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Blasphemy no more?

Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar's view on Kashmir most closely resembles my own. Honestly, I did not think a day would come so soon when I would see such an editorial in a mainstream newspaper. I do not like the idea of Kashmiri independence (because I think it would be better for both us and them to remain together), but I support a people's right to self-determination. But I wonder what effect independence would have on Hindu nationalism in India, and am certain that it would make Kashmir more theocratic.

ETA: This reminds me a little bit of what the Dalai lama had to say about Tibetan independence from China. He said in an interview that if Tibet were to become independent, it would still have China for a neighbour, and would need to have a friendly relationship with China. Which is why he wants the freedom struggle to be non-violent. I think there is a lesson for Kashmir here. If Kashmiris choose independence (if and when they are given the choice), it would be best for them to convince the Indian people first of the justness of their cause. You might even say that they could not achieve independence without doing that. The anger and irrationality they have displayed over the Shrine land row is not helping their cause.

ETA2: dubaiwalla points out Vir Sanghvi agrees with Swami.

Comments

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
foot_notes
Aug. 18th, 2008 04:51 am (UTC)
I too have held the opinion on Kashmir that must have its right for self-determination. Sure. But what happens with other states in the Union then? TN way back in '50s itself wanted to part its ways with India. The moment you give that right to Kashmiris all the North-Eastern states too shall demand the same. Would the Union Government be willing to do that? And, how many States would ACTUALLY want to stay with India?

I COMPLETELY agree with your quoting the Dalai Lama. Kashmir has become the problem it is because of the violence. Cross-border or native or otherwise. And, even if self-determination is allowed, this is NOT the time to do it. Having studied the Kashmir problem in depth and having interacted with Kashmiris to a great extent, I still am NOT for independence right now. May be when things settle down - the present issues.

fugney
Aug. 18th, 2008 06:11 am (UTC)
>>But what happens with other states in the Union then? <<

Yes, that is a complicated question. I do not subscribe to the dogmatic notion that India's political map must remain unchanged in the name of "national unity", but I do think that given the right circumstances, the people in these states would reconsider integrating with India. Independence makes even less sense for these states than it does for Kashmir. But I am against ruling anyone against their will. Besides, I'm not certain if the demand for independence in these states is as strong as it is in Kashmir. If it is, I think these people have had decades to consider. If they have made up their minds, it's time to let them go too.

Or perhaps, we need some kind of common framework to deal with this - giving the states in question a few years to consider again, while trying to make them see that they'd still be better off with India (of which I remain convinced).

All this I say with no consideration to the right-wing backlash. That, more than anything else, makes me think of independence as a bad idea for *any* of these states. And that is the reason I think that now is not the time.

>>And, even if self-determination is allowed, this is NOT the time to do it<<

Isn't that what the British used to say about us? Though I guess I agree with you. There is too much anger now for anything good to come out of this.
foot_notes
Aug. 18th, 2008 06:24 am (UTC)
Yes, there's too much anger. And, discontent.

It does NOT matter what the British told. It matters that when things are REALLY bad one needs patience to tide over things and then make the choice when things fall in place.

Granting independence to Kashmir now will be akin to what the British did finally - leave when things were unmanageable.
fugney
Aug. 18th, 2008 06:26 am (UTC)
I agree with that completely. And I wish the Kashmiri leaders would realise that. They just seem like a bunch of wankers to me, really.
foot_notes
Aug. 18th, 2008 06:27 am (UTC)
Even according to the local populace they're a bunch of wankers. Incidentally there's complete lack of leadership in the valley right now. Each so called leader using the situation to whip up frenzy in teh name of religion, freedom, rights and what-not.
dubaiwalla
Aug. 19th, 2008 02:53 am (UTC)
All this I say with no consideration to the right-wing backlash.
I did not expect you, of all people, to be of the opinion that the VHP and its ilk should be able to hold the fate of millions of people hostage to its wankery.
fugney
Aug. 19th, 2008 04:10 am (UTC)
No, I don't think VHP & Co have the *right* to deny these states independence. I'm just saying it might be better to separate when there is less anger, once the Indian people at large have been convinced.
dubaiwalla
Aug. 19th, 2008 02:51 am (UTC)
The moment you give that right to Kashmiris all the North-Eastern states too shall demand the same. Would the Union Government be willing to do that?
I've come across this argument before, and it's always struck me as being a slippery slope.
But say it's true, and northeastern states want to secede. On what grounds is India obligated to forcefully retain control of states that do not want to be part of the union, and hold their millions of people captive?

And, how many States would ACTUALLY want to stay with India?
The vast majority. Let's not kid ourselves and suggest Gujarat and Jharkhand are going anywhere. The vast majority of the country is tied together reasonably well now in many ways, and a sense of Indian identity has successfully been built up therein.

May be when things settle down - the present issues.
If things are 'settled,' no one in Delhi is going to be talking about a plebiscite (see: 1948-1989). Hence the continual protests.
fugney
Aug. 19th, 2008 04:13 am (UTC)
>>On what grounds is India obligated to forcefully retain control of states that do not want to be part of the union, and hold their millions of people captive?<<

I don't think that was quite his argument. What he was trying to say was that the states might want to reconsider independence like Tamil Nadu did.

But yeah, I don't think the demands in the NE are quite as strong as they are in Kashmir.

>>If things are 'settled,' no one in Delhi is going to be talking about a plebiscite (see: 1948-1989). Hence the continual protests.<<

I don't know. Isn't Scotland moving closer to independence without a similar fuss?
dubaiwalla
Aug. 20th, 2008 01:09 am (UTC)
might want to reconsider independence like Tamil Nadu did
I think Sanghvi anticipates and responds to that argument quite well by pointing out that Kashmir has already received about as much autonomy and money as India can give it, and it hasn't worked, as it did in Tamil Nadu and elsewhere.

Isn't Scotland moving closer to independence
I very seriously doubt Scotland will be independent anytime soon. But in any case, Scotland could potentially organize a referendum and vote itself out of the United Kingdom. Could Kashmir organize a plebiscite without Delhi's okay? Because the experience of the past few decades suggests otherwise.
foot_notes
Aug. 19th, 2008 04:36 am (UTC)
1. Delhi would NOT want to talk about plebiscite now or when the things are settled down. It simply won't happen with the present political mindset.

2. My question was NOT about my opinion on self-determination for the North-Eastern states. But, from the point of view of the Government. So far as the government is concerned, negotiation and settling of the Kashmir problem is NOT in the interest of the nation :) If that's settled, then it's opening the proverbial pandora's box, i.e., NorthEast and South. . My statement was NOT argument against self-determination/plebiscite in Kashmir. It was only voicing the government's predicament.

3. I've already voiced my reason for NOT having the plebiscite or even granting independence to kashmir rightaway. In another comment.
dubaiwalla
Aug. 20th, 2008 01:20 am (UTC)
Delhi would NOT want to talk about plebiscite now or when the things are settled down. It simply won't happen with the present political mindset.
Which is why there are people in Kashmir who believe the only way they can bring attention to their demands is by violence. Which is unfortunate not just for their own society, but also for India as a whole. This is their attempt to alter 'the present political mindset' in New Delhi.

So far as the government is concerned, negotiation and settling of the Kashmir problem is NOT in the interest of the nation
Debatable. It all comes down to how it is settled. If the government decided to get rid of Kashmir, and I don't imagine such a day is just around the corner, it would doubtless make noises about how this does not set a precedent because of the special status of Kashmir. For an example of how this would work, take a look at the verbal gymnastics to this effect surrounding sovereignty for Kosovo.

You say you'd want the situation in Kashmir to be 'settled,' and for it to have better leaders. Can you give me a plausible scenario whereby these conditions are fulfilled, and Delhi is made to seriously consider a referendum?
foot_notes
Aug. 21st, 2008 10:20 am (UTC)
Okay, I've to tread carefully here :)
1. I'd suggest empowering the Mirwaiz Omar Farookh. He appears to be more genuine and humane among all the Hurriyat leaders and other political leaders in Kashmir. It's *possible* that the Mirwaiz could influence people in a positive manner
2. The influence of a strong but peace-seeking leader could bring back Kashmir from the brink to calm. Calm can do wonders
3. Leaders of Kashmir (provided there is SOME transformation among them too) might endorse peaceful means of protests. In the bargain tehy'd convince the futility of violence to the general population. If it works, things surely can look up
4. Peaceful protests, more cohesive leadership, surely can make Delhi sit up and take note. But I still think (as I'd earlier said) the leadership in Delhi is averse to finding a solution to the Kashmir problem
dubaiwalla
Aug. 22nd, 2008 02:45 am (UTC)
Consider:
1) The APHC does not participate in elections. So just how would the government 'empower' the Mirwaiz, and do so without discrediting him in the eyes of his people? Indeed, why would he choose to cooperate with the government at all? Your entire scenario rests on India being able to transform someone, and him being able to transform the rest of Kashmir's leadership. To describe this as unlikely would be a massive understatement.
2) There was talk among the APHC's moderate wing of participating in the last elections. A few choice acts of violence later, that sentiment evaporated. The problem of spoilers would be compounded greatly in any major push for peace. (See: Hamas/Islamic Jihad vs. Fatah in Palestine.)
3) If Kashmiri leaders did endorse peaceful protests, they'd effectively lose their largest bargaining chip, and chief means of attracting attention. Delhi would not only find it simpler to ignore them, it would probably try to pass this off as evidence it had succeeded in tempering their demands.

In short, a non-violent struggle is actually a losing game for any Kashmiri leader seeking to break away from Delhi today. Waiting for a more settled situation or better leaders is likely to be futile, because the incentives to create these do not exist, and are unlikely to arise in the future. That being the case, the question that arises is how to proceed. And the answer, in my mind, is for the Indian government to deal with people it strongly dislikes, no matter how distasteful this seems, because it is better than the alternative, namely the recurring medium-scale violence we see now.
dubaiwalla
Aug. 19th, 2008 02:38 am (UTC)
I thought Vir Sanghvi's piece the previous day was better written.
fugney
Aug. 19th, 2008 04:21 am (UTC)
This is a great piece. This bit made me chuckle:

>>If they opt for independence, they will last for about 15 minutes without the billions that India has showered on them. But it will be their decision.<<

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