India in the Eve of Independence 1945 Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Indian nationalism as a response to the British presence in India as of 1945, from the standpoint of your role in the game (i.e. from Maharaj)

"Outlining the reasons why democracy should not prevail in Kashmir" (quoted from your role sheet) 3. As Maharaja of Kashmir, you wish your territory to be left intact. You do not want a united and democratic India under the rule of the INC. Your paper needs to provide a principled defense of that objective.

Who Am I?

There are many, many reasons why I do not want democracy for Kashmir, but the logical way to approach this would be first to tell you something about myself and then to detail my reasons against democracy:

I was born on September 23, 1895 and am the great grandson of Maharaja Gulab Singh. I pride myself on possessing many of his values but at the same time am also Western-educated since I attended British schools as a teen. In these schools, I was taught all about the values and history of democracy and know well what it entails. In 1915, at age 20, my father appointed me to head the Kashmir military forces, and I ascended to the throne on September 25, 1925.

I know all about western morals and culture and, in fact, have established some good friends in the West. Britain, the mightiest Empire under the sun (perhaps with the exception of the U.S.A.) commended my personality in that Winston Churchill, renowned British prime minister, elevated me to the Imperial War Cabinet in 1944. Whilst some may consider it a superfluous position, it does reflect the British esteem of my outlook and character.

This alone should tell you that I am no mere autocratic didact of the pattern of some early Czar. On the contrary. I have weighty reasons for resisting democracy.

My philosophy?

I think Kashmir should be an independent state but one that is ruled by a strong, caring, courageous and dedicated ruler such as I. I think, too, that Kashmir should be allowed freedom of religion which each citizen choosing to practice that which he wishes. I myself am a proud Hindu although the majority of my people (more than three-fourth) are Muslim. Kashmir, I think, should be ruled by a Hindu prince since Akbar father of Kashmir (he conquered it in 1585) married Hinduism with Islamic principles, but citizens of Kashmir can practice what they wish. Akbar, himself, insisted that all religions share truth. He was tolerant and understanding; not bigoted. Most striking of all was the fact that Akbar was a Muslim to begin with. Nonetheless, realizing that Kashmir was Hindu and not wishing to disturb the city, and espousing equality of all religions. Akbar retained his non-dogmatic belief in Mohammad whilst accepting tenets of Hinduism.

Kashmir has had a bedraggled history of its own -- too complex to describe here. Suffice it to say that since 1846, we have been occupied by Britain and, although I have been granted a certain measure of autonomy, our country is obligated to defer to it on matters of foreign policy.

We have abstained from agitation between the Congress party and Great Britain -- we are a peace-living country - but more recently other things are beginning to concern us. Most worrisome of all is the fact that Muslim agitators are attempting to inspire our Muslim Citizens to rise against us and proclaim Kashmir a Muslim state. At the same time, organizers of the Congress party are pressuring me to endorse their movement and to align Kashmir to the national government of united India. They, in other words, want me to side with them in freeing Kashmir from British influence and to make it an independent Indian province.

I do not wish to create conflict for my people who have for so many years, at least recently, lived under the peace and protection of the British protectorate. That is another reason for not wishing to create a democracy. A democracy means that opinion is opened up to the masses and this potentially creates dissensions and conflict.

Up to date, Kashmir is the prototype of a liberal state. Religion does not play the same dominant driving part as it does for many of the Muslims, but then we believe in peace and try not to make it a ferocious part of our lives. Our attention is on our families and on being honest, hardworking, moral individuals. Our religions, to a secondary extent, guide us. But we practice (or attempt to practice) separation between religion and state.

As said, I believe that democracy, whilst helpful for some Western countries, may be detrimental for others, and I believe it certainly to be harmful for Kashmir. We need a strong, persistent, dedicated ruler like the head of the sun, who serves as Ganges to India, and whom the people turn to, in return, in reverence and adulation.

My father, Gulab Singh, was the opposite of this concept of Western democracy. He has been described as a cruel, treacherous and lecherous person who cut of the hands and feet of rebels with axes whilst he peeled the skins of other rebels off their bodies, and hung their heads on gallows as a warning to others. I have no way been like this, nor do I intend to be like this. My people like me and my country are interested in peace. As evidence of my tolerance to all faiths, I, for instance, opened temples to the Dalit's in 1929.

Every strong kingdom needs one central voice and guiding hand. A democracy that is made up of plurality may confuse it. Some do say that I bully and harass local Muslims. Every great person has his enemies but there may be some truth to this particularly since it is essential to keep them under control and to impose a certain environment of psychosis and terror. One of the acts that I do involves ordering my infantry battalion to march through Maharaja Ganj in downtown Srinagar and to choose a few healthy Kashmiri Muslim shop keepers who will then randomly receive setting hefty lashes. They do not deserve it, but I want to keep the citizens in check, and one of the best ways to do this is to create in them uncertainty of what may happen to them and fear of my presence..

This is similar to the story of the Tongawalas who agreed to carry some of my Hindu missives to Jammu -- Once they reached their destination, these Tongawalas were butchered one by one - but a king has to seed irrational terror in his citizens in order to retain his power. My dedication goes for Kashmir and myself. These need to be protected at all costs.

This is the same reason why I play India and Pakistan against each other; all in order to retain the independence of Kashmir.

Kashmir and its History

Let me tell you now something about Kashmir:

It is a beautiful country. I am truly thoroughly proud of it. It is a mountain kingdom spiked by the Himalayas on one end and the Karakoram Range on the other. It is one of the most beautiful and isolated places in the world. Up till now, we have achieved a strong and focused rein under one central government. The grater marathu warrior and hero, Shaviji, founded it in the 17th century, and in the 19th century, another brilliant leader, Rajit Singh, annexed it as part of Punjab.

In 1846, the British defeated Kashmir and ceded it to my great-grandfather, Gulab Singh. We have mostly gone our own way, but it is certainly worrisome to me that the Muslims are becoming an increasingly vocal force in this country. That is possibly one of my key concerns that impel me to resists democracy. You see: if the Muslims are given voting rights and day, they, being a conspicuous part of our population, may outnumber Hindus, and in an environment of religious tension (and don't forget the Muslims want Islamic rulers and adherence to their religion) may depose me and my family. This is the number one reason of my hesitation to democracy and you must admit that this is a reason that it is difficult to argue with. In short, democracy is unsuited to a nation that is rent by religious disputes. For nations that are homogenous and theologically, and otherwise, united, the situation may be different. But extending rights of democracy to a religiously fractured nation would be calling for homicide of the ruler and demise of the nation.

Other Reasons against Democracy

Democracy to my idea is a system that can never stand. It will ultimately diffuse into an oligarchy anyway since it is comprised of a population who do not know what they want or how to argue what they wish for. I am neither the first nor the last to say so. Plato has said so before me arguing that…

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