Wednesday, June 22, 2005

No Autonomy For Kashmir -- Redux

We'd recently strongly opposed the idea of Kashmiri autonomy in the context of a Gaurav Sabnis blogpost. He has pushed the debate forward by making two powerful points:

One, any autonomy discussion is a climb-down from the maximalist idea of "azadi" on part of Pakistan & Hurriyat. Thus, as a status-quo power, India (& Indian realists) should be pleased.

Two, Kashmiri autonomy is consistent with the overarching idea of greater Indian federalism, which hopefully most sensible Indians support.

Gaurav is right in that the idea of Kashmiri azadi is dead, and India does favor status-quo. We happen to think that the azadi idea was bogus to start with, hence India owes nothing to Pakistan or Hurriyat for this worthless concession. Any discussion of autonomy would be paying our foes for nothing. Besides, autonomy is hardly the status-quo, is it?

We do support more federalism over less, but are not sold on Gaurav's notion of the Center doing just foreign policy & defense -- leaving the rest to states. In many Indian states with strategic significance, people consider themselves reluctant Indians to this day. We obviously need to do a better job selling them on India, and centrifugal autonomy is not the place to start.

Besides, if Kashmiri autonomy were being discussed in the context of broad federalist reforms, it would be one thing. Here, the context is negotiations to end a war India is winning. To concede autonomy in this context is poor negotiating; it's unnecessary and dangerous. To bring up the tangential idea of federalism here makes little sense.

1 comment:

doubtinggaurav said...

I totally agree on this issue.
While it is true that we need more of a federal structure, the framework that Gaurav(Sabnis not me) suggests is inherently fragile for precisely the reason you put.
Not only in North East and J&K, we have seen ridiculous demands for seperation in Punjab and Taminadu also (that was way back in 50's and 60's).
Already it has been rightly noted with concern states and persons holding gubernatorial posts in states tendency to act in contravention of constitution under present regime, I shudder to think the results in a arrangement suggested by Sabnis


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