Difficult task: Peace concert in Kashmir

press conference

ambassador Michael Steiner (m) after the press conference

Zubin Mehta and the Bayerische Staatsorchester (Bavarian State Orchestra) will give a peace concert in the crisis-ridden Indian part of the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir. I’m really curious what kind of people are going to comprise the audience, especially if, how the german embassador to India, Michael Steiner, put it, “people from all walks of life” are going to come.

One of my concerns is: What they will do if there is a bandh, meaning a complete curfew, as there are so many on so many days in Srinagar? Will the orchestra still play in the Shalimar Bagh, Mughal Gardens, with hardly anyone listening as travelling on the streets might be impossible?

Other questions also arise. According to the official statement, Steiner said (he actually didn’t read it out this way, but anyway): “Music is a universal language. Music connects. With the magic power of music, crossing geographical, political and cultural borders.” But what kind of boarders – can this music actually cross the India-Pakistan border, when people can hardly get to the other side? Will the normal, “all walks of life” people from Pakistan really be allowed to come over for the concert?

For me there is also the problem of how to cover the event. I’m not capable at all to write about the musical skills when listening to the works of Beethoven, Haydn and Tchaikovsky. So do I focus on the conflict between the nuclear-armed South Asian rivals, who have fought two of three wars over Kashmir since gaining independence from Britain in 1947? Or the communal and religious tensions in the Indian part, which over and over again turn into violence?

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