Here we are, celebrating 61 years of independence, and there, in the Kashmir valley, we have separatists flaunting their flags, their dissension and their dissatisfaction at being a part of India! Now, when we need a united India to fight her bigger problems of corruption, inflation, poverty, illiteracy and gender and caste discrimination, here are some people tagging onto the separation agenda. All the time, so many people keep harping, literally that the USP of India is her unity in diversity. So many cultures, so many languages, dialects. India is the bedrock of 3 independent religions - Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainisim. We have embraced all religions and everyone is allowed to practise what they want to, as long as they don't end up being a menace for someone else. Now, in what way is this stance 'not secular'? In what way is the essence of Kashmiris jeopardized here? They seek independence you say? And we have journalists and columnists calling the Kashmiri struggle similar to the Indian struggle against the Raj! Now, does India bleed Kashmir for revenues? Does India milk Kashmir for industrial output and natural resources, and divert all such revenues to other places, leaving Kashmir high and dry, writhing in pain and suffering? Not really. India pumps in a huge amount of money into Kashmir, and prosperity is evident. We have figures that say that Kashmir has the lowest poverty rate in India! Now, I don't really think the Raj did that to India.
The biggest canker in the Indian soul is the politicization of democracy. In the name of democracy, almost everyone is given a free hand. We want to honor the words of everyone. But at what cost? We have Hurriyat leaders who are ostentatiously pro Pakistan. By opening up of the Muzaffarabad highway, we are inviting terrorists through other routes, terrorists who already have a free terrorism visa stamped by ISI and the Pakistan army. And who endorses these views? Politicians, all with their own vote-monging agenda! They have their own personal agenda, and who better supporters than gullible youths, who can quite comfortably be brainwashed into believing what is best for them? The world condemns terrorism, and some people see personal gains in the act. Is democracy and patience justified in condoning such acts? How long should we as a nation brook such nonsense? How many more jawans and majors, true sons of the soil who are sacrificing their lives for the sovereignty of the nation, should we lose? How many more war widows must we create? How many more orphans must we leave in the wake of the J&K issue?
Separation and partisan politics, if it were the solution, 61 years ago, Patel and Nehru wouldn't have embarked on a mammoth mission to integrate the nation. They wouldn't have gone on discussion after discussion with every princely state and whimsical ruler to integrate with India. Today, if we were to acquiesce to the separation requirements of Kashmiris, tomorrow, Punjab will say they want a separate Khalistan. Can we live without our Punjabi and Sardarji brothers? Next, Tamil Nadu will say they want to go their own way. Would we allow that? Forget those states, if Mumbai and Bangalore decide to be independent, fending for themselves, feeding only themselves and protecting their frontiers, without contributing a cent to the center, would J&K, Punjab, AP, Karnataka, MP survive?
A nation is built by unity. Unity in spite of being poles apart. It is a marriage. A marriage of ideologies. A compromise and a willingness to co-exist. If a Hindu-Muslim marriage can survive the odds, in spite of family pressures, why can't a nation full of discerning young people stand up and speak sense to the separatists and the politicians who provide their tacit approval? Why not find a way to live in peace, without bringing religion in the way. If tomorrow the USA were to declare Pakistan a terrorist state and deploy troops all over Pakistan, would Kashmir still want to join Pakistan. And if they were so 'islam-friendly' and 'Indian secularism averse', does Saudi Arabia want them to renounce Kashmir and come over en masse to stay in Saudi Arabia?
I don't speak as a Hindu. I speak as an Indian. I myself have very close friends from all religions. We share our joys, our events and we understand that life is beyond all such petty things as religion, community and hatred! But there is a limit to what India can bear. A limit to her tolerance. She is after all a woman and 'Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned'. So do not speak separation and independence. Prosperity and happiness lie in togetherness and unity. No Jai Kashmir and Jai Madhya Pradesh. But Jai Hind, Jai Bharat - One India at all time.