Ever since I have taken interest in Indian politics, the approach of the Indian government to the Kashmir problem has been similar to the guy who keeps on pressing the elevator button again and again, expecting that the elevator will pick up on his urgency and hurtle down to take him up. The Indian governments have engaged in “talks”, often using “PR representatives of secessionists” also known as interlocutors, and our wise men keep on telling us that we need to keep talking, about what I do not understand. This has led to the growth of a Kashmiri political class, who have, to use an old Wren and Martism, hunted with the hounds and run with the hare. They have benefited personally from such “talks” by playing both sides. However they have, over the decades, proven useless in addressing any of the core problems. As a matter of fact, they have made it worse.
Now as Article 370 stands dismantled effectively, despite still being on the books, two things are certain. One is that the business model of the political interlocutors has been disrupted. And two is that there will be immense outrage on social media. In order to prevent myself from having to say the same thing multiple times, I have compiled here a frequently yet unanswered but definitely will be answered questions, as the waves of outrage dash against my social media feeds.
1. Why not plebiscite?
Answer: Plebiscite is not for Article 370 but for annexation to Pakistan. The plebiscite, promised by once by Chacha Nehru (Greatness be unto him), could only be done, as per T&C, if Pakistan withdrew their troops totally and then India did, just keeping that part necessary to maintain order. Since the preconditions of Pakistan withdrawing from PoK will never happen, neither will the plebiscite. There is also that little moral problem I have that you do not get to do a plebiscite after demographic change, after communally picking out Hindu pandits and ejecting them from their homeland. Any plebiscite is rigged by default.
2. Why not discuss the “abrogation” of Article 370 with the people of Kashmir?
Answer: In other words, talks. Now, legislation is not done through SMS polls (unless you are the AAP government in Delhi). There is, unfortunately, no formal avenue for discussion with the people of Kashmir, other than elections. The way I look at it, the democratically elected government of India, which has an overwhelming mandate, twice in two elections, has implemented one of their fundamental election planks. They did not spring a surprise like demonetization for which truly they had no mandate. The power of abrogation of 370 comes to the current government from the people of India, Kashmir included, through our democratic institutions. You may say “this fascist Hitler is not my leader”, but unfortunately this is the way democracy works. Sorry.
3. Oh screw this all, you know as well as I know the people of Kashmir dont want to be with India. Why not just let them decide their own fate?
Answer: If you believe that an Islamic fundamentalist movement should be allowed to establish an Islamic theocracy after the genocide of minority Hindus just because they want to (as a point just listen to Geelani’s latest video to understand what the basis of their “Freedom struggle is” is in case you think I am a Hindu lying fascist), I hope you will be consistent when in some Pradesh, under the leadership of some Yogi, they want to throw out their minority of Muslims and establish their own Hindu theocracy, Harshavardhan-sthaan or Prayaag-super-raaj or whatever with the cow as their national animal. Something tells me you won’t be. But if you do, I understand and accept your opinion, while disagreeing with it.
As for me, I find all religious theocracies, Muslim and Hindu, fundamentally abhorrent, and the idea of India, if such a thing exists, is to make sure that religion does not define politics. Any religion. Yes including mine.
The door to forming countries on the basis of religion closed on August 15, 1947. If you open the portal again, then there is no telling what will come through.
4. Will this help the people of Kashmir?
Answer: The good people of Kashmir have been held hostage by a leadership class that consists of fundamentally honest religious fundamentalists and opportunists who are out for power and money. Talks with them or through them will not lead to any new outcomes. If there will be any solution to Kashmir, it has to be economic prosperity, people will be so busy making money that they wont have time for religious madness. As a friend pointed out, we want to become like the US when no one wants to split, and states like Puerto Rico desperately want to join. With the broker families and their enablers being short-circuited and ultimately made redundant, the benefits of India’s progress will go direct to the people, as they do to all other states. And with the bifurcation, it allows for development of Ladakh, a 70% Buddhist by population, environmentally sensitive part of the country, which has long claimed step-motherly treatment from the state government at Jammu and Kashmir.
Will the abrogation of Article 370 solve the problem? Will this bring jobs and prosperity to this desperately poor part of the country?
I do not know, but it is worth a try. Because we have been “talking” for decades, and there has been very little to show for it. The only realistic other solution is independence of Kashmir or accession to Pakistan, or more precisely the independence of Kashmir and then accession to Pakistan, and if you do not think that is the way out, well, this is the only other way.
20 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on Article 370’s Demise”
Don’t agree with the plebiscite analysis. Even if the Pandits were not physically in the state, they could be eligible for voting. Brexit is a precedent, NRIs coming back and voting is a precedent. I always believed 35A especially was illegal, 370 problematic. Either way, it is the unilateral nature of so many BJP decisions, including this, that doesn’t win them any favours. They are thoughtless in action.
Read the requirements for plebiscite *facepalm*
Read my comment properly Satwik. Don’t go facepalming like a know-it-all. My response is to the unresolved emotions with the genocide of the Kashmiri Pandits, and that it will negatively impact if at all there were a plebiscite. GB’s first point about the plebiscite getting rigged due to change in demographics is not a point of worry, given the precedents I have stated in my comment.
Something had to be done to solve this Nehru created problem. Another not widely known fact is most Indian Muslims, especially Muslims in South India, have no affinity with Kashmiri Muslims. They are seen as demanding to be treated as a special class.
Arnab, The decision may well be a good one, but optics matter. Justice done and seen to be done, etc. Could have been done after consultation for 6 months or even 3. Like you say, such consultation may not have yielded any results, and the government could have then gone ahead with the same majority but with much greater legitimacy. This bulldozing manner will always be more contentious, and does not set a good precedent.
Yes, optics matters, and the optics has been carefully planned by top strategists hired from around the world. The strategy with bills and amendments has been very competent and almost a pleasure to watch. As with demonetization and Aadhaar, the intended optics here is one of State Potency. The Indian State was habitually considered impotent, and it is a key goal of BJP to change that through a series of ever more bolder and audacious moves toward the one-party China model. Some other examples are the wrestling of power and autonomy away from CBI and RBI. The worth or returns from each such move is minor detail and will never be investigated given the state of the press and scholarship and data quality. Indians should be prepared for several more of such shock and awe in coming years.
Consultation was not done when Article 370 and 35A was put in place back in the 50s. In fact, there was overwhelming opinion against it from Dr.Ambedkar and other framers of the Constitution. However, Nehru went against the advice of everyone and persuaded Dr.Rajendra Prasad, the then President of India, to sign these articles…these were promulgated via a Presidential order and were never ratified as an Act by the Parliament… therefore no consultation required now.
As an aside, Consultation has actually happened and the results are known to all.. people just pretend as if it is otherwise. Jammu is overwhelmingly in favour of it. The displaced Pandit community is overwhelmingly in favour of it. Ditto for Ladakh (do watch the Parliamentary speech of its young MP, just mind-boggling). The only people who are unhappy (and would continue to be so no matter how much you “consult” them are from the 5 districts of the valley which are officially known as disturbed. The fate of the whole of Kashmir cannot be held hostage to these 5 districts for ever.
I don’t dispute the claim that 370 was legislation and was done undemocratically. But two wrongs don’t make a right. Btw, it was the pandits who were the prime architects of 35A for their own political interests at the time.
Whether the majority of people outside the 5 districts are in favour or not, time will tell. I seriously doubt this move will solve the Kashmir problem at all, although I do hope it does. If it at least brings something positive for Jammu and Ladakh, that will be some comfort.
That 370 was a bad legislation, I meant in the first sentence.
“Justice” ? Justice is the domain of the judiciary and not that of either the legislative or executive. And who is justice due to ?
Losing a temporary special arrangement is not loss of justice. Certainly not after 3 generations and vastly differently demographic and geopolitical circumstances. By all means, prove otherwise.
Jammu and Kashmir was a state of India. Their own erstwhile constitution stated so. Their own constitution afforded the Government of India the ability to reconstitute the terms of engagement with them as required. That’s exactly what was done.
excellent article. should go viral. hope everyone reads and shares it.
Modi Uncle is not able to improve India’s economic prosperity, how is he promising this to Kashmiri youths? Once again, just empty words
Suddenly everyone including leftists cares about the economy.
Suddenly you are listening to leftists now. Buddy, as an individual or as a group, decisions/policies will be a mixture of the left or the right. Let us stop seeing things as binary. Humans/society are complex – hopefully civilians can be all one instead of boxing each other under labels!
Article 370 was used by the elite Muslims-seperatist Nexus to rob the dalits, women and sexual minorities of their legitimate rights. Article 370 was also used against the west-pakistan refugees, tribals, gujjar-bakarwal-pahari-balti-ladakhi and many others to render them voiceless and invisible.
Justice is not the domain of the judiciary alone. All human beings and indeed all democratically elected governments are expected to act in a just manner.
Their constitution and ours allowed the President of India i.e. the government of India, to reconstitute the relationship on the recommendation of the elected representatives of the people of Kashmir. Since the will of the elected representatives of Kashmir was not sought, this cannot be considered a just decision.
Know what? The elected representatives or the people who had elected them uttered not a single syllable when 5.5 lakh Pundits were ousted literally overnight and deprived of the their dignity and livelihood in the refugee camps or Jammu for 3 generations now. Having failed to speak up then, they have forfeited their claim to being consulted in the future. You cannot suddenly remember the virtues of consultation and consensus when it suits you
The elected representatives were wrong then, they are wrong now. Two wrongs do not make a right.
It’s not two wrongs, dear Sir. It is a litany of wrongs, followed by a right. It started with conceding 33 percent of territory to Pakistan in 1947 for no good reason than the fact that the writ of Abdullah did not run beyond the valley and so he could never win elections anywhere else…hence forced Nehru to concede POK.
Then came the J& K constitution, in 1957 but article 35A applied with retrospective effect from 1944. Why? Read up history!!
Everyone knows this history. There were many mistakes made in Kashmir. Again, that doesn’t make an undemocratic decision made now, right.
Just as importantly, what is the point of this decision. Instead of solving the insurgency problem, this decision will probably make it worse. I sincerely hope I am wrong about this and we actually get peace there, but I find that very unlikely.
The only silver lining is that Ladakh hopefully will see the benefit of being separated from Kashmir.