The Sound of Music and Introspection

Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes. — CG Jung (1875-1961)  Founder of Analytical Psychology

THEY came, played their music and went away, leaving us with mixed emotions and feelings. Some experienced a deep sense of disappointment, because the “magic power of music,” which the German ambassador Michael Steiner had promised would carry the “message of hope” that would “reach the hearts of the Kashmiris,” eluded them. Others heaved a sigh of relief since the apprehensions of the Hurriyat (G) chairman SAS Geelani that, “international events held in disputed territory interfere with its disputed status,” did not come to pass. And the rest felt reassured that the Kashmir Civil Society’s assertion that New Delhi’s attempt to use this concert “to further legitimise the Indian occupation in Jammu and Kashmir,” did not succeed!

The paraphernalia created for the musical concert at Shalimar has long since been dismantled and with the event itself being more or less forgotten, the ‘demon’ of the Zubin Mehta concert has been laid to rest. However, we had just no time to reflect upon what was said in those tumultuous days that preceded this event as we have found other issues to protest about. In any case, this doesn’t matter much as introspection has never been the forte of our leaders, who unfortunately seem to take personal affront to any suggestion that appears to be negative, even if it is made with complete sincerity. However, if our leaders continue to remain ‘hypersensitive’ to positive criticism and thus forego the opportunity to learn from experiences of the past, then how can the shortcomings, afflicting the ongoing movement, ever be rectified?   

For those who may dismiss introspection as a futile or an inconsequential exercise, a replay of events and actions concerning the Zubin Mehta concert would demonstrate that if one just takes out a little time to introspect, some very important lessons could emerge, and so, here we go! 

The initial objections raised against Zubin Mehta’s musical extravaganza in Kashmir had merit and it was absolutely right to convey the same in the manner it was done- devoid of any ambiguity, but with due courtesy. However, things started to go wrong when the German ambassador refused to relent and a host of other entities and groups jumped into the fray with their own set of reasoning against holding of this event. Infact, while it may not have been intended so, but the cacophony of diverse reasoning proffered against the ‘Ehasas-e-Kashmir’ concert gave the impression that there was no clarity of thought or unanimity in expression. Lesson#1- Coordinated action is the key to success!

However, the more disturbing issue is – why, despite vociferous protests from various quarters, the German ambassador remained unmoved and decided to go ahead and hold the concert. Readers will recall that the objections against holding the Zubin Mehta concert in Srinagar covered virtually every angle – be it the ‘Indian occupation’ of Jammu and Kashmir, New Delhi’s ‘conspiracy to legitimise occupation’, Human Rights violations due to ‘State brutality and absolute impunity’ or the poignant issue suggesting that the concert amounted to mocking a ‘repressed’ people . Thus, that the German Ambassador should have turned a deaf ear to what was being claimed to be the ‘vox populi’ of Kashmir is indeed  very disturbing and a serious issue. This needs thorough introspection, as it is clear that something was lacking in the line of arguments used during the anti- concert protests. Lesson #2- While emotive issues may help rally domestic support, they may not necessarily strike a similar chord with the international community.    

While raising his objection to the Zubin Mehta show, the Hurriyat (G) chairman SAS Geelani claimed that, “Any sort of international activity, be it political, diplomatic, cultural or sports will have an adverse effect on disputed nature of Kashmir.” If we are to dispassionately evaluate this assertion made by the Hurriyat (G) chairman, then why are our leaders, lauding the 2004 ‘diplomatic initiative’ of the European Union to send a delegation to Kashmir? Is it only because this delegation had concluded that Kashmir was a “beautiful prison”? And now that the EU is reportedly contemplating sending another of its delegation to review the situation in Kashmir, will our leaders also object to this diplomatic ‘activity’ on the grounds that, this would have “an adverse effect on disputed nature of Kashmir.” Lesson #3- Contradictions in ideological philosophy due to selective ‘cherry- picking’ by the separatist leadership needs to be rectified to avoid them being considered mere opportunists. 

Without meaning any offense, it is also necessary to mention that once the German ambassador refused to call-off the concert, the objections transformed into allegations, acquiring the tone and tenor of a woman spurned, which was uncalled for and very unfortunate. The initial statement issued by the Hurriyat that “Kashmiris do not oppose German Ambassador Michael Stenier or Zubin Mehta,” is worth appreciating as it was logical and made it amply clear that the reservations being expressed were ideological in character and not personal in nature. However, as the event drew nearer, the issue seemed to become more personal in nature, with avoidable racist references. Lesson #4 – The ability to maintain composure and civility in adversity is the hallmark of maturity expected from leaders.

In saying that, Zubin Mehta “is basically a Jew, who propagates Zionism through his musical shows,” Geelani has given an opportunity to his detractors, who have been accusing him all along of harbouring a deep racist and communal bias, to score a point. This emotional outburst from the Hurriyat (G) chairman, who is also considered the ‘leading light’ of the movement for the ‘right of self determination’, could harm his own credibility in the international arena as well as prove to be detrimental to the Kashmir cause. However, Geelani is not the only person to be faulted. Though the objection of the Hurriyat (M) chairman Umar Farook may not have been offensive, it was certainly uncharitable as by stating, “Germany has to understand the ground situation,” the Mirwaiz has directly accused Berlin of behaving irresponsibly. It does not behoove a leader of international repute like the Mirwaiz to make such comments about a nation respected for its astute foreign policy. Lesson #5- If they wish to be taken seriously by the international community, then the separatist leadership should avoid intemperate comments in the form of racist remarks and accusatory statements.

There can be no doubt that in light of the objections raised by the Hurriyat and a section of the civil society, the German government would have certainly re-examined the political and diplomatic implications of the idea to hold the concert in Kashmir. The decision to go-ahead must have only been taken after Berlin was confident that New Delhi could not use this event for propaganda purposes to further its political or diplomatic interests regarding Kashmir. Moreover, since even Pakistan maintained a stoic silence on this issue, it was more than evident that these apprehensions were misplaced. Lesson #6- Objections should be based on logical arguments and not mere speculation. 

Strangely, it was the civil society representing the intelligentsia, which while raising its objection, made the most compassionless attack on German sensitivities by stating that, “Art as propaganda, as abundantly documented, was put to horrific use in Nazi Germany…we cannot welcome anything even remotely analogous in Jammu and Kashmir.”  Though it unfortunately has an ignoble Nazi past, Germany has left no stone unturned to live down this dishonorable legacy and the sincerity of its efforts has been internationally applauded. Therefore, by stating that the idea of holding a concert was “analogous” to Nazi propaganda, the civil society has displayed gross insensitivity towards the German people by resurrecting an unfortunate chapter from the country’s past. Lesson # 7 – Civil society has an important role in strengthening the intellectual dimension of the ongoing debate on the ‘K’ issue and needs to concentrate more on ideological issues rather than composing melodramatic treatises with unsavoury references and odious comparisons. 

While an ordinary person can indulge in idiosyncrasies, public figures claiming to be voicing the views and aspirations of the masses cannot afford to do the same. Similarly, while an ordinary person can afford to be emotional and at times even be irrational, a public figure has no choice but to be an epitome of well-balanced thoughts and cogent actions as he represents the legitimate aspirations of a people. As no human being is perfect, introspection remains the most effective tool for self-improvement as it makes a person more focused. If this is done, then our leaders will be more discerning while selecting issues on which to protest, instead of seeing a ‘conspiracy’ in everything and resultantly, just  like Don Quixote, charging at windmills! 

Until introspection becomes a habit with our leaders, and the ‘let bygones be bygones’ attitude is discarded, the Kashmir issue will unfortunately remain where it has been stagnating for more than six decades!  Thus, our leaders have no option but to throw their personal egos out of the window and accepting constructive criticism, sit down to seriously introspect!

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