Skip to main content

Xenophobic nationalism on Kashmir to divert attention from 'erosions' in economy

By Rahul Pandey, Sandeep Pandey*
In a single stroke of decisions, the Indian government has revoked Articles 370 and 35A, bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) into J&K and Ladakh, and reduced their status to Union Territories. 
While there are questions about the legal soundness of these decisions, their moral illegitimacy lies in the fact that none of the stakeholders in J&K have been consulted – native people of J&K (both current residents and those who have migrated out in the past decades), their local community leaders and political leaders belonging to either moderate or non-moderate ends of the ideological spectrum. 
Absolutely no one belonging to J&K was consulted or taken in confidence about the government’s decision.
Mainstream and moderate political leaders have been put under house arrest, all means of communication cut, curfew imposed and massive army troops deployed in the J&K region, since a few days before the government’s announcement of the decision in the parliament in Delhi. 
This means that communication among even the normal peace-loving people and their leaders is severely restricted, their mobility constrained, and no news is coming out of the region.
One must ask how would the people have taken a decision in any other part of the country if their statehood was converted into a union territory status or with incidents such as the earlier use of pellet guns causing grievous harm to ordinary people including children and women?
It clearly shows the discriminatory attitude of Indian state towards people of J&K, primarily on religious basis, and at the same time demonstrates tremendous restraint people of J&K have shown in the face of adverse situations. Because of a sustained right wing propaganda even the Indian people have come to believe the majoritarian mindset that J&K unfairly enjoys some special status.
A separate Constitution for J&K may sound obnoxious, but the fact is, it is the Constitution of J&K which says that J&K is integral part of India, not the Indian Constitution. And what privileges can people enjoy under a long term military like rule?
There are other instances from around the country where people have asserted their autonomy. Nagaland wants separate Constitution and flag. It believes in the idea of co-existence with India without subjecting itself to Indian Constitution. Siddaramaiah's Karnataka government decided to have its own flag, the second state in the country after J&K to do so.
Rabri Devi and Mamta Banerjee, as Chief Ministers, decided not to subject themselves to the Prime Minister of the day and violated the protocols. Tamil Nadu doesn't agree to the three language formula of national education policy because of its opposition to imposition of Hindi. The Article 243G of the Constitution envisions self-rule at the village panchayat level.
The idea of autonomy is at the core of democracy. Rather than opposing the special status of J&K other states should have demanded a similar status for deepening of democracy. Then there are sovereign individuals within the country, like the infamous Unnao MLA from UP, Kuldeep Singh Sengar, presently in news for wrong reasons, who refuse to subject themselves to the rule of law and the governments usually go along with them.
His accomplices have openly fired at senior police officials of the Unnao district on more occasions than one. But that is pardonable because he has chosen to be with the party in power. We don't feel threatened by him but are quite alarmed to see the picture of a child or woman pelting stones at security forces in Kashmir. Is the bias religiously coloured?
All this unilateral curbing of basic political and societal freedom of J&K people and their leaders amounts to plain murder of democracy by the Government of India. The backdrop of this draconian decision of the government constitutes the utter mishandling of Kashmir’s situation in the past five years as well as the mismanagement of India’s economy and employment over the past three years.
Recent worsening of both J&K’s situation and India’s economy have been unprecedented in the past few decades. In fact, the emotional issue of J&K is probably being used as a smokescreen to camouflage the rapid disinvestment of public sector undertakings taking place at this time including the corporatisation of Ordnance Factory Board with Adani and Ambani being the biggest beneficiaries of this exercise.
Number of terrorist incidents, deaths of Indian military personnel, and overt protests by ordinary Kashmiri people against Indian forces have risen rapidly during 2014-2019. It culminated in the imposition of President’s rule in J&K in 2018. This indicates constant mishandling of J&K’s political and social situation by the Modi government, growing resentment among Kashmiri people, and breakdown of communication between the central government and the people of J&K.
A separate Constitution for J&K may sound obnoxious, but the fact is, it is the Constitution of J&K which says that J&K is integral part of India, not the Indian Constitution
A parallel trend has been the spiraling down of India’s economy, disinvestment of government owned firms, industrial and employment situations over the past three years (since demonetization) that has accelerated in recent months. This grim economic story reflects in slowing GDP, rising unemployment, rising bank NPAs, flight of foreign investment, rising fiscal deficit, and falling industrial outputs and consumption.
Some industries, notably automobile, are witnessing absolute drops in production by 10-30%. In recent days several respected industry leaders have gathered courage to openly voice concern about India’s economy despite the prevailing environment of fear of the present government.
Experts have raised serious doubts over the economy and employment data released by the government that remains in denial about the economic situation.  All this shows gross mismanagement of India’s economy and banks by the Modi government.
From these trends it appears that Modi government is once again trying to hide its incompetency in managing India’s economy, employment and security situations by invoking the false spectre of nationalism. Ironically, in the name of politics of nationalism, national assets are up for sale.
The government’s propaganda and event management are ably supported by a lot of mainstream media and IT/social media cells of the party and its supporters. These cells specialise in creating and spreading exaggerated as well as blatantly fake news posts that fuel people’s irrational fears and emotions.
This kind of nationalism is xenophobic and parasitic as it aims to pit our own people against each other and divide them. It not only diverts our attention away from the real problems of erosions in economy, employment, financial governance and basic freedoms of citizens, but also degrades us culturally and morally as a society.
It’s likely that many of the ordinary people of J&K, including those who have been largely democratic and peace-loving in the midst of militancy and violence during all these decades, might now adopt hardened views against the Indian government. It’s likely that communication will break down even more and distrust will deepen.
If the Indian government responds by increasing the presence of armed forces in the region, many more rounds of vicious cycle might be in store. What will this mean for the future of the people of J&K and the rest of us?
We need to think where we are heading.
---
*Rahul Pandey is academic, entrepreneur and activist, Sandeep Pandey is social-political activist. Contact: rahulanjula@gmail.com, ashaashram@yahoo.com

Comments

TRENDING

Astonishingly sycophantic: Ex-Gujarat topcop on 2002 Godhra riots probe panel report

By Rajiv Shah  In a scathing critique of the 2002 communal riots inquiry commission report, released by the Gujarat government in December 2019 five years after it was submitted, the State’s former topcop RB Sreekumar has said that it “unequivocally” and “meticulously” takes care “to refrain from probing and taking cognizance of any deviant action of omission and commission by the State administration, particularly those operating in the criminal justice system, who facilitated extensive mass violence and enabled brigands to perpetrate anti-minority crimes.”

Two of 12 top caste-based sexual violence cases from 'model' Gujarat: NGO report

By Rajiv Shah   The National Council of Women Leaders (NCWL), a civil rights group, has compiled what it has called “landmark cases of caste-based sexual violence” between 1985 and 2020 to mark the first anniversary of the notorious Hathras gangrape case, which led to the death of a young Dalit woman in September 2020.

Riddled with Brahmanical mindset, India's health care 'serving' corporate interests

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  In this second part of my conversation (click here for first part), Dr Manisha Bangar speaks about the health crisis in India how the government is trying to privatise things, and where our response during the Corona period was lacking. She also gives us an understanding of people opposing nutritious meals for children in the mid-day meal.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Inaccurate gender-relevant data 'spoiling' government policy on Covid social impact

By Simi Mehta*  The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been different across vulnerable groups. They were hit by the pandemic at various stages, whether it was accessibility to medical treatment or financial support. The second wave witnessed human suffering at a level where one can never forget the traumatized faces of people due to the inaccessibility and unavailability of essential medical services such as hospitals beds and oxygen. The probability of the third wave has also been one of the major upcoming challenges.

Anti-Dalit atrocities increase 9.4% despite pandemic, Uttar Pradesh tops the list: Report

By Rahul Singh* Data on crime against Dalits and Adivasis in the Crime In India Report, 2020 draws a distinct pattern of similarity between rural and urban spaces. Published by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), they capture some anomalies and interesting trends. The report also shows that a large proportion of crimes against Dalits and Adivasis involves crime against women.

Vindictive raids? Centre 'retaliates' after Delhi govt child rights body's clean chit to ex-babu

By Our Representative  Over 700 academics, advocates, activists, civil servants, writers, film makers, journalists, musicians and artists have condemned the raids by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on the offices and private home of top IAS bureaucrat-turned-human rights and peace activist Harsh Mander, stating, the aim is nothing but to “harass and intimidate” him.

Flamboyant 'demagogues' adjust politics, personality in shadow of democracy

Modi, Erdogan, Bolsonaro By Ajit Singh The terms dictators and demagogues are used interchangeably in various contexts, but there is a difference. The former rule over a totalitarian states where governments are able to exercise complete influence over every aspect of citizens’ life, whereas the latter are a "wannabe dictators" but due to the system of checks and balances they are are not fully capable to create police states.

Power supply lines in Thar 'pushing' Great Indian Bustard to extinction: Researchers

By Rosamma Thomas*  Electricity supply lines pose a huge risk to birds and affect biodiversity, but there is little research about the numbers of birds dying of such collision in the tropical nations. In August 2021, academic journal Biological Conservation carried the results of a survey conducted in 2017-18 on 4,200 sq km of the Thar Desert in Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan. This was the first comprehensive survey of this nature in the region.