Friday, December 7, 2018

Jokes from the Dead


This happened somewhere around early 1990s. Pandit Dina Kak still had a lot of friends in Srinagar. He would write letters to them. In his letters he would ask some of his friends to send him latest copies of local newspaper. Sometimes ask for newsletters of JKLF. Some of his dear friends would oblige him, so they would send him old copies Al-Safa, Aftaab...this is the best they could do for him. When the papers would arrive at home, he would have his cup of tea and could often be seen smiling reading the paper. Sometimes he would even laugh out loud. Dina Kak's wife would get angry. She wondered why he still needed to read these papers published in Srinagar. After all these were the papers that just a few years ago had carried threat letters to pandits from militants. She wondered if he had become one of those self-hating pandits. Or, if he had become a sadist. Maybe a trip to Dr. Susheel Razdan was on needed. Then one day when she had had enough, she refused to serve him tea while he was reading one of the papers. Under duress Dina Kak finally explained:


When I read Hindustan Times or Times of India...there is no mention of Kashmiri Pandits anywhere. Occasionally there is a photograph of some migrant camp with a caption about how all pandits were originally elite class. All I can read is how militants are making the government dance and how government is claiming that things are going to be fine year. However, when I read these papers from Kashmir, it is the same story, but occasionally I find article by former friends about how Pandits are doing great outside Kashmir, how the government is pampering us silly, how money is dropping from the sky. I feel rich. I feel powerful. We run the congress, we run BJP, we run RSS and sometimes we are godless communists too. I read how we control the media, the government and the Army...even US and Israel. If you read them, if a few years we Pandits would be ruling the world. It makes me feel a whole lot better.

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This happened somewhere in the 90s. After it became clear that "Panun Kashmir" was not a possibility, the pandits, as usual, gathered in Vikram Park by the side of canal to deliberate upon the issue. It was in this meeting that Er. Shiban Ji The Great gave his famous solution to KP predicament. He was the last speaker for the day, it was late afternoon, much like the heat of the sun, the meeting was now ebbing. But, Er. Shiban Ji still had fire in him and his word smelt of embers from a fresh Kangri.

"Brothers, listen and listen carefully. What I am about to suggest may offend most of you but I have done all the calculation and this is the only way forward. It is a question of life and death. Rather a question of death. And only death can provide the answer. Our Muslim cousins are fighting this war using deaths and deaths it is we should fight back using. Things have to change. Our deaths have to change. I propose we change our death rituals. No KP in death should be burnt any more. Let's start having burials for our dead. And those burial grounds be in Kashmir. Our living can live in clusters of choice, they won't allow it, let our dead stay in clusters, in Kashmir. Dead pose not threat. If Afghan and Pakistani Mujahids can find burial place in Kashmir. If they can claim a piece of Kashmir, no reason why a KP should not find a little corner. After all how much space does a dead need. Don't walk away, please listen. I have done the calculation. 4 feet by 2 feet. That is almost 3 square meter. That's 0.0003 hectare. In 30 years, 50000 thousand of us would be dead, victims of heat, snake bites, old age, accidents, heartaches, nostalgia and homesickness . That's 0.0003* 50000 hectares or almost 30 acres. That is almost 5 times the size of Melbourne cricket field. In 30 years, if our progenies chose to return, let this land be our Panun Kashmir, let the dead and the living find a piece of land in Kashmir. Till that time, let the dead find peace in Kashmir."

Like always not many heard him that day too. Those who did, laughed. Then they too left. Er. Shiban Ji was alone. "Let them burn, I shall be buried," Shiban Ji promised himself. A decade later Er. Shiban Ji moved to Germany, after the death of his wife, his son who was working as an Engineer with a famous automobile company, would not let him live alone in Jammu. Years raced to another decade. As Er. Shiban Ji aged, his brain got the maggots of alzheimer. It was then that he started begging his children that he be buried after death. "Let them burn, I shall be buried," he would say all the time. When the time came, the son listened and left no stone untuned to have his father's last wish fulfilled. Er. Shiban Ji now lies buried in Germany at a place near Dachau.

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This happened somewhere around 2010: in village Dupbal a rumor was going around that a dead body had been found. It was of a young woman. Clashes were imminent. Village elder prepared for the worst as young men had started gathering. However, authorities sent a policeman in civics who talked to the elder. Elder was jubilant. This was good news. He gathered the villagers and announced,"The body was of old Shanta ji who never left Kashmir. Let the villagers gather and celebrate Kashmiriyat. Set up a funeral pyre."

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Many moons ago, radio presenter and expert of Asian affair Oral Stain asked great Kashmiri historian and Tikka Master Gundhlal Dolmut what is the one event in history that if undone would have changed the course of Indian history.

Gundhlal took a deep long drag from his hookah and closing his green eyes, in a deep sonorous voice replied:

"Spain should have remained under caliphate. Fall of Al-Andalus was a tragedy. Had the dream sustained, America would still have been discovered, ships would have still sailed, mountains of Gold moved, natives would have found one true god at the hand of soul catchers, they would have got rail roads and bathing soaps, civilisation would dawned but all the Red Indians would have been Muslim. It would have been real kal-doudas for Anglo Saxons. They would have been still busy trying to quieten their own middle-east... their own many Palestines and Kashmirs."

Stain Sahib was irritated by the answer. Dolmut was not making much sense. Stain Sahib erupted, "What has that got to do with India?"

Gundhlal opened his eyes, as if from some deep slumber and calmly replied, "Oh..you want to know about real Indians and not the other Indians!" Gundhlal took another drag from his Gur-Gur, inhaling the Jahnami Tamookh, he continued:

"Lalitaditya should not have helped Chinese in their fight against Turks and Arabs over Tibet. Tibet should have fallen to caliphate. Kashmir would have been Muslim in any case, but Tibet would have been Muslim too. Today, China would have still busy handling Tibet issue. There would have been self-immolations of another kind."

The comment brought a wry smile to Oral Stain's face. In his leather bound private notebook, he wrote a note on the episode: Illustrious Kashmiri Pandits have lost their mind in exile.

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Saturday, December 1, 2018

Pandit Prem Nath Bazaz on Article 370


"Was the special status and autonomy conferred on the State under Article 370 to pave way for integration of Kashmir with the rest of India by assuring State people of their political, social and cultural freedom or was it meant to allow the State politicians, especially Kashmir Muslim leaders, untrammelled opportunity for exploitation of the ignorant, gullible and backward massed? It was a moot point which probably never occurred to stalwarts of the Congress party in early days of independence when they evinced fullest confidence in the honesty, sincerity and love for teeming millions of National Conference leadership. Capture and enjoyment of power brought an awareness to the favorite leaders that the integration of the State with India, however desirable, was antagonistic to their private interest; no sooner than the objective was achieved, their own importance would cease and opinion of State people would grow in importance and weight.

Therefore, to keep people in darkness and not to make them politically conscious and socially awakened became a vested interest of Kashmir politicians. A policy was evolved to make Kashmir Muslims feel perpetually in terror of the hostile Hindu majority and depend upon the local coreligionist leaders for protection against it. Article 370 was frequently maligned and abused, and conditions were created not to allow it to outgrow its utility as originally intended but to make it a permanent feature of the Indian Constitution. In this atmosphere while the leaders thrived, the position of average Kashmiri worsened. The Central leadership of the Congress was caught in a web woven by the National Conference leaders before they could realize what was happening.


When this ugly aspect of the State politics came dimly to their notice or was forced on their attention by realities of the situation, National leaders could, in the beginning, hardly believe it; a little later they pooh-poohed it; and finally felt helpless to effectively deal with it. Consequently, in disregard of the growing resentment of the people, the State was handed over to the leaders as their fief with the result that it kept the problem of integration of Kashmir people with the rest of India alive for the past thirty years and till today."


~ Democracy through Intimidation and Terror. The Untold Story of Kashmir Politics, Pandit Prem Nath Bazaz, 1978

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Census Numbers of Kashmiri Pandits, 1921-1931


Date to refute the propaganda that perpetuates the myth that Kashmiri Pandits were elite exploitative class of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Year 1921


Total KP population
: 55055
30947 Male +24108 Female

Working Male: 17919
Working Female: 1389
Dependents: 35744





People whose primary means of income was cultivation:

Male: 4376
Female: 731

People who worked as Agents/Managers/Forest officers, their clerks, rent collectors:
Male: 294

Field Labourers/Woodcutters:
Male: 2

Herders/Milkmen/Livestock:

Male: 4

Artisan and other workmen:

Male: 272
Female: 339

Transport Owner/Manager:

Male: 10

Labourer/boatmen/palki carrier:
Male: 68

Traders:

Male: 2070
Female: 12

People whose Principal means of income was State Service:

Male: 3844
Female: 31

People who had State job as a means of additional income:

Male: 481
Female: 1

People who had some other means of income on top of State job:
Male: 208
Female:5

People holding Religious Posts:

Male: 74

Lawyer/Doctor/Teacher:

Male: 57

Other Jobs:

Male: 129
Female: 1

Living on their incomes from the funds:

Male: 98
Female: 4

Employed in Domestic service:

Male: 1742
Female: 46

Contractors/Clerks/ Cashiers:

Male: 51

Labourers:
Male: 47
Female: 4

Beggars/Criminals/in jail

Male: 80
Female: 3

People who earned from Land:

Male: 1025
Female: 214

Commissioned Gazetted Officer in Public Force:

Male: 1

Gazetted Officer in Public Administration:Male: 6

Other Public Administration:

Male: 2970
Female: 3
Literacy rates

Total KP population: 55055

Total Literate: 14,740
of them 14456 Male and 284 Female

Total Illiterate: 40,303
of them 16, 479 Male and Female 23824.

Literate in English: 5,154.
of them 5104 Male and 50 Female

That means 73.21 % of KPs were illiterate (53% of Males were illiterate).  That should puncture the myth (that even KPs like to boast): KPs were highly educated class.

However, the edge was only with the 9.36% English literate KPs among 55055 and 34.97 % among the KP literates. No other community had more number in this category.

To compare: There were only 5231 educated KMs in the state with their population of 796392. Of them only 340 knew English and among them only 5 woman knew English.

Things were to change from KPs and KMs in the next decade.

Year 1931


In 1931, Kashmiri Pandit population increased by 14.6 percent. Though it might sound high. The total increase in number was only 8056. From 55055 it moved to 63088. Number of educated people among KPs increased by 31.9 percent. 

It is claimed in myths that KMs were deliberately kept uneducated by the Maharaja (and some even claim by KPs), however, the reason for illiteracy among Muslims is explained in the 1931 report:

"The backwardness of Muslims is the result of their concentration on the soils which does not permit the agriculturist to devote sufficient time and energy for his personal education or the education of his children."

Yet, efforts were made to get them educated. In the State, the number of schools doubled from 670 in 1921 to 1246 in 1931. [Shri Pratap College, Srinagar gave Rs 1500 scholarship for Muslims and Prince of Wales College, Jammu gave Rs 3000.]

The census report says on the progress among KMs.

"The community that has evinced the keenest interest in augmenting its ranks of literates in beyond doubt the Kashmiri Muslim. In population they have added only 70 persons to 100 of their strength but in literacy they have more than quadrupled the number. "

Their population increased by 69.7 % (this drastic increase partly because "Hajjams" started entering Kashmiri Muslim as their caste) to 1352822 from 796392. The number of literate increased by 313.4 percent. 

According to the report:

"When we look to absolute figures only without reference to the population of each caste the Kashmiri Muslims show the highest number of literates viz. 21,639, followed by Kashmiri Pandits with 18,915"

In 1921 there were only 5231 literate KMs while in 1931 the number grew to 18,915, the biggest absolute number in the state, 

In 1921 there were only 5 English literate KMs per 10000 of their population. In 1931, the number became 25. That's an increase of 20%.

Yet, in case of Srinagar city (whose population increased by 22.5 % from 1921 to 1931) we read:

"The total number of literates in the city of Srinagar is 17,575 out of which 16,480 are males and 1,095 females. The proportion of literates per mille [1000] of the total population of the city is 101 being 174 for males and 14 for females. If we exclude population below 5 the proportions would rise to 117 for persons, 198 for males and 16 for females. Amongst Hindus, the proportion of literates works out to 344 while amongst Muslims it dwindles down to 39. The obvious reason is that the Hindus in the city are mostly Kashmiri Pandits or outsiders attracted by the prospects of trade to whom literacy is the one thing needful for conducting their business. The Kashmiri Pandits as already stated have a very high degree of literacy because of the traditions amongst them of following Government service as their calling in life. The Muslims on the other hand are devoted to indigenous arts and crafts which though more paying do not demand literacy as a pre-requisite."

The KPs still had the advantage in English in the entire state. For KPs there was an increase of 50 percent.  From 1045 per 10000 in 1921 it grew to 1588 in 1931. 

The report records: "The Kashmiri Pandits hold an enviable position in the State in the matter of English literacy having 1588 literates per 10000 of the population. Their males have a much higher proportion viz 2, 789. The Kashmiri Pandit is by tradition a Government servant for which the requisite equipment is a knowledge of the English language to which he has turned in a greater measure than any other caste."

Still, for every 1000 KP men 635 were literates and 365 illiterates. Over all the number stood at 369 per 1000. Other communities were of course worse than KPs, but Khatris (386/1000) were better than KPs in literary. Even in the field of female literacy they were better place. They had 178 literate females per thousand compared to (24 for KPs, 22 for Sheikhs , 21 for Brahmins, 1 for Kashmiri Muslims)

Now, let's see what did this "tradition of Government service " for KPs meant in numbers.

In 1931, there were 13133 total people in Public Administration and 12265 in State service

According to census, for every 1000 employees in State Service, about 305.9 were KP men and for every 100 woman employees in State Service, only 1 Female was KP woman. Overall, we can say 70% of State service comprised of other communities. 

This is the complete breakdown for KPs.

For every 1000 people employed in these fields, following were KPs:


State Service: 

305.9

Exploitation of animals and vegetation :

287.9

Industry: 

18.6

Transport 

4.8
 
Trade 

149.9

Public Force 

19.0

Public Administration 

1.5

Arts and Professions 

73.2

Persons living on their income 

20.1 

Domestic service 

98.7 

Insufficiently described occupations 

27.7 

Beggars, criminals and inmates of Jails

 2.7



The report noticed, "The Kashmiri Pandits are gradually relinquishing their ideal of Government service and turning to trade and even manual labour in increasing numbers."

Then there is the question of unemployment. If KPs were spending so much effort getting education. was it rewarding? 

"The unemployed who possess a higher qualification than that of a matric are 289 only exclusive of 73 unemployed who are below 20 years of age. Of these 226 are Brahmans and 26 other Hindus. The Muslims number 37 only. It is very much in the fitness of things that the Brahman who inherits traditions of learning from the past should be most exposed to the uncertainty of employment. The Muslims and others who have a stake in the land naturally do not take to education keenly especially when the education provided in schools and colleges is of a purely literary nature and does not enable the bookish student to pursue any calling except that of a clerk in Government service without further training."

This provides the backdrop form Roti agitation that city KPs launched in 1932 in response to Glancy commission that among other things sought to lower the requirement for Government jobs. This would have mean all the decade that KPs spent preparing for government job would have been wasted. KMs who by number were already most populous literate group with 21,639 would have been rightly seen as a threat by18,915 literate Kashmiri Pandits. It must have dawned on KPs that their future is at stake. 21,639 was a negligible number given the total population of KMs who were still into land and trade but for 18,915 KPs out of total 55055, the math looked fearful enough . How much of these fears were triggered by census itself is not hard to guess. Just like today Census becomes a political game, back then also in Kashmir, Census data was a political tool.

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Overall, if KPs were the exploitative class, there are probably the only exploitative class in the world in which majority of the people belonging to this class were not working in privileged positions. And KPs would be the only exploitative class whose population showed no drastic increase in population dues to all the "exploitation" they were doing.   

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Reference:
1. Census of India 1921 vol.22 Kashmir [Link] under by Chaudhari Khushi Muhammad, Governor of Kashmir.
2. Census of India 1931, Volume 14. Jammu & Kashmir State [Link] under Pandit Anant Ram Dogra, Census Commissioner and Director of Land Records and Pandit Hira Nand Raina, Assistan Census Commissioner.
3.  Census of India 1941, Jammu And Kashmir Parts I And II [Link] under Captain R.G. Wreford, Census Commissioner for the state

In 1941 census, the practice of giving data specific to KPs was put to an end. However, in the report we read, there were 76,868 Kashmiri Pandits in the state in 1941. And:

"Most of the Kashmiri Pandits are residents of Srinagar; over 62,000 live in the Anantnag District in which Srinagar City is situated. Another 11,000 were recorded in Baramulla District. The figures do not exceed a thousand in any other district except Jammu which has 1,367."

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