Kashmir a multi layered identity

Also, stands out the fact that this volume is edited by the well respected academic and columnist - Professor Rekha Chowdhary who is a Professor of Political Science at the Jammu University .And, then, this volume carries essays from some of the well known academics and commentators -Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal, Badri Raina, Balraj Puri, Ershad Mahmud, Gul Muhammad Wani, Krishna Misri, Lalit Gupta, Mohammad Ishaq Khan, Mohammad Ashraf Wani, Neera Chandhoke, Pramathesh Raina, PS Verma, Ravinder Jit Kaur, Riyaz Punjabi, Shyam Kaul, Sonam Chosjor, Vibhuti Ubbott, Yoginder Sikand
And as the very title bares this volume takes you through every aspect related to Jammu and Kashmir in terms of the very identity politics and its offshoots and the consequences that unfold. As Rekha Chowdhary mentions right in the preface - “Kashmir has attracted the attention of researchers mainly due to the conflict situation”. The central point of this book also remains the conflict situation.

However, the perspective is different. Acknowledging the complexity of the conflict having a convergence between external and internal dimensions , it seeks to focus on the internal dimensions and locate the conflict in the identity politics of Kashmir. While much of the available work on Kashmir deals with the external dimensions of conflict, the internal dimension of conflict remains largely ignored. By focusing on the identity politics of Kashmir, an attempt is made in this book to confront the intricacy of the ‘Kashmir issue’and understand its multi -layered reality.

Seen from the internal perspective, the Kashmir issue assumes complexity due to two factors: first, there is an inner dynamism of the Kashmiri identity which makes it imperative to go beyond the simplistic representation of the politics of ‘in’ and‘of’ Kashmir. Second, there is the context of political divergence within the state which calls for an attention to the multiple identity politics…”

In fact, this book does dwell on each little aspect related to the whole issue of identity  politics in that entire region. And with that in the background or foreground it could be termed one of those must reads for researchers or even for planners and politicians for that matter.

In fact, all those who are serious about delving deep into the various complexities, who are serious about trying to understand what’s been going on in that region, who are serious about trying to get to the bottom of the various ‘whys’. And what could termed a complete study in terms of the outreach is the fact that this volume does take you beyond the set locales of Jammu and the Kashmir Valley …takes you beyond,with considerable focus on Ladakh and even on the Pakistan administered Kashmir.

In the essay on Ladakh, titled - Beyond Kashmir : Understanding Ladakh - researcher Sonam Chosjor focuses on Ladakh with these very introductory sentences to go along - “The high profile politics of Kashmir, and the compulsive focus on the debate on the issue of separatism and autonomy, substantially leads to the mistreatment of the colossal basis of plurality of Jammu and Kashmir. Because of this proclivity,the issues of assertion of the regional identities of Jammu and Ladakh have, more or less, escaped sober academic attention…”

And in the detailed essay on Pakistan Administered Kashmir titled ‘Socio-Political Realities of Pakistan Administered Kashmir’, the Islamabad based columnist cum researcher  Ershad Mahmud focuses on not just the ‘political landscape’ of that belt but also writes of the social and historic factors together with the present day realities.

Identity politics of Jammu and kashmir
Edited by Rekha Chowdhary
Vitasta 2010, pp 470,
Rs 695

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