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End of Article 370 Heralds New Beginning for Many Kashmiris

The bondage was cruel for the Kashmiri woman whose life decisions were totally tied to her father or husband as conditioned by Article 370

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Article 370, New, Kashmiris
This demise has given freedom from bondage, freedom from having to live with a stamp and, above all, freedom to exercise the right of choice. Pixabay

The end of Article 370 heralds a new beginning for many Kashmiris, despite the doom and gloom in some quarters over its revocation.

Now Kashmiris will not require any certificate to prove they are Kashmiris. This demise has given freedom from bondage, freedom from having to live with a stamp and, above all, freedom to exercise the right of choice.

The bondage was cruel for the Kashmiri woman whose life decisions were totally tied to her father or husband as conditioned by Article 370. She had no freedom and in case she did, the sacrifice was unimaginable.

To lose the right to your birthplace is one which cannot be compensated and the pain is something which cannot be put into words. But that’s how it used to be with the women in Kashmir before August 5, 2019.

Article 370, New, Kashmiris
The end of Article 370 heralds a new beginning for many Kashmiris, despite the doom and gloom in some quarters over its revocation. Pixabay

A Kashmiri woman’s state subject certificate was made on the basis of her father or her husband and not on her own individual basis. After her marriage, her certificate had to be renewed and a new one was issued on the basis of her husband. In case she married a non-Kashmiri, then that was the end of her status as a citizen of Kashmir. Her children were not considered Kashmiri and they had no rights in the state.

Nahida is a software engineer from Baramulla. She is a Kashmiri Muslim woman who chose to follow her heart and married a non-Kashmiri Muslim. At the time of her marriage, she knew she would lose a lot because of the conditions laid down by Article 370.

Her father owns a lot of property in Kashmir, which her relatives were eyeing. But, now with Article 370 gone, she is brimming with happiness and is confident of having a future for her family in the Valley. Her two children will also be considered as Kashmiris.

If Article 370 was detrimental to Kashmiri women, it had become gruelling for the minorities, especially for the Kashmiri Pandits to procure the certificates. The Kashmiri Pandits were forced to flee the Valley in early 1990s and many of them lost their properties and documents.

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For them it was a struggle to prove themselves as Kashmiris. Having a state subject certificate helped them avail benefits of the schemes by the central and state governments, but in its absence no claim could be made to anything connected to Kashmir.

“It was not easy to get the state subject certificate for our children. The process was deliberately made more difficult and cumbersome for my community,” says Satish Mahaldar, a Kashmiri Pandit activist. He says “such conditions were laid for us that it was becoming impossible for us to get the certificates made for our children.”

A Delhi-based businesswoman Sunita Raina had to spend a month in Jammu to get the state subject certificate for her 18-year-old son. She says, “I had to be on my toes and regularly follow my case which I could not have done from Delhi. So I relocated to Jammu for pursuing my case.”

Sunita was fortunate to obtain the certificate, but there have been cases where parents were unable to find a way to prove themselves as Kashmiri state subjects.

Article 370, New, Kashmiris
Now Kashmiris will not require any certificate to prove they are Kashmiris. Pixabay

Ashok Hakoo remembers the day many years ago when he took his two sons to the concerned department in Kashmir for completing the process of making the state subject certificates.

He says, “The officer in charge there asked my sons to speak in Kashmiri. Since they lived mostly outside the country, their Kashmiri was not good at all. The officer dismissed our case, saying we are not Kashmiris and that my sons were dark in complexion.”

Hakoo did not leave the case there. He escalated the matter and finally got the job done.

Several Kashmiri Pandit organizations had taken up the matter of what they saw as the discriminatory attitude of the administration towards them.

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Recently, a delegation from the community led by Mahaldar met the Minister of State for Home Affairs and complained about the deliberate moves in Kashmir to deny them the certificates.

Mahaldar says, “Denial of certificates would have had a detrimental effect for us as this was a way to curb our numbers. They knew we are also stakeholders.”

In view of the absence of the state subject certificates, the community feared a loss of identity.

Now with Article 370 revoked, the community is heaving a sigh of relief. No longer will they have to prove that their children are Kashmiri state subjects and no longer will efforts be made to deny their community strength.

The scrapping of Article 370 has brought cheers to many groups and communities from Kashmir. This is one death that is being celebrated in the whole country. As a new era begins in Jammu and Kashmir, there will be no boundaries and bondages and no Kashmiri will need a certificate of identity. (IANS)

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A New Mindset: Need of Bollywood

Till the 1980s it was usually traders, merchants and traditional money lenders

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Every generation since the beginning of the Indian film Industry has seen a fresh set of people finance it. PIxabay

If the Industry has survived (thrived?) so many decades it is because of the influx of fresh capital from new, glamour struck players. Every generation since the beginning of the Indian film Industry has seen a fresh set of people finance it. Till the 1980s it was usually traders, merchants and traditional money lenders. Then the exhibitors and distributors started advancing money and a lot more of glamour struck venture capital came in. Of course, sine the 1930s the top stars of the time always set up their own production companies and the trend continues to this day. Every decade technology delivers a bonanza to the perpetually cash-strapped film industry.

The popularity of radio and records and cassettes saw music royalty bring in extra cash in the 70s and 80s. This was pattern was replicated by the coming of TV and home video in the 80s and 90s and now streaming rights. However, the big break was the spread of Multiplexes. Suddenly, box office exploded as these modern hangout cinemas pulled the young urban youth and families back to the cinemas. The overseas market, largely driven by large South Asian diaspora, changed another market dynamic. Some younger filmmakers realized this and tailored their films for this well-paying market segment.

A paradigm shift happened in the mid-90s when some young media professionals-turned-entrepreneurs set up the first fledgling studios (after the demise of the earlier lot in the early 50s). A few of the old timers reimagined themselves and stayed in the new sweepstakes. Some music companies too became quasi studios venturing into film production and distribution. By the turn of the millennium, Bollywood had become not only a global brand but a billion-dollar Industry. Entertainment was recognized as Industry making institutional finance available to film producers. Import of equipment was liberalized and foreign shooting became convenient. Slowly the disorganized mom and pop business moved towards professionalism and eventually corporatization. Bank finance, insurance, contracts, copyright came into play.

Mindset, Bollywood, New
If the Industry has survived (thrived?) so many decades it is because of the influx of fresh capital from new, glamour struck players. Pixabay

However, more change was to come in the decade that followed. The rise of the Internet following the mobile revolution changed the game altogether. Rising income and aspirations and changing lifestyles altered the media and entertainment landscape. Digitalization of cinema from pre and post production to distribution and exhibition has also contributed to a dramatic change in Indian cinema. Today you can make a film on your smartphone and commercially release it. Now there are film makers who are making films only for the digital space.

By 2010, major studios — Fox, Disney, Reliance ,Viacom and Zee had arrived and further changed the market dynamics. In the last decade, video-on-demand and Over-the-Top (OTT) platforms together with broadcast TV not only brought additional revenue but newer niche markets. Audience is consuming filmed entertainment differently across different screens. Now Amazon, Jio, Netflix, Hotstar, Zee 5, Alt, Apple, Facebook, Google et al are commissioning films and are the new financiers of the movie industry. Thousands of new and old members of this large fraternity are getting back into the creative mainstream. There are at least a 100 production companies all over India. There are more trained professionals than ever before and encouragingly a lot more women in power in Bollywood. Every year at least twenty first timers make a mark and many of them from small towns with no family connection. For a change the big potboilers compete with small, new age films.

There are many young, often first-time film makers who are making path breaking cinema which a substantial enough audience is loving it. Today’s top actors are also a lot more adventurous. In any case, even the most commercial of films are much more rooted in reality than before. Production design, cinematography and sound are now of international standard. Unfortunately, marketing costs have spiraled up but without the adequate research and media planning resulting a lot of wasteful expenditure. Star prices still remain abnormally high, often being 40 per cent to 50 per cent of the entire budget. Interestingly, after a gap of many decades, talent from smaller towns and even villages are coming to Bollywood and many are making it to the top. Also, a lot more films are set in smaller towns reflecting concerns of a new class of film lovers.

The most heartening development, though, is the influx of streaming services. Not only do they bring a lot of money into the system but also offer a far, far wider variety of films: shorts, documentaries, animated, real-life dramas but also all genres of features films. They are not hung up on stars or big names. Besides, in another welcome development, a number of big producers and directors and even top stars have ventured into producing content for these digital giants. Thankfully, all of them are also giving breaks to new writers and film makers and some exceptionally talented actors.

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There are some endemic problems which still linger. Paucity of screens and over production make it unviable for smaller, especially independent films to get a release. The obsession with big screen in an age where 80 per cent of all content is watched on TV and increasingly online is rather an archaic approach. It is estimated that half the world will watch content on handheld devices by 2025. With a multitude of leisure alternatives films, including those made by Bollywood, have to compete with texting, social media, gaming, sport, live events, streaming audio and video, adventure and even travel and dining out.

Writing largely still remains a weak link and is invariably derivative and mediocre. We need a more energetic and creative fraternity which is willing to experiment and is willing to move to newer platforms. This obsession with the big screen has to end. A few hundred cineastes and critics hung over on purity of cinema cannot let opportunities drift away. Film making is ultimately about storytelling and an audience. Why should screen size be a limitation? A new mindset is what is most required in the Indian film industry, particularly Bollywood. We can, in the next five years, double the size of the filmed entertainment Industry to $6 billion per year. (IANS)