The debate apart, but let’s side with the truth…
Even ahead of conducting his music show Zubin Mehta has practically entered into the mind and psyche of almost every Kashmiri, making his show a raging controversy within Kashmir. Zubin phobia is everywhere! Every newspaper in the valley is giving too much importance to Zubin and his intended musical show at historic Shalimar garden on the banks of Dal Lake. I have watched several of Zubin Mehta shows on television some decades earlier when he was a much energetic conductor directing ensemble of musicians of his orchestra in a distinctive style of his own. The Indian born Parsi now in his late seventies may have lost some of his vibrancy with advancing age but his charisma rules the vast canvas of the Western classical music. I am not an expert on Western classical music but the way Zubin wields his baton and energy within Zubin passes on to his orchestra is the unique style of Zubin as director and conductor.
Let us not go into the complex issue of intentions of German embassy in conducting the Zubin show in Kashmir because a lot has been said and written on this controversial issue. Most of the people and other stake holders oppose this show giving a reason of belittling the internationally acclaimed disputed status of Jammu and Kashmir. Personally I am neither in favor of this show nor against conducting such extravagant concerts because in a region where poverty, corruption, hunger and fundamental right of common man are compromised and not given due consideration and attention a concert of energetic Zubin and his baton cannot prove any guiding force or a magic wand giving solace to the exploited lot. But yes, Zubin and his prospective show have brought two evident changes; one for the worst and the other a momentary respite from neglect and official apathy. The worst part of the show is modifying basic elements of elegance within Shalimar garden to the level of vandalizing just to accommodate the Zubin and his pampered entourage. This over-enthusiasm on part of the organizers and other agencies is criminal and can do irreversible damage to this historic cluster of landscape and architecture. Equating Shalimar garden and Zubin show with musical concert at Sydney opera can be a fascinating sycophantic exaggeration but in reality it is a foolish equation where history and heritage is put on the profit-making scale. The positive part of the coming Zubin show is that almost whole of the Shalimar garden vicinity, the boulevard and the visible parts of the Dal Lake got a much required facelift. Normally such favors are showered only when head of the state or some very important dignitary visits Kashmir, particularly the Srinagar city. It is first time that the canal connecting Shalimar garden with Dal Lake has not only been cleaned but the surroundings have been given a facelift. Cosmetic cleaning of Dal on its periphery along the boulevard, white washing, and other civil works of cosmetic nature is going on in full swing. Thanks to Zubin Mehta and his orchestra that has brought the ailing administration out of slumber. If I am not singled out for criticism I wish Zubin and his ilk should visit the valley very often so that poor Kashmiris can get some relief from neglect and unfair behavior of our administration.
We all know from Srinagar down to New Delhi Zubin show is now an issue of ego and prestige and no ‘sarkaar’ either in Delhi or Srinagar can afford to abandon this idea of absurdity that can neither help in attracting tourists and douse the fire of unemployment and economic backwardness nor will it affect the much deeper wound of Kashmir conflict. But yes, it will help in giving some political fodder to the ‘king-size’ ego of political leaders of all shades who are heal bent to get maximum political mileage and create political hills out of petty moles of disagreement. This world of uncertainty and the situation we are in at present reminds me of my childhood lesson—‘Men may come and men may go but I go on forever….’. So Zubin concert and such shows will go on but we as the real men should side logic and stand only for truth, that too upfront.