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 Laying down the ground rules.

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PostSubject: Laying down the ground rules.   Wed Sep 17, 2008 11:01 pm

Dear members and contributors to this forum. It appears that we need to have some ground rules for a dialog to move further. Otherwise we'll just be going around in circles arguing on points that make us look as though we are bickering rather than having a dialog.

Any ideas on what the ground rules should be hence forth?
The reason is that any comment not fitting those rules will be moved on to another thread so as not to impede the flow of the discussion.

I need two sets of ground rules; one from the Indian side and one set of rules from the Kashmiri side. Then we can come to a consensus on which rules to apply to this thread. (no comments will be deleted, but those that do not fit within the agreed ground rules for this thread would rather be moved to anotherr thread )

here are some suggestions..

From the Kashmiri side: (just an example but as more suggestions are recieved we can add them)
The following will not be used by the indians as they impede a meaningful dialog
-The argument that "....kashmiris should pack their bags and move to pakistan"
-Kashmiris are incapable of deciding for themselves whether independence is good for them..
-kashmiris will not be able to sustain themselves as an independent nation hence they should stay with india..

From the indian side:(just an example but as more suggestions are recieved we can add them)
following will not be used by kashmiris
-India's economy / povverty
-hindutva agents etc
i am looking forward for more suggestions


Last edited by Admin on Thu Sep 18, 2008 11:00 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Jehangir
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PostSubject: Ground Rules   Thu Sep 18, 2008 5:13 pm

It is a good suggesion but will it really stop the emotions that have been pent up for so long from pouring out. A post may have something meaningful and something mean in it at the same time. What will you do at that time
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Chinaar
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PostSubject: Ground rules   Thu Sep 18, 2008 11:03 pm

Although your attempt at ground rules is worth the effort however it will be extremely difficult to gauge a discussion.

One thing that you can definitely employ is to prohibit opinions going on a tangent....I mean don't let writers hijack a post. For example if a post is about Indian brutality in Kashmir, it should discuss just that and not Operation Sadhbhavna.....we can have that as a thread some other time and discuss the pros of being with India with quantifiable evidence on ground.
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LiberalM
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PostSubject: Re: Laying down the ground rules   Fri Sep 19, 2008 12:12 am

Admin,

I hope it works. One of the things that has turned me off (I speak for myself) is just the insane amount of anti-India rhetoric. There is no give-and-take, there is no agreements and disagreements, there is no accept-and-rejects, no compromises on positions, no nuances, no subtleties - just rhetoric and slogans that any reasonable person anywhere would have a hard time going through and countering.

Take the following (unreasonable) examples that are repeatedly cited:

- india is a pseudo-democracy
India may look like a pseudo-democracy to Kashmiris but to Indians it seems to work just fine. It has its problems from time to time, but governments routinely get changed at National, State, and District levels and upsets are plenty. There are many people who oppose the government policies, there is a vibrant opposition everywhere. So it is hard for a reasonable person to call it a pseudo-democracy.

- india is pseudo-secular
Just because there are riots between Hindus and Muslims and between Hindus and Christians does not make the state pseudo-secular. It is when a government elected to protect the secular constitution chooses to look the other way and fails to protect the communities from hurting each other then one can call that that government did something very non-secular. This absolutely happened in Gujarat and like many of my compatriots I felt terrible. But most reasonable people would agree that this is more the exception than the norm and typical governments across India do try to protect people and property during communal riots whose frequency itself is on the decline. There are very very few countries (probably none) whose population is as diverse as India's is and there are bound to be problems from time to time but on the whole the secular record has been reasonably okay.

- you have killed 100,000-200,000 of our people
From a reasonable Indian's perspective, it is unreasonable to put the blame for all the deaths in Kashmir on India's shoulders. It is akin to dumping all of the first world war's 20 million casualties on the person of Gavrilo Princip. India has made a lot of political mistakes in Kashmir but most reasonable people would say that in an already troubled neighbourhood, when there is an armed insurgency, there are going to be deaths. There is no such thing as a civilized war. Militants have also killed a lot of innocent Kashmiris (Hindus, Muslims, and complete foreigners) by random grenades thrown in public places and that has to be acknowledged as well and accounted for.
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PostSubject: Re: Laying down the ground rules.   Fri Sep 19, 2008 1:00 am

@Jehangir
I am not at all suggesting that commenters self-sensor or keep a lid on their emotions. What I am suggesting is that we agree upon what statements constitute rhetoric and which statements can be considered reasonable enough to move the dialog further. Those that we agree beforehand are rhetoric (both from the Kashmiri side as well as the Indian side) will be promptly moved by moderators to other threads. I agree this is going to be hard but atleast it will give the readers an idea about what constitute valid arguments and which are just "hot air". Even if those comments are not moved, then atleast we know which ones are valid (from both sides of the table). Thanks for the suggestion Jehangir.

@Chinaar
Very good idea about preventing hijacking threads. I will try my best to prevent that and would recommend other moderators to prevent that as well.

@LiberalM
The areas you pointed out are quite valid and that is the reason I say that please suggest the rules that would be fair from your perspective. However, I would like to point out that the three statements you mentioned would be valid if a Kashmiri would be stating them. Please look at those from the viewpoint of a Kashmiri. It is true that as far as a Kashmiri is concerned he/she has limited democracy, or the Indian government actions in Kashmir are not secular or the regular killings of unarmed Kashmiris by Indian soldiers can only be blamed on the Indian soldiers and no one else. These are quite true and valid points of a debate and do not constitute rhetoric by any means. Although you might disagree, and bring forth your counter arguments, but that would make the debate move further. I would say that these constitute the crux of all the grievances that Kashmiris have.

What I am proposing here is that we agree on a framework about what constitutes rhetoric and what doesnt. Ofcourse if the members think that it would be better to keep things as they are and we'll all gradually settle down after venting our pent up anger, I would like that idea as well.

Even if we decide that no commets will be moved or moderated. Atleast we can discuss what constitues rhetoric and "hot-air". For instance some member from the Kashmiri side might think that bringing up the "trillion-dollar-economy" is rhetoric or LiberalM might suggest that calling India a pseudo-democracy is rhetoric. If we have a debate on whether these are infact rhetoric or not, then atleast we can move forward and members using these statements will be thinking twice before using them. In my opinion that might help the debate move forward to what actually matters.

Thanks again everyone.
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Anon
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PostSubject: Laying Down the Ground Rules   Fri Sep 19, 2008 2:03 am

I think we are doing just fine as it is.

If you consider the three statements from the kashmiri side as valid on any topic, then thats the common denominator, and those are the three core topics that the kashmiri side want to talk about, and thats the hijack we are talking about. Speaking for myself, I'm ok with that.
For example, If we are addressing the indian economy and somebody lists the statistics of the dead, injured, missing, orphaned etc too with the repartee to score a point, you as admin may think its a valid argumentfor the kashmiri side, I would think its hijacking the topic, and you as admin would be a very busy man!

I don't know about others, but I have thorougly enjoyed the fire here. I think it is necessary to let all the pent up energies , wherever they exist to have an outlet. I am sure that sooner or later the 'froth' will settle and saner discussions shall be possible on this forum.
regards
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LiberalM
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PostSubject: Re: Laying Down the Ground Rules   Fri Sep 19, 2008 9:16 am

Admin,

I started participating in this forum only recently so forgive me if I am speaking out of turn here.

As far I can see, there are two most vocal parties on this forum. The third party, the Pakistanis, either appear to be absent or not so vocal. Each of the two vocal parties, has a view about itself and the other, borne of experience and/or ignorance. All those views, as of today, appear to be far apart - thereby causing great rift and discord in the conversations.

One of the things that might help before we can think of laying the ground rules is to think about what the objective of this forum really is. Forgive me if this is already written up somewhere on this forum.

(1) If the objective is to simply provide a meeting place, a platform, for all the people who are interested in Kashmir issues, to discuss those issues, then I think the forum is doing just fine. There will be significant verbal duels but overall the objective will be met. As anon pointed out once the venting is done, the more reasonable discussions can begin. I hope that happens, and that this doesn't become another way of continuing the war in cyberspace.

(2) If the objective is to promote understanding between the two most vocal parties, then the ground rules would have to be changed to generally try to stay away from discord causing behaviour and statements.

(3) If the objective is to come to some sort of compromise or agreement between the positions of the two most vocal parties, then the ground rules would have to be changed to not just stay away from from discord causing behaviour but to actively try to seek a middle path, a common ground between the two positions.

The wounds in Kashmir are so fresh, the gap between the perspectives of the two most vocal parties is so vast, that doing just (1) right now is a challenging task. Hopefully, in between the intense verbal fights, there will be occasional moments for some understanding (like this one).
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Anon
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PostSubject: @LiberalM   Fri Sep 19, 2008 2:31 pm

That is well said.
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~T
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PostSubject: @LiberalM   Fri Sep 19, 2008 3:10 pm

I'd second that too.
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Jehangir
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PostSubject: @liberalM   Fri Sep 19, 2008 4:37 pm

Excellent observations. You have spelt it out nicely. I also feel that the heat will die down after some time. Both the parties have to cool down and it will take time (Except for some thick skinned people). This forum is exactly reflecting what was happening on various discussions in the media coz the wounds are deep and very tender at this moment.
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PostSubject: Re: Laying down the ground rules.   Fri Sep 19, 2008 10:52 pm

Thanks everyone for the feedback.

Then it has been decided that we will let the debates steer themselves. So far they have been largely very informative and have definitely broken the ice.

The purpose of this forum is everything and any one of the reasons LiberalM listed. One thing is for sure that had Kashmir been peaceful and there would be no conflict here, we would not have this forum. The underlying reason therefore is to foster dialogue between us so we understand each other's views better and maybe get a better understanding of ground realities.

One more thing LiberalM mentioned is that Pakistan's views are missing from the debates here. My good friend, Koshur, of the 'Kashmir truth be told blog' is currently writing his next post on this topic - whether Pakistan is really the enemy that India is projecting it to be, or is it just being maligned by India to divert attention (Chinaar's thread on the 4 point formula by Musharraf is a good example). That would be an interesting read. If anyone wants to start a thread about that, you are most welcomed to do that. I am sure Koshur would start that once he has posted that article on his blog. So we could wait till Koshur's article is posted, or if someone wants to have their say before that, please feel free to start that thread.

Thanks again.
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