The Changing Identities Of A Kashmiri

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We have clearly shown that we lack awareness. Let us know about the history, the beginnings, our roots. Do our history books mention it? How much is the initiative from our side to know about it? A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Since we don’t know of our history we are easily misled by others. Kashmiris’, in the bygone era have been described as active, energetic and dynamic in nature, and were considered unrivaled craftsmen for their intricate and beautiful designs.

David Durani

Kashmiri women supporters of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi cheer as he arrives to address a public rally in Srinagar.

Few days back as I sat down to write this article, I thought hard about what exactly to address, what would my readers find interesting? Should I write an informative piece or should it just be about a trending issue?  Like many of my contemporaries, I was sitting outside the state and trying to draw an inference about the reading preferences of my people in Kashmir.

That’s when I realized that Kashmiris, like everything else that changes with time, had changed too. I would refrain from using the term ‘evolve’ because we have instances from our rich history substantiating that ours has been one of the most enlightened societies. We can refer to the progressive Kashmiri society that once took pride in the distinction of hosting the third International Buddhist Council. However, a notable change and one of the major crises that has emerged over the years has been one of ‘identity’ for the people.

Kashmir in the past was a prototype of a composite culture that was moulded by the sufi saints. But conflict, like it did to everything else, damaged the unified nature of Kashmiri society. While the disturbance of the violent period harmed the essence of Kashmiriyat, it continues to induce resignation and frustration among the inhabitants till date.

Apart from the territorial conflict, there are conflicts of loyalty and identity among the Kashmiri population. Persistent period of turmoil has nurtured a breed of people who no longer find meanings in words like ‘accountability’ and ‘good governance’. Sadly, the unrelenting spell of subjugation has had its own ill effects and has induced in us another kind of slavery, the slavery to easy earned money and to wrong our own people. Children born with violence in the backdrop have little idea about the rich cultural heritage of their homeland; neither does is matter to them. We have clearly shown that we lack awareness. Let us know about the history, the beginnings, our roots. Do our history books mention it? How much is the initiative from our side to know about it? A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Since we don’t know of our history we are easily misled by others. Kashmiris’, in the bygone era have been described as active, energetic and dynamic in nature, and were considered unrivaled craftsmen for their intricate and beautiful designs. The identity seems to have changed as they lost their mid as touch.

For the people of the state, the toughest battle is the one of fighting with their own self. We have given in to self-centeredness and dependency instead of standing up for nobility and self-sustainability. Why do we crib about the absence of a good leader to take us forward? A proper perspective can be developed by the directions of the holy books. We do not need to chant slogans in favour of any person? We need to fight our own battles against dishonesty, malpractices and treachery. Let us develop appreciation for battling against everyday incidents of these. Then there is less threat. If we discard the culture of fake promising, it will lead to increased accountability. For this, we have to participate in the movement of change and contribute from our sides. Maximising indigenous “ownership” and participation is fundamental to the cause — the people concerned need even more right and ability to decide, when they have borne such huge costs of things gone wrong.

How would we like the world to know us? As noble, culturally rich and hospitable or as people with low credibility, dishonest and self-centred? By and large, this is a conscious choice that we need to make but more importantly, it is the way we live our lives that will define our identity.

David Durani is a development communications specialist with experience of working with the grassroot as well as international organizations in the social development sector. He is presently working as Manager-Communications for ICCO Cooperation.

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