The Richest Poor Man In The Valley Essays

He doesn’t think that India is a mostly democratic, mostly peaceful, mostly progressive, caring nation state; quite the opposite, in fact.Gilani is, to him and I suspect all I met, a Kashmiri Gandhi; and the Indian government a force of severe oppression.Today, we sailed through without anyone so much as giving a second look, with the army men going about their daily business as in countless bucolic army cantonments across India.

Now this land was said to be occupied by the Rajwar Tigers, an Indian Army unit.Hashim told me, looking away from me as if not to hurt my Indian sensibilities, how the massive metal gates (which sit on the road) were shut at 8 pm till 6 am - one just couldn't cross Zangli no matter what the cause or emergency.Another army camp ahead is Duniwari where one just had to get off and walk, and those who the army suspected could be taken in for questioning for days, even weeks.Big private capital deeply dislikes uncertainty, and has not yet established a collaboration with modernity and ‘development’ in Kashmir. Kashmir, unlike any other region within the three successor states of British India, is specially burdened with the political complexity of the Partition of India and the communal Hindu-Muslim fires that bedeviled us then; and continues to deepen unbridgeable fault lines.The weak commercial force of mass tourism, an intransigent and aimless Kashmiri nationalism, the powerful influence of a popular Islamic leadership, meddling by the military-religious hands of the Pakistani state, and the shadow of a resurgent Hindu nationalism in India come together with poverty in the villages in a multitude of ways; as I experienced on a visit to the Lolab Valley, 115 kilometers north of Srinagar in May 2016.Ask a thinking Goan how burgeoning domestic tourism over the last decade has overwhelmed their limited infrastructure, destroyed pristine beaches, cut down decades old trees to expand main roads, splayed an unprecedented quantity of consumer plastic on hill sides, and created traffic chaos on narrow village roads; how tens of thousands of Indians from other states and other nationalities have settled down in what was once a languid backwaters with a certain pace of life.Goa is now overcome by commerce that compromises even the wealthy who financially benefitted the most from mining, construction, hotels, restaurants and taxi services.It was surreal, though, passing through the town of Sopore, the district of Baramulla, and the town of Kupwara whose names one associates only with violence.We passed Vatavan Chogal, with Badam Bagh opposite which Hashim told me, matter-of-factly though I suspect to hide his sadness and anger, is 200 acres of land that once belonged to Afsal Guru.Mass tourism to a favoured destination by the newly empowered middle classes is a sustained and coordinated assault by these agents of modernity and consumerism on the culture of the locals and on the environment, till such time only a vague memory is left of what once was.Youth specially ignore this change, immersed as they are in the new by their energy, without knowledge of their real loss; by the time they realize it, it is usually too late.

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