September 14, 2008

Democracy's promise

I think they confused "seven" and "eight", but nevertheless. The current Tehelka (issue of Sept 20) has my article on Kashmir. (It's an edited and shortened version of this one).

Your thoughts welcome.


Rahul Siddharthan said...

I think what you say would have worked in the 1970s. I remember reading an article (I forget the author, but it was someone influential and well-versed with Kashmir) who said that, at that time, the sentiment in Kashmir was rather anti-Pakistan, because of the violence they had inflicted on fellow-Muslims in Bangladesh. If India and in particular Indira had had the guts to seize the moment, the issue could have been settled forever. Not only did Indira let the moment pass, but she chose to play dirty politics in the state in the 1980s, which led directly to the insurgency. Today, from what I read elsewhere, the population is so alienated that I doubt two years would be enough to turn them around. No matter how much of a basket case Pakistan is and how much it stifles democracy in "azad" Kashmir, they'd rather go with them.

If it weren't for the Hindu population I would say trifurcate the state and let the valley go, if that's what they want. But the issue of the Kashmiri Hindus who were driven out must be settled.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Rahul, I spent a fair amount of time in Kashmir four years ago, speaking to (I think) a reasonable cross-section of people -- from influential leaders to journalists to guys who ran small shops. The impression I got had two facets:

1) Many people spoke very easily about azadi.

2) While they were turned off by both countries, by and large people were rather more turned off by Pakistan.

I also spent a fair amount of time in Kashmiri Hindu (Pandit) camps in Jammu and Delhi, and there I sensed, sadly, a reasonable amount of disillusionment with India and the Indians around those camps. (Who were surprisingly hostile, but that's another story).

The usual disclaimers about generalizations should apply, but all that's what I based this article on.

Rahul Siddharthan said...

Dilip - you mean the Indians around the Pandit camps in Jammu and Delhi were "surprisingly hostile"? To the refugees?

As you say, surprising.

I am not surprised that they speak easily about azadi, even if they realise it's "easier said than done". The only way azadi would work would be via an Andorra model, but J&K is much larger than Andorra and there is much more hostility on all sides.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Rahul: yep. For example, see this that I wrote at the time: Imagined Communities.

The Unadorned said...

I wonder if that prescription is only for Kashmir....or for other regions and communal groups too, say.... I should not articulate my doubt in so many words...but still...

Thanks anyways, Dilip.


Rahul Siddharthan said...

Thanks for the Tehelka article, I seem to have missed it. Astonishing, and sad. Apathy I understand, and I believe we are all guilty of that at one time or another, but hostility is something else.