There is one aspect of the Kashmir region on which the whole world agrees without mincing any words. This is about the geographic beauty of the land – geographic in a sense inclusive of all the natural attributes of any space. No wonder, this is called the Paradise on Earth. This appreciation is irrespective of whether the persons have visited the region, or have only seen the photographs or have only heard the stories related by those who have blessed with visits to the region.
While this dimension of geographic beauty is taken for granted, and for widespread admiration, the issues relating to the population, particularly political, have drawn long and differential articulations. This issue is very well put by Navnita Chadha Behera in the 2006 book on Demystifying Kashmir thus: “With its extraordinary medley of races, tribal groups, languages, and religions, Jammu and Kashmir is one of the most diverse regions in the subcontinent. Even its majority community of Kashmiri Muslims is not a unified, homogeneous entity in terms of its political beliefs, its ideological leanings, or the political goals of the decade-long insurgent movement in the Kashmir Valley. There are sharp divisions between those demanding that Jammu and Kashmir become an independent state, those seeking autonomy for the state and some wants to reconcile their differences with Govt of India through constitutional mechanisms guaranteeing their political rights. Nor does the Kashmiri political leadership necessarily speak for the diverse minorities of the state, including Gujjars, Bakkarwals, Kashmiri Pandits, Dogras, and Ladakhi Buddhists. Across the Line of Control, the Northern Areas also presents a rich mosaic of languages, castes, Islamic sects, and cultures, which cannot be subsumed under the overarching category of “Muslim brotherhood” without distorting the diverse political aspirations of the region’s
residents. It is essential to recognize the deeply plural character of Jammu and Kashmir’s society on both sides of the line of control and the political aspirations and choices of its minority communities. The irreducible and homogenizing parameters of ideology and nationalism usually applied in analyzing the Kashmir conflict are clearly at variance with the plural realities and diverse political demands of the region’s various communities, ranging from affirmative discrimination to more autonomy, separate constitutional status within India or Pakistan, and outright secession. …..the Kashmir conflict revolves around many complex, and multilayered issues, emanating from equally complex causes. Any hope for creating critical political opportunities that will allow the parties to explore ways to find a just, viable, and lasting solution to the conflict depends on deeper insight into these complexities.”
Despite the long and varied perspectives on the issues seizing the mind of the people in the region, my main argument here is that over time the geographic beauty is being increasingly coupled with the qualitative beauty of the people in the region. My admiration of the spiritual beauty of the people is based mainly on two foundations.
First, I have always wondered as to why – despite the so-called public attention to the complex differential articulations – there has not been a generalisation of the attitude of radical political ingratitude among the people. True, there is heterogeneity in the ethnicity of the population residing in the region, but this generalisation has not happened even among the critical majority population.
Second, till very recently and for about a decade the world has been concerned with Defeating the Terrorists Who Want To Destroy the World (read ISIS); this is the title of a 2016 by Terry Law and James Gilbert. The worst impact of the worldviews of these organisations have been borne by a region having more or less similar origin of the mystical perspectives of the majority population in the Kashmir region. But the Kashmir region has not had any impact of the worldview of the dreaded violent groups expanding elsewhere. The world needed to attend to this issue: “ISIS is here, and regardless of which candidate actually has the best ideas, you need: to be informed and settled in your own views to know how to pressure authorities at every level to implement policies that make sense to you to take practical action to make your town, your home and your family as safe and secure as possible.” The response of the people of the Kashmir region on these two have been very positive; they have retained their core values respecting humanism and social peace. As we all are aware, the recent years have experienced widespread adoption of violence as a way to manifest political ingratitude in quite many places around the globe. But this trend has not been able to make any inroad into the society of the Kashmir region, though there could have been fears of this happening in the early phases. This sustenance of the beauty of the core cultural values establishes beyond doubt certain truths. First of all, the Muslims and Islam are not monolithic as the westerners are used to viewing; there is a rich diversity in the worldviews being adopted; “Instead, gaining even a cursory understanding of it is much like learning a new language.” Second, the mystical values adopted and practised by the majority population have held the test of time and society. The understanding of renunciation and the adopted values of knowing the inner to appreciate the outside have certainly enhanced the coherence of the society and maintenance of peace. Is not this the height of Pragmatism: “The important thing to see, suggests Wiggins, is that the requirement on any genuine belief is that a genuine belief must be such that there is something that it is answerable to, or sensitive to, or responsive to. If a belief is answerable to experience, broadly construed, then it aims at the truth.” Is not this the perfection of rationalism: “The primary and customary sense of the term “rationalism” characterizes a philosophical attitude toward knowledge. Knowledge itself is partly characterized both by the subjects, or possessors, of knowledge and by the objects of knowledge, the things to be known. Rationalism, therefore, bears on ontology since it requires an understanding of the natures of these subjects and objects. There are also characteristically rational processes or techniques for obtaining or developing knowledge, so rationalism bears on method, philosophical education, and the nature of philosophy itself.”