Climate Change

India’s moves in Kashmir are bad news for climate change activists and the ‘Global Environment’

On August 5, 2019, India, under the directions of its right-wing extremist BJP government, and without consulting either Kashmiris, Pakistan, or China, unilaterally decided to end the autonomy of the disputed territory of Kashmir and ordered tens of thousands of Indian-troops to come out of their barracks and man the lanes and by lanes of the high-altitude territory of Kashmir.

The Kashmir region lies at the cross-roads of three major human influences i.e. the Persian, the Indus and the Chinese civilizations, it is nestled at the confluence of the north-western end of the mighty Himalayas, the Hindu-Kush and the Karakorum mountain ranges.

These mountain regions create a natural boundary that separates the geographic Kashmir (Central Asia) from the Indian subcontinent.

Due to its unique geographic position, Kashmir developed a unique blend of what we can call ‘the Kashmiri culture’. It has in it, elements of Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism and Islam. Demographically it is mainly Muslim and if we were to calculate the total population of the territories under the combined administrative control of India, China and Pakistan, it would be close to about 17 million of which between 13 to 14 million are adherents of the Islamic faith.

Owing to its mountainous terrain, the land is blessed with water resources, glaciers and lakes.

In fact, the mighty Indus river (the precursor of Indus Valley civilization) collects most of its water from the rivers and their tributaries flowing into it from the region of Kashmir.

Its unique blend of geography, altitude and climate has made the natives of Kashmir evolve in a way where they innovated both their agricultural practices as well as everyday living to suit the environment or the climate surrounding them. What this means is that the natives practice what we in the west would call an exceptional level of innovative indigenous organic-farming

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The garment industry which produces exquisite carpets, shawls and stoles alongside paper-machie products is completely organic and uses vegetable dyes collected mostly locally.

Add to that the fine art of high altitude boat-making and you will wonder in amazement at how huge boats are constructed in a completely organic manner from sustainable forest cedar-wood.

Now let me explain why the Indian annexation of Kashmir has created multiple problems, the least of which is the Nuclear Armageddon currently threatening the region. India as we all know has 7 of the 10 most polluted cities on planet earth, its total disregard for environmental regulation, industrial waste monitoring mechanisms as well as accountability to the world community as a whole means that on the back of so called agenda of economic development and upliftment of the territory it controls in Kashmir, it will import similar corrupt mechanisms into the pure and pristine environs of Kashmir.

Already the tourism it sends into the fragile Eco-systems of Kashmir are wreaking a havoc on the local environment where the local population is unable to stop the Indian habit of defecating in open spaces, and therefore huge tracts of land en-route to the Annual Amarnath pilgrimage site are contaminated by open Indian-tourist defecation.

ASLO READ: ‘The Militarised Yatra’: A tool to claim land and resources, notes an environmental fact-finder

The Kashmiri natives whose land rights have been taken away with the annexation of their territory will at some stage be forced to sell their land to Indian business houses and that will be the death knell of native expertise on how to live organically.

For example, the art of cultivating vegetables on floating gardens in high altitude lakes will suffer and so will the native acumen of living in harmony with their nature. The Indians plan to open high end Casinos along with golf resorts etc.

Imagine the amount of forest cover that will have to go in order to accommodate such ventures.

As Indians move in to settle in this mountainous region, they will have little respect for the native Kashmiri way of living and will bring in the same toxic habits that have earned them the title of hosting 7 of the 10 most polluted cities on planet earth.

ASLO READ: Development or disaster? Why there’s no light at the end of the tunnel in Kashmir

But, what does this mean for the wider world?

It means that the domain of the snow-leopard and the Hangul (Kashmir stag) is at serious risk.

It means that the world will never get to know the art of growing vegetables on floating gardens in high altitude lakes. It means the place where the origin of the Cashmere sweater or a scarf lies, will not do it anymore.

The habitat of the Pashmina goat along with the Shahtoosh goat will be gone forever and at some stage so will the glaciers feeding the thirsty populations of China, Pakistan and India.

ALSO READ: As new dams in JK ‘violate’ Indus Water Treaty, is a ‘water war’ inevitable?

But, do we really care if the Indians continue with their plans to change the demographics of Kashmir and replace the native populations with those from the India?

Do we really want to bother about climate-change or the knowledge on how to live organically in a wooden boat floating inside of a high-altitude lake? The lure of capitalism driven huge Indian markets is too good to be exchanged for what the environment friendly hapless Kashmiri natives can give us.

In conclusion, the extremist-Hindu Indians want to copy the western imperialist-colonial formula of what they (western Europeans) did to the American-natives of the new world or the various island nations of the south-pacific, that is, to destroy the native Kashmiri culture, language and murder their knowledge of living in harmony with their environment, and, eventually, sell their memory as native-art manufactured by non-native Indians.

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Of course, by then Kashmiris would have been relegated to museum exhibits of an archetype that is out worldly and so dearly missed (pun intended).

Ah! the ostentatious ability of greed to honor the memory of poor natives. Kashmiri-Natives whose murder by the extremist-Indians in broad daylight will perhaps, only be seen, when melting glaciers and the high altitude green zones of Kashmir disappear forever.


Ejaz Gosani is a Kashmiri doctor practicing in America.

Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position and policy of Free Press Kashmir. Feedback and counter-views are welcome at [email protected]


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