This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

What I Find Wrong With Chetan Bhagat’s ‘Kashmiris Should Integrate With India’ Argument

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

By Nikhil Kumar:

chetan_bhagat_kashmirIn this TOI column titled ‘Letter to Kashmiri Youth‘, Chetan Bhagat talks about why Kashmiris should ‘integrate’ with India. Conspicuously, his letter is addressed to only those Kashmiris “who don’t like India”.

Mr. Bhagat’s knowledge on the subject of Kashmir is unparalleled, in that it doesn’t parallel that of anyone who has knowledge of the subject. I don’t claim that I have any. In fact, he may be right in saying that I have even less knowledge about it than he does. What he does have indeed that I don’t is a column in The Times Of India, which gives him a vast audience. But hey, I still have a blog. With or without consequences, I’ll have to wait to find out.

He writes, “…there is little pro-India sentiment amongst locals in the Kashmir Valley…. I will not judge you. Despite being a patriotic Indian, I won’t hold it against you if you hate India.” I don’t know how he defines ‘pro-India sentiment’. Does he mean the superficial jingoism or the love for the people? He has left it to his readers (i.e. the ‘Kashmiris who don’t like India’).

He writes that he will ‘not judge’ his audience for having such views. But in the very next sentence, he proclaims his patriotism. Isn’t that implicitly a judgement, especially to his target audience? He repeats he won’t hold it against you if you hate India. I am not quite sure what he really means there. Does ‘not like’ equal ‘hate’?

He presents ‘not an emotional, political or historical argument’ but a ‘practical’ as well as ‘rational’ basis for Kashmiris to ‘integrate and assimilate’ within India to have a better future. What about the present? Does that even count? Because even the future will, at some point, be their present.

He acknowledges that the issue of Kashmir is ‘complicated’ but then goes on to the history of the region ‘in a nutshell’. It couldn’t be more ironic. The simplicity of his words in the two-three paragraphs profoundly confound the very complications that he so admirably acknowledges right before he simplifies it.

It is this very simplistic (which he himself states to not be the case) view of the history of a military policed region that is constantly fed through the media and the politicians that nurture a naïve misunderstanding. So ill-informed are his facts that he compares the terrorism in the region to the Islamic State. What he missed by a mile is that the ISIS doesn’t have any political goals. Theirs is a nihilistic ideology that doesn’t seek means to achieve an end, it seeks an end in and of itself. And therein lies the distinction with the terrorism in Kashmir. No doubt people are killed in both cases, but to say that the two are alike would be a very wide stretch of their minute similarity. It overshadows the complications to present a misunderstood simplicity.

When he tries to “indulge the argument that India is a terrible country” he is indeed doing just the opposite. This is the kind of ad hominem argument that charges up emotions without even attempting to reason. I don’t like many things Indian. I think they are terrible. Does that mean that I believe India is a terrible country? Does that mean I hate India or I am any less patriotic? You better believe that to not be the case.

He warns his audience of “a risk of [Kashmir] being taken over by fundamentalist Islamic forces”. He says women’s rights “would be curbed under both the independence
and Pakistan options” and their future will be doomed if they do so. That the rest of India is at a similar risk of being overtaken by Hindutva bigots, that the Government of India fails to criminalise ‘marital rape’ intriguingly don’t feature in his apocalyptic warnings.

I agree with him that “terrorism is no solution, nor revenge and retribution for Indian atrocities”. But then he loses me when he dismisses any ‘true’ responsibility on the part of India for the plight of Kashmir. What his letter fails to even acknowledge is the plight of those who suffer the wrath of the Indian armed forces (especially due to AFSPA).

Where he gets it absolutely right is the dilemma of Kashmiris who do not have a better option. The politicians across parties have failed them, the separatists are certainly bound to fail them. He is well within his rights to ask the Kashmiris to demand the dissolution of Article 370 but he would have been better justified in doing so if he hadn’t presumed that they ‘hate’ India.

Towards the end, he passionately urges them, “Don’t feel good when India fails. Because if India fails, you will fail too.” I ask him, haven’t we failed the Kashmiris enough already? How many times do we think about them without a mention of ‘terrorism’ or ‘national security’?

To ‘assimilate’ with India, Kashmiris shouldn’t have to be fearful of the apocalyptic circumstances that Mr. Bhagat so graphically depicts. They should do so out of their own willful desire and an accommodating environment conducive to such a process. If the former becomes their sole reason for integration, it wouldn’t paint a healthy picture of our post-Independence era.

‘Jai Hind. Jai Kashmir’ is what Mr. Bhagat has to offer after more than thousand words of pleading his audience to ‘integrate and assimilate’ with India. That, by itself, says it all.

Also read ‘Kashmiri Youth On Why They Feel The Need To Pick Up Arms Against The State‘ and ‘How Kashmir’s Youth Are Suffering Because Of The Use Of Pellet Guns‘.

You must be to comment.
  1. Sk

    who the fuck is nikhil?

  2. Anchal

    Lots of wrong questioning & wearied reasoning is tried here. Author here missed understanding the humor & in-depth sense of the column but brings in doubts without understanding the history & events that happened in J&K & without enough research & ties to make things look very simple & put blames on people & organizations.
    A lot more research is required to question facts & points used in column, though Mr. Bhagat tried to be diplomatic & did put a bit of questions on his column but we know better that column will be read not only by kashmiris but others too hence will be attacked by others more than kashmiris. (kashmiris include kashmiri pundits too & they suffered a lot too)

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By Ankita Marwaha

By Devansh Mishra

By Martha Farrell Foundation

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below