Sunday, August 17, 2008

Independence Day for Kashmir--SWAMINOMICS

(The following post has been taken from the TOI and addresses the basic nature of the Kashmir's struggle for independence. Though such articles have come very late, nevertheless they serve as an eye openor for those who are hell bent upon seeing Kashmir with them without really asking kashmiris Whether they would love to be with them or not.....Read on...)

On August 15, India celebrated independence from the British Raj. But Kashmiris staged a bandh demanding independence from India. A day symbolising the end of colonialism in India became a day symbolising Indian colonialism in the Valley. As a liberal, i dislike ruling people against their will. True, nation-building is a difficult and complex exercise, and initial resistance can give way to the integration of regional aspirations into a larger national identity — the end of Tamil secessionism was a classical example of this.

I was once hopeful of Kashmir's integration, but after six decades of effort, Kashmiri alienation looks greater than ever. India seeks to integrate with Kashmir, not rule it colonially. Yet, the parallels between British rule in India and Indian rule in Kashmir have become too close for my comfort. Many Indians say that Kashmir legally became an integral part of India when the maharaja of the state signed the instrument of accession. Alas, such legalisms become irrelevant when ground realities change. Indian kings and princes, including the Mughals, acceded to the British Raj.

The documents they signed became irrelevant when Indians launched an independence movement. The British insisted for a long time that India was an integral part of their Empire, the jewel in its crown, and would never be given up. Imperialist Blimps remained in denial for decades. I fear we are in similar denial on Kashmir. The politically correct story of the maharaja's accession ignores a devastating parallel event. Just as Kashmir had a Hindu maharaja ruling over a Muslim majority, Junagadh had a Muslim nawab ruling over a Hindu majority. The Hindu maharaja acceded to India, and the Muslim nawab to Pakistan. But while India claimed that the Kashmiri accession to India was sacred, it did not accept Junagadh's accession to Pakistan. India sent troops into Junagadh, just as Pakistan sent troops into Kashmir. The difference was that Pakistan lacked the military means to intervene in Junagadh, while India was able to send troops into Srinagar. The Junagadh nawab fled to Pakistan, whereas the Kashmir maharaja sat tight. India's double standard on Junagadh and Kashmir was breathtaking. Do you think the people of Junagadh would have integrated with Pakistan after six decades of genuine Pakistani effort? No? Then can you really be confident that Kashmiris will stop demanding azaadi and integrate with India? The British came to India uninvited.

By contrast, Sheikh Abdullah, the most popular politician in Kashmir, supported accession to India subject to ratification by a plebiscite. But his heart lay in independence for Kashmir, and he soon began manoeuvering towards that end. He was jailed by Nehru, who then declared Kashmir's accession was final and no longer required ratification by a plebiscite. The fact that Kashmir had a Muslim majority was held to be irrelevant, since India was a secular country empowering citizens through democracy.

Alas, democracy in Kashmir has been a farce for most of six decades. The rot began with Sheikh Abdullah in 1951: he rejected the nomination papers of almost all opponents, and so won 73 of the 75 seats unopposed! Nehru was complicit in this sabotage of democracy. Subsequent state elections were also rigged in favour of leaders nominated by New Delhi. Only in 1977 was the first fair election held, and was won by the Sheikh. But he died after a few years, and rigging returned in the 1988 election. That sparked the separatist uprising which continues to gather strength today.

Many Indians point to long episodes of peace in the Valley and say the separatists are just a noisy minority. But the Raj also had long quiet periods between Gandhian agitations, which involved just a few lakhs of India's 500 million people. One lakh people joined the Quit India movement of 1942, but 25 lakh others joined the British Indian army to fight for the Empire's glory. Blimps cited this as evidence that most Indians simply wanted jobs and a decent life. The Raj built the biggest railway and canal networks in the world. It said most Indians were satisfied with economic development, and that independence was demanded by a noisy minority. This is uncomfortably similar to the official Indian response to the Kashmiri demand for azaadi.

Let me not exaggerate. Indian rule in Kashmir is not classical colonialism. India has pumped vast sums into Kashmir, not extracted revenue as the Raj did. Kashmir was among the poorest states during the Raj, but now has the lowest poverty rate in India. It enjoys wide civil rights that the Raj never gave. Some elections — 1977, 1983 and 2002 — were perfectly fair. India has sought integration with Kashmir, not colonial rule. But Kashmiris nevertheless demand azaadi. And ruling over those who resent it so strongly for so long is quasi-colonialism, regardless of our intentions. We promised Kashmiris a plebiscite six decades ago. Let us hold one now, and give them three choices: independence, union with Pakistan, and union with India. Almost certainly the Valley will opt for independence. Jammu will opt to stay with India, and probably Ladakh too. Let Kashmiris decide the outcome, not the politicians and armies of India and Pakistan.

By Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar,flstry-1.cms


Suchi said...

Thoda sa fight hai, this post is from ToI national edition, and comes from a regular columnist.....and the epilogue to ur blog talks about biased Indian media.....

good blog nonetheless, keep writing, there are many people here in India who agree that you have been wronged, and should be offered the right to live peacefully without the bullets( though would still love to have Kashmir as my country, call me a hindu nationalist if you want!!), we are all with you, and would always be, Indian democracy is a failure till it reaches every single person in the country, including all of you in the valley..

take care

Kashmirviews said...

I will simply call it a lip service...Such a post has come only after Kashmir sacrificed 90,000 lives. But what ever-I would like to give this author a brotherly hug.

Regarding Suchi's remarks, I must thank her for being rational in her comments and wishing us luck in our fight.

Suchi thanks for being with kashmiris

Anonymous said...

Swaminathan S A Aiyar is a columnist I respect. I am very happy that he wrote this , though a bit too late . Better late than never . I understand that another columnist Mr. Vir Sanghvi has written something in the same lines. This blogger should try and collect it . Arundhati Roy also has written in support of Kashmir in Outlook , but I believe that it runs to 7 pages . It is necessary to create an awareness among the Indian public about Kashmir , before the government is forced to make corrective measures.

Anonymous said...

Indian people are very nice and truth loving. It is unfortunate that truth about kashmir never reaches to Indian people. When any Indian learns real happenings about kashmir, he/she accepts the realities.

Anonymous said...

1. Firstly, Kashmiris should know the real reason why Indian government can't let go of Kashmir. Neither the governments nor the general public is interested in Kashmir. This is why even the army and intelligence don’t care about renegade militants. But the government won’t risk losing the vote bank. The majority of voters who don’t pay taxes will suddenly become patriotic if there is a signal of “secessionism”.

2. Secondly, it is your rights to be independent but how can you claim Kashmir was never a part of India? I neither deny nor assert about Kashmir being never part of India. My point is the information called history is not trustworthy. How do you know what happened in distance past? Regarding the dissimilarities between Kashmiris and other South Asians I guess it is due to genocide effected by the British.

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