Last few days has been one of the busiest days for media in Delhi with the bigwigs of media going live from Raisana Hill & India Gate as the protests are going on over the gruesome gang-rape incident which happened in a bus in Delhi. It has been a week & the girl still remains in critical condition. The media reports say that the clash in Raisina Hill resulting in over 100 injuries has been the biggest since 1991 & which continued the next day also with more injuries including a cop battling for his life. The protesters which represent the young generation demanding action be taken against the accused arrested swiftly & there be a stricter laws for punishment of heinous crimes of this type. Well the situation now has turned a little bit violent & the media seems to be in a frenzy mode by constantly focusing not on the issue itself rather on how the young people in the Delhi Metro want to spring up a new spring & India has woken up just now. Well seems the media forgot that in case of Anna Hazare agitation earlier, same connotation of new found romanticism with protests were used. With every protest in Delhi, the comparison with Arab Spring is done loosely which started two years back. Media constantly pointing out Jantar Mantar, Raisana Hill or India Gate are India’s Tahrir Square. Why not ! The Arab spring was successful & is currently going on to uproot the regimes. But can the media don’t go far away to the Lands of Arabia & come back to north of Delhi & also rewind the time to the summer of 2010 in Kashmir. Can’t the media draw the similarity or you believe the dictum that public memory is short & lets catch what is hot. Here the media is criticizing with its head on that the police force used in Delhi is excessive & with excessive they say water cannons & Tear Gas Shells. Both interesting & intriguing to know that no gunfire is used & may it not be used yet the media say it is our Tahrir Square. In Arab Spring, in any country, every sphere was involved but here in India, the protest hasn’t at all been some pan-India movement apart from some minor protests in some cities. Well it doesn’t matter whether protests are held all over India or not but the thing is that why is the media pinning so much hope on the protests ? There were protests in Kashmir in 2010 too. What happened ? Excessive or you can say harsh & brutal force was used to quell the protests in Kashmir but very few in the heartland opposed it just all in the name of nationalism & when force of water cannons & tear gas shells are used against the protesters, media says the Delhi Police needs reforms ! Is the young India in Delhi just violent & the young Kashmir some obnoxious species ? Yes, the anti-social elements are there, were in Kashmir protests too, no doubt but that does not paint the whole picture black. You say that when stones are used, bottles are hurled on policeman, wooden poles are uprooted at India Gate, they are due to oozing of emotions & should be duly addressed but use different yardstick for Kashmir which had led to over 100 deaths of youngsters in 2010 & no restraint was used. There too emotions were oozing, they too had hearts pouring in grief, not also to forget to mention that the conscience of youngsters were jolted. They too were the representatives of young Kashmir. There also the civil society was aghast over the brutal use of force & called for police reforms but none in the media listened. From 2008 – 09 – 10, many people died due to the excessive use of force in controlling the riots, never heard of any punishment in Kashmir. May be the media thought that it is not fashionable just because of this K conundrum. Last two years have been dormant & government says that they are fully prepared in controlling any riot in Kashmir but can the past be forgotten ? It keeps on flashing back when the protests in Delhi are seen on Television sets. Had the Indian media & the elite been as outraged as they are now, some expectations i would have thought but i see the success of the ongoing protests as very bleak. Media is throwing weight behind this agitation in Delhi just for the sake of it, we know it, Kashmiris have had their bitter experience. The people of India haven’t yet understood, they are pinning hopes on the government to do some miracles. They think that system will change by these protests, little do they know the designs & the games of the politicians. The young India hasn’t understood India but a common man in Kashmir has understood how India works so he will easily brush off these Tahrir like connotations. If young India thinks that standing up on iron poles will lead to anything then they should know Kashmiris have conquered & climbed the famous tall clock tower in Srinagar many times to address their demands & it hasn’t helped. Getting baton charged by Policemen will also get you nothing except some bruises. The system just plays with you & your emotions & fools you with the help of the lip movements of the constantly babbling politicians who run the system. The whole media saga reminds me of tweets of a popular Female TV journalist who faces the nation at night in India. In August, 2000 at the height of the protests in Kashmir, she had written, ‘In kashmir, little boys are dying or getting hurt.In rest of india, rich mums,dads converting india into a playground for their spoilt brats.‘ Another tweet was, ‘Kashmir’s future shd surely be decided by the kashmiri people. Not by India’s armed forces.’ As more than two years have passed & still the journalist appears optimistic that the system will deliver by constantly beaming from Ground Zero in Delhi, she is either fooling herself or making a fool of us by constantly igniting false hopes. I have not pinned any hopes that the current outrage over the heinous issue will reach to any logistic conclusion as the issues fizz out sooner or later here. India being said as a reactionary nation is rightly called because due to the vastness in incompetence bugging the governance as whenever they try to fix an issue, another hole props up to sink the ship & the vicious cycle continues leading to forgetfulness of earlier issue. Besides don’t understand the logic of protesters that harsher punishment will stop the crime as i think the problem is that the already existing laws are not applied with full conviction. India being a patriarchal society has to change its attitude towards women not just by words but by showing the respect. And as far as Police over-reaction is concerned, have a look on Kashmir, you will not talk anything on the police action in Delhi then. A week has passed since the incident, the girl is still not out of danger. Let us hope the media doesn’t forget her in the wake of the globalized Christmas celebration & the Indo-Pak cricket series going to start this week. Merry Christmas…..
Social networking has definitely revolutionized the way we think nowadays but it has its own negatives. One of the most distasteful phenomenon in the social networking sphere especially on Twitter & Facebook is that everyone carries his or her own measuring tape for grief. Not only has everyone the measuring tape but each one cries out loudly that he or she has the most accurate one & everyone should believe it. Our sense of outrage is getting disgusting day by day by comparing one grief with another grief & with just a click, we go on a rampage, which we consider as not our birth right only but a biblical duty also. Let me give you few examples which happened recently starting with Malala Yusufzai shootout. First of all hats off to the girl who braved all odds for the education of girls by fighting with pen against the terrorists present in Swat valley in Pakistan. After she was shot in head & is recuperating now in a London Hospital, various kind of absurd theories & words were linked to her name. Some ridiculous conspiracy theories propped up like Malala is a CIA agent, or she was not actually shot in head and also that the CIA shot at her so that a the US army will get a genuine reason so that they will attack Pakistan. Well hats off to these disgusting conspiracy theorists who in spite of appreciating & sympathizing with Malala were & are more keen to exploit her name for their own murky reasons. Ask the terrorist apologists why you doing so ? They reply back that USA does drone attacks in Pakistan & the drone attacks kill innocent children which are not given much attention so why Malala be given this much appreciation ! Poor minds co-relate two things for which Malala is herself not responsible & it seems from their language as if Malala herself was leading the drones which killed the innocent children. Yeah ! That’s what they try to imply. Now come to another incident of recent Connecticut shootings in a school by a mentally challenged person. Well from last few years these kind of uncontrollable shootings in campuses are on rise as it is said that easy availability of guns is one of the reason. Whatever the reason, this tragedy too had to bear this barometric comparison on Facebook & Twitter by the dimwits. Those little kids killed in Connecticut shootout were again compared with the innocent kids killed by the drone attacks in Pakistan & elsewhere done by the USA. Well like all cryptic logic of the apologists, this too had no merit. The apologists through their myopic vision implied that the little kids killed got the punishment of the drone attacks done by the USA, which has no validity in religion & is beyond the sphere of humanity. In both the above incidents the apologists demanded that the media should not over hype these issues which looked quiet illogical. As Connecticut is in USA itself & Malala was shot in the Militant infested Swat area in Af-Pak so it was bound to get international media attention. And from last hours another horror has struck Pakistan which is the killing of health workers who are related to the anti-polio campaign as Pakistan is one of three countries where Polio is not eradicated. The reason given by the terrorists is that some health workers allegedly work as CIA agents. Well if we look back to last year incident of Abbotabad in Pakistan where Osama Bin Laden was captured, the homework was done initially with help of a doctor & his team who were doing a vaccination campaign in the area but were focussed really on the compound of Osama. Now giving that as pretext & attacking the health workers indiscriminately by the terrorists in their latest round of attacks is a bizarre & a cowardly act. The terrorists think by crippling the polio campaign which in turn will lead to more crippled children are doing some heroic jobs. Little do they know how many curses they are getting for doing such a inhumane act in the name of religion.
Well lastly another incident happened in Delhi, India where a girl was gang-raped in a moving bus which has shocked the country. In India rapes occur every 22 minutes according to an estimate and the news items related to rapes are passed as one of the news but this time the media & civil society is on some action mode, maybe the incident happening in the capital city is the reason. It seems the incident is not going to cool off soon. But looking on the flip-side on the social networking sites, instead of some constructive conclusion, the blame-game of ‘My grief bigger than your grief’ has started. It should be noted in last two decades numerous cases of rapes & mass rapes have been done by the security forces in Kashmir & North-East which is shameful as no justice has been done who had done & perpetuated the heinous crimes. As soon as the Delhi Gang-rape news went on air, the other side talked of the old wounds which had been inflicted & thus the story began. The dramatic comparison of two tragedies not only started a war of words but each one took extreme position in order to highlight the crime. No one can deny the fact that the crimes were heinous in nature but is it right to compare two crimes at this time or any time ? If conscience is left in us, we would never use the tragedies for our own self-interest. It is time to empathize with victims & rise above all petty interests but alas! All the people on social networking sites act as saints unfortunately leaving no space for constructive debate and for these social networking saints no grey areas are there, there is either black or more black & no white. May we stop comparing the tragedies of our time with the previous tragedies & look forward to embalm them. Let sanity prevail…
William Carpenter Junior (1818-1899) was a water colorist, born in London to a portrait painter Margaret Sarah Carpenter who had come to India first time in 1850. William Carpenter spent several years in northern part of India between 1850 and 1857. Some extract from the book, “INDIAN LIFE AND LANDSCAPES BY WESTERN ARTISTS” is written as under :-
WILLIAM CARPENTER IN KASHMIR
The first of at least three annual trips to Kashmir was probably in 1853, when he may have stayed for many months. Surrounded by a continuous range of snowy peaks, the oval valley of Kashmir, the Dal Lake with its floating gardens of lotuses and lilies, and the delightful climate especially in early summer and autumn had attracted European travellers for several centuries. The Emperor Akbar conquered the country in 1588, and the Fort of Hari Parbat on an isolated hill west of the Dal Lake was built subsequently as a Mughal stronghold. It was Jahangir, however, who created the pleasure gardens, notably the Shalimar Bagh on the shore of the lake, where he regularly spent the summer months. Romantic concepts associated with the Vale of Kashmir developed, finding expression in literature. François Bernier, for example, was one of the earliest Europeans to visit and describe the region. One of the most popular and widely read poems of the nineteenth century was Thomas Moore’s Lalla Rookh, which had five editions within eight months of its first appearance in 1817. Based on various travellers’ tales and pictorial sources the poem focuses on Emperor Aurangzeb’s daughter, Lalla Rookh, and provides a generalized view of the Orient using exotic imagery and a mixture of Indian, Persian and Turkish elements. While travelling through Kashmir in 1838, Godfrey Thomas Vigne wrote approvingly: ‘At one glance we have before us the whole of the localities described in Lalla Rookh. I use the word described, for there is great justice in the ideas of scenery to be collected from the poem.’ As one of the early explorers in the region, Vigne was probably among the first observers to be captivated by Moore’s romantic vision of Kashmir. It was only after the annexation of the Punjab in 1846 that the area became more accessible to European travellers of the nineteenth century. That Carpenter had also read Lalla Rookh is obvious from the title to one of his watercolours, ‘The Shalimar garden; scene of the festivities at the marriage of Lalla Rookh, daughter of Aurunzebe’. Judging from the sequence of the Kashmir watercolours listed in Carpenter’s exhibition catalogue of 1881, these were almost certainly displayed as a group. Besides general views of the valley and lakes, Shah Hamadan’s Mosque, they included the quaint wooden houses and streets of Srinagar, bridges across the Jhelum River and Mar canal, Kashmiri women and nautch girls, and the Temple of the Sun at Martund, to which Carpenter made a special excursion. He also obviously met the Governor of Kashmir, Nawab Shaikh Imam-ud Din.
Source : From the V&A’s collections
Some of the paintings of Kashmir made by outsiders between 1760 to 1886. For description, click on the image.
Source : British Library
Whenever the name of tallest Kashmiri in history is talked, we spontaneously understand that the name of Sheikh Abdullah is being said but here the phrase of ‘tallest Kashmiri’ is really about tallest Kashmiri in true sense. An American, Professor James Ricalton was friends with two Giants (twin brothers) of Kashmir with whom he clicked photos in Srinagar as well as in Delhi in 1903 during the Delhi Durbar. The two giants are known by Cashmere Giants or Kashmir Giants and were elite riflemen of Maharaja of Kashmir. One of them was 7ft 9in & other was 7ft 4in. The taller one was considered the the tallest of men in India at that time. At Delhi Darbar the photos were taken by George Rose in 1903. According to the notes available, we get to know that the Giants belonged to Balmokand, Kashmir. After searching, i can’t find where Balmokand is. It seems Balmokand’s name has been changed to something else now.
Following are some newspaper clippings related to Kashmir and Sheikh Abdullah from 1947-53.
Click on the Pictures to enlarge and for your convenience please open the pictures divided into parts as a,b,c… in different windows so that there is less difficulty in reading & understanding.
As i was searching on the topic of Kashmir Medical Missionary, i came across two books written by the two Missionary Doctors of that time which give us interesting information about life & times of common Kashmiris. The first book which i got hold of is ‘SEEDTIME IN KASHMIR’ which is a memoir of Dr William Elmslie & the second book is ‘BEYOND THE PIR PANJAL – LIFE AND MISSIONARY ENTERPRISE IN KASHMIR’ written by Dr Ernest Neve. Both the books lay emphasis on the missionary activities for which they were actually sent by the Church to Kashmir. William Elmslie’s book, ‘Seedtime in Kashmir’ is titled so as to denote the start of the Christian Missionary activity in Kashmir. William Elmslie was a Scottish Doctor who started first dispensary in Kashmir in 1865. This book has a collection of his notes, his letters to his mother and what he told to his friend & his wife. In the book, Dr Elmslie describes valley of Kashmir as Valley of Sin because according to him, the valley is reeling under darkness of other religions & not his religion. He at various times mocks the religions being followed in the valley. The major emphasis of this book as well his purpose of him being in Kashmir was the missionary activity. The doctor talks of numerous instances where due to his missionary work, he was confronted by the Muslim Preachers & the Maharaja of that time. He talks of an event in which he was warded off by the preacher when he went to Hazratbal. He also talks of an unofficial offer being given by the Maharaja that if he stopped his missionary work & concentrated only on the medical work, he would be given thousand rupees per year. With all this written in the book, he also has some firsts in the medical field in Kashmir. Following are some of the excerpts of his book :
“But what is this oppression that I have spoken of? It is this — that at one swoop half of every man’s produce goes into the Government treasury. Half of everything, not merely of his grain, but even of the produce of his cattle, or whatever he has ; so that from each cow he must give every second year a calf to Government, and from every half-dozen of his chickens three go to the all-devouring sirkar. More than this even, his very fruit trees are watched by Government and half taken for the Maharajah. A poor Kashmiri can call nothing his own. But, in reality, it is not only half a man loses, for at least another quarter is taken by the rapacious government officials who have to collect the nominal half. Shakdars, Kardars, Ziladars, soldiers, and others, all come in for their share. The wonder is, how the people exist at all. Of course I am a credulous missionary, and believed every story I heard, but I should like to find the man in Kashmir who could deny these facts. But it is not only the poor peasants who suffer ; perhaps the condition of the shawl weavers is worse still They are all the servants of the Government, which supplies them with material, and doles out to them a scanty pittance of two annas a day, and then sells them the rice (which it has taken from the peasants) at any price which it chooses to set upon it. These shawl weavers are a lean wan race, recognizable at once from their sallow complexion, thin cheeks and despondent look………….
“But there are other things in Kashmir which most terribly detract from its pleasure as a place of residence. The dirt is beyond description. Who can tell what Kashmir smells are ? Not the odours of roses, such as one has expected to fill the air ; but, oh ! such, that the dirtiest of London courts is sweeter than the cleanest of Kashmir villages. The clothes, too, of the people are filthy; not that the filth shows much, for all their garments are of grey wool, which is a most perfect concealer of dirt ; but not a few of their diseases are the result of their uncleanliness, and how often I have almost shrunk away from them, as, in my dispensary, when I have been examining a patient, I have seen the lice crawling on his clothes and his fleas skipping over to me…………..
Dr Elmslie had the habit of recording the events of his daily routine. Some of them which have a significance are noted below :
” 9th May,1865 — To-day is memorable in the history of the Kashmir Medical Mission, from the fact that I opened my dispensary this morning. I had given notice that I intended receiving patients from this date. The verandah on the southern aspect of the house was prepared for the sick people to meet in. Punctually at seven o’clock a.m., I, Qadir, the catechist, and my two native assistants went into the verandah, after supplicating together the blessing of God on the work which we were about to initiate in Srinagar. Qadir read the opening verses of the fifth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, and made a running and suitable commentary on the passage. The service was closed with a brief prayer for the divine blessing. I now retired to the small verandah on the east side of the house, which I had fitted up — very rudely, I must confess — as a dispensary. Here the patients were seen one by one. The number present to-day was ten.
” 18th May,1865 — The number of patients this morning was forty. Excised a cystic tumour from a young man. Having explained the object and effects of chloroform, I asked him if he wished me to give it to him.. After some slight hesitation he consented. In all probability this is the first time a native Kashmiri has been anaesthetised in the valley with chloroform
“31st May,1865 — Opened my small hospital to-day. It accommodates from four to five patients. The verandah, in which the patients used to assemble to hear the address, has been fitted up for this purpose, while the long verandah downstairs is in future to be our meeting-room, being much larger than the one above. Vaccinated the two children of the Brahmin at the head of financial matters in Kashmir.
” 15th June,1865 — With the aid of chloroform, removed a large staphyloma. The people are becoming acquainted with the fact there is a medicine that takes away pain by making them sleep, and readily take it when it is required. Heard to-day that orders had been issued by the heads of the native Government that no sepoy is to come to me for advice and medicine.
” 17th June,1865 — A poor coolie, who had been accidentally shot in the thigh, died this morning in hospital. His relatives would not grant a postmortem examination. It is impossible for medicine to make much progress in India as long as it continues to be so difficult to obtain specimens of morbid anatomy.
” 19th June,1865 — Assisted by the Eev. Mr. Yeates, performed resection of the wrist-joint. The patient was a young woman. Her parents were present during the operation.
” 21th July,1865 — (Srinagar). In the afternoon, performed Chopart’s operation for caries of the bones of tarsus. The patient was a girl, whose father and mother were present during the operation. Chloroform was administered to the patient, who went off very quickly. In operating, my difficulties are legion, for I have everything to do myself.
Some portions from Dr Ernest Neve’s book, Beyond The Pir Panjal : To begin with, a Kashmiri saying in the book
” Haki’mas ta hakimas nishh tachhtam Khodayo.”
” O God, save me from physicians and rulers “
‘In spite of his great physical strength and powers of endurance, the Kashmiri is highly strung and neurotic, and he will often weep on slight provocation. In the presence of very little danger he will sob like a child. These people can bear pain much better than Europeans, but owing to want of self-control they make more fuss. Naturally impulsive and huffy, they respond readily to tactful handing On the whole they are grateful for benefits. Their moral sense is fairly well-developed. They readily distinguish between right and wrong. In money affairs they are close, and the more wealthy are mean. They spend little, and except at weddings care nothing for show. Even the rich wear dirty clothes lest they should be thought too well off. …………………….
A widespread cholera epidemic in 1867, while diminishing the number of ordinary patients, gave the Medical Mission the opportunity of helping the cholera-stricken. When Dr Elmslie laid down his work in 1869, he had achieved much. The opposition of the State authorities overcome the confidence had been, to a considerable extent, of the Kashmiris had been won, and an immense amount of relief had been afforded to sufferers. Four Kashmiris had become Christians. One of these for many years continued to render faithful service in Kashmir as a Christian teacher. As an indirect result of the work of the Medical Mission, the first Kashmir State Dispensary had been started. And this was the forerunner of the present extensive State Medical Service…………
Dr Theodore Maxwell, who was Elmslie’s successor, was fortunate in meeting with a very friendly reception from the Maharajah Ranbir Singh, who, hearing that Maxwell was a nephew of General John Nicholson of Delhi fame, promised to grant good house accommodation. The work was reopened in 1874 under favourable conditions. Official opposition was withdrawn. The State medical officer was friendly. The Maharajah granted a site for a hospital, and at State expense a small building was erected on the north side of the Rustum Gaddi Hill………
From 1877-1879 Kashmir was limited by an appalling famine. In some parts of the valley, including Srinagar, it is said that the population was reduced by more than a half. Heavy rain fell in the autumn, before the crops were gathered in. The rice and maize which arc the staple foods rotted. During the winter, rain continued. The cattle died from want of food. The spring harvest failed owing to bad weather. The authorities made a fatal mistake and ordered a house-to-house search for seed-grain, which the cultivators had stored for spring use. Believing, probably with good reason, that this grain would be confiscated by tyrannous and absolutely unprincipled officials, the people consumed the seed-grain themselves, or by hiding it in damp places they so damaged it that it was no longer available for sowing. As a result, the famine continued until October 1879. Oil-cake, rice, chaff, the bark of the elm and yew, and even grasses and roots were eagerly devoured by the starving people, who became absolutely demoralized and like ravenous beasts, each struggling for his own life.The corpses of those who had perished were left lying or hastily dragged to the nearest well or hole, until these became choked with dead bodies. Dogs wandered about in troops preying upon the unburied carcasses Pestilence dogged the steps of want and cholera broke out. Everything combined to intensify the disaster. Many officials in high places proved apathetic, or worse still, for selfish purposes, aided and abetted in keeping up prices, and even intercepting the grain which was being sent in over rough mountain tracks for the relief of the dying.
Quoting Dr A Neve, ‘Of recent years the completion of the Jhelum Valley Road and the greatly increased traffic to and from India have unfortunately made outbreaks of cholera more frequent. In twenty years there have been five serious epidemics with at least forty thousand deaths. The fatal years were 1888, 1892, 1900, 1907 and 1910. Before the year 1900, however, a supply of pure water had been laid on to most parts of the city, and thousands of lives were saved thereby. In 1888 and 1892 Srinagar was a City of Dreadful Death.” We are looking from the bows of our matroofed boat for the first sight of Srinagar, the so-called Venice of the East…’
Until the introduction of general vaccination, practically the whole population of Kashmir contracted smallpox in childhood. The mortality was appalling. From this and other causes fifty per cent, of the children of Kashmir are said to die in infancy. I often wish the opponents of vaccination could be present in our consulting room to see the melancholy procession, day by day, of those who have lost their sight from smallpox. For this disease is the most frequent cause of total incurable blindness. Like many other towns with large rivers, Srinagar, in a marvelous way, escaped having plague in a severe form. There was, however, a sharp epidemic in 1903. A man died immediately after his arrival in the mail-cart from India. His body was buried in quicklime. His friends secretly exhumed the corpse in order to re-inter it near a sacred shrine. They were attacked and the disease spread rapidly. It assumed the pneumonic form. And curiously enough there was no associated rat mortality. The authorities took vigorous measures, at first burning down all plague-infected houses.They were, however, compelled to abandon this, owing to popular opposition. The disease gradually died out, after lingering with singular persistence in some isolated villages near the Wular Lake.The mortality, all through, was terrible—over 95 per cent. Kashmiris, who were under European influence, were willing to submit to prophylactic inoculation. No European was attacked by plague.’