Tag Archives: kashmir

Islam and the Bhagavad-Gita

In the last 30 years, I have spoken against Islam and Islamic fundamentalism numerous times in my books as well as in in my articles and conferences. Often thus, I have been often branded as an Islamophobe or a hard-line pro-Hindu…

Yet, when I came to India, I was innocent : I did not know the difference between a Muslim and a Hindu. And as a journalist I had the same prejudices and ideas about India as any other Western correspondent. In fact I embraced the same ideas: ‘secularism, the Congress is the only party that can unify India, Hindus too can be fundamentalists’, et cetera…

But then, I started covering Kashmir during the 90s, when separatism bloomed and violence set fire to the Valley. It is there that I saw the first Hindu leaders whom I had interviewed previously, assassinated in the most savage manner, such as doctors, lawyers, or All India radio broadcasters. And then, when Benazir Bhutto gave her famous speech of ‘Azad Kashmir’, every mosque in Srinagar and the Valley repeated that cry, telling Hindus: “Convert or die”. And in a few weeks, 350,000 Kashmiri Pandits left their ancestral houses and land, for no other crime than being Hindus – and that without firing a shot in self-defence – becoming refugees in their own country, a first in the world.

Thus my eyes were opened and I lost my innocence. Since then, covering many other countries, I witnessed the same phenomenon in Bangladesh, Pakistan or Afghanistan, of Hindus being the target of hatred, as Jews have been for centuries. This set me to study Indian history and I quickly realised that great Hindu heroes such as Shivaji Maharaj or Maha Rana Pratap, had been bypassed in Indian history books, to a single paragraph: Shivaji Maharaj who alone with his wits, extraordinary courage and a few hundred men, defeated the most powerful army of the world of his time, is a ‘plunderer’; and Maharana Pratap, is described as a small chieftain, although he is the only Rajput to have fought the Moghols and to have held Akbar’s army at bay the Hadilghati battle. The irony is that tyrants such as Aurangzeb, who were monsters not only towards Hindus but also with their own family – Aurangzeb poisoned his own father, beheaded his brother Dara Shikoh, imprisoned his son – are lauded in history books as ‘firm but just emperors under whom arts flourished’ (Aurangzeb actually banned music at his court, because it was un-Islamic)….

…It happens that my wife and myself are teachers of the pranayama and meditation techniques of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, which we have practicing for the last 25 years and which have changed our lives, giving us energy, enthusiasm and commitment. We do this free, as a sewa, to partake of this great gift to humanity that originates from India.

During the last Shivaratri celebrations, we taught in Sri Sri’s Bangalore ashram a pranayama course to a batch of Iranians. Our group, which had many girls and ladies, some of them who always covered their heads, was reserved at first, but as the course progressed, there grew a bond of affection and warmth between us all. We could perceive so much love and humanity in all of them. And by the end of the course, we all danced and hugged each other.

Now it is not because I have fought Islam that I did no know before this course that Muslims are as much as the others, decent human beings, warm, family oriented, hospitable. I remember when I drove to India by road from Paris, crossing many Muslim countries. My best friend was then a Muslim French Moroccan. He would say “AssalamoAlaikum », and doors would open, smiles were flashed, we would be dined, entertained, respected. This universal brotherhood of Islam does not exist in the Hindu world.

So this set me thinking: Islam was born in Iran and since Khomeini’s takeover, though it has a Shia majority, Iran has an image of a hard-core Islamic nation, where the Sharia reigns supreme and which is ready even to use a nuclear weapon to impose the supremacy of its faith. Yet these people we taught were the opposite and showed values of refinement and love that are today missing in the western Christian world….

I do understand even more now that most Muslims are good, witness the many human right organizations, journalists or intellectuals that fight for their rights as refugees, at the moment Yet the stumbling block remains the Koran, a wonderful scripture, no doubt, but which was written for people and mentalities of 1400 years ago, when realities were harsh, punishments even harsher and survival a matter of life and death. Nobody has read the Koran properly, except the Islamic terrorists of today: it does say that the Infidels should be slayed, that Islam must be the world religion, that women can be stoned if unfaithful, or that being gay is a crime punishable by death. Logic would say that Muslim scholars of international repute should get together and reform the Koran, as Christians have done, so that it becomes adapted to the 21st century world. Problem is that nobody dares touch it or question it for fear of death. Problem is that even within the most moderate, educated and enlightened Muslims, logic and good sense, stops when it comes to the Koran…

Thus, I will continue fighting Islam, in the spirit of the Bhagavad Gita: so many of my brothers and sisters are in the opposite camp. I have come to love them and respect them too… Yet, I know that willingly or unwillingly, consciously or unconsciously, by accident or by karma, they are born in a religion that is harming the world, that is on the side of the anti-human and anti-divine forces. Therefore it must be challenged, even if it is with love in the heart – and not hatred.

Nevertheless, this course also opened my eyes: Sri Sri reminds us that we are one World family, Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. Let us not forget that…

François Gautier

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#JNU, #Kashmir & Discrimination

I think  that we should use our own discrimination and judgment. Since all times, students have revolted against the established older – even though 99% eventually settle and work in the very society they once despised. This we have to accept. Many of us have done it in our time. There is no Sedition there, but youthfulness, enthusiasm, idealism, even if it is misguided and exploited by Marxists, Indian National Congress, the Media, etc.

I remember the 1968 student revolt in Paris: there was real raw joy, thirst for change, beauty even. Thus we need to give those boys and girls of #JNU some degree of sympathy.
But no sympathy at all for the Kashmiri Muslims, who are infiltrating them, brainwashing them, using their innocence to tell them that India is occupying the Valley of Kashmir and that the army is committing terrible human abuses against the poor Kashmiri Muslims. Here are the real facts:

1) Kashmir was for a very long time a Hindu kingdom, Shivaism was born there and since time immemorial, Hindus have considered Kashmir a holy place. Today they even go to Amarnath, in spite of all the dangers.
2) Buddhism flourished there too – and at some point the Valley of Kashmir was also a holy land for Buddhists
3) Most of the Kashmiris who clamour for independence today, are converted Hindus – and often converted by force. The invasions of Kashmir from the 10th century onwards, were some of the most ferocious and bloody known in the history of humanity. At some point, it is said, most of the Hindu population was either converted or wiped out.
4) There were still a million Hindus in the Valley of Kashmir in 1900. But slowly they started emigrating as Islam became more and more intolerant.
5) In 1947, every ruler of Indian states were given the choice by the British to choose between India and Pakistan. The Maharaja of Kashmir chose India. Furious, Pakistan sent soldiers disguised as mercenaries to take back one third of Kashmir. It is actually Pakistan who did not play the game of which they had accepted the rules.
6) It is the Muslims of the Valley of Kashmir, who STARTED an armed insurrection in the late 80’s, began killing Hindu leaders, raping, maiming and challenging the Indian army, who only responded to protect India’s interests.
7) Benazir Bhutto’s famous “Azad kashmir” of 1990, was the spark that ignited the fire in Kashmir. The next day – I was there – every mosque asked Hindus of the valley of Kashmir, either to convert to Islam or die. And they fled, 350.000 of them WITHOUT FIRING A SHOT IN SELF DEFENSE. AND THEY BECAME REFUGEES IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY.
8) The strife in Kashmir is NOT a freedom movement, it is a RELIGIOUS war that Islam has launched against a people that they consider kafir, infidel. It has no other justification.

This is a message you need to spread to the youth of India in JNU or elsewhere. It is because they are not informed of these simple and straightforward facts by their own Media that they have been misguided. FG

THE GOOD SIDE OF #ISLAM (VERSUS HINDUISM)

I have spoken so much against ‪#‎Islam‬ boys and girls, that I should say something good about it. I have also defended Hindus so much, that I may be allowed to criticize them too. So, here it is:
1) Contrary to Hindus, Muslims are proud to be Muslims and do no shy from flashing their identities and beliefs.
2) There is a universal brotherhood in Islam. When I came to India, I drove from Paris to Delhi in a a caravan of five cars, my best friend then (he died unfortunately) was Ahmed Mzali,a French Moroccan. In all the Muslim countries we crossed – Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan – he would say ‘Salaam Alikum’ and people would smile, open their doors, give us drinks, food, share their hookas.
‪#‎Hindus‬ however, must be some of the most selfish and individualistic people in the world. Rich Hindus never help their poorer brothers and sisters – thats why the Mother Teresa’s and Sonia Gandhis are able to flourish in India. A Hindu abroad never acknowledges another Hindu, but pretends he or she does not exist.
3) There are some boundaries in Islam – such as no alcohol, or smoking, which attracts new converts or even draws back Muslims who have strayed away from the path. Whereas in Hinduism, there are no such rules and drinking’s a huge problem for India – mostly by Hindus, rich and poor alike.
4) Muslims will die for their beliefs – in fact they will kill if they feel their God has been insulted, even in a mild way. You can insult Hindus and their Gods and Goddesses as much as you want and nothing will happen to you.
5) Muslims are very religious and pray five times a day towards the Mecca. Most Hindus don’t give a damn about their religion and will attend temple or pujas, once a year when their dear ones die.
6) Muslims feel for their brothers which they think are persecuted, in Palestine, Chechnya or Kashmir. A billion Hindus dont have not raised a finger about the 360.000 Kashmiri Pandits who became refugees in their own country after they were chased out by terror from the Valley of Kashmir in the 90’s.
7) Muslims make sure their kids learn bout the Koran, whether it is at home or in Madrasas. They also see to it that as soon as they can, they start praying. Hindus today don’t give a damn whether their children know about the Ramayana, the Mahabharata or the Bhagavad Gita, where every truth that needs to be known about life, after life, karma, dharma and soul is taught. Modern Hindu children do not go to temples, pray or know what is a puja.
8) Muslims have also learnt to compete with Christian College education by starting their own Colleges, with high academic standards, such as the Delhi Jamia Millia Islamia university, while making sure they are Islamic in their outlook, and structure.
Hindus do not care to have colleges where Hindu values are imparted. and the only one ever, the Benares Hindu University, should not be called ‘Hindu’ anymore, as nothing Hindu is taught there anymore.
8) Muslims love and cultivate a different language -Urdu for that matter. Sanskrit, the world’s oldest language, the most sophisticated and subtle, that could have a myriad uses such as programming, has totally fallen in disuse, as no Hindus cares to teach it to their children.
9) Muslims respect their historical heroes. Aurangzeb, for instance,whom many historians still consider as a stern but just emperor, though he was cruel even to his own family, is revered by most Muslims. In Pakistan, fathers still name their sons ‘Aurangzeb’. Compare this with the Hindus: Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, who alone with a few hundred men, stood his ground against the most powerful emperor of his times, has practically no place in Indian History books and is often described as a petty chieftain or even a plunderer. So is Maharana Pratap, the ONLY rajput who fought against the Moguls and actually defeated Akbar in Hadilgathi. Does Maharana Pratap have his rightful place in Indian History books. You tell me.
10) Muslims strive to preserve their identities and communities. they tend to live together in villages and towns, so that some bonding and common practices are kept. This is not true of Hindus who tend to merge and melt wherever they live – and in the process, lose some their identities and togetherness.
11) Mahatma Gandhi called Muslims ‘bullies ‘ and Hindus ‘cowards’. Was he far from the truth? It is true that Muslims will fight for their beliefs – albeit violently – and that Hindus at the least sign of trouble, go underground. (To be followed)
DO YOU AGREE WITH ME, GIRLS AND BOYS.? WE SHOULD ALSO RESPECT OUR ENEMIES, AS THE BHAGAWAD GITA TEACHES US. AFTER ALL, WE HAVE BEEN BORN TENS THOUSANDS OF TIMES AND WE MUST HAVE BEEN MUSLIMS TOO. AT LEAST I FEEL I WAS.

#BoycottHaider. In the wake of #VishalBhardwaj’s brilliant, but anti-national film, which makes villains of Indian soldiers & heroes of terrorists, it’s relevant to have a good look at Kashmir.

I have been covering Kashmir as a political correspondent for nearly 20 years and it has always been my feeling that Kashmiris, from the humble sikhara to the High Court lawyer not only dislike India, but would want nothing better than be attached to Pakistan. But various Indian Governments have preferred to fool the public by saying that it was only a ‘tiny’ minority which wants independence, while the majority of Kashmiri Muslims are ‘fed-up’ with militancy. The frequent massive demonstrations in Srinagar for Separation have come as a slap to the face of the successive Government. The priests and attacks against the Armanath pilgrimage have also deflated the financial sham of the Valley of Kashmir, who has been subsidized for decades at the tone of thousands of crores each year. The anger of the Hindu pilgrims is not only about being denied basic facilities on the way to Armanath, whereas Haj pilgrims get royal facilities and subsidies, but also about the injustice of Kashmiri Muslims settling all over India and making business in India, while no Indian can buy land in Kashmir, without speaking of the disproportionate amount of MP’s which the Valley has.

Western correspondents (and unfortunately often Indian journalists) have lionized for three decades the Kashmiri “freedom fighters” and demonized the “bad” Indian army (notice how the Indian Press always gleefully reports suicides of soldiers in Kashmir or any army scandal). But they should do well to remember Sri Aurobindo, who wrote in 1940: “in Kashmir, the Hindus had all the monopoly. Now if the Muslim demands are acceded to, the Hindus will be wiped out again.” (India’s Rebirth, p. 220) How prophetic ! Because nobody cares to remember today that Kashmiris were almost entirely Hindus or Buddhists, before they were converted by the invading Muslims six centuries ago. True, today these Muslims in Kashmir have not only accepted as their own a religion which their ancestors had rejected, but they have also often taken-up the strident cry of Islam. Does any one remember too, that at the beginning of the century, there still were 25% Hindus in the Kashmir valley and that today the last 350.000 Kashmiri Pandits have become refugees in their own land, they who originally inhabited the valley, at least 5000 years ago, a much bigger ethnic cleansing than the one of the Bosnian Muslims?

It’s a common refrain today in most newspapers to say that since Independence, India alienated Kashmiris through years of wrong policies. But those who have been in close contact with Kashmir, even in its heydays of tourism, know for a fact that as a general rule, there was only one thing that attached Kashmiris to India, it was the marvellous financial gains and state bounties that they made out of tourism. But those Kashmiris who are now settled in India make no bones about where their loyalty lies. Talk to them, specially if you are a Westerner, and after some time, they’ll open their hearts to you; whether it is the owner of this Kashmir emporium in a five star hotel in Madras, or the proprietor of that famous travel agency in Delhi: suddenly, after all the polite talk, they burst out with their loathing of India and their attachment to an independent Kashmir.

Nowadays Omar Abdullah and others want us to believe that with a certain degree of autonomy, Kashmiris will be appeased. This may be true in most Indian states, who are often rightly fed-up with Centre’s constant interference in their internal affairs, but basically, there is only one thing which Kashmiris are craving for and that is a plebiscite on whether they want to stay with India or secede…The answer in the Kashmir valley, would be a massive “no” to India (98%?). And as for Abdullah, he would be quickly eliminated by the militants, who would immediately seize control of Kashmir and attach it to Pakistan.

The Indian security forces in Kashmir are accused of all kind of atrocities. #VishalBhardwaj emphasizes it with a heavy hand in his film #Haider. But this is war, not a tea party! If India decides to keep Kashmir, it has to do so according to the rules set by the militants: violence, death and treachery are the order of the day. And men are men: after having been ambushed repeatedly, after having seen their comrades die, after weeks and weeks of waiting in fear, one day, they just explode in a burst of outrage and excesses. It should also be understood that the hardline Sunni influence of Pakistan and even Afghanistan, has radicalized the once softer sufi side of Kashmir and that it’s a painful, deadly and uphill battle for the Indian army, which should have the support of Indians.

Will India ever learn its lessons? China has again shown that it is not be trusted. It pretends to shake your hand and then slaps you in the face. At the same time that President Xi came to visit India, Chinese soldiers willfully made an incursion in Indian territory.

Did you know that the Chinese have used the Tibetan plateau to point their nuclear missiles at North Indian cities (exactly 90 IRBM -US Senate Foreign Committee report). More than that, India could never see that Tibet was the ideal buffer between her and China, if denuclearised and demilitarised, as the Dalai-lama has proposed in the European Parliament of Strasbourg. And Nehru’s betrayal of Tibet will come back to haunt India, as it did recently, when the Indian occupation of Kashmir was equaled with the Chinese occupation of Tibet. The Chinese killed 1,2 million Tibetans and wiped out in 45 years a wonderful 2000 year old civilisation. On the other hand, in Kashmir, there has been no genocide, only war casualties and India is fighting to retain what has been hers for 5000 years.

Tibet and China, the natural brothers

Did you know that Tibetan medicine is one of the greatest surviving natural medical systems of the world, along with Ayurveda ? Tibetan medicine strives to keep in balance within the body the subtle flow of energy, or Nyipa sum, which is made out of the five elements: air, fire, water, earth and space. And as in Ayurveda, 95% of Tibetan medicine is based on herbs, and precious metals, which are used for the seven kinds of precious pills known as Rinchen rilpo. The methods of diagnosis differ though from Ayurveda – and thereby lies the genius of Tibetan medicine – as the observation of the tongue, along with questioning and palpation, is the principal tool of diagnosis. Tibetan medicine always treats the cause or the root of the disease and illness and not the symptoms. The school of medicine began to flourish 1,200 years ago when Tibet drew on medicinal knowledge from China, Persia and India, buts its origins are shrouded in mystery and many of its secrets have been passed on by word of mouth or are buried in Tibetan writings. The four main medical ‘Tantras’, said to be taught by Buddha himself and written down in Sanskrit more than 800 years ago, are still used by Tibetan doctors today.

And what about Tibetan spirituality ? It is probably one of the finest in the world and as in Tibetan medicine, the emphasis is on self development. There are two ways to create happiness, says Tibetan spirituality: the first is external. By obtaining better clothes, better shelter, and better friends, we can find a certain measure of happiness and satisfaction. The second is through mental development, which yields inner happiness. However, these two approaches are not equally viable, as external happiness cannot last long without its counterpart…. “But, if you have peace of mind, emphasizes His Holiness the Dalai-lama, you can find happiness even under the most difficult circumstances”. The Dalai Lama also reminds us that developing peace of mind means paying attention to our daily attitudes and choices as well as taking the time to meditate and be prayerful.

Tibetan Buddhism helps us too in preparing for a good death by coming to terms with negative emotions – such as anger, attachment, hatred and jealousy – that restrict our freedom, block our joy and cause us to experience suffering.

Reading the remarkable Tibetan Book of Living and Dying makes it easier to overcome your own fear of dying and helps you take the responsibility to prepare for your death. It also helps you prepare yourself for the death and dying of your dear and loved ones. Tibetan spirituality could also offer a word or two of advice to terrorists who blow themselves up or ram planes against buildings: “There is no such thing as a doomed soul in Buddhism. But there is such a thing as a prolonged period of suffering over many lives brought on by negative karma. Karma truly means cause and effect, says again the Dalai-lama.’ The terrorists, by killing so many people, are creating a negative karma that keeps them in hell for a long time through many lifetimes of suffering.” And indeed, If you see the Dalai lama today, he radiates so much peace and compassion.

Unfortunately, China does not seem to understand the great value of Tibetan medicine and spirituality. A report by the United States Congress (Resolution Number 63) states that since 1950, when the Chinese invaded this wonderful, peace loving nation, which boasted the highest (although quite feudal) spiritualised society in the world, 1,2 million Tibetans have been killed, either directly: shooting, death squads, torture – or indirectly: concentration camps, prison, or famines. 6254 monasteries, most of them ancient, have been razed to the ground. 60% of religious, historical and cultural archives have been destroyed. A quarter million Chinese troops are occupying Tibet. One Tibetan out of ten is still in jail. There are today In Tibet 7,5 million Chinese settlers for six million Tibetans- in many places such as the capital, Lhassa, Tibetans are outnumbered two to one…

It is not over at all: The summer and autumn of 2001 saw the dismantling of the Serthar Institute, the leading centre for Buddhist scholarship and practice on the Tibetan plateau. Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok founded Serthar Institute in Larung Valley near Serthar town, Karze Prefecture, Sichuan Province in 1980, to meet the pressing need for renewal of meditation and scholarship all over Tibet in the wake of China’s Cultural Revolution (1966-77). This non-sectarian academy of over 8,000 monks and nuns, drew nearly 1,000 Mainland and Overseas Chinese practitioners as students. They were the first group to face expulsion and deportation to their places of origin in June and July 2001. The Chinese- appointed “work teams” next targeted the over 4,000 Tibetan nuns forming Serthar’s affiliated nunnery. The official Beijing directive was to reduce their number to 400 and destroy their meditation huts to ensure the eviction was permanent. According to western monitoring agencies, such as Human Rights Watch, over 1,000 dwellings had been destroyed at Serthar by the beginning of this year, thousands of monks and nuns had been successfully evicted, and Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok is believed to be incommunicado in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan.

Places like the Serthar Institute, house Tibetan treasures – spiritual, medical, cultural and social – which should be conserved, otherwise they will be lost to humanity for ever. “The Chinese should understand that they are destroying the last great living spirituality of their continent. The highlighting of the secrets and the vast knowledge based on the various inner sciences adopted by the Tibetans, goes beyond the research with sophisticated equipment and the Chinese Government should take-up its study in earnest”, says Claude Arpi, the author of the Fate of Tibet (Har Anand, New Delhi). “Above all, he continues, it is ethical learning which did not need the sacrifice of lives. These sacrifices are both in terms of lives lost and pain induced. It is clear that China, which has embarked on a fury of materialistic endeavours, needs spirituality”.

Germans have taken up the language of Sanskrit through their ancient roots and this sets an example for a country like China to take up the wealth of

knowledge that is prevalent in Tibet. Tibet is a land of inner sciences and self development processes which can be learnt through various disciplines. These need to be preserved like treasures for the world before it is too late. Tibet in no way presents any danger to China. The Dalai Lama himself said recently : “I am only asking for the Tibetans that they should have full power in the fields where they are capable of managing their own affairs. In the case of defence or foreign affairs, the Chinese can manage our affairs. We are not asking for a separation from China”.

François Gautier

THE TRUTH ABOUT ARTICLE 370

Politicians have been talking endlessly about Article 370, but many Indians still do not understand what it practically means.

It was drafted by Gopalaswami Ayyangar, Minister without portfolio in the first Union Cabinet of Nehru who felt that JK was not yet ripe for integration. Sardar Patel was so livid with the provisions of Article 370 that he had resigned on this issue.

WHAT DOES ARTICLE 370 IMPLY?
———————-
The state’s residents live under a separate set of laws, including those related to citizenship, ownership of property, and fundamental rights, as compared to other Indians

Unlike other State legislative Assemblies, J&K legislature has a six-year term.

Jammu & Kashmir has two flags; a separate State flag along with the National Flag.

Insulting of national symbols is not cognizable offence in Jammu & Kashmir.

Most of the laws except defence, foreign affairs, finance and communication, passed by Indian Parliament need to be approved by the State Government before they are made applicable in the State.

The citizens of J&K are governed by State-specific laws which come under the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, instead of those for the rest of India.

Under Article 370 the Indian Parliament cannot increase or reduce the borders of the State.

The Supreme Court has no jurisdiction in the State of Jammu & Kashmir.

The residents of J&K enjoy dual citizenship, but they could loose the J&K citizenship if they marry residents of other States.

If a woman marries a man in other Indian States, she loses her citizenship. Whereas if any woman marries a Pakistani, she will be entitled to have a citizenship of Jammu & Kashmir.

The Article also gives Pakistan’s citizens entitlement to Indian citizenship, if he marries a Kashmiri girl.

Majority of Indian laws including RTE, RTI and the writ of agencies like CBI, CAG are not applicable in J&K.

No outsider can purchase land in the State.

The Centre has no power to declare financial emergency under Article 360 in the State. It can declare emergency in the state only in case of war or external aggression.

This is what Ambedkar said about Article 370: “‘”You wish India should protect your borders, she should build roads in your area, she should supply you foodgrains, and Kashmir should get equal status as India. But Government of India should have only limited powers and Indian people should have no rights in Kashmir. To give consent to this proposal, would be a treacherous thing against the interests of India and I, as the Law Minister of India, will never do it.”

SO LET’S TAKE A POLL: DO YOU THINK ARTICLE 370 SHOULD BE REMOVED?

KASHMIR AND DR KARAN SINGH

Once all the euphoria about the army saving the Kashmiris of the Valley evaporates, Kashmir will be back to square one and its youth will resume stoning the jawans. Indeed, There seems to be no solution to Kashmir. It also incarnates the irrevocable enmity between India and Pakistan: India will not surrender Kashmir, because she considers rightly that it has been part of her territory for 3000 years. Pakistan will not surrender its claim on the Valley, because it estimates that the Kashmir valley is a majority Muslim region and that under the (mad) logic of partition, it should have reverted to Islamabad. And both countries are trying by force, the one openly, the other covertly, to stake their claims on Kashmir. Thus, there is no issue, except war, a nuclear conflict maybe – and everyone will be the loser: who will have Kashmir then if there is nothing left of India and Pakistan?

All politicians have tried their hand at solving this problem and all have failed. Yet there is one politician in India, who not only understands all these intricacies, but who might be acceptable to both Hindus and Muslims of Kashmir: that is Dr Karan Singh. Dr Karan Singh is a much-misunderstood personality and it may be worthwhile to look at his life and achievements.

No doubt, he was born in a privileged family: son of the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, Sir Hari Singh, and his lovely wife, Maharani Tara Devi, he saw the light in the prestigious Martinez hotel in Cannes, France. The birth of a Yuvaraj (heir apparent) was feted by the people of Jammu & Kashmir, whether Muslims or Hindus.

Yet, if you read carefully his biography, you will see that Dr Karan Singh, had a difficult life. Born a prince, yes, but with a strict and overbearing father, who allowed him to see his mother for only one hour every day, whereas the young Karan doted on her. In time, he also realized that all was not well between his mother and father and that they lived separate lives. He was then sent to public school where he got no privileged treatment. Finally, at the age of 18, the muscle on his right hip and leg began to decay and he had to undergo a major surgery, which was a traumatic experience for him. The operation involved permanent immobilisation of the hip joint through a bone graft and a six-inch metal pin, which kept him in bed for 18 months, in a lonely New York hospital. Dr Karan Singh would now limp for life, but he never complained about it and that did not stop him from playing tennis and campaigning tirelessly.

True, he became regent of Kashmir in 1949, but under difficult circumstances: his father, disagreeing with Nehru, left the State which had by then acceded to India, and Karan Singh was later appointed as Sadar-i-Riyasat and finally as Governor of Kashmir. His father’s shadow was not there anymore, but Nehru had replaced him and was sometimes an overbearing presence on the young man. In 1967, he finally came on his own, joined Mrs. Gandhi and later became the youngest union minister ever in her cabinet, being reelected 4 times as an MP from Udhampur. Today Dr Karan Singh, after having been a brilliant ambassador in the US, is chairman of the ICCR, while being involved in many trusts and charities.

It has been said sometimes that Dr Karan Singh is an indecisive man. This also far from true. He may belong to the Congress and not of the BJP, but he is one of the few politicians who has a deep understanding of Hinduism and who has remained faithful to his inclinations. Dr Karan Singh is the foremost expert in the world on Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy and he is at present chairman of the Auroville Foundation, the international city near Pondichery founded by the Mother and based on Sri Aurobindo’s vision of a new humanity.

Now for Kashmir. Dr Karan Singh is very clear about its history and its future: “The real problem with Kashmir, he says, started with my ancestors, the Doghras, mostly in the 19th century: by treaty, conquest, or inter-marriages, they created a state comprised of five major units, which are fundamentally very different from each other in terms of geography and ethnicity: the territory around Gilgit, which belongs basically to Central Asia; Ladhak, which is an extension of Tibet; what is today under Pakistan control around Muzarrafad, which is Punjabi Muslim; Jammu, which in essence belongs to Himachal Pradesh; and finally the valley of Kashmir, of course, which is Indian Muslim at 95 % and also belongs to the Kashmir Pandits before they had to flee”.

Dr Singh also emphasizes that the KP community never tried to rule Kashmir: “they were only the babus, the secretaries, the teachers, there might have been some exploitation, but on the whole they lived peacefully with the Muslims”.
Is Kashmir essentially an artificially-constructed entity then? “Yes, he replies, it is the exact replica of what was Tito’s Yugoslavia before it was broken in parts, or the Austrian empire, which was an amalgam of different states. All empires are artificial: look at the one Alexander created, or Ashoka’s empire, or Charlemagne’s… Often, they are also governed by non-local rulers: even my family was non-Kashmiri”.

When ones asks Dr Karan Singh if he has accepted Partition, he replies: “No, but today, there is certain logic to the split of Kashmir: two of the “foreign” portions – Punjabi Muslim Muzarrafad and Central Asian Gilgit – are with Pakistan; and the three “Indian” parts are with India : Jammu, which is 2/3 Hindu; Ladhak which is 55% Buddhist (and 45% Muslim); and the valley which is now 99% Indian Muslim”.

What is the solution then? “Since 1947, he smiles, Pakistan has fought four wars to regain Indian Kashmir, five, if you include the proxy war they are waging on us today. In my opinion, I don’t think they will ever succeed. The only solution is a European type of Union in the subcontinent. Look at France and Germany: they fought three wars over two centuries; France even fought a hundred years war with England and they are still bickering at each other over the EU, or the Euro! We only have been at it for 60 years. A Europe style type of union is a logic thing today. We could have a single rupee in South Asia, no borders, free trade… And a united Kashmir”…

Is it true that Muslims and Hindu leaders respect him ? “Kashmir has always been inclusive of all religions, answers the son of Kashmir. Vashnaism was born there, Sufism flourished there, the hard-line Sunnis of Pakistan have tried to change all this, I don’t think they have succeed, as today the Kahmiri Muslim is still more tolerant than his Saudi or Pakistani brother. Yes, I still feel deeply for Kashmir, I am an elder statesman, and have been in politics for nearly 60 years! “

So could Dr Karan Singh be the man of the moment for Kashmir, and solve an imbroglio which has eluded all Indian politicians? Will Destiny at last beckon this man of depth, who was never really been entrusted with responsibilities corresponding to his qualities ? He started with Kashmir and maybe he will finish his career with Kashmir, if the new government of Shri Narendra Modi is visionary and bold enough to entrust him with this task.