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

The Reason Why Indians Believe Kashmir Is “An Integral Part Of India”

By Rishabh Bajoria:


I grew up in the cocoon of the urban middle class in mainland India, a good lot in the lottery of birth. My biggest concern was often falling behind in the neoliberal race of consumption. This can be for clothes, cars, smartphones, etc. Politics seemed to exist in its own sphere with its actors playing their parts in a chaotic circus. This included Members of Parliament throwing chairs at each other and screaming on late night television news channels. Ostensibly, politics affected us only on voting days or when school was cancelled because of a “bandh” called by a party. The cultivation of such aloofness was supplemented by shallow news reporting, both by mainstream print and television media houses. At best, we knew what the entertaining and charismatic Mr Arnab Goswami, editor-in chief of English news channel Times Now, wanted us to know. These phenomena are further enhanced by the general trend away from reading books among an increasingly Americanised urban youth. The result is a politically apathetic generation, with a blunted sense of critical thinking. The perfect manifestation of this attitude is the popular reaction to the “Kashmir issue.”

Role Of History

I would argue that the primary reason the urban youth is magnetically attracted to the idea of Kashmir being an “Integral part of India” is due to their poor grasp of history. There are various structural reasons for this. The foremost is the general devaluation of a humanities education in neoliberal capitalism, because even education has a monetary function. After all,  employability in a lucrative job for an engineer/lawyer is exponentially better than a historian. School textbooks designed to construct the notion of a just and righteous state by inculcating an uncritical attitude of the Constitution and the legal structure that flows from it do not help either. Civics is taught as a self-evident set of rules which one must follow as if there could be no other form of societal arrangement. Perhaps most importantly, the nation is portrayed as an inevitability. Ancient history is taught as ancient Indian history, where “Indian” is used not in the geographical sense of the word, but the national one. The “nationalist struggle” is shown as a linear series of events, always leading to the grand climax of 1947. The result is the inculcation of a meta narrative of an ostensibly natural Indian nation state.

Kashmir is shown to us through a hyper-nationalist lens. We are fed that Maharaja Hari Singh was acting as a “legitimate sovereign” (often not in so many words, but with the same effect) when he signed the Instrument of Accession and assimilated Jammu and Kashmir into the Indian Union. This is pivotal to highlight the binary, pre and post-1989 (rise of militancy). It lends support to the argument that the root of the Kashmiri “problem” lies not in the will of its people, but across the Line of Control. After all, right thinking people do not rise up in rebellion against their own  State. So, either the state is not theirs, or the people are not right thinking. The eternal enemy Pakistan, which also happens to be an Islamic nation state, is shown as the devil causing unrest in our peaceful house. It is seen not only as the source of “terrorism, but also as a subversive influence brainwashing the Kashmiri youth. As a result, Kashmir, the jewel of the nation, becomes a matter of pride, even for a 12-year-old.


Even the political spectrum available on the mainstream media is extremely narrow. Most media houses do not challenge the fundamental assumption that Kashmir is inherently a part of India. As a result, the coverage varies from Times Now blaming every act of dissent on Pakistan, to even supposedly left-leaning newspapers treating the Indian state like the elder brother who was too harsh on his younger sibling and perhaps owes him an apology. The protagonists of our movies say “Doodh maango kheer denge, Kashmir maango cheer denge.” (You ask for milk, we’ll give you rice pudding, ask for Kashmir and we’ll tear you apart;Movie: Maa Tujhe Salaam). This creates a situation where emotion supersedes rationality and evidence.

Therefore, even when some of us hear about human rights abuses or unjust laws like the Armed Forces Special Forces Act, we dismiss them as anomalies (AFSPA gives impunity and other powers to the Indian Army in certain volatile regions of India). Anomalies to the actions of a liberal, just state trying to save its “own citizens” from increasing “terrorism.” They are seen as necessary evils to maintain the territorial integrity of “Bharat Mata,” (Mother India). Thus, the collective indignation of peers, teachers and parents alike when Google shows a part of Jammu and Kashmir constituting of Pakistani territory. The tragedy is that the possibility of an alternative imagination is never placed in front of a privileged Bania male child like me.

The effects on the privileged imagination

The effect of these processes on our imagination is that Kashmir becomes a territory to possess for one of these larger nation-states. In this perceived tug of war, the people of Kashmir, living their every day, experiencing occupation, don’t find space in this imagination.
Their utility is restricted to being fodder for Pakistani subversion or as a loyal part of the Indian Union. That is why mass protests in Kashmir caused by Burhan Wani’s encounter killing are reduced to a conspiracy by the Inter-Services Intelligence. This narrative denies the Kashmiri person any ability to speak. It is coloured with an undertow of Islamophobia which is also structurally cultivated in most upper caste families. The fact that Subramanian Swamy, Rajya Sabha MP from the BJP, can share a picture from a rally where Afzal Guru’s hanging is being protested and the majority of the attendees are Muslims, with the caption “And they say terror does not have a religion,” says a lot. The appalling facet of this is the support it receives from large sections of the privileged.

So, when Arnab Goswami dismisses Burhan Wani as an “anti-national terrorist” while claiming to speak for the “nation,” he is being more truthful than liberal or centre-left academics would like to admit. This is because he is speaking for a part of that nation, the urban, English speaking, upper caste, upper-middle class. This is not just a part of the “nation,” but is arguably the most important harbinger of nationalism as sociologist Yogendra Singh has argued. Thus, it should not be surprising that it cultivates an ecosystem of dehistoricised and oversimplified debates on Kashmir, riddled with ostensibly neat binaries, between “good” and “bad,” “terrorist” and “army man,” “Indian” and “Pakistani” and “national” and “anti-national.” The upper middle class is too preoccupied with furthering their self-interest in the neoliberal order to stop and ask themselves what these words mean. To ask themselves if human beings matter in the battle for territory. In fact, if one honestly seeks to address these questions, it is likely to cause an existential crisis as the privileged will realise their own complicity in the oppression. If people with social and political capital start giving a voice to the suppressed Kashmiri will, it will be a lot harder for the Indian state to maintain the legitimacy of its occupation in the “national mainstream.” This challenge could force the Indian government to change the status quo.

Hence, young, privileged children like me are often encouraged, most immediately by our family and peers, but also by a number of abstract processes, to be uncritical technocrats. Everything, including education is a means to an end. That is why the middle class tells the students of Jawaharlal Nehru University that they pay for students’ education and not their politics. It is because education has become a purely apolitical, functional exercise in its imagination and because “politics” is not worth the hassle. We can afford to do this because the effect of such nationalistic politics for our material lives is beneficial, without us realising it. Therefore, we as a generation are trained not to look beyond our own nose. It is the cultivation of this attitude, which is at the root of the privileged imagination of Kashmir as a land without a people.


Banner and featured image source: Getty Images
You must be to comment.
  1. Deepak Kumar Thakur

    Youth ki Awaz, you had been a fine platform to put forward the opinion of the youth or the future generation of the nation. If the above article is merely an opinion, I would have been okay with that but it somewhere down the line tries to justify the people attending the funeral of Burhan Vani, it tries to justify the stand of stone pelters, it tries to justify the terror attacks happening in Kashmir and it justified the action of a few students of JNU who raised anti national slogan.
    A normal Indian doesn’t hate Pakistan, A normal Indian doesn’t want the people of Kashmir to suffer, A normal Indian does also not want terror attacks, A normal Indian does not want it’s soldiers being killed or pelted stones at, A normal Indian doesn’t want Students of any University to raise anti national slogan.
    And I would be glad if the author could spend some time and read the resolution which UN suggested and how Pakistan is not letting that happen.
    To me or probably to any Indian be it upper middle class, middle class, lower or a poorer middle class the integrity of Nation comes first and integrity at the cost of lives of terrorist like Burhan is always welcome.

More from Rishabh Bajoria

Similar Posts

By Munazah Shakeel

By Ashraf Lone

By Aheed

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