Sunday, September 11, 2011

Review: A Tangled Web


A Tangled Web
: Jammu and Kashmir
Ira Pande
HarperCollins India
Rs. 699
Pp 304
ISBN: 9789350291542

About the book:
Founded in the mid-nineteenth century, the state of Jammu and Kashmir brought together areas that are culturally, linguistically and geographically diverse: Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh, Gilgit–Balkistan and what is now Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. It is in this genesis, perhaps, that the seeds of the current unrest lie. And the key to peace in this volatile region is in an understanding of this diversity. A Tangled Web: Jammu and Kashmir attempts to do that by tracing the journey of the land from being paradise on Earth to a paradise lost.

The essays here familiarize the reader with the conflicting views on history, politics and autonomy pertaining to the region, and examine the various political, cultural, economic and social issues at play. Also included are features that voice the concerns of ordinary men and women who have borne the brunt of decades of unrest; as well as commentaries on the beauty, art and food typical of the area; and photo features that capture the ethereal and unique essence of a troubled Eden.
As analysts and politicians, academics and artists try to make sense of an increasingly volatile situation, A Tangled Web offers an insightful perspective on what is undoubtedly an area of great strategic and geopolitical significance.

Valley of masks Pioneer
The Jammu & Kashmir issue has been with India since Independence. It would be an understatement to say that it is a very complex problem. It has many dimensions — political, economic, regional, ethnic, religious and, most importantly, foreign. Notwithstanding four military invasions by Pakistan and many well-intentioned and not so well-intentioned efforts by the so-called international community and the Indian Government, the problem has not only remained unresolved but, over the period, has only become more complex. The tangle needs to be unravelled and as the title of the book suggests, it is yet another effort to do so. Not an easy task by any means!

It must be said to the credit of the editor, Ira Pande, that she has done the best that could be done given the difficulty of putting together in a book form these many contributions from authors who have their biased views. If the object of the book was to give the reader better understanding of the complexities involved, I am afraid that has not been achieved. Instead, after reading the book, an average reader is likely to become more confused.


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