Don’t Sanitize Kashmir’s History

Don’t Sanitize Kashmir’s History

Education Minister, Naeem Akhtar has said that the government would consider including more information in school history textbooks about the steps taken by Dogra rulers for welfare and overall development of the state. Akhtar added that , ‘updating education curriculum is a continuous process and the education department will recommend introduction of chapters in history books about Dogra rulers’ contribution towards making education compulsory and development of horticulture, floriculture and augmentation of irrigation network’. There could be two reasons to institute and incorporate these elements of Dogra rule into Jammu and Kashmir’s educational curriculum. Both being political in nature are interlinked. One is populism and pandering. Akktar might be connecting his party to the people of Jammu through the idiom of populism and pandering to their wishes. In this sense, the aim appears to be party political and reap political dividends from this. However, there might be other reasons at work too. A charitable explanation lends itself to the conclusion that Akhtar might be sanitizing the history of Jammu and Kashmir and rendering it more neutral in the process. Whatever be the motivating premise for the potential and putative step, tinkering with the history of the state and sanitizing Dogra rule is imprudent. Kashmir’s history bears witness to the fact that Kashmiri political consciousness was altered from false consciousness to political activism and nascent nationalism by rising against the autocratic rule of Dogra princes who, for all practical purposes held Kashmir as a fief. Sanitizing this rule amounts to whitewashing this aspect of Kashmir’s history. Moreover, there was an element of viciousness and arbitrariness to Dogra rule over Kashmir: the nature of taxation was predatory, justice was arbitrary and the political economy of the state was structured around land. That is, land grants were made to a tiny elite of Kashmir in an instance of ‘indirect rule over Kashmir. This class of people ruthlessly exploited the underclass of Kashmir which , during this time, constituted the major section of Kashmiri society. What Akhtar proposes to introduce in the putative curriculum may have been done by the Dogra rulers but it appears to have been in the nature of rendering their rule palatable to the hapless subjects of Kashmir. Inserting these elements into the state’s curriculum is then wrong. Education is essentially about human development, critical thinking and personality development- collective and individual. Foisting a political and politicized agenda onto education by sanitizing aspects of it amounts to a dumbing and numbing down of young minds. This is not to say that the denizens of the respective divisions – Jammu and Kashmir- should not know about each other’s history. They should and they must but this exercise must be informed by truth and critical reflections of the past- the kind that allows to gain a healthy perspective on each other in a bold and beautiful idiom.

2 Responses to "Don’t Sanitize Kashmir’s History"

  1. G. Din   January 24, 2017 at 9:27 pm

    You have opined on the proposal to ” recommend introduction of chapters in history books about Dogra rulers’ contribution towards making education compulsory and development of horticulture, floriculture and augmentation of irrigation network’. ”
    Apparently you cannot deny that Dogra rule is a part of Kashmir’s history and as such the only thing you need to do is to examine the authenticity of what is sought to be included. If they are authentic, you are duty-bound to include them in the history books. You have no call to seek the “reasons” for their inclusion and then to reject that inclusion as you seem to be suggesting based on your purely subjective “reasons”. Dogras of Kashmir were no different from the rulers of other states and they must be judged with that context as the backdrop. You have no right to apply today’s standards to how they ruled. They were the sovereigns and as such exercised their rights as sovereigns do.

  2. SKChadha   January 20, 2017 at 8:25 am

    Ha .. ha .. ha ……. The suggestion is to deny the new generation from knowing the historical facts about over 100 years of Dogra Rule in Kashmir? What kind of history we are suggesting for the Kashmiri Youth? Enough damage has already been done to disorient the youth of valley.