Bring the Kalash to Ladakh!


This was something that was suggested on Twitter (or emerged out of a discussion on Twitter): why can’t the Kalash have the option of relocating to Ladakh? It’s not that different of an ecosystem, and there would be less cultural pressure to change and/or threat of assimilation.

The Indian government imposes a no-contact policy for the Sentinelese for the sake of their cultural and biological integrity (they would probably die of disease). I’m not proposing this for the Kalash, but at least bringing them to Ladakh would prevent the imminent threat of assimilation, though the individual appeal of Delhi would still be there.

There’s a lot of anger from Hindu nationalists online. Often toward Muslims. I get the reasons. But this is something that is constructive and positive. The Kalash are not a fossil race. But they preserve something that is unique and soon to be lost to the world.

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37 Replies to “Bring the Kalash to Ladakh!”

  1. Don’t underestimate attachment to ancestral land. They will be foreign refugees in ladakh.

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  2. I think these posts on Kalash are erroneously painting a picture of Kalash as a victimized community. This is 21st century. I am sure a substantial number of Kalash carry smartphones and use Internet. Some of them are probably reading this blog 🙂

    Ultimately it is up to them to preserve their culture. If they are not interested, nobody can save it. No amount of relocation will help.

    As I stated in a previous comment, it is simply peer pressure. As long as they think that the surrounding culture is a superior culture, they will assimilate. Indian Americans kids lose Hindu culture in America, Bangladeshi Americans kids turn atheists in america. Kalash lose their religion in Muslim majority country. Simple.

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    1. Its been amusing to watch this topic unfold in the comments.

      No indication that forced conversions are occurring at any significant rate, yet the simple act of people converting to Islam in South-Asia draws cries of “forced-conversion” and “religious persecution”. This hysteria is seen in India as well (usually in relation to Hindu girls converting for marriage to Muslim men).

      I’m not sure why this is. Perhaps because Hinduism is a faith that while resilient, rarely attracts converts, so the very idea of religious switching is heavily stigmatized as its an otherwise losing endeavor for Hindus (and win for Muslims).

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      1. Also I’m going to have to call bullshit on your claim about the comments sections. I Ctrl+F’d through the comment threads and aside from the website hosts, there was literally one dude (Karan) who commented on forced conversion, but that was in the context of a counterfactual Kashmir scenario where it accedes to Pakistan, not the Kalash in particular (who aren’t even in Kashmir).

        I honestly think you’re just looking to pick fights with people.

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  3. “why can’t the Kalash have the option of relocating to Ladakh?”

    You underestimate how legally difficult it is for Pakistani, or Bangladeshi religious minorities who are being persecuted to obtain citizenship in India.

    BJP government failed to pass a citizenship amendment bill to make the process easier:

    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-47226858

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    1. “BJP government failed to pass a citizenship amendment bill to make the process easier”

      The BJP has covered its bases ,it has allowed the N-Indian states (its core base)to allow for granting of citizenship. The bill was stalled due to whole Assam-Bangladesh issue, so BJP did what it does best, “activate” the bill without even pushing the bill. 😛

      https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/government-approves-granting-citizenship-to-minorities-from-neighbouring-countries/story-A3cgccnlk1TDEHle0XZ4LM.html

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  4. i wholly agree with this proposal. Bring some 20000 Kalash to India would not cause any upheaval. Main problem would come from Pakistani government and it’s Jhadis. Jihadis because they are losing their prey ; Pak govt because it gives them bad international press.

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  5. For what it is worth, the relocations and migrations that have caused great distress in history have involved hundreds of thousands or millions of people. With the Kalash, we are talking 20,000 people plus or minus, or less. The demographic impact on the destination wouldn’t be all that much different than the impact of migration to an area from the opening of a new factory or a new mine for minerals or opening a new university or a new hospital complex or an army base.

    Also negative responses to refugees are usually driven by fear of the refugees and by fear that they will transform the local’s culture and undermine their power.

    But, in this case, the small absolute numbers and the fact that the locals would know that after the first wave that there will be no significant follow on migration, would help make it much less frightening.

    So would the fact that, unlike the usual refugees these migrants would not arrive penniless and utterly dependent upon the charity of the locals for survival, the Kalash would be in more or less the same material state as they were when they left their homeland and more or less self-sufficient.

    So would the fact that as a more or less isolated community they wouldn’t be competing strongly with the locals for jobs or spouses or government offices.

    As an analogy there were waves of Amish migration in American history resulting in the establishment for various Amish settlements in the U.S., has produced communities that have never had very intense conflict with their neighbors or been the source of major strife, although there have been tensions just as there are any time two unlike communities are neighbors (e.g. the classic town-gown conflicts in college towns).

    They are a thorn in the side of Pakistan because it identifies itself as a specifically Islamic state and there is a lot of baggage in Islamic doctrine about heathens which the Kalish clearly are (they can’t, for example, be considered People of the Book). But, in religiously pluralistic India, this is not an issue.

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  6. So bring over the Kalash, so the Islamic Republic of Pakistan can continue to get rid of its minority populations? What % of West Pakistan was non-Islamic in 1947 and what what is this % now?

    Why isn’t somebody suggesting that Pakistan be sanctioned for committing cultural genocide on the Kalash? Why are there no boycotts of Pakistan? Why is there no trade embargo?

    Where are the so called liberals of Pakistan who should be agitating for human rights of the Kalash and other minorities?

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    1. This is absurd West Pakistan’s non Muslim population should be dated from 1948 post the Punjab exchange. But yes the cleansing of Sindh’s Hindu elite was unforgivable

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