The book titled ‘Kashmir: Before the Accession And After’ by Professor Rattan Lal Hangloo is an excellent work with several interrelated objectives. It has seven chapters and each chapter is brilliantly linking disparate bodies of writing and provides an understanding that is somewhat novel. The author’s rationale for selecting the varied aspects such as ‘Kashmir Problem in Pre- 1947 era to post-1947’, ‘Urge for Democracy’, ‘Contemporary Crisis’, ‘Global linkages of Kashmir Problem and violence’, become more persuasive by the end of the book.
Adopting a critical analysis, Professor Rattan Lal Hangloo, who is very well known not only as a historian, academician, and administrator but also for his objective intellectual ideas and forthrightness, provides freshness of perspective on Kashmir issue. He asserts that ‘Kashmir Problem’ is rooted in historical and political dichotomies that have often been overlooked. His critical and transformative approach, without any prejudice, develops one of the central premises of how inclusionary politics can overcome historically entrenched and institutionalized patterns of abuse, if it wishes. In this book the emphasis is on discourse and ideas and their influence on events, a focus that enables the author to challenge prejudicial interpretations of Kashmir problem.
Professor Hangloo brilliantly calls for a fresh look over the polarizing political approaches, state-societal relations and characterization of perpetrators and victims. Given the great academic credentials of Hangloo and his focus on inclusiveness, it is surprising how he has restricted his discussion on Human rights issues in the valley. However, that does not overshadow the greatest contribution of the book to emerging research on Kashmir. The entire analysis is packed with ideas which are innovative and potentially of much wider significance. As the efforts to resolve Kashmir problem intensify, it becomes increasingly important to assess the effectiveness of these measures. He clearly and boldly points to the damage done to Kashmir earlier by a specific dominant mode of legitimating authority. About many steps taken in past, the author clearly indicates how these steps are devoid of rationality and loaded with ideological constructs rather than reflections of ground reality. He emphasizes the need to understand the Kashmir’s political culture in terms of relationships of complementarity as well as contradiction.
The author has examined plethora of convincing evidence and challenged dominant approaches that have done more harm than good. It becomes amply clear from the book that Hangloo always believes diversity, reasonable disagreement and autonomy are most effectively promoted in every liberal political order and certain items of multiculturalism and constitutional entrenchment of fundamental rights is a strong linkage between Indian state and Kashmir region and that has followed a serious neglect. The book is a major achievement in itself to have been able to present so many diverse ideas in a coherent and well integrated way. The conclusion of the book is really thought provoking and engaging fully with all the controversies that ignore interconnectedness between national and regional political interests.
It is a considerable achievement by Hangloo to have been able to weave together the countless political, historical and theoretical complexities of our contemporary times into a sustained multilayered and subtle argument about the resolution of the problem. If our politicians and policy makers love wisdom on some deep level then this book provides extensive scope for them to order all values in a rational and democratic way as indicated by Hangloo and not in presupposed hegemonic style. The reading of this book is a must for it also provides a vantage point from which to analyze and understand future shifts awaiting us .
Rattan Lal Hangloo was a Professor of History at the Hyderabad Central University & Vice Chancellor of Kalyani University West Bengal and University of Allahabad. He was also honorary Chancellor Noble International University Toronto Canada.
Dr. Fayaz Ahmad is Assistant Professor at the Markaz-I Noor, Centre for Shaikh-ul-Aalam Studies, University of Kashmir. Views expressed are personal.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.