How Can Kashmiris’ Intellectual And Artistic Deprivation Be Remedied?

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SRINAGAR: Kashmiris are starved of intellectual, artistic, and entertainment (legitimate) avenues. Whilst historically, there have been no major avenues or outlets for these the finer sensibilities of Kashmiris, but it is now thematic and structural; our state is defined by a paucity and near zero absence of these avenues like museums, cinemas , theatres, art galleries and what have you. This deprivation has many consequences. First, it means that our finer sensibilities are not accorded a vent or an outlet; second , negativity, in as varied domains as social, cultural and work related, cannot be sublimated into something finer; third, as our sensibilities get dulled, we become rather dull-collectively and socially; four, our future generations get disconnected from our legacies-arts, crafts and literature; five, this lacuna means that we cannot showcase and make outsiders (tourists, visitors and other assorted people interested in Kashmir) partake in our culture and its finer aspects. Cumulatively, it means that we are soul and mind nourishment which can be held to be a deprivation of the highest order.

Another consequence of this deprivation is that our intellectual, social and cultural engagement is or will be increasingly determined by media- social and conventional. This engagement actually means disengagement and even withdrawal from society and what may be called the “real world”. This would mean the dissipation of our culture and our cultural legacies and artefacts. The larger issue here would be the disembeddedness of our selves from our culture impacting future generations and the hollowing out of our culture. We will become and morph into inorganic cultural clones with nothing “authentic” or “original to offer”. This would, in the final analysis, constitute both a tragedy and a travesty.

The urgent question is: can this condition be remedied? Yes is the answer.

But it would take a partnership between the state and society to bring about the renewal in contention. However, given the power and resources of the state, it is the state itself that would have to take the initiative. The first component of this initiative could be to establish museums, libraries and even theatres that highlight and illustrate the nature of our culture, history and artefacts. While this would not constitute pure entertainment, it would fall in the domain of “edutainment”- that is , a synthesis of education and entertainment. The nature of this edutainment should be open to the masses; it should not be an elite affair. Promotion by the government and then vigorous and enthusiastic participation by the people and making this central to our cultural lives should be the mantra that informs all stakeholders. If this is actually implemented, then not only our cultural and social lives will be enriched but we will be able to showcase and present our cultural and cultural artefacts to the world at large- generating interest in Kashmir as a cultural tourism destination in the process.

Holding road shows in Europe and parts of the West and promotional melas as is the default reflex of the government are as hollow and inconsequential as can be. What is needed is a big bang push to render edutainment central to Kashmiris lives- enriching us in the process and presenting our culture to the world at large. If reified, our souls and minds will be uplifted and an interest of a durable nature generated in and over Kashmir. The world is full of natural beauty with umpteen places and destinations offering dazzling and dizzying glimpses of natural beauty complemented by matching infrastructure. Kashmir might not compete head on with these destinations but what can be done is synthesize Kashmir’s natural beauty with cultural displays –all under the rubric of edutainment. The only loser here will be negative energy induced by artificial or negligible avenues of entertainment. We have lost a lost of time in these domains but it is never too late to start. 

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