<link rel="stylesheet" href="//fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Open+Sans%3A400italic%2C700italic%2C400%2C700">Aam Janata - Human Rights. Political Commentary. Intellectual AnarchySkip to content

The much awaited dirt on India in Kashmir is finally out - abuse, human rights... the usual, but from yet another source. Among the cables released by Wikileaks we have several which help us see the situation in Kashmir through the eyes of an interested, but uninvolved perspective.

The Guardian has published a wonderful writeup. I like it particularly because the absense of chest thumping and claims leaves the reader free to get an understanding of the ground realities. For once, it is also a document that focuses solidly on India rather than the Indo-Pak hyphenation much publicized by the government and media. It is a welcome mirror into just how much we are going to have to shape up to resolve Kashmir. Abuses, human rights, reconciliation - much needed.

On the other hand, it is also a picture of hope, as it acknowledges changes in India as to the human rights situation and while we have a long way to go, it gives some insight into what we could do.

Busy with chotu right now, but will be updating this post soon.

In the meanwhile, check out how strange it is that Indian media (other than the one surviving newspaper - The Hindu) seems to have developed cataract even about such a masala topic.

[slideshow]

Was talking with someone about the problems wildlife sanctuaries face with local populations. On one end, there is the need to conserve the wildlife, to ensure that natural life survives in an increasingly crowded world.

On the other hand, what happens to all those people who live in close proximity to nature?

Over the years, in my life as a wanderer, I have lived the life of a nomadic Khampa horsewoman in the Himalaya, been in close touch with other nomads - Gaddi (shepherds), Gujjars (buffaloherds), etc. This has made me sensitive to the "people of the land". I can't see a rich, luscious lawn without feeling a sense of well being, even though I don't own livestock anymore. I can't see barren land without wondering where the nearest greenery is. It is a part of me.

I see nature in a continuing cycle, but I see humans as a part of it, not just the protectors of something different from them. In a way, perhaps, I see cities as the anthills of humans.

We are different, yes. We are perhaps the only animal on earth to own the very land they live on. Not just territorial within our species, but with other species as well - We kill pests in our home, we don't want pigeons or stray dogs inside, etc.

On the other hand, in my life as a nomad, my horses were family, and there was a deep sense of nurturance for all life no matter who owned it or if it was wild.

Today, as we "protect" our natural life, we isolate it and frame it and put it on display as something "other". Sanctuaries showcase "wildlife" and restrict tribals from using natural resources in it.

Some of it is essential - poaching, hunting endanger animals and need to be protected from. Yet, how does a nomadic shepherd deal  with not being able to wander grasslands at will? Already, Himalayan shepherds face problems in the winter months with reduced grazing in low altitudes with increase in population and development. If they are also restricted in their summer months, soon we are going to lose an entire part of our living history, because of our inability to understand that not all lives can be slotted and allotted only specific amounts of land.

4

This is from a time when I was a horse woman in the Himalaya. With 27 horses to feed, money was always short and life was tough. We hadn't achieved success in business yet and the love for horses was such, that I'd rather stay hungry myself than compromise with my herd's comfort in any way. This attitude had blessed my livestock with the reputation of being the best and one of the biggest herds in the region.

Part of my daily responsibilities in the winter was taking the horses out to graze in the open land in and around whatever village we currently were in. A duty considered dull and boring by most horsemen, was my delight. I used to take along books to read, some knitting or even saddlery that needed mending and settle down in a shady spot watching my horses graze and have a good time in general.

This used to help me keep track of their healths as well, and I was fortunate that our horses never suffered long from any discomfort. I used to notice it immediately. All was not a meadow in heaven always though. There were rainy days - both proverbially, and literally.

Rain in the Himalaya is freezing. Like the rest of the sensible folk around me, I didn't have the option to head home, next to a cozy fire. I could have, if I kept the horses tied up at home, but I knew this was bad for them, to be tied and forced to stand still in freezing rain, so out we all went, regardless of weather.

Then, the time really dragged. An umbrella or raincoat was scant protection when running to stop a horse from entering a field of crops. I used to light a miserable fire under a shady tree and keep it going the best I could in the rain, while sitting on my haunches under my umbrella all day.

Horses are particularly frisky, and naughty in cold weather, and it was mostly running to keep them from causing damage that kept me warm. Those were hard, challenging days.

But they gave returns that were worth every minute of effort. Today, my company is doing well and I have been able to risk all and work hard, because those beloved horses taught me, that no matter what the challenge is, the more honest effort we put in, the more we love our work, the more likely our success becomes. We are showing good progress in fields as varied as corporate training, Himalayan treks, films, websites and even constructing adventure courses and developing campsites and we will continue to grow further, simply because we don't hesitate to do whatever it takes to make our dreams a reality.

10

Vidyut Kale comes back to Mumbai after 7 years of living in remote mountains as a nomadic horsewoman and finds herself homesick for the mountains.... I have been a professional outbound person for over 12 years now and it is one of the most satisfying professions I could be in. I have worked hard and often on high altitude treks, with horses on riding trails, cooking, guiding, translating, climbing, organising and in general wishing that a day could have 48 hours. I have been frustrated, tired, happy and every other emotion there is, but I have yet to feel like leaving the outdoors as and find work elsewhere.
Image via Wikipedia

I have been a professional outbound person for over 12 years now and it is one of the most satisfying professions I could be in. I have worked hard and often on high altitude treks, with horses on riding trails, cooking, guiding, translating, climbing, organising and in general wishing that a day could have 48 hours. I have been frustrated, tired, happy and every other emotion there is, but I have yet to feel like leaving the outdoors as and find work elsewhere.

Back after a 7 year life in Manali, the city Mumbai feels calustrophobic. From an adventuring nomad who took clients along on journeys, I have become a "service provider" in the eyes of my clientele. Such changes are not good for the free spirited wanderer in me, but then one has to acclimatize to life in a prison to find happiness there.

I own a company Wide Aware and it's doing well too, but I often feel that selling adventure is like filling a breeze into a balloon. I merely try and introduce 'clients' to what I enjoy, and what I see as important and count myself lucky that they often agree.

This may have been because the outdoors, to me is a way of life, it is simply the 'flow' - that is how it is. I can leave the outdoors like my shadow can leave me. There may be no light, but there is always a shadow. Perhaps, if I thought differently, I could have done something else, been another person, writing on a blog about racing cars or computers or something else.

It is not my choice for now.

At the moment, I am content to be a nomadic, a nut-case blogger speaking of distant melodies that echo from old memories. Expanding my world view to fit the city and online world. To overcome the sense of loss and explore what I have found.

Now, I have a new world to wander in. The world of blogging. I am new at this, but to my inclusive nature, this sounds just perfect.

As I read the Wikileaks and newspapers on Kashmir and a hundred other places, one big thing stands out.

Where the human rights suffer, the wars are exercises in frustration. An Army hurting civilians is an Army actively creating enemies and making its own job harder. It seems tempting to ignore abuses. Who would know unless we told them that x number of civilians died? Why demoralize soldiers by punishing them?

Yet, we see over and over. Other civilians know. And they take opportunities to strike back. They may appreciate the purpose of the Army, but it becomes less important than finding justice. If they fail, eventually, the purpose becomes undesirable, and a thirst for unending 'justice' builds up.

In Kashmir, the Indian Army is doing a magnificent job of maintaining security. For all that it is the most militarized zone in the world, it is an enduring operation, one that has actually caused less casualties for comparable scope than anywhere else in the world. Yet, what is it that the people remember? What is it that drives the Kashmiris to fall victim to Pakistan sponsored elements trying to destabilize the region? Listen to the protests. Their people got killed, and the perpetrators got away with it. They don't believe that India has their safety in mind.

If we read the Wikileaks, we see the Pakistani Army doing similar things in Swat and Balochistan. Civilians killed feeds the Taliban, soldiers killed feeds revenge killings. Unending conflict that feeds itself.

Earlier Wikileaks describe similar issues in Afghanistan and Iraq. Human history is filled with stories like this, with one common factor. It is overwhelmingly difficult to violate human rights and win.

I think it is high time human rights violations were ruthlessly proscecuted, because failing to do that will only explode war expenses on a purely un-emotional level and increase unnecessarily all the grief and devastation of war for people who were not the real targets to begin with.