Sunday, June 13, 2021
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Jammu Identity: debates plenty, no action
Straight Talk

K B Jandial

It is heartening to note that debate on Jammu identity continues unabated with different Dogra intellectuals, historians, academicians, army veterans and activists expressing their views in newspaper articles and virtual panel discussions, the latest being hosted by the upcoming International Institute of J&K Studies and Analysis (IIJSA). Much has been written and said listing theories, causes and existing faultlines of diminishing Dogra identity. Everyone speaks out his heart on the crisis of Jammu Identity with proud references to golden Dogra rule, legendary monarch and warriors, rich heritage and glorious traditions. But the tragedy is, perhaps may be in the past as well, there is no effort to formulate a concrete action plan to restore Dogras’ multi-faceted and multi-dimensional identity. Humiliation to Jammu’s identity at the Convocation of Jammu’s IIT failed to become a rallying point for Jammu’s anger. As usual, Jammu took the insult with a pinch of salt. Collective effort to assert Jammu’s identity was deplorably missing.

Are we really standing at the crossroad of social, cultural and political history? Are we really concerned over our lost identity? Theories and reasons heard and read are many but no structure or platform made to channelise the outraged public sentiments. Whom we are waiting for? Can’t all political parties including BJP and social, cultural & literary bodies, Jammu Bar Association and Jammu Chamber of Commerce join for this cause? We have failed to emulate Ladakh character to subordinate political interests and personal ambitions for the larger interest. The main moving spirit of Ladakh’s struggle, Thupstan Chhewang, resigned his Lok Sabha seat and from BJP on Modi Govt’s failure to grant UT status in Modi 01. He didn’t budge from his stand, politely declining to meet any top BJP leaders and left the politics for ever. Ladakhis are class apart, and forgive me for saying that we are not even an iota of them. Will someone bell the cat?

Leaving aside big issues of Jammu’s empowerment, why can’t there be a humble beginning for its identity? The non-prefix of “Jammu” to J&K’s three premier services is a small issue but with a loud message of dignity. Thanks to GAD, now we see many Govt orders indicating the service as JKAS with the name of the officer. It is not as much of respecting Jammu sentiments as to correct the mistake of the past. The administrative truth about the actual name of the service must prevail. All three Services- Jammu and Kashmir Administrative Service, Jammu and Kashmir Police (Gazetted) Service & Jammu and Kashmir Accounts (Gazetted) Service, were constituted with Jammu & Kashmir prefixing with these. Why Jammu was dropped is not known (not attributing motive) but still it is not too late to correct the lapses of the past, especially when ‘J’ has sentimental value with one region (Jammu). Incidentally, Lt Governor, Manoj Sinha is the person who removed the lid from this ‘concealed’ issue in his condolence message on the demise of District Information Officer Udhampur describing him as JKAS officer. While the Principal Secretary, GAD responded positively and started recording JKAS with officers in some of the Govt orders (hopefully in all orders & recording in official web portal too), the Home and Finance Deptts have yet to consider use of JKAP and JKAS (Accounts) in respective orders about their service. While important newspapers like Daily Excelsior have started using JKAS in their reports, there was no support or reaction by pro Jammu intellectuals, activists, ideologues or political leaders

Jammu has many Dogra legendary and stalwarts who needed to honoured by naming important institutions and projects after them. One such legendary Dogra is Baba Jitto. Why can’t an institution linked with agriculture in Jammu be named after him? SKUAST Jammu is one such institution that should be named after him. It should be named as Baba Jitto University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Jammu. Hopefully, the LG would respect Jammu sentiments. Similarly there many Dogra legendary figures of Jammu including Maharaja Hari Singh & Prem Nath Dogra who should also be considered for naming major projects or programmes.

Col Satish Singh Lalotra, one of the panelists at IIJSA spoke about a template of unity and identity which in military parlance called “Naam, Namak & Nishan”. This template of reputation, loyalty & commitment and symbol of identity is relevant for Jammu identity. Every nation or for that, society has to imbibe this template to preserve their identity.

Dogri language is one such “Nishan” of Jammu which was earlier ignored but finally found place in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution of India by 92nd Constitutional Amendment in 2004. In every State or UT, the official channels of mass media are the Doordarshan and AIR and have role in promoting the local language. Radio Station Jammu was hurriedly set up on December 1, 1947 in a classroom of Ranbir High School by B P Sharma to counter Pakistan propaganda unleashed to mislead people about the claim of victories by raiders and Pak army. This emergency Radio Station achieved its objective and later on shifted to its present location at the gate of Raj Bhawan. Likewise, Jammu DD too was temporarily set up to air regional news in Urdu and Kashmiri with the onset of cross border terrorism that collapsed both DDK and Radio Kashmir right in early 1990. This temporary DD for telecast of Srinagar regional DD news gradually led to establishment of Jammu DD. With the passage of time and under local pressure Jammu DD started telecasting Dogri news besides producing Dogri programmes by mid-nineties.

But both these Jammu’s iconic institutions were never allowed to develop fully. On June 29 and July 21, 2020, the Parsar Bharti, New Delhi issued two separate orders, first curtailing the eight hours telecast of Jammu’s DD programmes and the second order almost shut-down the local Dogri telecast to 15-minute Dogri news and 15-minute Dogri slots for telecast from all important Kashir Channel. The Jammu’s Nishan- pride of Dogra, Dogri language of which both local DD and AIR are the icons, was sidelined. Then protest of Dogri Sanstha and other civil society bodies brought Dr. Jatinder Singh in to action and got status quo. With shortage of staff and literally without a Director, Jammu DD is nearing shut down. Imagine the DD does have even its own cameraman on regular basis. But there is no public concern of its immediate ‘death’ for want of staff and funds while Kashir Channel along with Srinagar DD are prospering with all funds pumping in it. Isn’t it the serious cause of concern for the pro- Jammu ideologues, activists, civil society and political leaders?

Another issue that Col Satish raised was lack of Geographical Indication (GI) tag for any of the prized items of Jammu. Comparing ten of Himachal, Jammu has none. However, the case for GI tag to Gucchi (mushroom) has been submitted to the Registrar of GI Registry, Chennai in January this year after the painstaking efforts of Doda’s then Dy. Commissioner, Sagar Doifode. It is very expensive food item which grows wild in Doda belt of Jammu region and extracted manually. Jammu has abundance of such items which should get GI tag and even without it, remain Jammu’s identity. To name few, Jammu’s iconic items include world famous miniature Basohli painting, Basmati rice ( R.S.Pura/Bishnah) Rajmah (Padder, Bhaderwah, Marwah, Balesa) Chilgoza(Pine nuts of Padder) Zeera ( Padder) Annardana ( Doda, Ramban, Gool) Kaladri (Ramnagar/Chenani), Patisa ( Kud & Jammu) Chocolate burfi ( Jammu) and Pheniyan & Katlmey (Jammu).

Even summer apple named Hariman-99 was innovated & planned by Udhampur’s celebrated rural surgeon, Dr. K C Sharma and former bureaucrat, GN Naik of Kashmir and promoted by many individuals and organisations including Central Govt Pensioners’ Welfare Association, Jammu can also be projected as Jammu’s specialty. About two lakh plants have already been successfully planted and fruit harvested at many landmark places all over India like Rashtrapati Bhawan New Delhi and some of the Raj Bhawans. Efforts are in progress to redevelop their orchards at upcoming Ram Mandir at Ayodhya and Sardar Patel Complex, Ahmadabad. Since it is the initiative of a Jammu Dogra, Hariman 99 apple should be rechristened as “Jammu Summer Apple”. All these items and many more can get GI registration if painstaking efforts are made by concerned Officers like Doifode which can become Jammu’s identity. What we need is the commitment of ours middle rung officers who should identify such projects and project for recognition that that can add to Jammu’s identity.

Tourism with its all manifestations is yet another sector that lends “naam” to Jammu and become its identity. Neglect to this sector has taken away Jammu’s identity and economic spin in different areas. Thanks to the vision of late Jagmohan, Mata Vaishno Devi has become not only proud synonym with Jammu but also a single most contributor to Jammu’s economy. Jammu has no dearth of pilgrim centres of all faiths including Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Christians which may not be as popular as Mata Vaishno Devi but nonetheless add to Jammu’s “naam” besides promoting economic activity. Many pilgrimage-cum-tourist circuits needed to be developed which have remained neglected for want of Govt focus and dependable communication. Many exciting pilgrim-cum- tourist circuits in Jammu region, if developed, can take tourists to some of the virgin areas that unfold unparalleled breathtaking scenic beauty. One of these is Shiva-Shivalik circuit that can take the tourists & pilgrims to Katra- Shivkhordi- Shadhara Sharief- Budda Amarnath-Dera- Nangali Sahib. Other circuit could be Jammu-Sudmahadev-Mantalai-Seojdhar- Kailash Kund-Bhaderwah-Mani Mahesh-Chattergala-Bani. There are some important pilgrim centres like Mata Sukrala Devi in Billawar, Mata Pinlga Devi in Ramnagar, Ashtadashabuja (Sarthal Devi) & Bhadrakali in Bhaderwah which attract a large number of pilgrims even now and can become popular pilgrim destinations.

The historic Mubarak Mandi heritage Complex at Jammu is another symbol of Jammu’s identity whose restoration work is regrettably moving on snail pace. There are historic places which are part of glorious history and identity of Jammu. Jiya Pota on the bank of Chenab, Akhnoor and Reasi Forts, Dera Baba Banda are some of other spots that are linked with Jammu’s identity. Jammu’s important lakes-Mansar, Sanasar and Surinsar- cry for development.

While big political issues are, no doubt, important but their attainment appears to be distant. Then why not begin with smaller and achievable issues that can give impetus to the struggle for recognition & restoration of Jammu’s identity. These issues are devoid of politics and thus all political parties can easily join hands for the cause of Jammu and make the difference.

(The Author is a retired IAS officer, feedback: [email protected])

(Disclaimer: The views, observations and opinions expressed in above write up of Scoop News are strictly author's own. Scoop News does not take any onus or liability for the veracity, accuracy, validity, completeness, suitability of any of information in the above given write up. The information, facts or figures appearing in the write up in no way manifest the position, standpoint or stance of Scoop News and the Scoop News does not assume any encumbrance or answerability of the same. All disputes are subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of competent Courts and Forums in Jammu City Only)

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