Anaahat Naad

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An exercise in futility?

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The Jammu and Kashmir interlocutors’ report – “A New Compact with the People of Jammu and Kashmir”, was made public on May 24, 2012 by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). This was despite the report being submitted on October 12, 2011.

The interlocutors widely travelled the state of Jammu and Kashmir, interacted with more than 700 delegations and held three round table conferences while preparing the report. In three mass meetings, thousands of citizens turned up to express their views on wide range of issues.

The J&K state government and the Central government haven’t commented on the interlocutors’ report yet. The main opposition party of India, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has rejected the report altogether. So have the Kashmiri separatists even though they didn’t hold a dialogue with the interlocutors. Also, Kashmiri Pandit organisations have severely criticised the report, alleging that their demands hardly find a mention in it.

When the news of the participation of the two interlocutors in seminars organised by ISI-lobbyists Ghulam Nabi Fai and Abdul Majeed Tramboo emerged, I tried not to be cynical. But my cynicism was reinstated after going through the report.

The interlocutors’ report looks paradoxical many a time. The interlocutors haven’t directly confronted the right of the Indian state over Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK). At the same time, they have termed“Pakistan-occupied Kashmir” as “Pakistan administered Kashmir”. It is a deviation from the official Indian stance on Jammu and Kashmir. It amounts to derision of the Indian Parliament which passed a unanimous resolution on February 22, 1994 declaring that the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir (including POK) is and shall be an integral part of India. Moreover, the interlocutors have recommended the harmonisation of relations across the Line of Control (LoC) by setting up joint institutions. This implies giving legitimacy to the illegal control of Pakistan over parts of the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir which acceded to India in 1947.

While the interlocutors don’t directly recommend returning to the pre-1953 situation, they do suggest a review of all the Central acts and articles post in the 1952 Delhi Agreement by a constitutional committee. In other words, they are recommendinga return to the pre-1953 status of Jammu and Kashmir. Also, the group of interlocutors have stressed upon the resumption of dialogue between the Indian Government and Hurriyat Conference – as if the Hurriyat Conference is the legitimate representative of the people of the valley.

The report suggests that the diverse aspirations of the three regions – Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh – must be addressed without giving concrete proposals. There are no proper measures suggested for redressal of grievances of the internally displaced Kashmiri Pandit refugees or West Pakistan/POK refugees. The interlocutors haven’t touched the controversial law passed by the J&K state legislature such as the ban on delimitation till 2026. Further, the suggestion of making Article 370 “special” from the present “temporary”, the gradual reduction of All India services officers in favour of State civil services and the review of Central laws post-1952 is a step towards distancing the state from the nation. The substantial point in the report is the setting up of three regional councils – one each for Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh (with Ladakh no longer a division of Kashmir).

The interlocutors’ report is far from producing any kind of consensus within the state or at the Centre. There seems to be no takers for the report. Also, it hasn’t been discussed in Parliament. While New Delhi is busy in its “Raisina Hill exercise”, Jammu and Kashmir awaits the redressal of grievances and firm resolution of the problems concerning the state.

(Originally published in Newslaundry)

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Black and White Songs

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Yesterday evening, some very old bollywood songs came to my mind. The alacrity to hear the songs was so much that I started searching for the same in my collections but couldn’t find them except the two. Then internet came to my rescue and I found almost all.

I was surprised, in fact bewildered, at my eagerness to hear the old bollywood numbers. I do hear old songs occasionally but not with much alacrity and interest. Alacrity to hear the old tracks was the reason of my bewilderment.

When I was too young, I used to term these old bollywood songs as ‘black and white’ songs. May be because I had an impression that all old bollywood movies are black and white, so old bollywood songs would be ‘black and white’ as well. Whenever my father listened to the ‘black and white’ songs in my presence, I used to remark childishly that these songs are hardly impressive. My father always responded, “You are too young to understand these melodious and meaningful songs. Also, today’s bollywood songs are full of shor-sharaaba.” What he meant by shor-sharaaba was that nowadays bollywood tracks are more westernized and have loud music. Besides, my father listens to only a few ‘new bollywood’ songs especially of AR Rahman and Kailash Kher.

With the bewilderment, I played the first ‘black and white’ song on my system – “Wahan Kaun Hai Tera, Musafir Jaayega Kahan” and repeated it several times. The song is from Dev Anand’s classic movie ‘Guide’, music is by SD Burman and lyrics are by Shailendra. Imagine the ‘Bangla effect’ to the song as it is sung by SD Burman. The song ought to be magical. The song is about an explorer of the world (i.e. human being) – “O traveller, there is no one there waiting for you. Better take a breather here, you may not get this cool shade again.”

The second ‘black and white’ song which I played was – “Jalte Hain Jiske Liye, Teri Aankhon Ke Diye”. The song is beautifully sung by Talat Mahmood and lyrics are by Majrooh Sultanpuri. The song depicts the love for the beloved in a very poignant manner.

Then, I played the third ‘black and white’ song – “Aye Mere Pyaare Watan, Tujh Pe Dil Qurbaan”.  In my opinion, this song is the best patriotic song ever made. Sublimely sung by Manna Dey, the song invokes patriotism in the listener. The song reflects the longing for the homeland particularly the line – “Chod Kar Teri Zameen Ko Door Aa Pahunche Hai Hum, Fir Bhi Yahi Tamanna Tere Zarron Ki Kasam. Hum Jahan Paida Hue Uss Jagah Hi Nikle Dum, Tujh Pe Dil Qurbaan.”

Some others songs of ‘black and white’ playlist were – “Tu Kahan Yeh Bata Iss Nashili Raat Mein”, “Ya Dil Ki Suno Duniya Waalon”, “Beqarar Karke Hume Yoon Na Jaaye”, “Mein Zindagi Ka Saath Nibhata Chala Gaya”, Tere Mere Sapne Ab Ek Rang Hai” etc.

The ‘black and white’ songs reflected as well as conveyed thoughts/feelings to the listener. Those ‘black and white’ songs had implicit meanings and lyrics were touching. Moreover, there are ‘black and white’ songs for every emotion – love/romance, break-ups, fun/joy, patriotism/nationalism, devotion, dedication etc.

These days, unfortunately, most of the ‘new bollywood’ songs lack such moving quality. They don’t make such songs nowadays. As we say old is gold, ‘black and white’ songs are certainly gold. Such songs are classic. ‘Black and white’ songs tranquilize your mind as well as body. You find solace in such songs.

I told my father that I concur with him over the ‘black and white’ songs. Smiling at me, my father said, “See, I had told you long ago. You were too young to understand at that time.” In order not to let the ‘black and white’ debate go in my father’s favour, I said (with the knowledge that even this argument of mine is not valid), “There is a generation gap between you and me. So our liking of songs can be different.” By the way, I realized very soon that all ‘black and white’ songs are not black and white but coloured also.

(Originally published in Daily Excelsior)

Written by Varad Sharma

February 7, 2012 at 6:00 pm