The Treaty of Amritsar, between the East India Company and the Dogra ruler, Raja Gulab Singh on 16 March 1846 was a watershed, for it not only created the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir under the suzerainty of the British Indian Empire, it also virtually defined the southern, eastern and western boundaries of a new political creation that elevated the Dogras into being the key players controlling northern India.
Given the nature of the terrain, the Indo-Tibet boundary was always going to be a problem. Apart from its vastness—extending from the Karakorams in the west to the area beyond the Lohit River in the east—the actual demarcation could never be done.
His fighting credentials apart, Gulab Singh’s overall grasp of the strategic situation in northern India at that time was quite extraordinary.
A recap of major events during the early period extending from Ashoka to Ranjit Singh helps us to understand the region and the importance of modern day frontiers better.
A hundred years have passed since the diabolical plan to split India was first conceived and tabled, and yet successive generations in both India and Pakistan, and in Kashmir, have failed to see the truth for what it is.
For those who watched the oath taking ceremony in the Lok Sabha recently, there was some great learning to ponder. The lesson questions the very basis of politics of linguistic chauvinism, and in the larger perspective the hackneyed ‘unity in diversity’ argument. If one were to intently hear the oath uttered by different Members, there was no feeling of any primal difference in Hindi, Bengali, Gurumukhi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Malayalam, Maithli, and the mother of all these languages Sanskrit. There were members, who opted for the Urdu language, which to the ears and sensibilities was nothing but Hindi. Urdu language acquires sectarian and communal colours only when some people insist on Arabic script as the medium of its propagation.