Washington, DC – What the Modi Government did in Kashmir on August 5, 2019, should have been enforced in 1951. It was long due. The decision is good for the people of Kashmir and India as it opens up investment of Indian Inc into Kashmir valley. In fact, I would argue that the existence of article 370 actually abrogated the economy of Kashmir since independence. Worse, it was the seed of the separatist movement because it is a reminder of a hope that India would be forced to conduct a plebiscite for Kashmir one day!
Article 370 was a loss-loss contract between India and Kashmir. Indian tax payers were paying for separatist leaders whose agitation and indignation was a drain to the state’s military budget. More military build up was leading to more human rights violations. In fact, the abolition of 370 was absolutely required to ease the tension in Kashmir. Let me quantify the statement with numbers.
As per 370, Government of India (GOI) provides 75 percent of the state treasury. This amounts to a huge $40 billion over the last 15 years to a state whose population is close to 6 million only. In 2018, the average Indian citizen received a per capita development budget of $120 where as for Kashmiris, it was $400, approximately four times more. In general, that is not as bad, if the development fund is properly spent. But again due to 370, the reach of Indian law and constitution is limited in Kashmir. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) can’t monitor them. As a result such a huge exchequer of Indian tax money goes in the hand of few selected political families of Kashmir. Average Kashmiris remain poor, and looted money in turn is used to fuel political indignation so that Indian Government never dares to remove 370. Indians were trapped into a vicious cycle.
Therefore, ironically Indians were paying for the separatist ! In turn it was destroying local business and increasing more military presence. That’s why I said 370 is a total loss-loss contract between GOI and Kashmir.
If you talk about self-determination of the Kashmiri people, they have equal right to self determination as much as Bengali or Tamil or Marathi people are having as per the Constitution of India. And they have more right than what Balooch or Sindhi people have in Pakistan. Rather this abolition of 370 would lead to more business in Kashmir and less funds in the hands of separatist leaders. Increasing stability will bring increasing prosperity in Kashmir.
I don’t believe common people are that worried about politics and religion. They want to live well. Abolition of 370 would give them that chance which they have been deprived of since independence since rest of the India can’t buy land or business in Kashmir.
If you we talk about ethics and politics, I must say it was already done when India didn’t allow plebiscite in Kashmir. After that there was no point to hang the banana of 370 before separatist monkeys. Once a decision is taken, stick to it fully and not half way through to confuse the hell out of it.
A country within a country is never a good idea. Look at what is happening in Gaza and the West Bank. Kashmir was becoming the Gaza Strip of India. With abolition of 370, they are also equal citizens and an integral part of India, and prospering business would take care of them. Young Kashmiris need jobs and not self destructive politics. Neither do they deserve military presence because Indian Tax payers were paying for the indignation!
Why should the International community bother at all? Did India invade a new land? Is it a genocide? Humanitarian crisis? If it is anything, it is for the uplifting the economic status of Kashmir. They would live better.
Questions are being raised by liberals about why Kashmiris are not being consulted. Bengal and Punjab were partitioned as well. They were not consulted nor did they consent. West Bengal was forced upon Bengali Hindus where as Bengali Muslim were forced to East Pakistan. Similarly, Kashmir was also divided between PoK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir) and Indian Kashmir. It’s time to recognize, irrespective of how we get here, process was no different than what Punjabis or Bengalis faced by partition. If they are an integral part of India and prospering within the federation, then what is the issue in Kashmir following the same roadmap?
Liberals are also raising the question, if it is so good for the Kashmiris, why they are not allowed to vote for it via plebiscite? Or Constituent assembly?
Here is my answer. Who would vote for changing this? Kashmiri leaders. And why should they? As long as 370 remains, CAG can’t reach out to probe corruption and they can drain huge checks from GOI. Then why should they vote to scrap their holy cow? Common people of Kashmir are at the receiving end and they need to be rescued from the corruption nexus of the ruling class of Kashmir. I will use the words and wisdom of Napoleonic war. When Napoleon was sweeping European states, he was replacing the old guards of the kingdom with new progressive leaders who could bring the equality and justice among the common people of Europe. So although he was at constant war with all the royal families of Europe, common Europeans held him as a hero and as a liberator for new Europe. I believe the same would happen in Kashmir. While the corrupt Kashmiri leaders would be creating huge raucous, the common people of Kashmir benefit from the infusion of Indian capital which was hitherto unavailable.
What is a separatist movement? It’s a political business of a few families who exploited the weakness of a democracy that was hell bent on appeasement. Modi-Shah started the Napoleonic war in India which was long overdue to clean the old guards responsible for abysmal poverty and corruption.