Saturday, June 18, 2005

Opposing Autonomy For Kashmir

Via India Uncut, we read Gaurav Sabnis' generally reasonable evaluation of the recent Hurriyat visit to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. However we disagree sharply with his following observation:

The Hurriyat fellows also ended up supporting [Pervez] Musharraf's "Kashmir Formula of the Week", which this week happens to suggest autonomy sans independence, something India would willingly love to talk about. So we also saw the Hurriyat, for the first time, even if tacitly, letting go of the 'Azaadi' concept.

India would love to talk about Kashmiri autonomy sans independence with this enlightened moderate, would it? We sure hope not.

Ultimately, no matter how it's described, this autonomy will clearly delineate an Islamic state within a secular India. As secular Indians, we fear this as a trojan horse designed to wreck whatever secularism remains after our years of saffron assault & liberal whimpering. By conceding the notion of a privileged state -- whose privilege derives from religious differences -- India risks substituting the current uncivil cold war in Kashmir with a hot civil war in the rest of India.

This civil war is what India's enemies have long predicted. It will represent a strategic defeat worse than, for example, Japan at Hiroshima. How is it then that even sensible Indians talk so casually about this horrible miscalculation being thrust on us by our mind-numbingly myopic polity?


Gaurav said...

Firstly, I said the Indian government would love to "talk" about autonomy, not grant it. Considering the maximalist position that Pakistan and the Kashmiri terrorists have held for years, a willingness to talk about autonomy is a major step-down for Pakistn and a major win for India.

If you are a realist like I am, you will agree that getting back PoK is an option which is neither viable nor very desirable. So you will agree that w.r.t the Kashmir issue, we are status-quo-ist. To put it bluntly, being status quo-ist entails sidestepping the issue until it cools down. From that point of view, all parties "talking" about autonomy rather than kill hordes asking for freedom is something a status-quo-ist would love.

Gaurav said...

Secondly, what is wrong with autonomy? Do you believe in strong central government or a federation of states? I believe one of the main problems with our current set up is that many decisions which should be left to state governments are being taken in Delhi, many decisions which should be taken in municipal corporations are being taken in state capitals and so on.

The Congress rubbished the Cabinet Mission Plan of 1946 though Jinnah accepted it. Post-1937, Jinnah's life was full of mistakes, but this was a rare correct decision her took. Unfortunately the statist Congress rejected it.

I wish the Congress had accepted the Cabinet Mission Plan, with the Central Government in charge only of defence and foreign affairs. What about you?

Manu said...

Gaurav - Indian polity is not as federated as you'd like for a reason. In the 40s many intellectuals wrote off India as a nation that will last because of it's multiple fault lines. One way of keeping this flock of varied interests together was to keep a federated structure that gave more authority to the central govt. Hence...

Western intellectuals to date are far more comfortable with the idea of ethnicity being the basis of a country. Hence, there willing concern for Kashmiris. It just makes sense to them and fits in their world-view.

India is not a country that has a simplistic basis for a nation (like ethnicity). There is no other nation as diverse as ours except perhaps USA, but US citizens are primarily citizens "by choice".

Btw - I don't like the idea of autonomy because it creates downstream pain for everyone. They already have it.


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