Kashmir University: Anything but ‘K’ centric

Institute of ‘K’ studies states the obvious


Universities worldwide, apart from imparting higher education, are meant to reflect the cultural essence of the place they are set in, as well as the dominant socio-political sentiments. Taken in that context ‘KU’ is anything but ‘K’ centric. Especially its ‘Institute of Kashmir Studies’ essentially established to promote ‘K’ related narratives reflecting past glory, as well as the pain it has gone through over centuries of exploitation by forces that rendered the wailing vale vulnerable. Overlooking, even sidestepping the voices of resistance reflected in ‘K’ lore ‘institute of ‘K’ studies’ has taken upon itself the onerous task of promoting state tailored discourses, rendering the university anything but autonomous. 

The most recent evidence is the diatribe of track-two diplomat Satinder K Lambah, outgoing PM Manmohan Singh’s special envoy on behind the scene ‘K’ parleys. He laid down India’s status quo narrative, albeit a shade decorated, yet nothing beyond scaled down Musharaf’s ‘K’ drive. It may not be taken as a note against free flow of ideas, of information; the fact nevertheless stays of keeping away a studied distance from dominant ‘K’ sentiment, and its cultural essence.  This has become the ‘K’ University staple, with the appointments more often than not of aspirants from outside the state as Vice Chancellors.

The fact of eminently qualified persons being available locally is overlooked. Extending the terms of incumbents, even before their terms expire is another lately promoted trait. That it stays spurned, after seeking greener pastures is akin to insult added to injury. But isn’t Kashmir all said and done an injury prone land, where Lambah and his ilk drop in to add insult? Musharaf’s ‘K’ formula, even in its violation of ‘K’ devised international settlement entailing self determination with plebiscite as the vehicle of determining it, underlined the temporary nature of ‘LoC’ pending final settlement. Instead, propagation of ground realities in ‘K University discourses, implying digesting such realities, however painful is becoming the norm.

Institute of ‘K’ studies falling short of studying holistic socio-cultural essence evolved to virtual neglect of Persian related lore of Kashmir. And following it the resistance lore reflected in Kashmiri poetry of Rasool Mir, Ab. Ahad Azad, Mahjoor and scores of other poets, literates of other academic streams—historians mainly.  Post 1947 poetry of Mahjoor is a stinging criticism of socio-political and economic exploitation of Kashmir. He talks of selective distribution of salt, of edible oil, of ‘Azadi’ visiting a few household, while others remain in bondage. The tyranny of alien rule stands related in Persian based literary essence of Kashmir. In ‘Shahr-e-Khas’ downtown in English idiom, scores of poets lived in Malarata, Pandan, Qutub-din-pora. Having been a keen student of Persian lore during long stay in Iran, Persian poetry of Kashmiri literates was a revelation. It is a hidden treasure marked by its neglect in institute of ‘K’ studies, meant to promote it. Especially, the Persian poetry of Ghani Kashmiri and of Allama Iqbal, which in parts is in essence ‘K’ study in all its aspects.

Institute of ‘K’ studies should have taken the lead in widening research in ‘K’ related Persian and Kashmiri poetry, the Persian histories of Kashmir, authored by Hassan Koihami, Azam Dedmari, Malik Husain Chadora.   Instead, all we get to hear is Pundit Kalhana, Jonaraja, Sri Dhar/Srivera, Kamendra…related to Sanskrit related ‘K’ lore, which is integral to it. Without an iota of doubt, the works of these ancient masters of Sanskrit period in ‘K’ related literature is a badge of pride, highly valued. ‘K’ lore is incomplete without its ‘Rajtarangani’ which has given ‘K’ history continuity over thousands of years, with few parallels worldwide. 

Given the present scientific based essence of history, these ancient Sanskrit works may not be standard histories; nevertheless they are a valued part of ‘K’ lore. During the Chancellorship of former governor, Gen. Sinha, he virtually regimented discourses. There is hardly a soul, whatever the religious stream, who may not respect the Shivist essence. With it Gen. Sinha was fond of stressing the Sufi lore. In the so called mainstream narratives, Sufism is the soft face of Islam, hence acceptable. The prima donna of Sufism—Maulana Rumi stresses, nothing new may be erected on an old foundation.  To ensure sustainability, says Rumi, lay down a new foundation. It is a revolutionary thought, alluded to by our patron Sufi Saint– Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Noorani. His emphasis remained on following the Rumi lead. ‘KU’ state driven discourses remain glued to window dressing, yet talk of Sufism without understanding its essence.

Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival] iqbal.javid46@gmail.co