Few years back when Zubin Mehta held his musical concert in Kashmir, he was right in saying “Kashmir chose me”! Of course, pain draws artists. This is something universal. Fact remains that the bruised beauty of Kashmir has been ‘attracting’ public figures, renowned performers, singers and celebrities since last three decades.
Kashmir has become a visiting home for many such activities. Conferences, convocations, trainings, workshops, sports events, festivals and exhibitions have been morphed into an element of political discourse here.
It has happened gradually, and because of the prevailing conflict, it is something inevitable. Conflict in any area has multiple dynamics to nurture and cultivate. That’s why different players, lobbies and groups take a mileage out of them as per their respective agendas.
No event here is the first of its kind. Many shows have been held. From welcoming ghazal maestro Jagjit Singh to performances where our young danced to the Junoon tune (first international pop band to visit Kashmir in 2008), to flourishing rock bands in Kashmir sponsored by various agencies—the tamasha goes on. Facing a few hiccups, the ‘entertainment industry’ has managed to stay alive with patronage from many among us as well as those at the helm of affairs.
As such, organizing entertainment shows is no big and novel happening. However, our responses to such activities render it so. Wondrous if organizing international shows could alter the status of Kashmir anyway! Had it been so, the Sayonee wave would have thumped the tables of reality in favor of its organizers. Few years down, Zubin was not to be called for sending the same message—that Kashmir is not only a beautiful prison, it is also a beautiful paradox!! Strange.
Hardcore realities rarely change. The so-called ‘cultural diplomacy’ may have trespassed its domain. However, actual diplomacy is getting more tough and too political in today’s world.
It is becoming hard to hoodwink the informed public and influence their opinion effortlessly. Maneuvering may help temporarily. So, for organizers of such tamashas’, it only works when it is publicized and hyped by its challengers because that drags it loudly into the public domain, lending it attention, meaning and import which otherwise might not have been easily possible. Besides, in media parlance, controversy fetches popularity.
Making things controversial magnifies the glare of promotion.
If only those who ‘oppose’ such events could see beyond the apparent and save themselves falling into ‘traps’ that make up the game of conflict. Moreover, for opponents to be credible, subjectivity and selectivity cannot help.
In Kashmir, there are instances where silence was deliberate and there are examples where noise has been detrimental. Opposing anything is okay provided we also succeed in listening out to the music in our backyard. The growing generation of young rappers and rockers, who want to pitch, is a reality.
They do believe that transition from guns to guitars is also an unassailable mode of expressing resentment. That we haven’t heard them seriously is the reason of encouragement they get from other quarters that showcase them for their own interest. From musical training to instruments, this generation is receiving patronage from ‘others’.
Equally, it applies to those young boys and girls who are looking for various skill development openings and land up at places that ‘train’ them in things other than mere vocational skills. The same holds true for increasing number of young jumping into sports for proving their mettle.
Bottomline: There are some critical areas where we need to listen our exploited youth patiently. There are issues that need intervention and monitoring; the matters that have thrown up ethical challenges before those breathing conflict day in and day out, falling prey to these tamashas’. For we need to understand the fate of so many young people who are struggling to muddle through the harshly hidden impacts of conflict in Kashmir—the dilemmas that are genuine as well as distressing.