By Amar Tejaswi:
A problem is like a banyan tree. Allowed to grow unabated, it spawns a multitude of sub-problems. The older the tree gets, the wider its implications. Trimming the banyan in search of a solution is an inane exercise performed often but futilely. To actually put a permanent end to the recurrence of a problem in the form of its offspring, the subtlest move would be to uproot the tree. But uprooting trees is not common practice in our country, more so when it’s a banyan.
In its own way, India is an amusing country. With cultures, languages and people as diverse as the food on a south-Indian platter, Indian soil is perfect for the growth of banyan trees. Trivial issues flowering into obstinate problems are a daily affair. India’s problems too, are as diverse as herself. Testimony to this is borne by one of the first major problems that India faced: the Kashmir problem.
The largest of figs flourishes from the smallest of seeds. Lord Mountbatten and Raja Hari Singh together insidiously sowed a seed which beautifully germinated into a cause of concern, and which today has grown into a giant banyan tree. Intuitively, I guess Raja Singh never imagined that Kashmir would become such a big problem, but the same intuition suggests to me that Mountbatten fully well knew what the consequences of his deed would be. Nevertheless, he did it. And his British guile only encouraged him.
In the depths of the banyan tree are hidden myriad mysteries, mysteries we never thought could exist, and mysteries we knew existed but never could understand. Why did Mountbatten sow the banyan seed? Why did Nehru grant autonomy to his native state? Why didn’t Nehru move the army to fight Pakistan before they occupied 37% of Kashmiri land? How independence will supply Kashmiris with dignity? Unsolvable mysteries, undecipherable puzzles! Mysteries give birth to problems; problems cannot be solved because they are mysterious! The wheel keeps rotating! Mysteries and trees are everything we inherit when people are not made accountable for their actions, when people do not have to justify their notions. Now, to uproot a tree, we have to go to the tree and find its roots. The Kashmiri tree resides in our backyard in Kashmir and it can never be uprooted by people sitting inside the house in Delhi. A few months back, an all-party delegation from Delhi did try to visit the tree, but to the onlooker’s eye it seemed more like a sight-seeing trip. They did seem like looking all around but missed the tree!
Speaking of Delhi, Obama has departed from India, Chavan from his office and the ‘great’ Kalmadi from some Congress office. Obama timed his visit with admirable immaculacy. Had the election results been good, it would have been celebratory visit. Otherwise the visit could have served to provide him some solace. The latter though turned out to be the case. Obama and Chavan discovered banyan trees in the mornings. On one morning, Chavan found a giant banyan tree in front of his house, which his memory says, had been a little sapling the night before. Obama on the other hand, silently watched his banyan grow. It is now threatening to throw him out of office in 2012. Foolishly audacious Kalmadi thought he could draw a veil over his giant Commonwealth tree with A4 size papers of contracts awarded to his friends. A few papers stuck on one or two branches but largely his tree was found naked in the open. Sacking Chavan and Kalmadi are obvious steps that Congress has taken, but what about the millions stuffed in their pockets? Who will recover them?
Apologies for the digression! Let’s sling back to the Kashmiri tree now. Inside the dark depths of the branches, I feel that the flavour of the problem is not only political but also religious. It seems to my mind that Kashmiris want for themselves an Islamic state which diverges away from India’s secularism, and that could be one of the reasons why they are asking for independence. But, independence will lead Kashmiris into a lion’s den; plebiscite might lead them to a tiger. I am not sure they realise that. Passions in the valley are running high and until people calm down nobody can move forward. But the Indian government would make a good start if it, at least partially, revoke s the AFSPA. And then it all depends on the Kashmiris!
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