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Being citijan*

I saw an interview of Salman Rushdie, in which some caller asked him about his reasons to live in US. He answered, “Do I live in US? I didn’t know that. I live in New York.” He subsequently explained that he does not identify him self with the nation state, an intangible idea,  but with the city, which he can feel tangibly.

After living 5+ years in various cities in Europe, I  share his feelings about living in a city rather than in a nation state. I can feel the city. I can walk across it. I see neighborhoods. I recognize shop keepers. I feel that I know the city but not the nation state. The city is my home not the nation state.

In India, it was opposite. I had distinct feeling about being in India, which was pushed into my conscience by patriotic songs and propagandized education. But, once I step out of the mother country.  I do not have that emotional attachment with any other nation state. When I move to a foreign nation state, the attachments  that I form are with the streets on which I walk to my workplace, the shops where I buy bread, and the passersby to whom I say hi. The city becomes the home. I do not know if this feeling is shared by many people who move every other year. But, it is an interesting idea. This feeling saves one from the dreadful nationalism.

The current conception of an identity implies that citijan(city person) can not be a unit of identity for modern society. Since world is globalized and people are increasingly interdependent, city identity is too fragmentary. We need to rethink the notion of identity and tone down some emotional aspect of an identity. I think that the concept of nation states are getting more and more at odds with the social and technological world in which we are living. May be the city identity can serve our need to feel part of some thing greater and derive a social support system. Emotional element can be removed from the nation state and it will reduce into an administrative body such as UN.

* citijan == city+jan == city person

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Kashmir: A dead lock

August 19, 2008 2 comments

Ideal solution: India back-off… Pakistan back-off….. Referendum under UN control ……

Only Kashmiri people can like this solution. India will never accept this.

It is clear that demand of succession in Kashmir is real. I have been there in Kashmir around 2 years back. There was a solider standing in every corner of Srinagar. India has deployed the the size of army in Kashmir more than the size of pak army. It is a military occupation on its own land. It is Kashmiri’s life which has become unbearable. It is their economy which is destroyed. Poverty is rampant. Most of srinagar smells like Kanpur. If I will not charge Indian government for brutality then I will charge it for extreme incompetence. May be the succession demand was not real 20 years back but after military rule of 20 years It has now become real.

There is nothing extraordinary if Indian government respond brutally to this succession demand. It is something where arguments over right or wrong doesn’t work. A nation state is not a natural but an artificial entity. There is no fundamental law of nature for existence of nation states. This concept is just only 2 centuries old. A nation state survives by following a set of tenants. It is by definition self-preserving. It can’t accept any kind of succession until it has something bigger on stake. It will never like the challenge on its own right to exist. It will be brutal against all those forces which challenges its structure and existence. For example, communist movement in India, democratic movement in China, or demand of freedom of Kashmir.

If Kashmiri want good life for themselves then they have to understand who is their enemy. They have to recognize this self-preserving desire of Indian government. They should keep doing these peaceful demonstrations and better not to burn Indian flags which will send completely opposite massage then they would wish. They should try to gain the sympathy of people of India. This is something which I think is missing in their strategy in quest of better life(I will not use word freedom).

I would rather not suggest any solution from my side. There are already plenty of solutions on the table. They have to just accept a solution which is agreeable for all.