THE POWER OF TALK

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The First Kashmir Central Conclave

 

 

The Power Of Talk

by Prof. Gull Mohd Wani

 

After a long and difficult silence, we saw the advantages of speaking and deliberating on

issues of contemporary concern

 

In the history of public reasoning, credit is given to third Buddhist Council held in

Kashmir in the second century CE. The council was primarily concerned with resolving

differences in religious principles and practices. Historians of the time have noted that

the third Buddhist Council addressed the demands of social and civic duties. It helped to

consolidate and promote the tradition of open discussion on contentious issues.

The great Ashoka tried to propagate the significance of public discussion. Much later,

many great rulers advocated that pursuit of reason rather than reliance on tradition as

the way to address difficult problems of social harmony and living together. Raja Ram

Mohan Roy, the great Bengali renaissance thinker, explained the horrible dimension of

 

death. He said, “Just consider how terrible the day of your death will be. Others will go

on speaking and you will not be able to argue back”.

The Kashmir Central Conclave, contrary to my own expectations, provided an

opportunity to all who had gathered at Taj Vivanta to put across their point of view. It

was a maiden ‘get together’ held after a long and difficult silence. The Conclave revealed

the dangers of silence and the advantages of speaking and deliberating on issues of

contemporary concern. There are reasons why such a conclave needs to be appreciated

and also institutionalized in the long run.

In the long years of political and social strife, public reasoning became the first casualty.

State and non-state forces hijacked the common space. Reasoned and critical debate

took a back seat. This resulted in secession of intelligentsia, and criminalization and

weaponization of public and civil space. The truth and its many forms submerged under

the water.

Kashmir Central as a platform and common space has the potential to correct the

course of the state and society so that reason governs the public rather than it getting

hijacked by hate, fear and silence.

These conclaves need to be organized as mechanisms for public engagement, and for

partnership between communities and groups. During the debate on different issues,

we realized the need for alternative voices. These intellectual and academic meetings

can help in deconstructing many myths that have grown in Kashmir and have gripped

the imagination of the younger generation of our population.

The issues taken up for discussion during the conclave, addressing the role of youth,

women and role of social media need to be discussed keeping in view the disciplinary

imperatives of public policy. Frank and rational discussion can supply a better policy

cushion for the state and its institutional apparatus. We strongly feel that it is no longer

affordable to ignore or sidestep the concerns and problems of youth in Kashmir.

On his visit to Jammu on April 25, 2022, Prime Minister Mr Modi assured the youth,

“You will not have to undergo the difficulties and traumatic experiences that your

parents and grandparents had to face” Lt Governor Mr Manoj Sinha went a step further

by stating that the youth of Kashmir are the “best across India and we won’t let their

talent get wasted.

 

We need to walk the talk and translate public promises into concrete public policies,

keeping in consideration the need for nation-building. The very large number of young,

educated and mobile youth participating in the conclave is a bold statement. The state

and the civil society need to pick up the threads; integrate their dynamism, creativity

and power, and provide them space in the new and emerging areas of sunrise economy.

Third, the conclave very clearly brought out that one dimensional thought process has

serious limitations. We are in a world where we need quality education for our children,

skills for youth and state of the art health services in post covid-19 times to mitigate

their sufferings.

For too long, issues of business, trade, commerce and other livelihood matters were

ignored in our discussions. The Kashmir Central Conclave must figure out clearly a sort

of intellectual and academic roadmap so that intellectual fatigue and moral decay

doesn’t step in our society.

 

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