Skip to main content

Corporate investment in Kashmir in highly communal atmosphere 'can't hold' promise

Pushkar Raj*
Last month, the Government of India with a presidential reference abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution that gave special status to the state under its agreement of annexation with India in 1947. Under the article the state had its own constitution, flag and assembly to guard its autonomy, but now it would be governed from New Delhi.
On face, it seems within the government’s jurisdiction, but for the reason that the said article itself defined its terms of demise providing that such a recommendation must come from the Constituent Assembly, later replaced with the words "legislative assembly" by a government order in 1952, makes it untenable.
As per law the recommendations must have come from the legislative assembly of the state, which was recently dissolved. However, the government decided to bestow all the powers of the assembly to an unrepresentative governor, empowering him to recommend to the president that he issue an order effecting the change.
This is stretching the rule of law to a farce and sets a new low in political machinations for political gains at the cost of the constitutional propriety. One would not fault the government to have taken this step after duly calling election and gaining consent of the assembly, but the will of a nominated governor is not equivalent to will of the people.
Article 370 was an important element of the constitution, serving as an extension of the principle of federalism that provides for division of powers between the central government and the states under Part IX of the constitution.
Reducing a state to a status of a union territory and usurping its powers through an executive order is tampering with the federal character of India, which according to Article 1(a) of the constitution “shall be a union of states.” The action sets a precedent for similar high handedness approach to ‘integration’ in relation to many north eastern states that enjoy similar relationship with the centre as Jammu and Kashmir did.

Worrying trend

In the aftermath of the decision, the government has taken tough security measures in Kashmir. The Internet is shut down, paralysing communication obstructing treatment in hospitals, education in schools and communication with loved ones. More than 3,000 people are in custody and police are monitoring streets.
It is a state of emergency asphyxiating more than 7 million people, and all seems to be happening lawfully with public support. On the contrary people should worry that what goes on in Kashmir today can happen in any part of the country tomorrow.
In the name of fighting terrorism in Kashmir, the government has acquired extraordinary powers. It has recently acquired powers to declare an individual a terrorist. This is bizarre, as any intellectual could be dubbed an "Urban Naxal", called anti-national and linked with terrorism. Given the government’s grip on social and electronic media and the status of the police, it is a stick in the hands of any government to crush any dissent in a pluralist country needing no formal declaration of civil emergency.
While the regions of Jammu has welcomed the government’s action, the Kashmir is extremely resentful amid reports of protests and curfews revealing religious polarization in the state, as Jammu comprises majority of Hindus while Kashmir is nearly all Muslim.
This is depressing news for secularism as Jammu and Kashmir, the only Muslim-majority state, co-existed with majority-Hindu India under the assurance of secularism under which it felt protected. That protection seems to have gone now, at the same time unnerving about 170 million Muslims in the rest of the country who already feel threatened by an increased communal polarisation.
On positive side, the move has benefited tens of thousands of west Pakistani refugees and scheduled castes, deprived of basic human rights like voting and employment
On a positive side, the move has benefited tens of thousands of west Pakistani refugees and scheduled castes, who were deprived of basic human rights like voting and employment in government and could not buy or sell property despite living in the state for more than 70 years.
The political leadership of the Kashmir Valley failed to rise to the expectations of these marginalized groups despite several protests. Besides, hundreds of thousand Kashmiri pandits too might now hope to dispose their properties honourably and feel less exiled than earlier as revocation of article 370 was one of their main demands.

No easy road to peace

The government’s argument is that it has taken this step for greater capital investment from burgeoning corporate sector of the country boosting development of the region and providing employment to youth, weaning them away from radicalization. This could have been possible in a secular India where rule of law was sacrosanct, but in today's highly communalized atmosphere, it does not hold much promise.
It is noticeable that Islamic radicalization in Kashmir is closely linked to the rise of Hindu fanaticism in Indian polity and governance. It is unrealistic to wish one away while stoking the other, as manifested in unabated lynching of Muslims in the country and acquittals of the accused.
The government’s action is likely to be fiercely resisted and lead to a long drawn battle with militancy in the valley. With political support from Pakistan and Taliban coming closer to power in Afghanistan, prospect of peace in Kashmir seems far off from horizon.
---
*Melbourne-based researcher. A version of article was published in “Asia Times”

Comments

TRENDING

Misleading ads 'manipulate, seduce, lure' to market unhealthy harmful food

By Our Representative  The Nutrition Advocacy in Public Interest (NAPI) in its new report “50 Shades of Food Advertising” has sought to expose how seductive, luring, manipulative or deceptive these advertisements can be. Consequences of such advertising are increased intake of unhealthy food products that is associated with obesity and diabetes, it says. 

Why's Govt of India reluctant to consider battery storage system for renewal energy?

By Shankar Sharma*  If having so many small size battery energy storage system (BESS) at different locations of the grid, as in the report from Australia (a portfolio of 27 small battery storage projects across three Australian states that will total arounds 270 MWh), is considered to be techno-economically attractive in a commercially driven market such as Australia, the question that becomes a lot more relevance to Indian scenario is: why are our planners not in favour of installing such small size BESS at most of the distribution sub-stations not only to accelerate the addition of RE power capacities, but also to minimise the need for large size solar/ wind power parks, dedicated transmission lines and pumped storage plants; which will also minimise the associated technical losses.

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.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

'Failure of governance': India, China account for 54% pollution-related deaths globally

By Vikas Parsaram Meshram*   A recent report jointly prepared by UNICEF and the independent research organization Health Effects Institute has been released, and the statistics within it are alarming. It states that in 2021, air pollution caused the deaths of 2.1 million Indians, including 169,000 children who hadn't yet fully experienced life. These figures are indeed distressing and raise questions about why there hasn't been more serious effort in this direction, putting policymakers to shame. 

New MVA-INDIA MPs asked to raise Maharashtra milk farmers' demand

By Our Representative  All-India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) national president Dr Ashok Dhawale and AIKS Maharashtra general secretary Dr Ajit Nawale have asked three newly-elected MPs of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA-INDIA) from the milk belt of Maharashtra Dr Amol Kolhe (NCP),  Bhausaheb Wakchaure (SS), and Nilesh Lanke (NCP), to take up the cause of milk farmers of Maharashtra in Parliament.  After congratulating them on their resounding victory over their BJP-NDA rivals, the AIKS leaders apprised them of the milk farmers struggle which is intensifying in the state under the leadership of the AIKS and the Milk Farmers Joint Struggle Committee, and requested them to support it. All three MPs agreed not only to support, but also to take the initiative in this struggle, an official AIKS communique claimed. Farmers in Maharashtra are currently getting as low as Rs 24-27 per litre for cow milk, which is being sold in the market for Rs 56-60 per litre, the AIKS leaders noted. The low price to farmer

Report suggests Indian democracy 'hasn't achieved' equitable economic decentralization

By Vikas Parsaram Meshram  The news that the current economic inequality in the country is worse than during British rule is unsettling. This suggests the harsh reality that our democracy has not achieved equitable economic decentralization. A recent report by Thomas Piketty and three other economists reveals shocking findings: in 2023-24, the top 1% of the wealthiest people in India hold 40% of the nation's wealth, with a 22.6% share in income.