellowships, open to all residents of the state of Jammu & Kashmir, being awarded for several years now. The selection follows a rigorous procedure of screening and evaluation by an independent Jury, comprising illustrious media persons like Sir Mark Tully, Sayed Malik, Pushp Saraf and Sushobha Barve; and convened by Ms Usha Rai, a pioneer in the field of development journalism. Fellows are expected to write articles based on extensive research on their proposed theme. Shortly after the earthquake that rocked Kashmir Valley in October 2005, Charkha mobilized resources through the 'Friends of Charkha' network and sent relief material to the most remote part of the devastated region: Dragad Village in Tangdhar in Kupwara District. The execution of this Relief Project was rigorous and effective, as witnessed by the Charkha staff who visited the region after delivery of the relief material that saw scores of families safely through that winter. Glimpses of this experience and the responses of the appreciative survivors were captured in an audio/visual documentation shared with all major supporters of the Project. The experiences of community initiative and cooperation in the aftermath of the earthquakewere
shared, again with a wide readership, through the award of the Sanjoy Ghose Humanitarian Awards for Writing given that year for stories that highlighted, yet again, the hidden strengths and initiative of the common man in the face of adversity. In 2008, Charkha brought together select bright young women from Kashmir who were interested in highlighting the most pressing development concerns of their people through their writings. Together, the women initiated the formation of a Kashmir Women Writers' Forum. Based in Srinagar, the members of this Forum are expected to use this platform to come together as a collective and highlight the development issues that need urgent address. In addition to encouraging writings from the region through the Fellowships and other means, Charkha's role is to disseminate these writings widely in prominent national mainstream publications in three languages: English, Urdu and Hindi, through its unique Trilingual Feature Services. By doing so, Charkha seeks to give a voice to those who, having been marginalized, have remained unheard and their needs, unaddressed. The Kashmir Relief Project progressed to the next phase, the Rehabilitation Project, in 2008, to provide the opportunity for livelihood enhancement for select women of the region who had been devastated by the earthquake and had lost their livestock, hitherto their sole means of livelihood. An extensive training program of teaching embroidery skills is presently underway in Dragad Vi l l a g e , a n d i s b e i n g c l o s e l y monitored to enable the skilled w o m e n t o m a k e g o o d quality embroidered fabric and market their produce for commercial viability of the initiative. In Ladakh, similarly, Charkha's
Epilogue Ă˜ 55 Ă— August 2009
involvement has developed beyond the Fellowships and Media Awards to seek ways to engage with the most disadvantaged among the people of this remote region. Earlier this year, an initiative has been launched with the Leh-based People's Action Group for Inclusion and Rights (PAGIR), a group of Persons with Disability who are making a remarkable effort to highlight the hidden strengths and development concerns of physically disabled persons for many years now. Headed by the charismatic Mohd Iqbal, PAGIR is a leading advocacy organization working for the rights and entitlements of Persons with Disability. Charkha is involved with strengthening their Livelihoods Initiative: a unique effort to protect the fragile environment of Ladakh while also generating livelihood options for the differently-abled and talented individuals associated with PAGIR. The group makes creative and useful products out of waste paper and cloth and presently sells them through two sales outlets in Leh town. Charkha helps them source the raw material for these products and strengthen them as an organization to ensure sustainability of this extraordinary initiative. Charkha's goal of improving the lives of the rural marginalized to achieve a better quality of life for themselves is furthered by the ongoing inclusion of promising individuals in the nation-wide network of writers who use their skills to highlight the unheard issues and concerns of the common man in remote parts of India. This is especially relevant in a region that has known decades of unrest and is now striving to generate an environment conducive to equitable growth and prosperity for all. (For more information, visit Charkha at www.charkha.org or write to them at firstname.lastname@example.org)
REWA Society in Service of Disabled Children in Ladakh
KAROLA KOSTIAL Author is Director Ladakh-Hilfe
ur work started with the German NOG Ladakh-Hilfe, a non profit organisation that was founded in 2003 by a German couple, Karola and Juergen Kostial. They came to Ladakh to treat a child with Cerebral Palsy. At that time they recognised, that there are many other untreated children with similar conditions and that they and their families desperately need support in how to deal with the situation. July 2004 the organisation
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started sending professional physiotherapist and occupational therapist from Europe to help as volunteers. In 2008 local supporters founded the NGO “REWA SOCIETY, Ladakh Disabled Children Group” in cooperation with Ladakh-Hilfe. This local NGO will carry on the work and give professional care to the disabled with the help of our local employees, who are being trained for the job.
L ADAKH Making Difference
How does Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy help Children with Disabilities? Physiotherapy uses movement, manual techniques and aids in order to encourage and increase the child's ability to move as easy and functional as possible. Occupational Therapy helps the child to perform daily activities and become more independent of the help of others. Both Therapies support the child's development and the families. We are not able to heal the cause of the disability but we work to make the most out of the situation and improve the child's quality of life, to give them a chance they may never have otherwise.
Where are the Handicapped treated? In the RAC Therapy Centre (RAC = Rewa Ability Centre) of the Lions Club Building in Leh During regular home visits and field trips, where we have the possibility to observe what can be changed to improve the activities of daily living for the child and the family. In schools and institutions, which care for children and young adults with handicaps We take fieldtrips into the remote areas at least twice a year. We treat the patients in their homes or schools, teach the parents, bring aids and medication. Activities of the Organisations in Ladakh: Our main activity is the professional treatment of children and young adults with physical and multiple h a n d i c a p s w i t h Ph y s i o t h e r a p y, O c c u p a t i o n a l T h e r a p y, S p e c i a l Education, Orthopaedic Technicians and Speech therapy.
Provide aids such as cast/splints, special shoes, seats, tables for wheelchairs, aids for positioning, appropriate toys and therapeutic material. Consultation of the parents and families of disabled children in Leh, Ladakh on the road and the remote areas in order to strengthen their resources and to find ways to ease the situation. Camps and workshops for health workers, teachers and other interested personal in order to achieve basic knowledge about how to deal with a child with special needs. We help our patients to get necessary medical care and medication.
Activities of Ladakh/Hilfe in Germany: Increasing the awareness toward the existing problems concerning children with special needs in Ladakh by publication in magazines, our homepage www.ladakh/hilfe.de and presentations. Finding, selecting and preparing professional volunteers for the work in Ladakh. Raising funds to support the activities of the organisation in Ladakh. Collecting and transporting suitable aids, e.g. orthopaedic shoes. Book publishing in Germany 2009 in March Karola Kostial published a book about her travels and experiences in Ladakh. It was published in German language with the title “The other side of Ladakh – Adventures in the Indian Himalayans”. This books explains the almost unbelievable difficulties and adventures they started this disability work with, describes the building of the bridges of love between Germany and Ladakh , a love for the children with disability, the people and the country.
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Our goals and visions To provide the best possible service and treatment for children and young adults with disabilities Close cooperation with different governmental and non-governmental organisations Working together with local professionals in order to learn from each other Support all activities with the intent to improve early intervention in order to reduce the consequences of damages before, during and after birth. Initiating Self Help Groups for mothers who have children with disabilities. Support schools and teachers to integrate children with disabilities in public schools. Support and work closely together with schools for children with special needs, who do not have the chance to go to school due to problems with integration (e.g. children with severe mental and physical handicaps.) Education and equal rights for all children with special needs. Including orthopaedic Engineers and Rehabilitation workers in our program in order to help train locals to build suitable equipment and aids for the disabled. Finding local Ladakhi people and organisations, who are interested in our work, are passionate to work with children and young adults with special needs and would like to join us in our activities. Increase the awareness and compassion of local people for the problems of the disabled, train them and release our activities into the hands of local Ladakhis.
Customizing housing needs
In continuation of its policy of devising customized products to suit the specific requirements of different customer segments in the state, J&K Bank introduced customized housing loan product for Ladakh region.
ven as most of the products offered by various banks operating in the state of Jammu and Kashmir are having almost similar features, it is the J&K Bank alone, which has been developing a wide range of customized products suitable to various local economies in all the three regions – Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. Be it agriculture, horticulture, industries, artisan or services sector, J&K Bank has come up with special offerings bouquet that contain economy specific products like All Purpose Agri-Term loan, Apple Advance scheme, Dastkar Finance, Zaffran Finance, Giri Finance, Khatamband Finance etc. to meet the financial requirements of the people associated with these sectors. The bank has even fine-tuned its traditional products to make them more customerfriendly. And this range of products and services of the bank, which are region as well as sector specific, has distinguished it from rest of the banks operating in the state. Today customers are always on a look out for better deal. The competitive scenario has resulted in an advantage to the customer and he always wants more for less. Some two years back, one of my acquaintances obtained a housing loan from a new generation private sector bank. Even as he is repaying the loan installments
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regularly, toady he is keen to find a way out to shift to some other bank which offers low rate of interest. In simpler terms he is looking for switching of loan. What is switching of loan? What are the procedures and costs involved if one decides to switch the loan? If you take a new loan from another lender (bank) to repay your existing loan it is called switching of loan. Today, a segment of customers review their housing loans to see if they can get a better deal by switching, and this is not bad at all. This way you can ask your existing bank for repricing options, before checking with other banks. However, before switching consider if you are better off. Ask your current bank whether you will incur a fee for terminating your existing loan or you can convert the loan to one which is more attractively priced. Check if any fees will be imposed on such conversion. Before switching to the bank whose refinancing package you are considering, check how you will be better off with the refinanced package. One should note that the installment amounts and interest payments would change once there are changes to the loan package. Also, compare the present repayment schedule for your current loan package with that of the new loan package you are considering and check the total amount of interest payable and other charges.
L ADAKH Banking
Yet another acquaintances wrote Repayment period of the loan conditions. Under the scheme, the bank to me about the possibility of a housing ranges from 5 years to 20 years. For provides a loan for purchase or loan to meet his small requirement of construction of house, the borrower construction of house equal to the 60 money for repairs of his existing house. shall be enjoying a moratorium period months net salary or 85 per cent of the of nine months. While as for repairs and “I am an average middle class person estimated cost with no ceiling on the having an assured monthly income. I renovation, repayment starts from the loan limit. For purchase of land, the own a house, but it needs some repairs third month after the disbursement of bank provides 20 months net salary of a and renovation. For this, I need at least the loan. borrower with a maximum loan amount Rs.one lakh. One of my friends of Rs 5 lakhs within J&K state and Rs.10 As far as rate of interest is suggested me to raise a housing loan. lakhs for purchase of land outside J&K concerned, it varies according to the But I don't want to put myself at the State. For repairs and renovation, a loan repayment schedule and has both mercy of stringent norms for obtaining a to a maximum of Rs 10 lakhs or 20 options – floating and fixed. However, it housing loan as I have heard that banks months net salary is given under the is cheaper than other banks in the ask for so many formalities to comply scheme. current market scenario. Interest on with, which exhaust loans up to Rs.20 a prospective lakhs repayable up b o r r o w e r. W h a t to 5 years is 9.50 per Remarkably, while taking note of these small borrowers, J&K should I do to meet cent (Floating rate Bank has fine-tuned its housing loan scheme. Loans up to my financial option) and 10.25 Rs.1.50 lakhs are given for repairs and renovation of their requirement for per cent (Fixed rate repairing and option). For existing house against the guarantee of two persons and no renovating my repayment schedule mortgage of the property is required. JK Bank home loan house?” above 5 years to 10 product is efficiently priced with personalised service and above Basically, he years, floating rate wanted to know as on date is 10.25 all available at convenient terms and conditions. Under the about an option per cent and the scheme, the bank provides a loan for purchase or construction of where he could avail fixed rate is 11 per house equal to the 60 months net salary or 85 per cent of the loan facility in a cent. If the hassle free manner. borrower chooses to estimated cost with no ceiling on the loan limit. There are so many repay the loan in 15 small prospective years to 20 years, he In terms of security, the house to borrowers like him who need small has to pay 11.50 per cent rate of be constructed or purchased will remain amount of loan to meet their housing interest. Notably, under fixed rate mortgaged to the bank as a primary needs. But host of formalities keeps option the maximum repayment security. Besides, collaterally the most of them away to avail housing loan schedule is 10 years. borrower has to offer third party facility. Notably, the bank has introduced guarantee of one person to the bank. Remarkably, while taking note of the customized housing loan scheme for Even LIC policy can also be accepted as these small borrowers, J&K Bank has Leh and Kargil as the people in this a collateral security. fine-tuned its housing loan scheme. region do not posses documents to For repairs and renovation, only Loans up to Rs.1.50 lakhs are given for establish proprietary title/ rights on the negative lien against the housing repairs and renovation of their existing land on which the house is proposed to property is required as a security and house against the guarantee of two be constructed. So creation of mortgage mortgage of property is not needed at persons and no mortgage of the of such property does not become all. For construction or purchaser of property is required. JK Bank home loan possible in Ladakh region. To overcome house, the borrower has to share 15% of product is efficiently priced with this difficulty, the bank modified its the total cost and 25% for renovation or personalised service and above all housing loan for this region to enable purchase of land. available at convenient terms and the customer to avail its benefits.
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L ADAKH Banking
Under the scheme, Ladakhis can obtain loan for construction or purchase of house to the tune of 60 times of their net monthly income subject to a maximum of Rs. 10 lakhs. For renovation/ addition/ alteration etc. of the existing house, they can get loan equal to 20 times of their net monthly income subject to maximum Rs. 5 lakhs. Repayment of loan taken for construction or purchase of house is fixed for 10 years while as the loan for renovation/ addition or alteration are to be repaid in 5 years. The security aspect has been relaxed. The borrower has to give third party guarantee of two persons and negative lien to be marked on the property/ house constructed. In addition to this, the borrower has to deposit installments in the shape of post-dated cheques. However, the employees of government/ semi gove rn me n t a n d pu blic se ctor undertakings, autonomous bodies maintaining salary accounts with the JK Bank branches shall have to give guarantee of one person only. However, they have to obtain letter of undertaking from the bank. Here it is important for the borrowers to understand the difference between a fixed rate option and floating (variable) rate option. In fixed rate home loan option, interest rate is fixed for the entire period of the loan. Sometimes, it may be revised after the first few years depending upon the terms and conditions of loan. This option is preferable if prevailing interest rates are low when one takes a loan. For a borrower, the beauty of the option is that even if interest rates in the market go up in future, interest rate on his home loan remains unchanged. However, there are banks which generally include a reset clause in which
case interest rate remains fixed for the first few years, thereafter, interest rate is re-fixed or becomes variable/or floating. In case of floating or variable rate home loan, interest rate is not fixed and can be wide-ranging. The rate is linked to the prime-lending rate (PLR) of the bank. If the PLR goes up, interest rate on the loan also goes up and subsequently EMI will also go up. However, if the PLR goes down, the interest rate and monthly repayment on the loan will also go down. The bank fixes a spread between PLR and floating rate while sanctioning a loan. The spread remains constant during the tenure of the loan. The spread can be changed with mutual consent of borrower and the bank. Usually, the loan document specifies the reset period for changing interest rate. Notably, some banks permit the borrowers to change from fixed interest rate loan to floating interest rate loan and vice versa subject to certain conditions. So it is advisable that the borrowers go through the terms and conditions minutely and never sign a paper without reading the content therein. Meanwhile, we have observed that like any other basic human need, housing has remained in demand. Banks have come into housing sector at a time when credit off take in the corporate sector was low. With lot of funds waiting to be deployed, the housing scene presented an attractive option to the banks to channelise their funds. This happened because in the housing sector advances are given against mortgage of assets, which continue to carry value, and therefore make the loans considerably safe for the banks. The customers today have not only
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the options of competitively lowest rate of interest, but also choice of different types of loans starting from the house purchase or house building loans to house improvement loans etc. Pre c i se l y, b a n k s a n d fi n a n c i a l institutions have a common product for financing housing sector with almost similar terms and conditions, which a customer has to fulfill for obtaining loan. Remarkably, relatively younger segment of customers have entered into the market or in other words we can say that the buyers of the home loan product are end-users and not the investors. The banks need to continue to fine-tune the home loan product to make it competitive in the market.
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C O L UMN
Reports From Ground
‘That Smoke is from Pakistan...’
MANISHA SOBHRAJANI Author is a Delhi-based independent researcher working on the various aspects of the Kashmir conflict. She can be reached at email@example.com)
t is quite needless to mention that the status of India-Pakistan relations has a direct impact on Jammu & Kashmir. And that any proposed 'study' on Kashmir is incomplete without the larger picture of India-Pakistan relations. J&K and IndoPak relations are not just inter-linked, but also inter-twined. Several events/incidents have changed the dynamics of the relations between the two nations. The terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament on December 13, 2001, brought the two countries the closest they have ever been to a nuclear war. Indo-Pak relations and the composite dialogue, or the lack of it, reached an alltime 'low' after the terrorist attacks in Mumbai on November 28, 2008. There was talk of 'hot pursuit', and war was a close possibility. There is currently a ceasefire between the two South Asian nuclear powers, which came into effect from November 2003, under the then Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and the then Pakistan President General Musharraf. A visit to the Suchetgarh border post a few years ago remains the high point of all my trips to Jammu & Kashmir. Suchetgarh is an international border post between India and Pakistan, and lies ahead of the R S Pura sector in Jammu. It was an amazing experience. Though it is hard to describe, I will still try. The post leads to a huge gate, which has the Indian flag, painted on it on both sides. You open the gate and you can see a
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similar gate a few steps away, and technically it is in Pakistan, and it, too, has the Pakistani flag painted on it on both sides (I'm told!). Now between the two gates is the border, which is demarcated by pillars all along. One of the pillars is an old and historic banyan tree, half of which falls on the Indian side, and the other half of it falls on the Pakistani side. It is very difficult to express what I felt at that particular point when I touched that Banyan tree. No doubt, it was a beautiful experience: something that I will cherish for my entire lifetime. I have always contrasted this experience of mine with another visit to one of the border areas – village Laroka, Lam in the Nowshera sector. The area is just a few miles away from the LoC, and when I visited a school in the area, it was a unique feeling to see children sitting out in the open and studying, with no formal setups of classrooms and study boards. One of the children took me a little away from his 'classroom', and pointing his finger towards clouds of smoke coming from a distance, and said: “Do you see the smoke... that is Pakistan...”. Quite honestly, I was speechless for a few minutes. When I recovered, I was curious as to what happens when relations between India and Pakistan are tense, and there is shelling and gun-battle in the border areas? The answer was quite predictable: “We have no school! We run away from our villages temporarily, and come back when things have settled.”
C O L UMN Reports From Ground
I later on learnt about the 50-odd villages that are sandwiched between the LoC and the Army fencing on the Indian side! The Indian Army's decision to build a fence along the 734 kilometres of the 742 km-long Line of Control was supposed to enhance the Army's capability to detect and intercept infiltration and exfiltration attempts. The fencing had to follow natural topography and strategic considerations, as a result of which the fencing does not exactly coincide with the LoC. There is a distance between the fencing and the LoC, which varies with the topography. So, sandwiched between the two lines are several villages -- Makri, Seri, Manika Maha Dev, Laam, Kalsian, Jhangar and Bhawani in the Nowshera sector of Rajouri district; Sekhlu area, Haveli Assembly segment and Shahpur Pa n c h a y a t o f Po o n c h d i s t r i c t ; Hathlanga, Chiranda and Silikut villages of Uri sector of Baramulla district; Chatkadiyan village in the Tangdhar
Valley, to name just a few... These villages, practically speaking, fall on the Indian side and not in 'No Man's Land'. The fact that these villages are outside the Army's 'protective' fencing has given rise to immense problems for the locals belonging to these villages — since their land has been divided by the fencing, they have to traverse long distances just to till one piece of land; the fence can be crossed only at proper gates on roads, which are located at a distance of 500 metres to a kilometre; the gates open and close at fixed times: this is extremely inconvenient and humiliating for the local people, to say the least. There is an overwhelming fear in their minds that if there is a settlement of Kashmir between India and Pakistan, if at all a solution comes along, India will give away these villages outside the Army fencing to Pakistan. This is, of course, a source of great anxiety and worry for the locals. To quote my former boss and mentor M.J. Akbar, “The solution is not
with us yet, but it would be fair to suggest that… The mutually-acceptable future border will be the present border: the line where the two armies ceased fire on the first of January 1949, and which they have guarded with such zealous ferocity for six decades. Six decades add up to two generations of lost sisters, forgotten cousins, and a relentless hostility that has aborted the potential of two nations. Everyone has heard the question: why do Indians and Pakistanis get on so well in a third country, and how come they do so well in a foreign habitat? The answer was always simple: because they were not living in India and Pakistan. Over the last decade India has begun to make such jokes irrelevant, but that is nothing compared to what it could achieve in harmony with a natural economic partner like Pakistan. It would vitalise SAARC, and set the subcontinent, which still has the poorest parts of the world on its landscape, on the long route towards self-respect.”
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C O L UMN
Jahangir on the Horticulture of Kashmir
PROF JIGAR MOHAMMED Author is Professor of History at University of Jammu. He is associated with Epilogue as Editorial Adviser on History of Jammu and Kashmir.
orticulture has been living heritage of Kashmir throughout its historical period. It played and continues to play dominant role in the socio-economic life of Kashmir. Its history shows that it became instrumental in shaping the regional identity of Kashmiris and Kashmir. Though Kashmir is known in the world for various historical developments, horticultural products display Kashmir outside it in a very effective manner. However, horticulture was not made a popular theme by the most of the writers of the pre-modern societies. It was the Mughals who gave huge publicity to the history of horticulture of India in their literary works. The Mughal emperor Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur (1526-30) narrated the different aspects of horticulture of north India in a very lucid manner in his Baburnama. But the Mughal emperor Nuruddin Muhammad Jahangir (1605-27) surpassed him in terms of description of the horticultural products region-wise. The information pertaining to the trees and their products contained by his Memoirs entitled Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri show that the Mughal emperor Jahangir was very much concerned with expansion of horticulture and garden culture in Mughal India. He is known to have visisted Kashmir eight times in his twenty-two years rule. Though several aspects of the nature of Kashmir attracted the attention of Jahangir, for his literary taste he found horticulture a very popular theme. Consequently, he highlighted the tradition of the cultivation of the fruit bearing and other trees in his Memoirs.
various types of fruits, their quality, availability of wood and their uses for making vinegar and pickles. Jahangir mentions that wood was available in Kashmir in abundance and all the buildings of Kashmir were made of wood. These buildings were generally two to four storied. The making of various types of pickles with the vinegar has described a popular skill of Kashmir. The Kashmiris knew the method of the extraction of oil from the walnut. The walnut oil was an important ingredient of the vegetable cooking. The production of almonds, peaches, cherries (Shal-alu), apricot, grapes, pears, water-melons, walnut and ashkan (juicy fruit) had been an important source of the livelihood of the Kashmiris. For Jahangir, in Kashmir “the finest inflorence is that of the almond and the peach.” Jahangir was very impressed from the quality of the apricot. His mention shows that the Mughals encouraged the cultivation of apricot in Kashmir. Praising the quality and expansion of the apricot cultivation Jahangir writes, “There (Kashmir) were also apricot trees. The aforesaid (Muhammad Quli Afshar of Akbar's reign) made them known in this country (Kashmir), and now there are many of them. In fact, the apricot of Kashmir is good. There was a tree in the Shah-ara garden at Kabul, called Mirzai, better fruit ghan which I had not eaten, but in Kashmir there are trees equal to this in the gardens.”
Jahangir made comparative study of the fruits of Kashmir and their cultivation. He valued Kashmir as the producer of the best Jahangir focussed on the horticulture of quality of pears (Nashpati). For him, the Kashmir in terms of the productions of the quality of the pears of Kashmir was better
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C O L UMN History
than Kabul, or Badakhshan (in Transoxiana). Jahangir rated pears of Kashmir on par with the pears of Samarqand. It is important to mention that the Mughal emperors intensified the processes of the foreign trade between India and Central Asia very much. There were large demands of the Central Asian fruits in India during the 16th and 17th centuries. Abul Fazl, a court historian of the Mughal emperor Akbar and author of the Ain-i-Akbari, gives the name of several types of the Central Asian fruits available in the markets of India. Abul Fazl terms the Central Asian fruits the Mewa-i-Turan. Generally, the Mughals compared the fruits of India with the fruits of the Central Asia or Persia in terms of their quality. Similarly, Jahangir also compared some of the fruits of Kashmir with the fruits of the Central Asia. When he equated the quality of the pears of Kashmir with the pears of Samarqand, he highlighted the market value of the pears of Kashmir and encouraged the peasants or horticulturist of Kashmir for huge production of pears to get better profit. Jahangir was very much impressed with the quality of the apples of Kashmir. According to him, “The apples of Kashmir are celebrated for their goodness.” Jahangir also saw the production of guavas (amrud), grapes, watermelons and pomegranates in Kashmir during the 17th century. For him, the quality of the guavas of Kashmir was middling. Grapes were produced in huge quantities, but most of the grapes of Kashmir were harsh and of inferior quality. Similarly the quality of pomegrates was also inferior. The watermelon of best quality was produced in Kashmir. Jahangir tasted very sweet and creased watermelons in Kashmir. But he found that the most of the watermelons of Kashmir suffered from the worm-disease at time of their ripening and became useless. About the
loss of the crop of water melon because of the attack of worm Jahangir writes, “…for most part when they (watermelons) became ripe a worm is found in them that spoils them. But some of the watermelons were preseved from the worm disease and they were very nice. Jahangir gave huge publicity to cherries of Kashmir in terms of the potentialities of the expansion of their production and their market value. He used the Shah-alu term for the cherries. He gave the credit of the introduction of the cherries in Kashmir to his father Jalaluddin Muhammed Akbar. Jahangir himself participated in expansion of the plantation of the cherri trees in Kashmir. He invented many terms for cherries to highlight the huge scope of their cultivation. Describing the introduction of cherries in Kashmir under his father, their expansion under him and their quality Jahangir gives a very useful and interesting account. He writes, “Before my father's time there were no Shah-alu (cherries). Muhammad Quli Afshar brought them from Kabul and planted them (in Kashmir), and there are now ten or fifteen fruit-bearing trees. …The Shahalu (cherry), to my taste, is better than most fruits. Four trees had born fruit in the Nur-afza garden (laid out by Jahangir in Kashmir). I (Jahangir) called one of these Shirin-bar, the second Kush-gawar, the third, which bore the most fruit, Pur-bar, and the fourth, which had less Kam-bar. One tree in Khurram's garden (Jahangir's son, better known) as Shahjahan) had also born fruit, and I call it Shahwar. There was a young plant in the little garden of 'Ishrat-afza' (joy enhancing) and this I called Nau-bar (new fruit). Everyday I (Jahangir) plucked with my own hand sufficient to give a flavour to my cups. Although they sent them by runners from Kabul as well, yet to pick them oneself from one's own garden gave
Epilogue Ø 64 × August 2009
additional sweetness. The Shah-alu of Kashmir is not inferior to that of Kabul; it is even better grown. The largest of them weighed one tank, five surkhs.” Jahangir also recorded the quantities of the cherries produced by the trees of the Nur-afza garden and his efforts to expand the area of the plantation of cherry trees. According to him, “From four trees of the Nur-afza garden 1500 and from other trees 500 had been plucked. I (Jahangir) strictly ordered the officials of Kashmir to plant shahalu in all gardens.” The production and taste of one juicy fruit and sour cherry also attracted the attention of Jahangir. He not only tasted them but also commented on their quality and weight. To memoise them and provide information of them to other Jahangir describe them in these words: “In Kashmir the most juicy fruit is the ashkan. It is subacid (mai-khush), smaller than the alu-balu (sour cherry), much better flavoured, and more delicate. When drinking wine, one cannot eat more than three or four alu balu, but of these one take as many as a hundred in twenty four hours, specialy of paiwandi sort. I ordered that the ashkan should hereafter be called the khushkan. It grows in the hills of Badakhshan and in Khurasan; the people there call it jamadami. The largest of them weigh ½ misqal.” Jahangir mentions two types of mulberries grown in Kashmir But in Kashmir mulberry: 1. Shah-Tut, used as fruits and very good in taste, and 2. Tut, non-eatable, but mostly used for rearing the silk-worms. The second types of trees led to flourishment of sericulture in Kahmir and they sprang up in abundance. Making difference between the Shah-tut and Tut, Jahangir observes, “There are no shah-tut (some kind of large mulberry), but there are other (tut) mulberries everywhere.
C O L UMN History
From the foot of every mulberry tree a vine-creeper grows up. In fact, the mulberries of Kashmir are not fit to eat, with the exception of some of trees grown in gardens, but the leaves are used to feed the silkworm. They (Kashmiries) bring the silkworms from Gilgit and Tibet.” Jahangir's description of mulberry trees of Kashmir shows that the Kashmiris were very much concerned with the mulberry trees for sericulture purpose, and little interested in growing those varieties of mulberry trees which fruits could be used commonly. But this trend of mulberry trees growth existed upto 18th century. Walter R. Lawrence, writing on Kashmir in late 19th century, gives change in the production of mulberry trees in Kashmir in terms of their varieties. According to Walter, “ When the first days of summer arrive the mulberry trees are surrounded by villagers with their outspread blankets, and cattle, ponies, and dogs, who all munch the sweet black or white fruits. There are grated varieties, the best of which is shahtut, purple and juicy, and much esteemed as a preserve. With an eye to the winter the provident Kashmiri stores away the mulberries he can not eat, and they retain their sweetness long.” (Walter R. Lawrence, Valley of Kashmir, Srinagar, 1967, p. 348). Thus Jahangir's mention of the mulberry trees helps to understand the economic history of Kashmir in terms people's association with the trees for their uses for different purposes. Jahangir rated the saffron as one of the wonders and specialties of Kashmir. For him, saffron flowers were the sources of both the enjoyment and financial benefits. He observed the cultivation of saffron very minutely. He gives very interesting account of saffron production from its sowing to its flower plucking. The following description of saffron by Jahangir
speak of his interest in saffron: “In the whole country of Kashmir there is saffron only in this place (Pampur). On Thursday (1620)… the feast of cups was held (by Jahangir) in a saffron field. Groves on groves, and plains on plains were in bloom. The breeze in that place scented one's brain. The stem is attached (close) to the ground. The flower has four petals, and its colour is that of a violet. It is of the size of a Champa flower, and from the middle of it three stigmas of saffrom grow. They plant the bulbs, and in a good year obtain 400 maunds of the current weight or 3002 Khurasan maunds. The custom is for half to go to the government and half to the cultivators. A seer (ser equivalent to 910 grams) and sold for Rs. 10. Occasionally its market price is more or less, and it is an established custom that they bring the saffron flowers plucked, and according to the plan they have adopted from the old, they take half its weight in salt as wages. There is no salt in Kashmir, and they bring it from Hindustan.” Jahangir's study of the various types of trees both the fruit bearing and ti mb e r- gi vi n g sh ow s th a t tre e plantation was very much facilitated by the huge availabity of water in Kashmir's river, lakes and streams. About the plantation of the trees around the a stream, near to Panj Brara Jahangir writes, “In the neighbourhood of Panj Brara is a meadow (julga) exceedingly clean and pleasant, with seven lofty plane-trees (Chinars) in the middle of it. The Kashmiris call it Satha Bhuli. It is one of the great resorts of Kashmir. Similarly Jahangir speaks of huge potentialities of growing of trees around other streams of Kashmir. According to him, “The beauty of this spring (of Inch) is more than one can describe, and large trees of ancient years, plane, white and black poplars,
Epilogue Ø 65 × August 2009
have grown up around it. I (Jahangir) passed (one) night at this place.” How the trees around the Achaval spring attracted the people to sit under them Jahangir describes in these words: “The water of this spring (Achaval) is more plentiful than that of the other, and it has a fine waterfall. Around it lofty plane-trees and graceful white poplars, bringing heads together, have made enchanting place to sit in.” Jahangir liked very much to enjoy the beauty of the trees grown on the banks of the springs of Kashmir. Once he went ot Sadapur and Lar valley and found there very pleasant atmosphere created by the existence of some beautiful trees. He observes, “I (Jahangir) went to make an autumn tour in the direction of Sadapur and the valley of Lar, situated downstream of the Kashmir River, it had a wonderful appearance, with trees of all colours, such as the planes, the apricot, and others, reflected in the middle of the tank, and very beautiful. Undoubtedly the beauties of autumn are not less than those of spring.” Jahangir's interest in the horticulture and other plantation of Kashmir inspired him to record the various features of them in his Memoirs. His description of the trees and their productions provides huge materials to the historians for historical study of people of Kashmir in terms of their socio-economic dependence on horticulture and timber giving trees. More importantly, Jahangir's account establishes that the Mughals participated in the process of the economic growth of Kashmir. They respected their sentiments and inspired them to bring more and more areas under cultivation in terms of horticulture. The Mughal gardens of Kashmir speak of the Mughals' concerns with indigenous culture of Kashmir and the their inclusive policy for the cultural development in the region.
POL I T I CA L
L I F E
A Reporterâ€™s Diary
ENGAGEMENTS SAIF-UD-DIN SOZ
I regret to say that a section of press in Jammu and Kashmir have published a statement of a senior leader casting insinuation on my integrity and probity. The statement gives an impression that I was behind the stories that got published in Kashmir Times and Hindustan Times recently suggesting the role of the senior leader in destabilizing the Cong-NC alliance in Jammu and Kashmir. The insinuations directed against me are nothing but a pack of lies. A two-page document full of ire against my person (his ghost writer going to the extreme, in slander) is unbecoming of a senior leader. I categorically say that I had not spoken to anybody in the Kashmir Times and Hindustan Times, the papers that carried certain details regarding warming up of the person towards PDP to destabilize the NC-INC coalition. I have no knowledge on the background of these stories.
n summer last year when Peoples Democratic Party pulled the rug to engineer unceremonious fall down of Ghulam Nabi Azad government, his senior Congress colleague and president of the state Congress Prof Saif-ud-Din Soz assumed a larger than life prominence. Soz was then also a Union Minister and member of the Congress Working Committee. When Azad resigned on July 7, 2009, he was left with very little power at hand. Congress leadership in Delhi felt that crisis (Amarnath land row) in Jammu and Kashmir was a consequence of Azad's inept handling of the issue. In the given situation, almost entire rank and file of Congress party in state nearly deserted
What the leader had spoken to groups of people during his long tours of the J&K State recently and the leaks of his speeches is now public knowledge. All the stories on that tour appeared in various news papers. As for the particular stories, against which he directed his ire and extreme anger against me, the names of journalists had also appeared and the truth could easily be nailed if he had tried to do so. It is politically absurd and ethically obnoxious to indulge in character assassination and blackmail of the kind his statement reflected. If he is prepared to nail the truth and proves my involvement, I will apologise publicly. The media persons in the length and breadth of the State know me for not saying anything off the record. There was absolutely no justification for the leader to lose his cool and go to the extreme of indecency, unnecessarily. I believe in working transparently and in a cooperative manner with the cadres at all levels to strengthen the Party. As for the induction of seven Congress Party Ministers in the J&K Council of Ministers, it is the Party high Command that had approved the list. Sd/(Saifuddin Soz) New Delhi, July 14, 2009
Epilogue Ă˜ 66 Ă— August 2009
POL I T I CA L
L I F E
A Reporter’s Diary
Azad and started rallying behind Soz. Wisdom says that 'politics is the art of the possible' but still many people don't understand. Scenario changed with the turn of events. Congress brought Azad back to utilize his energies for the March-April 2009 Lok Sabha elections. He was re-inducted as General Secretary (a powerful position in party) and made incharge of party affairs in key states like Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Orissa. As UPA returned to power at Center, roles for many also changed. Soz, Minister in the previous government, did not find place in new team while Azad was made a Minister without much fuss and given key Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. All those Congress leaders from J&K who switched sides last year have now made 5South Avenue Lane (Azad's residence) in New Delhi as their favourite and most frequently visited destination. Azad had, last year, decided to take back seat in view of new realities but in the latest scenario Soz is not coming to terms. The fight between the two is now open and is being fought through sections of Press in the state, which both feel is loyal to them but is actually to none. Few stories against Azad appeared in two important local newspapers suggesting that Azad was snubbed by Sonia Gandhi for his 'meddling' in J&K affairs. The stories had quoted all unnamed sources. Few days later another story appeared in a Srinagar newspaper based on Azad's 'interview' to an unnamed news agency where he goes on say that a senior leader (not named but obviously Soz) is running through a bad patch of frustration on feeling isolated and sidelined. “An accidental politician is jealous of my popularity when crowds in thousands pour on Kashmir streets to greet me and he is not able to draw even ten persons for him in his home constituency”, the newspaper quoted Azad as having told the unnamed news agency. Around the same time there was expansion of NCCongress coalition government which caused more bad blood. A strong section of Congress leaders felt that Soz blocked their prospects of becoming Ministers. Prominent among them was Choudhary Mohammad Aslam who resigned as leader of the Congress Legislature Party. Since then there is a series of press conferences and street protests both in Srinagar and Jammu and also in other smaller towns of the state. Interestingly, these protests and press conference are led by the second rung or little known Congress men and, interestingly, all these events revolve around Soz –one in his favour and the other against him. As this alternative mechanism of grouse and support continues, Soz put a statement in the press against an unnamed “senior Congress leader”. The statement is reproduced here in full and it needs to no guess work to find out who Soz is talking about.
mar Abdullah expanded his Ministry on July 11 and the fallouts were obvious. Many potential aspirants of ministerial berths protested in open. After a week-long of protests the anger now appears to be settling down but here is one man who is not relenting –Bhim Singh. Singh's Panthers Party has nothing to do with the ruling coalition partners –the National Conference and the Congress –but still his is the most vocal voice against composition of Omar's Ministry. A master PR man of his own personality and party, Singh is dishing out loads of press releases every evening which read like this –“a convention of Panthers Party leaders was held at (such and such place) where a resolution was moved by Prof Bhim Singh and adopted by all by voice vote seeking ouster of coalition government which is headed by childish and immature Chief Minister Omar Abdullah”.
Epilogue Ø 67 × August 2009
POL I T I CA L
L I F E
A Reporter’s Diary
SYED ALI SHAH GEELANI
ince early this year, aging separatist hardliner has rarely been seen in open or on television screens. Yet, he is one such Kashmir separatist leader who has been felt and read the most in first six months of 2009. Geelani has most remained under 'house arrest' or under judicial or unknown police custody. Despite a restricted or almost no movement, he is the man who controlled life in the Valley. From Shopian to Doru in Anantnag and from Sopore to Baramulla in the north almost all shutdowns and the protest demonstrations have been held at his call. The state authorities over past one month booked him in four cases. One by one, he got bail in all and the authorities were ready with the fifth case. Geelani is again under detention. Government feels that placing Geelani under detention will ease situation in Valley but an end to his strike calls is yet to come. “Under such a scenario when police targets unarmed protestors we don't have any other alternative but to resort to shutdowns and strikes. This is only peaceful means available with us to lodge our protests against the repressive measures being adopted by Indian government to crush the freedom sentiment of Kashmiris,” says 79-year-old senior separatist leader, who is presently under detention.
MUZAFFAR HUSSAIN BAIG
his senior leader of the Peoples Democratic Party does a de nova. He appears with a band and disappears without leaving a noise. And this happens twice or thrice a year. Baig is PDP's intellectual capital of rare parallels but it is very difficult to get him to work when party needs. He works when he likes. A leading Supreme Court lawyer before joining active politics, Baig has fallen out with the Muftis quite often. When party feels that rumours are filling political space about Baig's fallout with the Muftis, he is given an assignment of his taste to allay the apprehensions. Currently he is on job to lecture the party workers on PDP's self-rule proposal. His first closed-doors convention took off in Jammu recently.
Epilogue Ø 68 × August 2009
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