Rana Ayyub, the investigative journalist who was recently in news for her ‘Gujarat Files- Anatomy of a cover up’, had recently come to Aligarh Muslim University to speak on ‘Writing as a form of protest- Issues of freedom of expression and censorship’. At the end of her speech she was asked a few questions by the present Kashmiri students. In reply to their questions, she said, “you have the privilege of studying in Indian universities.” Her statement was food for thought. On pondering over it, it gave me the real reason for the pathetic condition of the poor people living under open sky just opposite to the gate of university campus. These people also deserve all the privileges that we enjoy. As a matter of fact, these people have more right to be studying in prestigious Indian universities and colleges than we do because apparently they are the true well-wishers of the country. We on the other hand are labeled as radicalised and misguided by the country.
India needs to realize that something is wrong with its resource allocation since despite being the world’s fifth largest economy, a large portion of its population continues to live in extreme poverty. One may wonder what exactly is wrong with India’s resource allocation. Well for starters, India has prioritized spending on military and nuclear weapons which is a huge mistake. Resources spent for this purpose could be far better invested in the integral development of the educational sector, the health sector and to fight poverty.
The only reason India is spending a large portion of its wealth on security is the Kashmir issue. While the poor homeless people of India freeze under bridges and go to bed hungry, its government is openly motivating its army in Kashmir to break our bones till we chant “Vande Mataram”. Kashmir gets eight times more money from the Centre than the rest of the India. This extra money which is labelled as money for security purposes is in reality used to oppress and suppress the people of Kashmir so that India can claim that Kashmir is its integral part. While India spends lakhs in order to control even the snow on Saichen, Kashmir in return contributes to less than 1 % of India’s GDP. India would surely have emerged as a global power long ago if it would have resolved the Kashmir issue. It would have got a permanent UNSC and NSG membership had it set its priorities right.
India has remarkably failed to win over Kashmiri people. There are only a few in Kashmir who won’t embrace freedom with enthusiasm and a huge relief. A logical mind might question why a country like India is focusing on securing a nation that clearly doesn’t want to be with it. The problem is that there exists a system with different aims. A system which, while forcibly occupying Kashmir by its military power, is axing its own feet and continues to deny millions of its people a dignified life. Such a system views the question of letting go of Kashmir through the prism of hyper patriotism and nationalism and considers it as a matter of pride. True patriotism doesn’t lie in enslaving a population. It lies in elevating the population from the chains of poverty.
It isn’t enough to let a few drops fall whenever poor shake a cup which never runs over by itself. Whenever I will get a chance to meet a non-local beggar in Kashmir, I am going to tell him or her that the money that could have given them a dignified life is used to inflict untold sufferings on the Kashmiri people. These people need to be made aware of their denied right, of their right to live a dignified life. They need to know why they are “nange and bhooke” and homeless. They need to know why their children continue to go to sleep hungry every night.
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