Kashmir and the India-Pakistan Story – Presented by Professor Rajmohan Gandhi


>>Thank you so much for being here, this
evening. Did everybody find it OK? You’re good? For how many of you is this your first time here
at JCCC? We’re glad to have you here, and for how many
of you is this your first International Relations
Council program? Great, this will not be your last IRC program, I
promise you. My name is Matthew Hughes. I’m the Executive
Director of the International Relations Council, and it is my sincere pleasure to welcome you
this evening as we discuss the status of peace
building between India and Pakistan. We are so grateful to our hosts here at Johnson
County Community College, if you could please
help me to thank them this evening. [applause] This program this evening is a cooperation of a
number of different groups around town, especially Park University and the Center for
Global Peace Journalism – Steve, are you here
somewhere? There’s Steve Youngblood. Steve, thank you so
much. [applause] As well as our friends at the India Association of
Kansas City, IAKC. Where are you this
evening? Thanks so much to all of you. [applause]>> It is my great pleasure now to turn it over to
Dr. Tom Patterson, Director of International
Education here at JCCC, who will offer his welcome as well and introduce
this evening’s speaker. Thank you for being
here. [applause]>>Good evening, everybody. I was speaking
briefly with Professor Gandhi, saying “Look at
the turnout we’ve got here”. He turned to me and he said, “The name
‘Gandhi’ sometimes helps”. I’ll follow Matthew and thank you all for coming
out this evening. We have a great presentation. My thanks to
Johnson County Community College for hosting. Once again, thank you, Steve Youngblood, Park
University and the International Relations
Council. It was a joint effort to put this together. We have handouts for everyone here tonight on
the upcoming Greater Kansas City
Peacebuilding Conference, so please pick up a flyer on your way out, if you
haven’t gotten one already. This is going to be
our seventh annual meeting, and this year, the theme is “Human Rights: the
Foundation of Peace Building. It will take place on Thursday, October 31st at
Avila University; on Friday, November 1st, at
Park University; and on Saturday, November 2nd, right here in
this auditorium. The keynote speaker is going to be Sarah
Margan, Washington Director of Human Rights
Watch. Some of you may have seen her. She was here-
Matthew, when was that, last year? Last
October, right. Now, I turn to our honored guest speaker for
tonight, Professor Gandhi. He’s a historian and biographer involved in efforts
for trust building and reconciliation. He’s the
author of more than a dozen books, He’s a research professor at the Center for
South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Professor Gandhi is the grandson of Mahatma
Gandhi. Through his writing, speaking, public
interventions and dialogues, he has been engaged for sixty years in efforts
for reconciliation and democratic rights.
Professor Gandhi is a peace builder. I encourage you to search for his blog, entitled
“Himmat”, which means “courage”, as he writes
with courage. It is a space for what must be said, and on it, he
writes that the site is for those who are troubled
by hate, venom and bullying around us; or who think that humankind must come
together; or being cautious about strongman rule,
preferring an elected government with checks
and balances; or who realize that evil descends from human
folly, not from a person’s label of race, faith,
nationality or another kind; or who want to be educated by nature, history,
science and the human conscience, not by
anger or ill-will: and for those ready to believe that a neighbor
may turn out to be more a friend than an enemy.
Please join me in welcoming Professor Gandhi. [Applause]>>You’re optimistic. [audience chuckles] Is my voice carrying through the system? OK,
great. Thank you, Matthew; thank you, Tom;
thanks to the Indian Association here; and thank you, Steve and Park University, for
inviting me to this place. This is the first time I’m speaking publicly, apart
part from my remarks at Park University
yesterday. This morning is the first time I’m speaking in the
Kansas City area, the first time at JCCC, and
the first time in this wonderful auditorium, so I feel very fortunate and I’m very happy to
meet with with all of you. Now I’m going to try something very different this
evening, and I’m particularly nervous about the
reaction of my wife who’s sitting here, because she doesn’t like my experimentations;
but now that I’ve mentioned her, I would like her
to rise so we can all agree to share my wife. [applause] So, I’m going to combine my understanding – it’s
my understanding, one person’s understanding. This is not the distilled truth, it’s one person’s
limited understanding of the India-Pakistan situation, but I’m going to mingle that understanding with
portions of my autobiography, because I want all of you to recognize how
events have shaped my thinking, so this is how I’m going to try: In 1947, when I was 12 and I was going to
school in New Delhi, that’s when India and
Pakistan became independent; and also when the subcontinent was divided.
The school I went to was called “Modern High
School”. Some of you may be aware of it. It had houses, and I belonged to the Akbar
House. Akbar was one of the great Mughal rulers of
India, and he was born in a Muslim background, so when the partition took place, Akbar House
vanished from one day to the next, and that was
not the only change in my school. We had a few Muslim teachers. They all
disappeared from one day to the next, and some
Muslim students who also seemed to disappear. To this day, I remember their faces and their
names. There were one or two of them in my
class. They were a minority but they disappeared from
one day to the next; and within a few weeks, lots of new students
arrived and new teachers arrived. They came
from West Pakistan to New Delhi: Sikh and Hindu students. So, that was the
direct impact of partition on my life in my
school. Because ’47 was marked tragically by killings,
most scholars more or less agree on the
estimate that a million people were killed; and by some kind of devilish or divine parity, an
equal number of Muslims and non-Muslims were killed. This is also of some interest, because if you ask
most people in India today, they would claim, think and state that almost all
those who were killed were either Hindus or
Sikhs. Similarly, if you were talking in Pakistan, many
people would state, think and believe that
almost all who were killed were Muslims. But most scholars estimate that roughly the
same number of Non-Muslims – Hindus and
Sikhs combined – and the same number of Muslims were killed.
At that time, what today is Bangladesh also was
part of Pakistan. At that time, there were some killings, but
nowhere near the same amount as in the Punjab
part of the subcontinent. That area would witness killings in ’70, ’71, ’72 –
enormous killings that would come later. In 1948, within some months of India’s
independence, I was going to school in New
Delhi. On the 30th of January 1948, my grandfather
was assassinated in New Delhi. He was assassinated on this spot where I was
frequently with him, where he used to hold these
multi-faith prayer meetings. Often, I saw that there was hostility against him
in his multi-faith prayer meetings. One of the earliest portions was a recitation of
the short opening chapter of the Holy Quran, the
Al-Fatiha, and I was often present when sometimes, some
in the large audience would object to the
recitation of those lines. My grandfather would say to the audience, “Do
you know what this says, what the meaning is?
Why are you objecting? Try to figure out the meaning or learn about it. It
says some wonderful things”. He would ask everybody else, “These people are
unhappy, do you object?”
“Oh no, of course not, please continue”. He would continue. But sometimes, the
objectors would say, “No, we will not let you”, and they would be quite so obviously hostile that
even when I was 10 or 11 years old, I would
recognize that they were angry with him, and I would ask myself, “If they were to come
close to him and physically attack him, would I
be able to protect my grandfather?” He had no bodyguard, he didn’t wear any shields
or helmets, but on the fateful day, 30th January
of 1948, I was taking part in a sporting event, a running
event in my school. I wasn’t there at that multi-faith prayer meeting,
so I was not put to the test of whether I could
save him or not. Three years later, in 1951, I had not yet
mentioned that my father, Gandhi’s fourth son, was a newspaper editor of a paper called the
Hindustan Times. They’re still being published
in New Delhi. We were living in an apartment in the building
which contained the offices and the printing
press of this newspaper at the time. One morning, my father was at home. A
journalist came up to our apartment and
knocked on the door, carrying a sheet with him. I opened the door and I let him in so that he
could meet my father. I read the sheet of paper in his hand. It said:
“Liaquat Ali Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan,
has been shot at MTF”. I knew that “MTF” meant “more to follow”. Prime
Minister Liaquat Ali Khan has been shot at MTF. I said, “I hope what follows is the news that he’s
dead”. I thought I had made a witty remark and
I expected a smile from this journalist. He gave me a frown, and I realized I had said
something stupid. Afterwards, when I reflected
on this, I understood two things: one, I made that remark because I shared the
popular prejudice, that Liaquat Aga Khan was
the Prime Minister of Pakistan, and that Pakistan was some kind of enemy
country; and of course, if the Prime Minister of
Pakistan is killed, it’s a good thing. The second reason why I made that stupid
remark was as to my understanding that I was a
boy trying to become a “macho” man, and that understanding of what lay behind my
perfectly horrible remark led to the first book that
I wrote. It was called, “Eight Lives: a study of the Hindu-
Muslim Encounter”, where I studied eight
prominent Muslim personalities of South Asia, including Liaquat Ali Khan. Some of these eight
were against the creation of Pakistan, and some
them were for it. They were all Muslim leaders, including Jinnah,
including Sayyid Ahmad Khan, including the
great poet, Alam Akbal, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, who opposed
partition – but that was a factor in my wanting to
understand the Hindu-Muslim story. In 1957, I made my first visit to the United
States. I was not quite twenty-two. I also visited Washington, D.C. at that time and I
met Martin Luther King Jr. in 1957. This is
before he became all that famous. I also met his father in Atlanta, Georgia, in that
summer of 1957. In 1964, I started this journal, to which I think
Tom has made reference, “Himmat”, which
means courage; and this blog that I write can be observed at
himmat.net . It started in 1964 as a weekly print journal, and
it was quite an interesting, in some ways useful,
and perhaps effective weekly. We couldn’t make it last beyond 1981. 17 years
it lasted. But then, glossy journals with all kinds of
stories, pictures and so forth came and killed our
modest weekly. That was also the time when my wife and I and
others of us created this center in western India
called “Asia Plateau”, not far from city of Pune, and not very far from
the city of Mumbai, which is a center for
reflection, dialogue and reconciliation. All of you who are visiting India are welcome to
go and see and observe for yourself what this
center does. It’s very active, and it also has an ecological
aspect to it. In 1965 was the first India-Pakistan
War after independence, although I should qualify that. In ’47-’48, there
was this war between India and Pakistan over
Kashmir, and I will come to that, of course, before long. In
’65 was another India-Pakistan War, which was
ultimately stopped after a few days. Why? Because both sides ran out of ammunition, and
the world also intervened and the war stopped. In 1971, Pakistan split into two, and East
Pakistan became Bangladesh. What did that
prove? It proved that Islam was not enough to create
and maintain a nation’s unity. Many in Pakistan thought that: “The Punjabis of
West Pakistan are Muslims, Sindhis are
Muslims, most of them; the Pashtuns are Muslims, the Balochis
Bangladesh and East Bengal are Muslims. Islam will keep them all together.” It didn’t
happen. Islam was not enough for a nation to
remain united and Bangladesh was created. Of course, India intervened very much in favor of
separation. (What’s happening?)>>Sorry to interrupt, but we are going to pass
out cards on which people can ask questions,
so we’ll begin passing them out now, if you have some questions; and at the end,
Professor Gandhi will answer them, so take
care. Put your questions down and then we’ll have him
address them.>>Bangladesh was created, but within a few
years, the very popular leader of Bangladesh, Mujibur Rahman and most of his family
members were killed, and shortly thereafter,
what happens in India? In June of ’75, the emergency is declared in
India and Himmat plays a part in opposing it. Himmat stands for free expression, independent
expression, democratic rights, human rights and
so forth. Himmat plays its part, but that’s another story. In 1984-85, I make an extended visit to the
United States. I’m a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International
Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., and
that’s where I write my book, “Eight Lives: the Study of the Hindu-Muslim
Encounter, which has been published again and
again, and reprinted under different titles. Its latest title in India is “Understanding the
Muslim Mind”, as if there is only one Muslim
mind, but authors don’t have full control over the titles
of their books, the publishers decide. In Pakistan, it has been translated, by-rated and
published, but I’m very happy it has been
published. In India, Hindus and Muslims, Sikhs and others
seem to be very interested in this book. It keeps
getting reprinted. Then in 1989, I wrote my Patel biography. Be
honest, guys, don’t be embarrassed. Have you never heard of Vallabhbhai Patel? Put
up your hands you’ve never heard him. Vallabhbhai Patel is the man who now has the
world’s tallest statue, in western India. It’s of this man, Vallabhbhai Patel, who was one
of Gandhi’s close associates. He was the Deputy Prime Minister of India under
Jawaharlal Nehru. Nehru was the Prime
Minister. Patel only survived for three years after
independence. He was ill and died in December
of 1950. There was a formidable, amazing figure, one of
the great figures of the modern Indian story, but
he had been neglected. I felt in the mid-’80s, having written about these
eight Muslim leaders, I must write about this
remarkable Hindu leader, Vallabhbhai Patel. This was written 30 years ago. Since I’m not in
a humble frame of mind today, let me tell you that a better book on Patel has
not been written yet. [audience chuckles] Patel is the man that today’s Hindu nationalists
in India claim as a great champion. Their line is, “Gandhi was a good man, maybe
he was a great man, but he made a fundamental mistake when he
encouraged the first prime ministership of India
should go to Nehru, not to Patel. It was Gandhi’s great blunder, for which India
continues to pay a huge price today”, which is why Narendra Modi created the world’s
tallest statue of Vallabhbhai Patel. His aim is that “The world, at least India, should
understand that Gandhi made a mistake, that
Nehru was terrible. Gandhi was good in parts, but in the most
important parts, terrible, too. Patel is the man”. Today, there are many controversies about
Patel: what he said, what he didn’t say, what he
was for, what his Kashmir policy was and what it wasn’t,
and there are furious arguments for and against
Patel. All the writers who criticize him and all the
writers who praise him quote Rajmohan
Gandhi’s biography of Patel. This is a fact. As some of you know, when India was
partitioned into Hindu-majority India and Muslim-
majority Pakistan, there were hundreds of princely states which the
British had ruled indirectly through these
princes: the Rajas, Maharajas, Nawabs and
[unintelligible]. When independence came, the question arose
as to where these states would go, to which
country would they belong? Many joined India, some joined Pakistan,
but for three states, there was a problem, and these three states were Kashmir – the full
name of which is “Jammu and Kashmir”, or “J&K”. Actually, it should be “J, K and L”, because there
is also Ladakh, but it was one princely state
ruled by a Hindu Maharaja. But there was an anomaly in a sense: although
a Hindu was the Maharaja, the vast majority of
the people were Muslims. There were some parts of J, K and L where the
Hindus were the majority, in Jammu; in the
Ladakh area, the Buddhists were the majority; but in the Kashmir area, the Muslims were in
the majority, and overall, the Muslims were the
majority, but the ruler was a Hindu. There was a tiny state in western India called
Junagadh which had the opposite situation: the ruler was a Muslim but 88% of the
population were Hindus. There was a third state, a very large state called
Hyderabad. We are a very learned audience,
here! In Hyderabad, 90% were Hindus, but the ruler
was the Nizam of Hyderabad, who was a
Muslim. The ruler of Junagadh said he was going to join
Pakistan and he signed the accession to
Pakistan. The Nizam of Hyderabad said, “I will remain
independent, I will join neither India nor
Pakistan”. So did the ruler of Kashmir. The government of Pakistan decided to accept
the accession of the Nawab of Junagadh, and
accepted Junagadh as part of Pakistan. Junagadh was not contiguous with Pakistan, it
was a couple hundred miles or more south of Karachi. There was no land link, and there was a remote
[unintelligible]. It was not a realistic proposition. In any case, the people of Junagadh were not for
line, spelled out by Gandhi, who was not in the government but was still alive
and was influential; by Nehru, the Prime
Minister; and by Patel, the “great hero”, today. Gandhi, Nehru and Patel all said at that time,
and they are on record that “We don’t believe in
rulers deciding where people should belong; the people should decide where they wanted to
go. Junadagh will go where the people want it to
go; Hyderabad will go where the people wanted to
go and Kashmir will go where the people want it
to go”. The people rose in Junadagh, the Indian army
sent its police to Junadagh, and the accession
to Pakistan became a paper accession. Junadagh became part of India, and the people,
in a referendum, voted to remain with India. Patel, who has the tallest statue in the world
now, said at the time, and it is on record: “If Mr. Jinnah takes his hand off Hyderabad and
Hyderabad joins India, he can have Kashmir”. Said by Vallabhbhai Patel, who has the largest
statue in the world. In 1999, there was the Kargil war in the Kashmir
area, where Pakistanis tried to take over the which is now in the Ladakh part of JKL. It was a
bold, illegal and clandestine move, but it was, in
the end, defeated, foiled and repulsed. Then again, the world intervened and the India-
Pakistan War of 1999, which India was winning
and India had won, the world intervened and the war stopped; but of
course by this time, both India and Pakistan had
developed. So, I must now mention my Punjab involvement,
because I decided to study the story of Punjab:
why the killings of 1947? I wanted to understand not just what happened
in the three or four years before independence
and partition, but what happened in the two hundred-plus
years before partition why was there this this animosity on the ground
that facilitated the terrible killings that took place
in 1947? In the course of this study and research, I
traveled to various parts of Punjab, much of which is now Pakistan, and some of
which is part of India. The Indian Punjab was then divided into Punjab,
Haryana and Himachal, and we we interviewed
many people. Of course, I studied as many of the records I
could find. My wife and I did our research
together. One of the things we did was to try and meet
survivors of the ’47 killings and also to find out
more about something that we had heard of, and that everybody had heard of, which was
while this was a time of madness and many
people killed those on the other side, many more people saved those who were on the
other side. Many Hindus and Sikhs killed many Muslims
and many Muslims killed many Hindus and
Sikhs; but many Hindus and Sikhs protected Muslim
lives, and many Muslims protected Hindu and
Sikh lives. We interviewed survivors and we produced these
interviews as part of our story, research into the
story of Punjab, and I will just mention one of those stories in
particular. Just recently, in February of this year, there was
almost a war between India and Pakistan, but it
didn’t take place. On the 5th of August, the Government of India
announced that Kashmir’s special status and its
autonomy would end, and that Kashmir would become two union
territories: one for Ladakh and one for Jammu
and Kashmir. Jammu, where the Hindus are the majority;
Kashmir, where the Muslims are a majority; and Ladakh, where Buddhists are a majority, but
the Muslims are a large minority. This change in Kashmir’s status was affected
without talking to or consulting a single
Kashmiri. Not one. Not one Kashmiri was spoken to before the
status of Jammu and Kashmir was changed. It was and it continues to be – we all know about
the curfews and the stoppage of the internet and
the telephone lines, the arrests of large numbers of people, the
inability of journalists to enter Kashmir, and of journalists from Kashmir to report about
what’s happening there. It is an unusual, and of
course, a very sad situation. Yet, on 15 August of this year, several Indians
decided that they would go to the India-Pakistan
border, not on the Kashmiri side, but in the Punjab area,
go over the border and express friendship to the
people of Pakistan. This custom was started many years ago of
using every Independence Day to reestablish
and reaffirm friendship among the people, whatever the politician – yes, sir, five minutes
left? OK, gosh, I didn’t know that I spoke so
slowly. This thing happened and this amazing
affirmation of the wish of the people on both
sides of the border, the Pakistani side and Indian side, for friendship
and solidarity, whatever may happen in politics
and between governments. Two things I want to mention before I conclude: we talk about fake news stories. “Barack Obama was not born in America, he’s not an American”, and a good number of Americans believe this. But do you know that a good percentage of Indians believe Jawaharlal Nehru’s family are Muslims? If you “Google” the name of his father, Motilal Nehru, you’ll discover that his ancestor was a Muslim. He worked for the local government. When in Delhi, the British government was taking reprisal action against Muslims. This man left Delhi, pretended he was a Hindu, went to Allahabad – that’s where Motilal Nehru, and his son, Jawaharlal, were born. That they were actually Muslims is widely believed by a significant section, and this has been sustained propaganda over the last several years,. I just mentioned this as an example of what is happening on all sides. Let me make this very plain: I have stood for democratic rights for the minorities of India. I also stand for the rights of the minorities in Pakistan and in Bangladesh. There may be no mistake about it. The Ahmadis, who claim they are Muslims, although Orthodox Muslim say they aren’t, whether or not they are Muslims, they are a sect. They are persecuted in Pakistan, and many Hindus in Bangladesh are persecuted. Many agnostics and rationalists in Bangladesh are persecuted and killed, so the fight for human rights and democratic rights has to be waged in Pakistan, in India and in Bangladesh. My last point is about a family who now lives in Lahore, Pakistan. This man called Salman Rashid is Pakistan’s foremost travel writer, author of several books, historian, photographer and columnist. Many of his relatives were killed in ’47 in Jalandhar, now in Indian Punjab. How many here know, who are from India, that before the ’47 partition, Jalandahar in eastern Punjab was a Muslim majority city? Did you know that? You -are- a learned scholar. That Ludhiana was a Muslim-majority city, that Amritsar had 47% Muslims, just as Lahore had a very large – not a majority – but a very large Hindu and Sikh population. Similarly, Rawalpindi and Multan had substantial Hindu and Sikh populations. Many of Salman Rashid’s family were killed: young women, an old doctor, and a servant was killed with his children. We discovered this when we were interviewing people about ’47, and we discovered from Salman’s mother the names of all the relatives who, one by one, were killed. It was a very moving experience for us to learn the names of these people. But then, what did Salman Rashid do? Most of his relatives were killed in ’47. He decided that he must meet those who killed his relatives, so he made several trips trips to Jalandhar and he managed to meet the son of the killer, who was dead by this time. Here are Salman’s words: “He, Mahendra Pratap, son of a man who died with the blood of my family on his hands, a Hindu; and I, born into a family of devout Muslims, stood there in the bright, late afternoon sunshine, looking at each other as we try to come to grips with what had been narrated. If I had inherited grief from a family that never spoke explicitly of the loss suffered during partition, Mahendra Pratap had a legacy of remorse from a father who rued his error to the end of his days. We both needed each other to heal our wounds of partition. I had not let memory turn grief into hatred for them across the border. Instead, it taught me to forgive and move on. Mahendra Pratap had in the same way kept the guilt of his father, hoping perhaps to someday meet someone to apologize to. Our need for the other was mutual. The Pakistanis and the Indians need each other”. My last thought is all of you in the United States who meet people of Indian, Pakistani or Bangladesh origins, or who may themselves be Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi origins, you can meet each other here the way you cannot meet there. Make use of this opportunity. Thank you.
[Applause]>>Thank You, Professor Gandhi. We have a lot of good questions here for you. If anybody else wants to write a question and has not done so, so far, Jeanette has some cards, here. Our first question is: “Is there any hope that one day, Kashmir will be free?”
>>I’m a historian, not an astrologer.>>Can you give some comments on the British role in partitioning?>>You know how convenient it is for the whole world to say “The British did it”? What a tribute to a handful of people living in a small country, that they could so manipulate things, that the world would fight each other. Of course, there is a little truth in this: it suited the British to exploit divisions, ill wills and dislikes, but as Maulana Muhammad Ali famously said, when he was told, again and again, as Imperial policy, “Divide and Rule”, he said, “Yes, there was ‘divide and rule’, but we divide and they rule. The British exploited divisions, but the divisions were made in India.>>Do you think that the ideology which killed your grandfather is rising in India today?>>Hindu nationalism is not only rising, it has risen; and there are today some elected to the Indian Parliament who say that the killer of Gandhi was a “better” patriot than Gandhi. As has happened in many countries, the notion that equality is a great goal, that high and low belongs to the past, that ideology is now superseded by the ideology of supremacy of some, that “rightful owners must claim their country back”. “The Whites must claim America back”, and “The Hindus must claim India back”, So to that extent, the ideology of the killers of Gandhi is now accepted by dominant sections of the Indian population. I’m not saying it’s a large majority of the Indian population, but by dominant sections of the Indian population.>>What do you think the future of the India- Pakistan relationship is five years from now, ten years from mow; and how has Modi helped or hurt this relationship?>>Modi met Trump in France two days ago. When the rest of the world talks about the meeting of Trump with the European leaders, it does not refer to Trump-Modi conversations on the sidelines. Modi is not part of the G-7, but the Indian media is full of what Trump said about his meeting with Modi. What did Trump say about Modi’s talks with him? He said, “Modi has assured me that things are completely under control”; that “Modi has said to me that all disputes between India and Pakistan”, and by that he meant, though did not say so explicitly, that Kashmir is part of it, “All disputes with India and Pakistan are purely bilateral matters”. Modi told him, “We don’t need anyone else’s help, thank you very much. We will sort this out amongst ourselves”. Modi told Trump that Kashmir is “a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan”, but he tells the people of India that Kashmir is not a bilateral issue, but is now a purely internal, Indian issue. That is the position, as far as Kashmir and Modi are concerned at the moment.>>I know this is a personal question, but when your grandfather was shot and you weren’t there, did that affect you in any way, and how has that influenced who you are today?
>>Maybe all that I’m doing and my talk here with you this evening is part of that impact.>>Concerning water rights in India, Pakistan and China, who do you think has the most promising water management policy, which may have the best chance of avoiding armed conflict?>>I think the most effective water right policy is if we allow our tears of sympathy and sorrow to move us, and then we lead to some kind of reconciliation and understanding. That would deal also with a great water challenge for India and Pakistan. [Applause]>>Do you regard the film “Gandhi” as an accurate portrayal of your grandfather? What was your reaction to the film?>>No film is literally accurate, and artists take some liberties with facts, sometimes with sequence and chronology. There are those kinds of inaccuracies in the Attenborough film, but taken in the round, it is a wonderfully true film.>>Gandhi called Kashmir “the ray of hope” in 1947, when the states of India and Pakistan were burning, communal violence, what do you think is the reason Kashmir is now the “largest prison on Earth”, a place which has been cut off from the rest of the world for the last 23 days?>>Gandhi called Kashmir “as a ray of hope”, because partition had taken place at a time when many Muslims and Hindus said that “Muslims and Hindus are two nations”; whereas Gandhi was saying that Hindus and Muslims can live together in one nation. At that time, Kashmir, with its Muslim majority, with its popular leader, Sheikh Abdullah, saying that “Kashmir will be part of India”, that represented to Gandhi a very great hope. Today, the picture has changed a great deal, but the matter is still in the hands of people, of human beings, of all of us in Kashmir, in Pakistan and in India. If we demonstrate that Muslims and Hindus will live as friends and will not let past stories affect our present decisions, we will look to the future, and it is in us, in human beings, that capacity and strength, whether that strength will be manifested in five years, ten or twenty. God alone knows, but that hope that Gandhi expressed in those words is the hope in the wisdom and the nobility of the human being, and I, for one, am not going to give up that hope, ever. [applause]>>My mother is from Bangladesh. Here in the States, I have a good Pakistani friend. I have never been to India, Bangladesh or Pakistan. In that region, how often do friendships happen between Bengalis and Pakistanis, et cetera?
>>I don’t know if I follow the question, sir.>>Could you comment on how often friendships occur across national boundaries or ethnic boundaries?>>I think the questioner probably is supporting the point I made, that just because Bangladeshis and Pakistanis are Muslims, that would not ensure that they would live absolutely happily together without a common sense, mutual give-and-take and understanding, so there are those barriers; but we know in many cases, those barriers have been overcome. It’s true that in recent years across the world, the idea that there should be some kind of supremacy of one section over the other that has, at the moment, taken ascendancy; but ten years ago, we were all talking about globalization, so these currents move quite rapidly. When the pendulum will be restored, I do not know, but I think we must have faith. At least I have faith, and I’m sure many here have faith that barriers of nationality, race or religion cannot destroy human empathy and human friendship.>>Another Kashmir question: if Kashmiris want to be independent, why is it a bilateral issue?
>>Say that again?>>If Kashmiris want to be independent, why is it a bilateral issue?>>To some extent it is, because many in India and in Pakistan don’t want Kashmiris to be independent. India and Pakistan are very strong and very large countries. India’s larger and stronger than Pakistan, though Pakistan also is pretty large and strong, and Pakistan also has the nuclear bomb. If you are comparing the Kashmir Valley with India and Pakistan, Kashmir Valley is quite small in relation to either Pakistan or India. Neither Pakistan or India, and the people of India – and this is an important point – the people of India don’t want Kashmir is to be independent. Not just the government, the people of India don’t want Kashmiris to be independent. Many people of Israel don’t want Palestine to be independent. This is the reality. Can this reality change, and how this reality would change are great questions, which are more for those who are below the age of 84.>>How have you been encouraged and facilitated by the strategy of forgiveness to being about reconciliation between two or more hostile peoples, groups or entities?>>I don’t know how we can encourage the process of reconciliation, putting the past behind. Not forgetting the past, remembering the past, but not being influenced by the past. These are very great questions, and let me take this opportunity to say this also, with no disrespect to Pakistan or to Kashmir: India, with all its very great flaws, sins and offenses, India, until recently, was proud of the idea that India would demonstrate a nation beyond the bloodline, a nation of equality, diversity, mutual respect, fraternity and unity; somewhat like the United States, which was a nation built also with serious faults and historical flaws, of which we’re still witnessing the impact; but both India and the United States were and are nations where – I don’t know whether we can take a count or not, but a great number of people in today’s India and a great number of people in today’s United States are determined that India and the United States will be nations of freedom, equality and mutual respect. So once we achieve that, God willing, the people of Kashmir also may realize their dreams.
[applause]>>Do you believe that peace is even a remote possibility with the current government of India; and if so, how? “The basic human rights of speech is gone, non-existent, the wounds are too deep”, the questioner says.>>In a way, the answer was contained in the previous 45 minutes of my remarks, but I would say this: there are so many people of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Kashmiri origin in the United States; and Kashmiri Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists. Those of us who live here have a better chance than people who live in India, Pakistan or in Kashmir to promote these ideas of partnership. The ball is not in a court of the speaker you’re listening to, the ball is with you guys, here in the United States.>>Who is responsible for the killing of innocent Muslim Kashmiris in Kashmir?
>>Bad people are responsible.>>This kind of follows up on your previous remarks, but what advice do you have for those in the audience here to be peacebuilders?>>One very important point: peacebuilders who want democracy, who want equality, who don’t like majoritarianism or supremacy doctrines being preached successfully in both the US and India, you’re a large group. Be sure that in your own large group, you are united. Be nicer to one another within your large group because so often, we are unhappy with others who are with us in the broad goal, but we don’t like their methods, or we don’t like some things they say or do. We dislike people if they don’t agree with us on every single point. So, the first step is those of us who believe in equality, mutual respect, freedom, and equal rights for all, let us be truly nice and courteous to one another. That is the first step. The next step is to see how to enlarge our circle, how to win over those who don’t agree with us on the fundamental points. This is a tougher task, but it’s not impossible. People rise above their prejudices. There are situations in the world when people have risen above their prejudices. A mere historian-scholar-speaker can’t do what’s needed; but a creative artist, a songwriter, a singer, a playwright or a novelist can do what a prose writer cannot. So, I wait for the inspired poet, writer and musician who comes up with the melody, the words, the vision and the dream that will stir all of us.
>>Good advice, thank you. Thank you all for staying so long. We have our final question, and this is connected in some ways to what you spoke on last evening, in terms of peace journalism. It says, “Often times, the first to report is the most well-read, regardless of accuracy or quality. People have a tendency to be emotionally reactive, especially to sensationalism, so what can be done to counteract this?”>>It’s very hard when obvious truths are disbelieved and patent lies are believed. How to overcome this is certainly not easy to for me to prescribe a remedy. I think one thing that each one of us needs to do is not to be swayed by the pressure of fake beliefs. Even if we appear to be drowned into small minorities, let us keep the faith that what is true is true and will ultimately be victorious, so let us have no sense of panic or alarm. Let every kind of horrible rumor fly about. So what? The truth remains the truth! Some people will emerge who will have the ingenious, effective way of conveying the truth to everybody; but until that happens, we must nurse, we must maintain the very absolute belief in the ultimate victory of truth.>>Thank You, Professor Gandhi.
[applause] Could you all remain for just a couple of minutes? We have a presentation of a gift to Professor Gandhi from the India Association of Kansas City, so please come forward.>>Thank you.
[applause] Thank you so much.>>It says, “The India Association of Kansas City; Dr. Rajmohan Gandhi, for your leadership and commitment to world peace; August 27th, 2019, Kansas City.>>Thank you so much.
>>Thank you so much.
[applause]>>Thank you so much, thank you, thank you, thank you. Please, thank you.>>One more time, let’s give Professor Gandhi a big hand. Thank you, everybody.
[applause]

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