The Resilience and Spirit of Kashmiris

The Resilience and Spirit of Kashmiris

As the flood like situation in Kashmir brings about echoes and reminisces of the horrid and devastating floods of 2014, it is perhaps time to stock take Kashmiris. Kashmir being Kashmir- a place defined by riveting beauty but at the same time riven by political conflict and ravages of nature- has not really been kind to Kashmiris. Historically, Kashmiris have not been strangers to floods and famines. The consequences and aftermath of these natural calamities was rendered more harsh and cruel by the political conditions that obtained here- if Kashmir’s medieval and even modern history is held to be the benchmark. Be it the harsh rule of the Mughals , the Sikhs and the Dogras, the nature of these regimes and the contemporary conflictual conditions that obtain in Kashmir exacerbated the agonies and problems of people when natural calamities hit.  (This is not idle or lazy speculation. It is well documented and researched by eminence grises like the Nobel laureate, Amartya Sen, that the nature of the political regime in place improves or  worsens natural disasters or calamities). Kashmir then, given its politics- historically and contemporarily- has been no exception. However, what has been the saving grace of the natural and political turbulence that has defined the place is that it has made Kashmiris more stoic and resilient. The 2014 floods and its aftermath serve as an eloquent reminder of this point. A visitor who would have heard about the scale and scope of the floods and watched it on TV would have been surprised at the post flood recovery, if she/he would have visited after the floods. It needs to be mentioned here that this recovery occurred by the sheer dint of the will and determination of the people of Kashmir.  Moreover, the spirit of co-operation, help and assistance to Kashmiris (and even to outsiders)by fellow Kashmiris during the floods was exemplary. Any other society would perhaps have written odes to and poetry about the valor, courage and bravery demonstrated by Kashmiris during the flood ordeal. All this is worth celebrating. But, the flip side is that Kashmiri stoicism and resilience has been forged in the crucible of tragedy- political and natural. It is almost tempting to hold that Kashmir is cursed and there seem to be no end to the travesties and tragedies Kashmiris have and continue to endure. However, the prosaic reality is that the conditions that obtain in Kashmir- especially political ones that have a bearing or, in the least, create disabling conditions when natural disasters hit –  are man made.  That is, these have been created by human agency and it is in this domain that Kashmiris’ end to suffering and agonies lie. Given the resilience, stoicism and verve of the people of Kashmir, they deserve and warrant a better future.

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