Disket Document: Stadium Roundtable 2
Cinematographer: Shaina Anand
Duration: 00:26:49; Aspect Ratio: 1.333:1; Hue: 38.989; Saturation: 0.118; Lightness: 0.373; Volume: 0.374; Cuts per Minute: 6.784; Words per Minute: 94.684
Summary: A number of historians, journalists and activists are invited to Disket in the Nubra Valley, Ladakh to participate in National Integration Conference. However, it appears that the same has been misrepresented, on arrival they are told that the actual event is the celebration of "Buddh Mahotsav", the first in a series of Nation-wide Events (the next was to be in Arunachal Pradsh) master-minded and organised by the VHP. What were a bunch of left-liberal folks to do? They performed their speeches for the good citizens and children of Disket, and talked late into the night.
It turned out that this part of the "Buddh Mahotsav" was organised along with 'Operation Sadbhavana', an insidious army-led initiative that was only very recently introduced (mid 2001) by Maj. Gen. Arjun Ray. The cultural festival of Ladakhi dance and music was organised by the Army officers' wives. Our delegates found themselves co-opted into this farce as they addressed this vast crowd in Hindi, Urdu or English on the topic of National Integration, the speeched interspersed with various performances. This is part two of the 'Stadium Roundtable.'
(While their conference was completely hijacked by the VHP machinery, the colleagues did have many candid and sometimes intense discussions over meal times, etc. For more, search for 'Disket')
I request Maulana Akhtar Hussain Dehlvi Ji
who arrived from Delhi last evening, to please address us. Maulana Ji
MD: All the guests present at this seminar, and the people of this region gathered here and everyone else present here today. The reason behind seminar is not an ordinary reason. The personality which is associated with this seminar is so great that the light of his message is spreading not just in Hindustan but all around the world. He is Mahatma Buddha. I would like to express my respect for Mahatma Buddha through this platform, this seminar and through all of you. I pray that his teachings spread far and wide and bring peace to the world.
Maulana Delhelvi (MD), a Delhi-based journalist and activist, stresses the significance of having a national integration seminar on the occasion of Buddha Mahotsav.
Nubra Valley, Ladakh
According to MD, national integration has a unique significance in the Indian context. The confluence of various cultures, traditions and religions has resulted in the creation of an "indian culture" which is a vibrant and rare amalgamation of all these elements. She expresses himself through various Shers
that make mention of Ghalib
MD: The topic for today's seminar is communal oneness, national integration or national unity. The speakers before me have expressed their views with such clarity and feeling that I don't really need to say anything. But I would like to convey my thoughts in a few words. The concept and meaning of national in Hindustan is unlike anywhere else in the world. One sher
(Urdu couplet) would describe it aptly. Sarzameen-e-hind par aqvaam-e-aalam ke firaaq kafile baste gaye aur Hindostaan bantaa gayaa.....
Many people of different religions came from different places to settle in Hindustan. They all adopted the culture and the traditions of Hindustan and what resulted thereafter is what we call national integration. I'm reminded of a couple of words of ____________. Ghalib aur Tagore yahan ke, Mira, Tulsidas, Yahin hua tha sachhai ka Gautam ko ehsas. Yahin liya that saath Ram ke Sita ne vanvaas, yeh hai mera Hindustan mere sapnon ka jahan.
( This is the land where great souls like Ghalib, Tagore, Mira and Tulsidas were born and where Gautam Buddha discovered the truth of life. This is the land where Sita accompanied Ram during his exile. This is my Hindustan (India), the world of my dreams.)
He speaks of the geopolitical significance of Jammu and Kashmir
and talks about Pakistan's attempts at creating discord in this region. He states that all of India, from Kanyakumari
, to Kutch
MD: We will find the national integration that we are talking about evident in our religions, it is evident in the ittihad
(union) which we have come to talk about at this seminar. The question that arises is, why did we start with Ladakh? The fundamental reason behind organising the Buddha Mahotsav and this seminar, and inviting so many worthy speakers here to present their views, is that Jammu and Kashmir is the crown of India. If a man injures any part of his body, he might be able to bear it for some time. But if unfortunately someone is struck on his head he is unable to bear it. Some of our enemies, who were once a part of our own culture they have tried to attack the crown (head) of India. They have created disturbances in Jammu and Kashmir and other places too. They've incited people on religious grounds, and this is completely against Hindustan's culture. So this seminar is to bring about a realization that Hindustan is one body, from Jammu and Kashmir to Kanyakumari, and from Kucth to Kohima, all of Hindustan is one. We will not let anyone attack any part of our body. And because Jammu and Kashmir is our crown we will guard it jealously.
Jammu and Kashmir
He speaks about the freedom to practice one's own religion that is accorded to all Indians.
MD: Secondly, when we talk about unity or national integration we must realise that under India's laws, culture and constitution, we are given many freedoms. Let's take Nubra for example. In this small place in Leh, I saw the aazaan
being proclaimed in the mosque, while on the other hand the shankh
was being sounded in the temple. Mahatma Buddha is also revered here. There are Lamas
and Muslims here; there's basically a diverse collection of people. People are free to practice their own religions everywhere in India. In India, no one is ordered to live their lives solely by the state law. They can follow the rules and regulations of their religions, but at the same time they must give national unity an important place in their lives. This is the fundamental reason.
MD makes reference to a speech made by the freedom fighter Maulana Azad
on the occassion of the partition
of India and Pakistan. Azad's speech made reference to the Qutub Minar
MD: This is why the fundamental reason behind this seminar is national integration. You might have heard of the name Maulana Azad, I mentioned something about him earlier today. In 1947 when India was unfortunately partitioned, in the context of unity, I think that land can be divided but culture cannot. The culture of our neighbour (referring to Pakistan) is our culture too. The traditions they follow are as per the traditions being followed in Hindustan (India). So we had divided land, not cultural legacy. On the occasion of the partition Maulana Azad said, in response to a person who asked him whether he wanted India's independence from the British or the destruction of India's unity by dividing people from different religions that stay here, that "if an angel descends from heaven and while standing atop the Qutub Minar
in Delhi says that you can get freedom from the British within 24 hours only if the inter-religious unity in India is destroyed." He said that he could suffer the indignity of British rule but could not see the unity of India being destroyed.
Qutub Minar, Delhi
He ends his speech with the hope that the essential message of national unity and integration behind the seminar in Nubra will spread across the country.
MD: This is why unity is all important. The message of what is happening in Nubra will reach all over Hindustan. All the people present here for the sake of unity, or for Mahatma Buddha, or for his teachings. I don't remember much of his teachings, but my colleague just reminded me of Buddham Sharanam Gacchami. Dhammam Sharanam Gacchami.Sangham Sharanam Gacchami
. And the essence of this teaching is to surrender everything and become free by entering a spiritual brotherhood. Leave the sects that divide you and be one. And so the reason for this seminar and my humble speech is that we must practice our own religions while staying united with each other, we must respect others and their beliefs for the general good and progress of the nation. And this can be achieved through education and dialogue. May God bless Hindustan with prosperity and unity. Thank you.
Rep: I now request Dr. Subhadra Anand from National College, Mumbai to please share her views with us.
SA: Brothers and sisters of Nubra, you have the Himalayas behind you, Himalayas that are symbolic of unity and the identity of our country. They represent an unbreakable identity. This morning we witnessed many Ladakhi regional and traditional dances. And what I conferred from that was, all of us have two identities. One is our regional identity, in your case that would be your Ladakhi identity, the other is our Indian identity. We need to ensure that these identities can coexist and remain unbreakable. One identity should not be in conflict with the other, it should not try to overshadow the other. Because if that happens India can never be united.
SA makes reference to the Himalayas
and opines that the regional and national identities of Indians must coexist to facilitate a healthy and peaceful integration.
SA calls Hindi cinema an important medium, which due to its popular demand, spreads the idea of unity and oneness to the masses on a large scale.
SA: Both our identities, our Ladakhi identity and our Indian identity, should coexist and evolve together. According to me, one organisation that has always conveyed the message of unity is Hindi cinema. You all watch Hindi cinema, right? There must be Hindi movie theaters here, and I'm sure you know the names of Hindi movie actors. The reason behind the popularity of Hindi cinema is often speculated about. It is popular because while entertaining us, it also showcases the value of oneness. We should experience the joy that we get out of watching movies when we meet new people too. When a Ladakhi meets a Tamilian, the joy he feels should be similar to what one would feel on meeting one's own brother. If we imbibe this attitude in our lives, then there will be no need of speeches on unity. Unity comes from our will and thoughts.
SA points out the diversity of attires and languages present amongst the people gathered there for the seminar, and equates it with a microcosm of India.
And we can progress a lot due to this unity. I wont take anymore of your time, thank you. We really enjoyed staying here with you. I noticed another thing regarding national integration. Some girls here are attired in Ladakhi dresses, some are dressed in Salwar Kamiz
, some in jeans and t-shirts. Some are talking in Hindi, some in English and some in Ladakhi. I even heard someone talking in Punjabi. It's almost as if all of India is seated here near the Himalayas. Thank you.
A row of men dressed in traditional Ladakhi attire play traditional Ladakh Music
by drumming a percussion instrument with two sticks, while another row of men sitting adjacent to them play some kind of wind instrument. The tempo increases significantly till the men stop playing the percussion instrument. One drummer resumes playing and cues the musicians with the wind instruments to stop.
The Speakerbegins his speech by making reference to the difference in altitude, and his journey through the pass at Khardung La
(introduces the speaker in Ladakhi)
Speaker: Thank You. I apologize for not being able to speak in a language that is more commonly understood and for using a foreign language in this gathering. Mr. Chairman very graciously translated what I would like to say. I was invited just a few days back to come here for this occasion. And at that time I didn't really know what I would have to say on this occasion, but yesterday was a very special day in my life. All my life I've been a coastal creature. I was born in a coastal town in Western India and I grew up mostly in the coastal cities. The first time I've spent any length of time at an altitude higher than a 1000 ft was much after I was twenty years old. And yesterday I had this epic experience of crossing Khardung La pass. and reaching an altitude of 18300 kms.
Speaker: Yes it was 18300 ft. Thank you. It was, to put it very mildly, an epic experience. It gave me the confidence that sea level to 18000 ft above, I can take what India has to offer. And I'm in Tibetan India. That gave me the special inspiration to come here and speak. Territorially, integration ______ there's another kind of integration. And here this is my first exposure of any substance to a Buddhist cultural region, and It's been a great experience. Religion has always inspired a thought that if religion was a matter of choice... If I had a choice, I would say that my religion of choice would be Buddhism.
He says that in the Indian context cultural interactions often occur within a religious paradigm and that a shift from this model is required. He advocates a multiculturalist approach to societal organisation.
Speaker: For it is sense or equality, rationality. There is respect for the equality of mankind. And it believes in a secular morality rather than divine inspiration. Politically, one needs religion not only to interact between the diverse cultures of India. Without the mediation of the keepers of the culture, we should interact with each other at a people-to-people level. ____________ our own understanding without leaving this vital task to the custodians of culture.
He says that we need to take cultural interaction out of a religious context, and base it on individual experience. It needs to become an interaction based on a keenness and interest in, and respect for, other cultures.
Speaker: Politically, we've seen this in the past how culture has become a weapon of choice. And if we as people of India learn to interact with each other with the authenticity of our own understanding of cultures and with respect and a keenness to understand another culture - and we've agreed that our own understanding is sufficient without having to trust through the self appointed custodians of culture - then I think we will progress a great deal towards national integration. National integration by choice, by consensus, by mutually felt affinity rather than national integration by coercion or by force.
He opines that the term National integration has negative connotations as it implies integration through coercion and suppression. Despite society's tendencies toward unification and homogenisation during the process of nation building, attempts to force cultural minorities to assimilate into the dominant society, will inevitably bring about increased social conflict.
Speaker: The word national integration - the phrase is an abomination. It implies integration by force, integration of unwilling people... swap their culture... suppression of cultures. And that is decisively not... particularly when I'm here in this cultural region, this great inheritance of civilisational export. Perhaps India's greatest civilisational export is the religion of Buddhism. When I come to this tiny region, which is such a small region, that is a notion of national integration that I have to decisively reject. And I have to again affirm that everybody every little part of this country has the full right to... And we all gain from freeing up our interactions and behaving with the authenticity of our own experience and our own cultures. Thank you very much.
The President of Nubra Tourist Association, SDM Nubra, secular guests from Delhi and the residents of Nubra valley. I was asked to speak about national integration. National integration implies unity and strength of India. This is that power that binds people from diverse cultures and religions into one nation. Pandit Nehru had said that we should make Hindustan a strong and powerful nation. Our power will be evident in our actions, it will be a democratic power, a power dedicated to serving humanity. People who believe in different religions reside in India. In this way India is almost like a bouquet where flowers of different races, colours and castes, religions, regions are bound together in unity. This is unity in diversity.
The speaker begins by likening the different religions, castes and regions in India to a bouquet of flowers.
He says that communalism
and sectarianism are two big threats to national unity and integration in India. He also quotes Mazhab nahi sikhata
Mazhab nahi sikhata apas mein bair rakhna hindi hain ham, vatan hai Hindostan hamara
(Religion does not teach us to bear ill-will among ourselves. We are of Hind, our homeland is Hindustan.) Many secular speakers who spoke before me said spoke about communal unity. I want to talk about the obstructions in the way to communal unity, obstacles that compel us to fight with each other. These are certain "isms," like communalism, casteism, regionalism, lingualism. We will talk about communalism first. Firqa parasti yun faili hai saare desh mein, is aag ki tapish se koi bach ke jaane na paye
. (Sectarianism has spread all across the country, and no one will be spared from the heat of this fire.) The influence of communalism is spreading all over the nation, and the rising voice of sectarianism and communalism can be heard from all corners. The British had taken advantage of this sectarianism and ruled over us for 200 years. They followed they policy of divide and rule. And before leaving, they created dissonance between Hindus and Muslims and partitioned India. And the seeds of sectarianism that they sowed are still bearing detestable fruit.
After years of independence, one would've expected that we'd have overcome sectarianism. But even after so many years the stench of it still prevails. The second obstacle is casteism. Initially, the Hindus had divided the society into castes based on their profession - Brahmins
(teachers, scholars and priests), Kshatriyas (kings and warriors), Vaishyas (traders), Shudras (agriculturists, service providers, and some artisan groups). But with time this setup became so rigid that people from the lower castes were barred from entering temples and drawing water from community wells. According to Islam, people who are just and devoted are closest to Allah. Because of casteism people from various castes favour others from their caste only. If you look at what's happening today, you'll see that the most influential ministers are busy trying to get people of their caste employed in all designations, from the watchman of a university to the vice chancellor. The same thing happens in government offices too. This attitude is a big danger to national integration.
He says that casteism and the continued propagation of the Caste System
is another deterrent to national unity. It has led to the spread of a certain caste based nepotism which is creating a lopsided trend in progress.
He speaks of language-based prejudice and economic disparity as two major obstacles in the path of national unity.
Then there is linguism. Everyone claims to have a richer language and culture than the other. In Indian history it is stated that Hindi was to replace English ten years post independence. And in this way Hindi was declared to be our National Language. But unfortunately, even after 53 years it hasn't been accorded the respect it deserves. People are busy trying to establish the superiority of their languages. Many language-based conflicts also occur today. The third obstacle is economic differences. In India a few people playing in wealth, they are living lives of luxury, while there are many who don't even have enough money to feed themselves. These differences create dissatisfaction and unrest. We need to minimise these economic differences. And the last problem is political parties. There are many different political parties in India. They have good policies and programs but...