Opinions vary over trouble in Kashmir

In August, the India government stripped statehood away from Kashmir, turning what was an Indian state into a federally controlled enclave, according to The New York Times. Pakistan also claims Kashmir as part of its country. People worry that India’s move could lead to another war between the two nuclear-armed countries.

A Pakistani and an Indian student at Ohio Wesleyan University were asked by The Transcript for their opinions about their respective country’s position regarding Kashmir.

Sophomore Haris Ali, from Pakistan, believes that war is inevitable between Pakistan and India.

Sophomore Parampreet Singh, from India, says Indian Prime Minister Narender Modi is making the right decisions.

Azmeh Talha

Arts and Entertainment Editor

War is inevitable

Ali: Although I believe that peace talks are very important and both countries should peacefully come up with a solution to this grave issue, it has not been possible in the past 72 years. The current political situation in India and Pakistan gives us no hope that this would be possible anytime in the near future.

Chairman of the Council for Indian Foreign Policy V.P. Vaidik said the Kashmir issue can be resolved through dialogues amongst all stakeholders – Pakistanis, Indians and the Indian and Pakistani occupants of Kashmir. However, whenever efforts are made to resolve the Kashmir issue, there is always some setback.

Elections in Pakistan or in India are often the cause of postponement of peace talks as politicians use anti-Pakistani or anti-Indian rhetoric to win elections.

In 2018, the newly elected Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, extended an invitation to India for peace talks. The two countries were set to meet in the United Nations.

However, Indian elections were close, so the Indian government changed their mind and refused to attend the scheduled talks, according to a statement by India’s ex-Minister of External Affairs, the late Sushma Swaraj. India cancelled the meeting between its foreign minister and her Pakistani counterpart less than 24 hours after agreeing to what would have been the first high level contact between the nuclear-armed neighbors in three years. In a situation like this, it is highly unlikely that peace could remain in the region forever.

My analysis of this situation of war and peace has led me to the conclusion that war is inevitable. Every year there is a violation from either side which postpones the idea of any kind of peace. Pakistan and India have already fought four wars. Hundreds of border skirmishes have taken place in which hundreds of thousands of civilians and military personnel have died as a result.

The only reason that there has been no major armed conflict since 1999 is the acquisition of nuclear weapons by both countries. The international community wants peace in the region – nuclear war must be avoided at all costs – but the religious sentiments of Muslim and Hindu extremists on either side, as well the media, spread hate in the hearts of the common people on both sides.

As a result, the army and the government have to please their needs. If World War Three were to ever take place, India and Pakistan could potentially start the war.

I strongly condemn the recent violations of civil and human rights of Kashmiri people by the Indian government. From mass killings, enforced disappearances, torture and rape to political repression and suppression of freedom of speech, I do not understand how the literate population of India can elect a prime minister who encourages this behavior.

These are heinous and shameful acts and do not affect either country in any way but has ruined the lives of thousands of Kashmiris. I can’t even imagine being forcefully taken away by armed forces from my mother and sister, not knowing what would happen to us.

I for one do not hate Indians. I visited India back in 2017 and had a great experience. I did not feel ‘out of place’ and everyone treated our group as guests; and I go to college with Indian friends. My point being that the hatred and angst shown on social media and news channels is wildly inaccurate.

A common Pakistani or an Indian does not want war or any sort of conflict with each other.

As a Pakistani, I unequivocally believe that Kashmir should be a part of Pakistan. However, as a rational person, I think that an unbiased referendum should take place in Kashmir.

The people of Kashmir should decide whether they want to join India or Pakistan or if they want a separate nation for themselves. I might be too optimistic too believe that this would actually happen, as neither side would agree to this.

Modi took the correct action

Singh: The action of our prime minister, Narender Modi, took regarding revoking the Article 370 was really a positive and a bold action.

I know there was a huge debate about how the government of India treated the people of Kashmir, but if they had let them know about the action they took, it [would have been] impossible for the government to revoke the Article 370.

It was supposed to be something quick and instant. That’s how the government of India did. This step will integrate Kashmir and put it on the same page as the rest of India.

I also feel that the people of Kashmir should have been treated in a better way. However, I don’t know what the consequences would have been if the government hadn’t blocked the telephone lines in Kashmir. It could have been worse.

Being an Indian, I feel this is a positive for India.

Hymn for the Weekend: let’s try not to get offended

Photo courtesy of nydailynews.com
Photo courtesy of nydailynews.com

Ela Mazumdar, Transcript Reporter

As many eagerly watched the new music video for Beyonce and Coldplay’s “Hymn for the Weekend,” it seemed that not everyone was thrilled with the video, which, according to many people, appropriates Indian culture and is blatantly disrespectful.

As an Indian woman, issues of cultural appropriation are incredibly important to me and hit close to home.

Although I live in the U.S., Indian culture is a part of me and a part of how I have grown up, so when someone tells me that my culture is being appropriated, I take a very critical stance on that issue.

However, in this case, I do not see this video as a form of cultural appropriation, but rather one of appreciation.  Yes, it may be somewhat ignorant and is problematic in the grand scheme of things, but it also captures all that makes India and its culture colorful and beautiful.

This is not to say that video is completely flawless, but simply that it does not seem to be intentionally disrespectful.  I found that Beyonce could have obviously researched traditional Indian clothing, and that there were some visual elements which were heavily exaggerated, but again that’s what music videos are all about.

As someone who has been to Mumbai, I see this video as a glimpse into India with its poverty, happiness and people who smile regardless of their harsh circumstances.

I do understand why some people could be offended, but I also have seen a number of comments on BuzzFeed, most of which don’t seem to understand the meaning of appropriation.

I am not saying that my voice is the voice of all Indians or that it should be, and if people are offended, they have a right to those feelings.

I’m just saying that sometimes those who have been oppressed tend to expect oppression and don’t believe that there is a chance that people in the media (and in general) are just curious and excited about our culture and choose to explore it in different ways.

I do not believe that this video gives a holistic view of India, but it does highlight some of my favorite things about India. The video especially showcases elements which I believe are inoffensive.

I think that the song and the representation of India are positive. I could be the only one thinking this, but that might because I am hopeful that there are people out there who find new cultures to be exciting and go into understanding them differently and with respect.

I believe if they make mistakes along the way, that’s OK. At least they made an attempt and learned something along the way.

Competing interests overshadow India’s global potential

R. Blake Michael. Photo courtesy of owu.edu.
R. Blake Michael. Photo courtesy of owu.edu.

For India to take a lead role on the world stage it must overcome an assortment of competing sectarian influences that keep it from becoming a unified nation.

It’s a tall order, said Ohio Wesleyan University professor Blake Michael in the final event in the Great Decisions lecture series Friday, focused on the politics of India since it gained independence in 1947.

Michael took the podium in a last minute call to replace speaker Irfan Nooruddin, a professor at Georgetown University and an Ohio Wesleyan alumnus, who had to cancel his talk titled “India Changes Course.”

Michael also led last week’s Great Decisions lecture about sectarianism in the Middle East.

He began by describing the impact sectarianism has had in India.

“How do you build a nation that identifies itself as Indian when you have all these competing components — religious, linguistic, regional — that are pulling people to identify with smaller and smaller groups?” Michael said.

Convincing Hindus and Muslims to both identify as Indian has not been easy, he said. And the growing prominence in the last few years of the Bharatiya Janata Party has also impaired progress. That party wants India to become a Hindu nation.

India is similar in physical size and population as Europe and has “great potential for productivity on the world stage,” Michael said.

After winning its independence, India tried to become more united and it “swallowed up” some of its neighboring nations, he said.

India and Nepal. Photo courtesy of biggsity.com.
India and Nepal. Photo courtesy of biggsity.com.

One country that has remained mostly independent is Nepal.

“Being Nepal is like being a puppy dog sleeping next to an elephant,” Michael said. “India is monstrous and some of the nations around it are fairly small and have to be very careful which way they roll over.”

Delaware resident Connie Lybarger said she has been coming to the Great Decisions lectures with her husband since the series began. She said she liked that Michael emphasized India’s immense size and included information about Pakistan, where she and her husband were missionaries.

Richard Fischer, also of Delaware, said the lecture provided a perspective not found in the mainstream media.

“You’re hearing someone, who knows something well, tell you about a topic without an agenda,” he said.