Book Review: Kashmir as I see it by Ashok Dhar

Book Name: Kashmir as I see it

Author: Ashok Dhar

Publisher: Rupa

Genre: Non-fiction

Rating: 3/5

Book Blurb: Stories of the trauma and betrayal faced by Kashmiris have been told, the events retraced and analysis offered. And yet, one of the most long-standing disputes in India’s post-Independence history remains unsettled. If it were up to Lal Ded, a Sufi poet, she would offer the most difficult solution so far—to look within. Kashmir As I See It, a personal journey interspersed with geopolitical analysis, is not only about the state but also about the voice that yearns to be home again. Ashok Dhar slowly and carefully uncovers multiple layers of the conflict to show that apart from being a territorial dispute, it is also about historicity, morality and leadership—aspects that have been neglected so far. He holds that looking merely at the legality of the state’s accession is like looking at an iceberg; peace will not come if we have not examined what Kashmiriyat is. This rigorously researched and passionately honest account shows us a way to look for solutions that are not merely reflective but practical, using tools extracted from management studies such as game theory. A radical approach that throws open a new window of inquiry to resolve an age-old issue!

Review: Kashmir as I see it is the author’s attempt to place his perspective on the Kashmir issue.

The book starts with a personalised account and goes on to discuss the historical, religious and socio-political context of the issues surrounding the Kashmir region. Ashok Dhar has carried out extensive research on the issue and has presented a balanced view point including some potential solutions. There are also snippets from largely forgotten pieces of colonial history that are not in limelight anymore.

“We have a common language amongst Muslims and Hindus. I share the same culture, music and food habits with Muslims and have recollections of brotherhood and solidarity.”

A very interesting chapter is the one on Maharaja Hari Singh, the ruler of Kashmir who is often perceived to be the single person responsible for the situation Kashmir finds itself in. Many in India consider his indecisiveness to be responsible for the delays in finalising the integration of Kashmir into India. The book however sets it right and provides a balanced view of his position.

The book is very well researched but the structure and compilation is not so great.

This book has a lot of merit but in the end, it comes across as a mixture of religious, cultural and personalised accounts that does not deliver in the end. There is no clarity in what the author wants this project to be. It would have been better to have focussed on one aspect and deal with it in detail.

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