|Politicians & Literature|
Yasin Malik | 49 | Jammu & Kashmir
Chairman, Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front
IN A CONFLICT zone like Kashmir, reading becomes all the more important to understand the social and political environment. But you will find more medical shops than bookstores in the Valley. And since corruption and nepotism are rampant in the state, our youth do not feel reading can help them get jobs. This is where leaders have to step in and encourage the people to read.
As a child, I remember reading about Djamila Bouhired, an Algerian woman who became the face of the movement against colonial France. It also helped me relate to what was happening in Kashmir. Reading about Martin Luther King, MK Gandhi and Nelson Mandela was inspiring. Mandela showed enormous moral strength while waging a war against racial discrimination in South Africa. He brought terms like ‘truth’ and ‘reconciliation’ into the political vocabulary; a reason why reading his biography opens the door to a world of possibilities. Reading Gandhi helped me understand the implications of his politics. I real ised that for him, hunger strike was a weapon, one he used to voice his disapproval of the brutal killings of Muslims and influence the Indian Nati onal Congress to release the money the country owed to Pakistan.
These days, I am reading almost every single day. Right now, I have three books to finish — Zaki Chehab’s Inside Hamas: The Untold Story of the Militant Islamic Movement on the emergence of Hamas in Palestine, IF Stone’s The Trial of Socrates on the dialogue that took place when Socrates’ trial was being conducted, and the 9/11 Commission Report, which talks about what happened prior to and after the 9/11 attacks. Though I maintain that reading is a good exercise, I didn’t like Khushwant Singh’s The Company of Women. I know Singh loves to shock. I was shocked, but quite differently than what I had imagined.